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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Event: A Master Wine tasting lunch with Thys Lombard, International Sales Consultant for Oldenburg Vineyards, Stellenbosch South Africa.

The Date and Time: Friday September 15, 2017  12:30 PM – 2:30
The Event: A Master Wine tasting lunch with Thys Lombard, International Sales Consultant for Oldenburg Vineyards, Stellenbosch South Africa.
The Venue:  Biff's Bistro
The Target Audience: wine writer Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
The Availability/Catalogue: Oldenburg Chardonnay 2011 and 2012 WO Stellenbosch, +374645 were once available in Ontario, priced at just over $20. Today we tasted a Chenin Blanc 2015 ($19.95) and a Rhodium Red Blend 2013 ($34.95, Bordeaux-style). The wines are repped by www.winemoves.com and David Litner. Both wines will be available next year through the LCBO, but everything from the winery can now be a private order "in the meantime".
The Quote/Background: Founder Adrian Vanderspuy (who is originally from this area and returned home) bought Oldenburg farm in Stellenbosch's Banhoek Valley in 2003 and planted typical varietals. Oldenburg Wines only makes one level of wine, a varietal series of Chenin Blanc ($19.95), Chardonnay ($19.95), Merlot ($27.95), Syrah ($34.95), Cabernet Franc ($27.95), Cabernet Sauvignon ($34.95), and Viognier ($19.95). But the firm today is now expanding to incorporate a series of blends such as the Rhodium 2013, and these will be their "premium" line  at $34.95 CAN. Next up is a Rhone blend along the lines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, similarly priced. This strategy certainly sounds feasible after a decade of operation. Twist tops are used for the varietals; corks are used for the blends. 10K cases seems to be an optimum level, but the blends may push that level up.
 
The Wines:
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2015 WO Stellenbosch, $19.95 release TBD: blend of 69% tank fermented and 31% barrel fermented wine, eight months in 300 litre French oak barrels (50% new). 13% ABV. Lime, lemon and other citrus tones dominate at first entry, replaced by Granny Smith (what else?) tones and light oaking in a sort-of sweet-sour embrace on the mid-palate. There is elegance, body and even some stuffing to accommodate food. This is a top savoury wine with a long lingering ending, not your uncle's Loire CB. Best with food.
-Oldenburg Vineyard Rhodium 2013 WO Stellenbosch, $34.95 release TBD: named after a rare metal produced for premium jewelry, and most of the world's production coming from South Africa, this is indeed a rare gem. A blend of merlot (75%), cabernet franc (15%), petit verdot and malbec (5% each). 14% ABV. And very Right Bank (think St Emilion or Pomerol) in its voluptuousness. It has spent 19 months in 300 litre French oak, 50% new. Again, because of the franc, it is a bit on the herbal-savoury side, and ideal for food. Still youthful with a long way to go, give it ten more years. I re-corked it and tasted it over the next few days after a double decant. More fruit elegance and balance emerged as well as wood tones. It became more juicy with lots of quality black fruit showing. And it is very well-priced.
 
The Food: we ordered off the menu. I had cream of mushroom soup (which goes with all wines) and a pork schnitzel on the bone, complete with chouxcroute, potatoes and mustard sauce. Others in the party had mussels and lamb merguez burger.
The Downside: I had been overheated all this hot week, and was thankful to arrive early at Biff's so that I could cool down. [Does this make me a dog?]
The Upside: a chance to explore the international wine scene vis-a-vis South Africa with Thys Lombard who covers a lot of territory.
The Contact Person: thys@oldenburgvineyards.com or winemoves@gmail.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93.
 

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Event: Master wine tasting-lunch with Richard Dore, co-owner of Foxen Winery in Santa Maria (in Santa Barbara) California.

The Date and Time:   Tuesday September 12, 2017   12:30 PM to 2:30 PM
The Event: Master wine tasting-lunch with Richard Dore, co-owner of Foxen Winery in Santa Maria (in Santa Barbara) California.
The Venue: Jump
The Target Audience: wine writer Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
The Availability/Catalogue: all three pinot noirs have been currently submitted to the LCBO for future purchase consideration by David Litner of www.winemoves.com, but the Chardonnay Tinaquaic 2014 Santa Maria Valley is now at LCBO Vintages +414219. Wine Moves uses Vintages and Private Orders to allow consumers to access wine markets, but it does not do Consignment.
The Quote/Background: Our conversation started off, of course, with the impact of the movie "Sideways" on both Foxen and California pinot noir. A lot of the movie was shot at their tasting room 7200 Foxen Canyon Road in 2003/4. They now have a larger tasting room at 7600 for the burgundy and Italian wine varieties (7200 is for strictly bordeaux and rhone type wines). Maybe it was appropriate that Dick Dore was here during TIFF. Anyway, I got my star celebrity quality interview on both the movie and the current wines. Foxen began in 1985 and immediately specialized in pinot noirs. Indeed, 60% of their production is of that grape. Their capacity is 15 – 18K cases annually, totally dependent on microclimate conditions. They produce 28 different wines; 12 are exclusive to their Wine Club of some 5,000 members. The amount of oak aging has always been determined by the winemaker, and varies from vintage to vintage and varietal to varietal depending on microclimate conditions. Some wines have come to Canada, principally to Classics although the Foxen Tinaquaic Vineyard Estate Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara seems to be an almost annual import offered via Vintages.
 
The Wines:
We tried three pinot noirs with lunch, along with the chardonnay. In an earlier write-up, I had sampled two wines: +414219 FOXEN TINAQUAIC VINEYARD ESTATE CHARDONNAY Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara 2014 $52.95 13.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89 (which factored in the price), and +462770 Foxen Block 43 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Santa Maria Valley California $54.95, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89 (which factored in the price). Both were outstanding wines. I had a chance to retry the Chardonnay, and all three pinot noirs were from 2014, and thus forming a mini-horizontal tasting.
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Foxen Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2014 $45.95, 13.4% ABV: a good introduction to the pinots of Santa Rita Hills, very typical. Ripe, dark fruits, chewy cherry, balance of fruit and deft oaking. 17 months in French oak (18% new). No fining or filtration. Affordable quality California fruity pinot noir. 1934 cases made.
 
-Foxen La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Santa Rita Hills $63.95, 13.8% ABV: several cuts above the SRH above, still juicy and dense but with that old world Euro dry finish quality so suitable for food. 17 months in all tight grained French oak with medium toast, 40% new. 800 cases made.
 
-Foxen Block 8 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Santa Maria Valley $71, 14.5% ABV:    Block 8 was planted 40 years ago, these vines were 18 years old in 2014. Here we find   lots of red fruit and a virtually perfect expression of what California pinot noir should be like. All Francois Freres medium toast tight grain barrels, half new; 17 months in barrel; no fining or filtration. Long lingering finish, a wine to savour for its depth. 14.4% ABV. 1400 cases made.
 
-Foxen Tinaquaic Vineyard Estate Chardonnay 2014 Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara +414219 $52.95: very aromatic, in a Montrachet style with that style of yeast, and dry farmed. Unctuous fruit with some hazelnut, orange and light honey tones (depending on temperature served at). Full on the palate with some orchard fruit suggesting young peaches. Sur lies eight months in barrel (25% new French oak). Very, very long mouth-filling finish. 13.9% ABV. 175 cases made. My favourite wine of today's tasting. And well worth the price.
 
All three pinots have been submitted to Vintages. Block 8 and Block 43 (not tasted by me) have been offered to Classics.
 
The Food: we ate off the menu at Jump. I had the Jump Caesar with kale, and the grilled trout Cobb salad. Both went well with the demanding pinots. Others in the party had wild mushroom soup and bison/boar ragu pasta.
The Downside: It had been awhile since I had been to Jump and at one point I lost my bearings, but I arrived in plenty of time to a high noise level which abated by 1PM.
The Upside: a chance to converse with Dick Dore about Sideways, California imports to Canada, the White House, and European sales. Plus, of course, his own remarkable wines.
The Contact Person: dickdore@aol.com or winemoves@gmail.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93
 

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for September 16, 2017.

 
WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for  September 16,  2017.
=======================================================================
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My Internet compendium "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
So many people have asked me for wine recommendations, with numbers only. The readers' most common response is that while they like what I say, they only relate to the score. The score is a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, where e.g. a Southern Rhone tastes like a Southern Rhone and not like a Northern Rhone) and Quality/Price Ratio. Let's take it for granted that, e.g., a Riesling tastes like a Riesling, and the wine has some value in the marketplace either above or below its selling price. This way too I can also cover more wines.
 
This wine letter for the Ontario market (wines available through the LCBO Vintages on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca/ or at  http://www.deantudor.com
 
THIS MONTH'S SPECIAL FINDS --
 
R+171587    FARINA LE PEZZE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO    DOCG    2013    $34.95     15.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
W+458638    RYDER CHARDONNAY    Central Coast    2015    $17.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
 
20 under $20
=========
R+167601    ARDAL CRIANZA    DO Ribera del Duero    2013    $19.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+341586    FEATHERSTONE FOUR FEATHERS    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2016    $14.95
MVC/QPR: 90
R+359299    VIEWPOINTE CABERNET FRANC    VQA Lake Erie North Shore    2010    $17.10 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+413237    GÉRARD BERTRAND SYRAH/GRENACHE    AP Languedoc    2013    $16.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+454785    TOI TOI SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2016    $17.95    
13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+493973    THIRTY BENCH WINEMAKER'S BLEND DOUBLE NOIR    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2015    $18.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+496828    BRUNILDE DI MENZIONE AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE    DOC    2015    $16.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+518977    TERRA TANGRA ORGANIC CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT/MAVRUD    PGI Thracian Valley    2015    $14.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+707158    ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA    DOC    2016    $17.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+186668    TRAPICHE FINCA LAS PALMAS GRAN RESERVA MALBEC    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2014    $16.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+246736    PALACIO DE SADA CRIANZA    DO Navarra    2013    $16.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+311258    WITS END LUNA SHIRAZ    McLaren Vale, South Australia    2015    $17.95
14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+343491    DOMAINE LAFAGE CUVÉE CENTENAIRE    AP Côtes du Roussillon    2016    $17.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+370221    FONT DU VENT NOTRE PASSION CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES SIGNARGUES    AP    2015    $17.95    13.73% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+398933    ALCEÑO PREMIUM 50 BARRICAS SYRAH    DO Jumilla    2014    $14.95   
14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+536581    MIOLO CHARDONNAY    Serra Gaúcha    BRAZIL 2015 $15.95     12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+520668    COLCHESTER RIDGE CREW FLAGSHIP CHARDONNAY    VQA Lake Erie North Shore    2016    $19.95    13.7% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+496133    TWO TAILS PINOT NOIR    Marlborough, South Island    2015    $19.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+445817    THÖRLE ESTATE DRY RIESLING    Qualitätswein    2015    $18.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
 
20 over $20
=========
W+1552    FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2014    $26.95  MVC/QPR: 89+
W+269258    A TO Z WINEWORKS CHARDONNAY    Oregon    2015    $22.95    13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+332247    BENEFIZIO CASTELLO DI POMINO RISERVA    DOC Pomino Bianco    2015    $36.95
13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+333211    MOUNTADAM HIGH EDEN ESTATE CHARDONNAY    High Eden, Eden Valley, South Australia    2015    $26.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+372458    SCACCIADIAVOLI MONTEFALCO ROSSO    DOC    2012    $20.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+461269    IZADI RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2012    $19.95  14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+463000    14 HANDS MERLOT Columbia Valley 2014 $18.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+492900    LOUIS MAX BEAUCHARME CHARDONNAY BOURGOGNE        2014    $21.95
12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+503904    CHÂTEAU CLARKE Listrac-Médoc 2010    $42.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+523183    LEANING POST PINOT NOIR    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2013    $30.20 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+616466    HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2015    $29.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
W+719435    LA CREMA SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR    Sonoma Coast    2015    $29.95   
13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+9480    TWO HANDS ANGELS' SHARE SHIRAZ    McLaren Vale, South Australia    2015 $24.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+363028    VILLA POGGIO SALVI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2011    $49.95
14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+364828    TOBÍA SELECCIÓN CRIANZA Rioja    2013    $21.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+443572    CREEKSIDE MARIANNE HILL RIESLING    Marianne Hill Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2015    $20.90     10.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+707323    RUSTENBERG JOHN X MERRIMAN WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch    2013 $24.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+515460    TENUTA DI BURCHINO IL BURCHINO    IGT Toscana    2010    $22.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+356501    LANDMARK VINEYARDS OVERLOOK CHARDONNAY    Sonoma County    2014    $34.95    14.2% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Monday, September 11, 2017

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! -- TASTING CIDER (Storey Publishing, 2017, 288 pages)

 

 

1.TASTING CIDER (Storey Publishing, 2017, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-837-5 $19.95 USD softbound) is by Erin James, editor-in-chief of Cidercraft and Sip Northwest magazines. It has the subtitle "the Cidercraft Guide to the distinctive flavors of North American hard cider". And of course, it is extremely useful in that regard of North America.  Fourteen Canadian ciders are featured, with 8 from Quebec, and 3 from each of Ontario and British Columbia. In all about 100 ciders have been tasted, and there are more than 60 recipes for food and cocktails. Cider covers a wide range, much like beer and wine, from the light to the dark. And it also includes pear as "orchard fruit" cider or even an icewine pear cider. Ciders can be tasted in eleven categories: orchard-based, single-varietal, dessert ciders, hopped ciders (much more attractive to guys), rose ciders, barrel-aged, fruit-infused, and specialties with spices and botanicals. She's got lots of history and culture here, plus interviews with cidermakers. The book is a good accomplishment, and comes with a reading list for further information. But I would have liked more details on European ciders...The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes (especially since it was also directed to a Canadian audience), or at least had a metric conversion chart.

Audience and level of use: cider lovers, or as a beverage reference book

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: from Toronto – Caledon Fizz from the Black Hoof and Grey Gardens, using Spirit Tree Estate draught; Fruity Pot of Tea, from Le Lab Comptoir a Cocktails in Montreal, using Ciderie CRYO Mi-CRYO Ice cider; oven-roasted salmon with neige onion jam, sunny eggs, and buttered toast (from La Petite Maison, using Domaine Neige Neige Premiere).

The downside to this book: my biases are actually in favour of Breton/Norman ciders, which are the finest in the world, followed by some Irish/English ciders.

The upside to this book: a good looking guide to North American ciders, very useful.

Quality/Price Rating: 92

 


Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Event: 2017 annual tasting of LCBO Vintages Essentials catalogue

The Date and Time: Friday, August 18, 2017
The Event: 2017 annual tasting of LCBO Vintages Essentials catalogue
The Venue: LCBO tasting lab
The Target Audience: wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: all are available at the LCBO in the various Vintages sections or by order through the store or online.
The Quote/Background: I have reproduced the entire listing of wines from the VE catalogue below, taken from the LCBO spreadsheet that was sent to participating writers. Vintage dates were not listed by the LCBO, although, of course, they appear on the label. The supply to the LCBO is continuous, and new vintages supplant the older one when supplies are exhausted. In many cases, I added the date when I noted it. I did not taste every wine, and for some wines I did taste, I did not give a rating. I have listed the top wines judged by taste and by value, even though some wines are drinkable now and others must be cellared. Two wines were unfortunately corked: one a white, and one an icewine, both Ontario.
The Wines:
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
Argentina    1834    SUSANA BALBO CRIOS TORRONTÉS    $13.95 2016
Australia    142935    SMALL GULLY THE FORMULA ROBERT'S SHIRAZ    $20.95 2014
Canada    24133    THIRTY BENCH RIESLING    $20.85 2015
Canada    213983    CAVE SPRING BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT SPARKLING    $29.95
Chile    694208    PÉREZ CRUZ RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $14.95 2014
France    508614    VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN BRUT VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE    $102.95 2008
France    268771    LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT PREMIER CHAMPAGNE    $72.95  NV
Italy    111641    ROCCA DELLE MACÌE RISERVA CHIANTI    $15.95  2014
Italy    425488    SELLA & MOSCA CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA RISERVA    $16.95  2013
New Zealand    304469    CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC    $35.95
Portugal    149047    TAYLOR FLADGATE 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT    $69.95
Spain    82024    MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS GRAN RESERVA    $17.95  2007
Spain    36483    TORRES GRAN CORONAS RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $19.95  2012
USA    258699    J. LOHR RIVERSTONE CHARDONNAY    $19.95  2015
USA    84988    BERINGER NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY    $23.95  2015
USA    678698    GNARLY HEAD OLD VINE ZINFANDEL    $17.95  2015
 
====================================
Argentina    985002    CATENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $19.95
Argentina    1834    SUSANA BALBO CRIOS TORRONTÉS    $13.95
Argentina    58339    KAIKEN MALBEC    $15.95
Argentina    478727    CATENA MALBEC    $19.95
Argentina    452672    LUIGI BOSCA MALBEC    $18.95
Australia    142935    SMALL GULLY THE FORMULA ROBERT'S SHIRAZ    $20.95
Australia    660043    TWO HANDS GNARLY DUDES SHIRAZ    $24.95
Australia    142018    MAJELLA THE MUSICIAN CABERNET/SHIRAZ    $19.95
Australia    84996    WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE BLACK LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $28.95
Australia    606624    RINGBOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $22.95
Australia    659607    MITOLO JESTER SHIRAZ    $22.95
Australia    925453    KILIKANOON KILLERMAN'S RUN SHIRAZ    $19.95
Australia    943787    WAKEFIELD SHIRAZ    $18.95
Canada    544791    REIF VIDAL ICEWINE    $24.95
Canada    370361    TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE SPARKLING RIESLING    $20.95
Canada    447441    CAVE SPRING RIESLING ICEWINE    $49.95
Canada    274753    HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE PINOT NOIR    $30.30
Canada    64618    FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC    $19.95
Canada    149237    THE FOREIGN AFFAIR THE CONSPIRACY    $19.95
Canada    388306    INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE    $49.95
Canada    389411    JACKSON-TRIGGS RESERVE VIDAL ICEWINE    $39.95
Canada    258673    G. MARQUIS THE SILVER LINE PINOT NOIR    $19.95
Canada    147504    13TH STREET CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ    $27.95
Canada    1545    FLAT ROCK PINOT NOIR    $20.95
Canada    1578    FLAT ROCK TWISTED WHITE    $17.95
Canada    18564    PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE VIDAL ICEWINE    $27.30
Canada    24133    THIRTY BENCH RIESLING    $20.85
Canada    89037    TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA CHARDONNAY    $21.95
Canada    286377    CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING    $18.95
Canada    302083    BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY    $24.95
Canada    303800    TRIUS RED    $24.95
Canada    430561    HENRY OF PELHAM RIESLING ICEWINE    $49.95
Canada    522672    LAKEVIEW CELLARS VIDAL ICEWINE    $21.95
Canada    545004    MISSION HILL RESERVE CHARDONNAY    $23.95
Canada    553321    MISSION HILL RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $30.95
Canada    559088    MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ    $16.95
Canada    563247    KITTLING RIDGE VIDAL ICEWINE    $39.95
Canada    573147    MALIVOIRE CHARDONNAY    $19.95
Canada    587154    MAGNOTTA VIDAL ICEWINE    $32.95
Canada    591313    MALIVOIRE GAMAY    $17.95
Canada    198853    TAWSE QUARRY ROAD ORGANIC RIESLING    $24.50
Canada    213983    CAVE SPRING BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT SPARKLING    $29.95
Canada    565861    CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE    $26.95
Chile    322586    MONTES ALPHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $20.00
Chile    30957    CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER'S LOT 148 CARMENÈRE    $17.95
Chile    337238    CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $22.95
Chile    694208    PÉREZ CRUZ RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $14.95
Chile    408658    SANTA CAROLINA RESERVA DE FAMILIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $19.95
Chile    974717    CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC    $14.95
France    681643    CHÂTEAU ARGADENS    $17.95
France    162073    LOUIS JADOT BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR    $23.95
France    11452    WILLM RÉSERVE RIESLING    $15.95
France    50575    CHANSON RÉSERVE DU BASTION PINOT NOIR    $19.95
France    158550    LAURENT-PERRIER CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE    $99.95
France    215525    LA CHABLISIENNE LES VENERABLES, VIEILLES VIGNES    $26.95
France    259721    E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE    $19.95
France    268755    CRISTAL BRUT VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE    $304.95
France    268771    LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT PREMIER CHAMPAGNE    $72.95
France    280461    DOM PÉRIGNON BRUT VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE    $231.95
France    302018    CHÂTEAU PIPEAU    $39.95
France    363457    DOMAINES PERRIN RÉSERVE    $16.95
France    365924    LOUIS JADOT BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES    $17.95
France    508614    VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN BRUT VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE    $102.95
France    542548    HENRI BOURGEOIS LES BARONNES SANCERRE    $27.95
France    926626    FAMILLE PERRIN LES SINARDS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE    $36.95
France    933077    LOUIS JADOT CHARDONNAY BOURGOGNE    $23.95
France    220244    ARMAND DE BRIGNAC ACE OF SPADES BRUT GOLD CHAMPAGNE    $305.95
Italy    912956    RUFFINO MODUS    $29.95
Italy    951319    BOLLINI PINOT GRIGIO    $17.95
Italy    111641    ROCCA DELLE MACÌE RISERVA CHIANTI    $15.95
Italy    650713    MONTE ZOVO SA' SOLIN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA    $18.95
Italy    729392    FOSS MARAI EXTRA DRY PROSECCO    $19.95
Italy    168179    MARCHESI DI BAROLO LA TRADIZIONE BAROLO    $39.95
Italy    69377    MONTE ANTICO    $15.95
Italy    106450    SANTA MARGHERITA PINOT GRIGIO    $19.95
Italy    413179    ZENATO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO    $52.95
Italy    425488    SELLA & MOSCA CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA RISERVA    $16.95
Italy    433417    TEDESCHI AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA    $44.95
Italy    479766    ZENATO RIPASSA VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE    $26.95
Italy    606541    ANTINORI PÈPPOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO    $19.95
Italy    650432    CASTELGIOCONDO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    $52.95
Italy    687582    SANTA MARGHERITA BRUT VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE    $19.95
Italy    741769    ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI CLASSICO    $18.95
Italy    910430    TOMMASI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE    $22.95
Italy    948158    ANSELMI SAN VINCENZO    $16.95
Italy    986786    TIGNANELLO    $105.95
Italy    145920    MARCHESI DE' FRESCOBALDI TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI    $21.95
New Zealand    650325    KIM CRAWFORD PANSY! ROSÉ    $17.95
New Zealand    991950    KIM CRAWFORD CHARDONNAY    $19.95
New Zealand    10421    ASTROLABE PROVINCE SAUVIGNON BLANC    $22.95
New Zealand    35386    KIM CRAWFORD SAUVIGNON BLANC    $19.95
New Zealand    304469    CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC    $35.95
New Zealand    316570    OYSTER BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC    $19.95
New Zealand    326728    OYSTER BAY CHARDONNAY    $14.95
New Zealand    626390    KIM CRAWFORD PINOT NOIR    $19.95
Portugal    121749    TAYLOR FLADGATE 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT    $35.95
Portugal    149047    TAYLOR FLADGATE 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT    $69.95
Portugal    606590    ESPORÃO RESERVA RED    $25.95
South Africa    328567    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $16.95
South Africa    595280    PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH    $15.95
Spain    82024    MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS GRAN RESERVA    $17.95
Spain    166538    LAN CRIANZA    $16.95
Spain    50203    BERONIA RESERVA    $20.90
Spain    36483    TORRES GRAN CORONAS RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $19.95
Spain    177345    MUGA RESERVA    $25.95
Spain    479014    JULIÁN CHIVITE GRAN FEUDO RESERVA    $17.95
USA    294298    CONUNDRUM RED    $24.95
USA    212126    MCMANIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $19.95
USA    369686    KENDALL-JACKSON VINTNER'S RESERVE CHARDONNAY    $19.95
USA    210047    COLUMBIA CREST H3 CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $20.95
USA    130138    MEIOMI PINOT NOIR    $27.95
USA    521021 FRANCIS COPPOLA DIAMOND COLLECTION IVORY LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON $24.95
USA    232371    LOUIS M. MARTINI NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $33.95
USA    958975    MER SOLEIL RESERVE CHARDONNAY    $34.95
USA    59311    MICHAEL DAVID 7 DEADLY ZINS OLD VINE ZINFANDEL    $25.95
USA    255513    ROBERT MONDAVI NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $37.95
USA    258699    J. LOHR RIVERSTONE CHARDONNAY    $19.95
USA    314575    STERLING NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $30.95
USA    342428    BONTERRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $21.95
USA    342436    BONTERRA CHARDONNAY    $19.95
USA    352583    BERINGER KNIGHTS VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $43.95
USA    359257    RAVENSWOOD VINTNERS BLEND OLD VINE ZINFANDEL    $18.95
USA    594341    TOASTED HEAD CHARDONNAY    $18.95
USA    608653    SONOMA-CUTRER RUSSIAN RIVER RANCHES CHARDONNAY    $27.95
USA    656561    J. LOHR SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $23.95
USA    710426    CAKEBREAD CELLARS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $119.95
USA    738823    LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $21.95
USA    954834    RODNEY STRONG ESTATE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR    $25.95
USA    996405    STAGS' LEAP WINERY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $55.95
USA    84988    BERINGER NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY    $23.95
USA    188110    FIRST PRESS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $25.95
USA    222877    CAYMUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    $104.95
USA    678698    GNARLY HEAD OLD VINE ZINFANDEL    $17.95
USA    27516    J. LOHR LOS OSOS MERLOT    $22.95

Chimo! www.deantudor.com
AND http://gothicepicures.blogspot.com
AND https://twitter.com/gothicepicures

Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada http://winewriterscircle.ca
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Event: Master Wine tasting lunch with Franklin Tate, principal of Miles from Nowhere winery, Margaret River Australia.

The Date and Time: Wednesday September 6, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 PM
The Event: Master Wine tasting lunch with Franklin Tate, principal of Miles from Nowhere winery, Margaret River Australia.
The Venue: Biff's Bistro
The Target Audience: wine writer Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines have been currently submitted to the LCBO for future purchase consideration by David Litner of www.winemoves.com, but the Miles from Nowehere Cabernet Merlot 2015 is now being released at LCBO Vintages on October 28). Wine Moves uses Vintages and Private Orders to allow consumers to access wine markets, but do not do Consignment.
The Quote/Background: Franklin Tate was once associated with the well-established Evans and Tate labels, but has since moved on to his own winery, Miles from Nowhere (a reference to his ancestry and his vineyard locations in Western Australia's Margaret River region) which was set up in 2007. He's got 18K cases a year, from 46.9 hectares (2 vineyards are 20 years old). Www.milesfromnowhere.com.au. We don't see many wines from Margaret River in Ontario, so these are welcome additions. His largest market in North America is Florida. He has two ranges: an Estate series of 6 varietals (line priced in Ontario at $18.50) and a Best Blocks reserve series of 4 varietals ($34.95 Ontario line priced). Margaret River is loaded with micro-climates and different soils, so he really concentrates on the art of blending. His best stuff goes into the Best Blocks, of course; it is not made every year. Twist tops only are used, as well as nifty but clean and clear wine labeling.
 
The Wines: The intent of the lunch was to show off the Estate series of wines. Franklin also brought along some Best Blocks, specifically Best Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 as a comparison to the CM (same year, same ABV, 80% new French oak, 18 months in barrel, malo-lactic) since only the best barrels were selected for the cuvee blend. With more Cabernet there was also more dark fruit notes, mocha tones, some mint and dusty herbs, More tannins too, along with a longer finish. Rated 92, $34.95 private order. The white was a Best Blocks Chardonnay 2016 for which I had no Estate series comparison. He only exports a bit of it. Its ABV is 13.2%, and some it was BF; all of it was BA in new French oak for six months before final blending. It is everything you would want from a balanced chardonnay with some citrus, orchard fruit, toast, nutty, caramel, biscuit, and that important rich mouth feel. Rated 93, $34.95 private order.
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Miles from Nowhere Margaret River Rose 2017, $18.50: 12.7%ABV, all syrah/shiraz grapes. Done up in Provencal style (pale salmon). Cool fermentation followed by fining and filtration. Full of red fruits and some candy floss on mid-palate. Best with almost anything.
-Miles from Nowhere Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2015, $18.50: 14.5% ABV. A steal at this price, winner of 9 gold medals which is impressive. 56% cabernet sauvignon, 39% merlot, 3% petit verdot, 2% shiraz, matured in French oak. Very Bordeaux-like in style, with promises of dark fruit (plums, blackberries) and spicing. Firm tannins suggest a few more years would benefit the wine. Best with lamb. Available Oct 28 at Vintages.
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Miles from Nowhere Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2017, $18.50: 12.4% ABV, grassy with high tropical notes, more minerally than expected, savoury but also off-dry citric finish. Best as aperitif, or sipper, but also with goat cheese.
-Miles from Nowhere Margaret River Shiraz 2016: 14.7% ABV, with a combo of French and US oaks for a year's maturation. It is deep, dark and delicious – a dark cherry-berry delight with a whiff of cherry chocolates. A chewy wine.
 
The Food: we ordered off the menu – I chose the liver options (chicken liver "parfait" and grilled calf's liver), plus assorted breads and sparkling water. I find that liver goes with a variety of wines, not just Chianti.
The Downside: I had to rush in from another meeting at 11 AM.
The Upside: great one-on-one discussions on Australian wines and the export markets. Franklin is a master talker.
The Contact Person: franklin@grapeexp.com.au and david@winemoves.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93.
 

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

SIGNIFICANT WINES AND SPIRITS TASTED THIS AUGUST --

Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir 2016 VQA Ontario, +459966, $19.95 LCBO General List: low yielding grapes come from 1984 and later plantings in the Short Hills Bench area. As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy character and the low price – under $20. Both new and older (one/two year old) US barrels are used for 14 months aging. It is still needs another year or two for proper aging, but with decanting it can be enjoyed now. 13% ABV. One of the top bacos at the LCBO. Works best with pronounced meats such as pork/boar, lamb, farmed or wild game – all either braised or grilled. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +13904 LCBO, $16.95: Here is a deft entry-level character pinot noir wine, with some cherry-berry tones, some nuances of wood, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in "European" oak (15% new). Expect also light cloves, fresh fruit tones, and oak vanillin which will mute over time. Ready now but will get better, very food friendly and drinkable. Maybe decant first. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +315200 Vintages TBD, $44.95: there is not much more to say about this wine than I haven't already said over the years – it's simply one of the top performing bottles of Traditional Method or secondary fermentation in the province. The price has not changed over the years, still $44.95, but the grapevines are older and producing quality material. This is estate grown (Short Hills Bench) chardonnay, the best juice selected for 20% barrel fermentation and then aged for up to 60 months in the bottle before being disgorged. Very close to champagne, with its elegance and smoothness plus citric overtones (especially in the finish) and that typical yeasty baked goods aromatics. 12.5% ABV, a personal fave of mine. Needs another six months for the disgorgement addition to come together. Gold Medal winner at 2017 All Canadian Wine Championships. Quality/Price rating is 93+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Henry of Pelham Estate Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench, $19.95 winery only: First time for this style at HOP. Very aromatic with nuances of toastiness both in the nose and on the palate, somewhat in a fume style started by Mondavi fifty years ago. Typical savvy zestiness is tamed by oaking and unctuous fruit tones. Medium finish accents lemon and vanillin character. Best as a classy sipper on its own, but also with a lightly aromatic first course. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
 
 
Quinta de Curvos Loureiro Vinho Verde 2015, +471284, $12.95 Vintages: 100% Loureiro, 12% ABV, with lightly floral tones on the nose and on the palate, ending with aromatic softness. Loureiro is one of the vinho verde varieties used in blending. Best sipped or with appetizers. A Vintages re-order just in time for summer endings. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Casa Vinicola Sartori Mont'Albano Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Venezie IGT 2015, +492546, $16.95 Vintages: from organic vineyards in the Friuli-Graves DOC zone. The name indicates a red-stemmed refosco grape that is indigenous to the region. The wine is ruby-ish, assertive with herbaceous complexities, and goes best with food, especially fatty salami and sausages. Reminds me of a leaner cabernet franc. Organic wine, 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Baron de Hoen Cremant d'Alsace Brut Mausberg Blanc de Blancs NV, +171785 Vintages, $17.95: Limestone pebbles are responsible for the higher acid of the pinot auxerrois and pinot blanc grapes used in the blend here. Traditional Method is used, of course, without any ML. It is a pretty wine, with a bit of fruit, but is better as an aperitif or with first courses. My wife and I enjoyed this bottle with popcorn and a movie at home. It's sustainable agriculture in the region, and with a huge production of some 600,000 bottles (50K cases), there is an opportunity to keep the price down. This is a re-order by Vintages. 12.5% ABV, 3.8 g/L TA and 10 g/L RS. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Chateau des Charmes Riesling "Old Vines" 2014 Estate Bottled VQA NOTL, at winery [+277228 older Vintages SKU], $18.95 Vintages: Made from vines largely planted in 1978, so it is now a mature vineyard. 12.4% ABV. Succulence like you would not believe, but off-dry Alsatian character (citric tones, spices), with now almost three years of aging. A beaut with spicy or higher acidic foods. Lots of character. Twist top. Silver Medal from this year's National Wine Awards of Canada. Quality/price rating 91 points by Dean Tudor.
 
 
 
Chateau des Charmes Aligote 2016 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $15.95, +296848 LCBO: made from the rare French vinifera (seldom seen outside Burgundy) that Paul Bosc has cultivated since 1978, loaded with orchard fruit (apples and pears) and ending with a finishing crisp acidity suggesting food more than sipping. It was often used in Burgundy as the white wine base for Kir; now, almost any dry white is used in North America. It's refreshing for summer, and is unoaked. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2015 +962886 Vintages, $29.95: La Crema winemakers get a fairly consistent wine from year to year, with bottle aging being the main difference. Cool climate (as much as California could allow) from the coast in the evening and the early morning. Expect a combo of lemons, toast and orchard fruit tones, with a smooth finish from secondary malolactic fermentation. One of my really fave California chardonnays: balanced concentration. Mostly French oak with some US; 19% of the total is new oak. 13.9% ABV (from label). Excellent price. Better paired with food, from starters and apps through to cheese. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Luigi Bosca La Linda Old Vines Malbec 2014 +507442 $15.95 LCBO: this is a high value wine, given its price, quality Old Vines (30 years average), and altitude (just under a kilometre). Half of it has been aged in once-used US oak for eight months, the other half stays in stainless. The final blend is then lightly filtered. 13.4% ABV. Quite a stuffing of floral aromas and vanilla, juicy plummy taste, longer finish, best with substantial food, and even better if it is cellared a few more years. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Paololeo Passo del Cardinale 2014 Primitivo di Manduria DOC Puglia +496463 Vintages $18.95: this full-bodied red at 14% ABV, with a dried herbal character, shows also its warm ripe fruit and vanilla tones (three months in US oak barriques). It is very smooth in that California zinfandel manner, very BBQ friendly. Sip or drink with red-based food (sauces, meats, anything BBQ). Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Berger Rive Manoir de Mercey Mercurey Chateaubeau 2014 +508002 $29.95 Vintages: from the Cote Chalonnaise, this is an old vines pinot noir Burgundy that is pretty consistent from yearv to year. After fermentation it goes into wood (about a quarter of the volume is put into new oak) for a year's aging. Typical ripe red fruit with vanilla wood, but also soft. Should be cellared another year. Smart buy at this price. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro NV Spain +642173 $16.95 500mL Vintages Sept 16: from the Moscatel de Alejandria grape, this is one of my fave fortified dessert wines, at 15% ABV. Torres has been making it since 1946, and in the 21st century it has been a consistent medal winner at the annual Muscats de Monde (France). Expect tons of muscat aromas and flavours emphasizing rose, lemons, peaches, apricots. It's usually stored a year in stainless and then bottled the following February for 2 – 4 months extra aging under cork. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Ungava Premium Gin (Domaine Pinnacle, PQ), +374231, $34.95: at first sight an intriguing yellow colour bordering on green, reminiscent of yellow chartreuse. All of the flavour and the colour come from hand-picked Arctic ingredients from the Ungava Bay area. The northern botanicals include wild rose hips, cloudberry, crowberry, Labrador Tea, "Arctic Blend", and of course Nordic Juniper (which is pronounced but with diminished flavours). Labrador Tea and Arctic Blend are two plants within the rhododendron family. All six botanicals are used in Indigenous Inuit tea. See www.ungava-gin.com for further technical and botanical details. Entry is light and bracing with aromatics carrying through. Toned down juniper is noticeable, but other unique flavours are in play. Long finish, not hot. Tried straight and over ice, and as a Negronic Spritzer. Bottle and label also employ Inuktitut wording. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Sunday, September 3, 2017

--IN VINO DUPLICITAS by Peter Hellman (The Experiment, 2017, 248 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound)

--IN VINO DUPLICITAS (The Experiment, 2017, 248 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) is by Peter Hellman, a long time journalist with writing credits at Wine Spectator, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and others, along with a string of investigative books (e.g. Kitty Genovese). Here he tackles the "rise and fall of a wine forger extraordinaire", the Indonesian Rudy Kurniawan, who, with a skilled palate, began promoting a limitless supply of the rarest wines in the world. It reads like a crime novel, with tens of millions of dollars at stake in what later became spurious wines. Rudy slipped when he tried to sell a particular red burgundy from 1945: the winery was actually first producing wine in 1982. Hellman does many skilful interviews to come up with the story, which had appeared earlier as the 2016 documentary "Sour Grapes". (Duplicitas is a play on the word Veritas; it is actually a medical term related to siamese twins). A fascinating read.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

FOOD MEMOIR: -- APRON STRINGS by Jan Wong (Goose Lane, 2017, 380 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound)

--APRON STRINGS (Goose Lane, 2017, 380 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound) is by Jan Wong, an award-winning journalist who has written about food off and on. Her father owned Ruby Foos in Montreal. Here she crafts a memoir with the subtitle "navigating food and family in France, Italy, and China". These three countries excel at daily "haute cuisine" without batting an eye, taking it all in stride. As a true reporter, Jan Wong narrates the memoir of the journey she takes with her 22-year-old son Sam. She's full of observations about the  globalization of food, families and culture. In southeast France, they share with a family sheltering undocumented immigrants; in Italy's slow food country they pick up authenticity of style; in Shanghai they labour in the kitchen with some migrant maids of some of China's "nouveaux riches". As with many mother- son stories there are levels of disagreements, but they both share a central core. There are a dozen recipes per country, but that's not really the point of the memoir. Good stories, compellingly told.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com