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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some New Products Tasted in Summer 2009

From our Toronto offices:

1. Finca Urquiza Reserve Malbec 2005 Mendoza, +55467, $13.95 Vintages:
I'm not sure why this is now just being released since the Vintages
tasting panel had it noted in November 2007. But the extra aging seemed
to have given it more smoothness. Expect black fruit and mocha, some
dried fruit, and a BBQ matcher (give it 90 Porker numbers for grill
2. Gladiator Primitivo di Manduria 2006 Puglia, +23119, $14.95
Vintages: made for North Americans watching the "Rome" DVD. 14% ABV,
Zin-like, strong, affordable, somewhat black tar. The fourth Vintages
release for this product. Give it 90 points.
3. Messapicus Riserva Salice Salentino 2005 Puglia, +121087,
$16.95 Vintages: tasty, cherries are suggested, some mocha tones,
longer than expected length. Another winner, with an 80/20
Negroamaro/Malvasia Nera blend. Wine of the Month (July) at Vintages.
4. Tenuta S. Anna Brut Cuvee Rose NV Veneto, +126300, $16.95 Vintages:
good sipper for summer, 11.5% ABV, frothy and strawbs are suggested.
70Pinot nero/30Merlot mix. Charmat method.
5. Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 SouthEast Australia,
+91751 General List, $17.45: expect lots of fruit and tension, 14.3%
ABV, black tones all the way (black currant, mocha), length sufficient
for food. Already four years old, 20 months under French and US oak
aging, this wine is ready now but could also use a bit more aging
beyond Christmas.
6. Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Chile, +218644, $10.45 LCBO
General Purchase: berries and black fruit dominate, soft, like a
characteristic merlot but with substance and a slightly hot finish.
Takes time to open up, so don't quaff. Some of the wine (20%) was aged
in French oak for 8 months. 13.9% ABV, twist top.
7. Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Chile, +23606, $10.45 LCBO
General Purchase: good grapefruit zest, some citric peel near the
finish, plus tropicality (probably from the 2% added Semillon). Hot
finish okay with food. 14% ABV, twist top.
8. Rosehall Run Chardonnay 2007 Rosehall Vineyard VQA Prince Edward
County, Winery or Winery Direct, $29.95: heavily French-influenced,
French oak used, BF, sur lie, MF, some filtration. Tree fruit and
minerals, light toast. 12.8% ABV.
9. Rosehall Run Pinot Noir 2007 Rosehall Vineyard VQA Prince Edward
County, Winery Direct, $37.95: 60% new French oak barriques, 18 months
before racking. Floral, slightly off-dry cherries, long finish. 12%
10. Rosehall Run Cabernet Franc 2007 Cold Creek VQA Prince Edward
County, Winery Direct, $29.95: French oak, two-third new, aged 20
months before racking. Dark red fruits, toasty finish, long length,
needs time to evolve. 12.5% ABV.
11. Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde 2008 Portugal, +5322, $8.95 General List:
fizzy, refreshing, and affordable. 10% ABV, light enough for summer.
12. Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde 2008 Portugal, +89995, $9.95 General
List: a step up for a dollar more than no. 11, with added Alvarinho
grapes for floral character. Not as fizzy, longer length, 11.5% ABV.
13. Charamba Douro Red 2007 Portugal, +78105, $9.45 LCBO General List:
one of your more affordable reds, made from largely the same grapes
that go into port (Touriga Nacional), plus a handful of others.
Complex, but evolving, needs decanting or more time or sip it over the
cou7rse of a whole meal.
14. Open Riesling-Gewurztraminer 2008 VQA Niagara, +134965, LCBO
General, $11.95: seems the same as Strut R-G with the same price point,
sugar code of 2, and 11.1% ABV. Open is exclusive to the LCBO, while
Strut is exclusive to the Wine Rack. Coincidence? Typical MVC of citrus
and lychee, clouded somewhat by the off-dry finish.
15. Open Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara, +140129, LCBO General, $11.95: seems
the same as Strut Merlot with the same price point, sugar code of 1,
and 12.1% ABV. Open is exclusive to the LCBO, while Strut is exclusive
to the Wine Rack. Expect typical MVC of berries and soft mouthfeel,
tempered with an off-dry finish.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

VINTAGES: World Wine Watch for August 29, 2009 Release

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing <>
Always at since 1995. Also visit my "Wines, Beers and
Spirits of the Net Compendium", a guide to thousands of news items and
RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits.
My tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are
QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated
wines are here. NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the
release for wine writers or product consultants. Also, some defective
or corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1.Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 Niagara: rich,
aromatic, barrel tones, fresh lumber for the woodies. +268342, $19.95,
QPR: 90.
2. Cline Viognier 2007 California: good aromatics, bone dry but lovely
fruit finish, first course white. +128421, $15.95, QPR: 90.
3. Ironstone Chardonnay 2007 California: resto wine, hits all the right
balance notes of juice, acid, body, oak. +355776, $15.95, QPR: 90.
4. Urban Uco Torrontes 2008 Cafayete Valley Argentina: aromatics,
floral, some lemons but not peaches, more a food wine. +128645, $11.95,
QPR: 90.
5. McPherson Basilisk Marsanne/Viognier 2007 Central Victoria: full of
musky aromatics, brooding body, long finish. +678599, $19.95, QPR: 90.
6. Seifried Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Nelson New Zealand: very herby and
zesty, extreme, not for the faint hearted. +957670, $17.95, QPR: 90.
7. Tommasi Le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2008 IGT Venezie: very good structure
and taste, character in the body, not typical Italian PG. +910497,
$16.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1.Santa Duc Les Buissons Cairanne 2003 CdeR Villages: aging
beautifully, well-priced, spicy and peppers, long finish. +017079,
$17.95, QPR: 90.
2. Chateau Mourgue du Gres Les Galets Rouges 2007 Costieres de Nimes:
delicious syrah hit, beautiful black fruit overtones, and mocha
development. +132548, $14.95, QPR: 90.
3. Clos du Bois Zinfandel 2006 North Coast: a resto value wine, coconut
barrel tones, 13.5% ABV, finishes off-dry, appealing. +38000,$18.95,
QPR: 90.
4. Folie a Deux Menage a Trois Red 2007 California: basic, ready,
slightly raisinated, quaffer or first course red. +665158, $15, QPR: 90
5. Casa Silva Reserva Merlot 2007 Colchagua Valley Chile: dusty fruit,
not yet ready, but affordable for a laydown of one year or more.
+718650, $14.95, QPR: 90.
6. Ballast Stone Merlot 2006 Currency Creek South Australia: very woody
but goody price. +127555, $16.95, QPR: 90.
7. Charles Back Fairview Shiraz 2007 Coastal Region South Africa: lush,
fruity syrah tones, but Euro style through the length. +626358, $16.95,
QPR: 90.
8. JJ Hand Made Wines Merlot 2006 Stellenbosch: well-rounded and
finished. +96586, $17.95, QPR: 90.
9. Tommasi Vigneto Le Prunee Merlot 2007 IGT Venezie: mocha and red
fruit tones, with some prune notes in the tannic finish. +24505,
$16.95, QPR: 90.
10. Lima Quinta das Amoras Colheita Seleccionada 2005 Estremadura:
good, solid black fruit tones, ready now. +131862, $12.95, QPR: 90.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers
could buy and bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Delas Haute Pierre Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007, +74195, $35.95 retail.
2. Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel 2006 Napa, +903237, $48.95 retail.
3. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2007, +942151, $28.95 retail.
4. Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay 2007, +128926, $22.95.
5. Chateau Haut-Maurac 2003 Medoc, +125641, $24.95.
6. Lan Gran Reserva 2001 Rioja, +92862, $24.95.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Launch Event: the media and trade launch of Vice Martini at One, July 30/09

 The Time and Date: Thursday, July 30, 2009  4PM to 6PM
The Event: the media and trade launch of Vice Martini, a combination of
pre-mixed Vidal Icewine and Canadian vodka.
The Venue: One Restaurant, Yorkville
The Target Audience: media and trade
The Availability/Catalogue: this was a single product launch. Such
launches are getting rarer in Toronto, and indeed, I expected to find
some Vineland Estates table wines for an alternative tasting session.
But it was not to be.
The Quote/Background: Brian and Allan Schmidt of Vineland Estates had
been working on Vice Martini for some time now. They wanted a one pour
Icewine Martini, and this is certainly "it" for the home bar.
The Wines: Vice Martini, a combo of Niagara VQA Vidal Icewine with 100%
Canadian vodka, was delicious on its own, or on the rocks, or with a
frozen grape. The ABV is 22.5%, just above Port (indeed, its closest
competitor would probably be white port). The price is $49 retail, and
$42 to licensees. It is available now from the winery or from Winery
Direct. Sometime in October, it will be at the LCBO as a General List
product. One hang-up with the LCBO is placement: it is not VQA because
it has vodka, so it will not in the VQA section. So where?
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-definite Vidal icewine character but with the intense sweetness
thinned out a bit on the palate by the vodka. Normal icewine is 10%
ABV, this is 2.25 times higher at 22.5% ABV. Initially hot on the
finish, but cooled out with passage. Some lychee tones were evidence.
The Food: outstanding service with trays of matching foods such as
samosas, chicken kebabs, sliders, seared tuna, spring rolls, flatbread
pizzas with tomato and fresh cheese and basil.
The Downside: no water was in evidence, and the staff was hard pressed
to get iced water.
The Upside: should prove a winner with the martini crowd, especially if
accompanied by food with off-sweet Asiatic dipping sauces.
The Contact Person:  or
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 93.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Event: opening of Florentia Ristorante, 579 Mt. Pleasant. Toronto, July 27/09

 The Time and Date: Monday, July 27, 2009  6Pm to 8PM
The Event: opening of Florentia Ristorante, 579 Mt. Pleasant.
The Venue: Florentia Ristorante (
The Target Audience: media, friends, investors.
The Quote/Background: This is a Tuscan cuisine restaurant, owned and
operated by Milan Chef Bruno Soleri and Tuscan artist Marco Sassone
( Soleri has worked in Italy, at Chez Panisse,
and at Canoe. Sassone has exhibited widely, once lived for a long
period in San Francisco, and currently lives and works in Toronto and
Florence. He has a huge bibliography and catalogue of published
reproductions of his paintings. Some of his expensive and extensive
artwork hangs in the new restaurant, including a 17 foot mural titled
"Florentia" (1998) which portrays major Florentine figures of the
Renaissance. The restaurant is normally open Tuesday through Saturday,
but the launch party was held on a Monday. In fact, it was Sassone's
birthday today, so we all had the congratulatory raspberry and cream
millefeuille plus a chocolate cake at the end of the launch.
The Wines: The restaurant was pouring MezzoMondo Pinot Gris Chardonnay
2008 from Sicily, and MezzoMondo Sangiovese Merlot 2008 from Sicily.
Both wines were off their wine list, selling for $25. They also older
Tuscan wines such as Sassicaia 1994 and Tiganello 1997, both selling
for about $200 (there are four wines in this price category, some from
1988). The Frescobaldi Remole is attractive at $30. Corkage is $15, and
there are non-Italian wines on the list.
The Food: The normal menu features a fair bit of diary foods, with
fresh cheeses being a highlight. There is a formaggi freschi plate of
water buffalo mozzarella, bocconcini, fior di latte, and ricotta. There
is a burrata of fior di latte with cream. Chef has Tuscan lamb chops
with Swiss chard and cannellini beans. As well, there are smaller
pizzas, soups, other entrees, fish, chicken, and so forth. Tonight, we
had focaccia and bread with chard, anchovies and green onions. There
was cold rigatoni with fresh cheese, cherry tomatoes, and black olives.
There was potato focaccia. And there were three heavy-ish frittatas
with onion, tomato and pepper, and zucchini. Plus, thin crust pizza
with red pepper puree and mozzarella.
The Downside: but it was, as these openings go, lightly attended.
Usually they are packed.
The Upside: Tony Aspler and his wife Deborah Benoit were there. As if
to remind me, right in front of my vision there was an excellent
painting by Sassone of three pigs staring at me.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trade Tasting Event: APVSA tasting (Association pour la promotion des vins etc) July 2/09

 The Time and Date: Thursday, July 2, 2009   10 AM to 6 PM
The Event: APVSA tasting (Association pour la promotion des vins et
spiritueux en Amerique du Nord).
The Venue: Delta Chelsea Inn
The Target Audience: wine agents.
The Availability/Catalogue: no wines are currently available in
Ontario. The group is here to try to get some agents to agree to rep
the principal. Some of the wines are available in Quebec and Alberta.
Most of the wines were French, and there were sales staff available to
comment on the prices and production.
The Wines: The problem I had with the wines, and one that must be
acknowledged, is that they were no better than the wines that we
already have here in Ontario. There really did not seem to be any price
advantages, either. These 40 or so wines could be made available
through Vintages or Consignment. Here were my faves, regardless of
price (Bordeaux dominated):
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2000 Lalande de Pomerol
-Dom. Des Planes La Cuvee Reservee 2006 Cotes de Provence, organic
cabernet sauvignon and mourvedre blend.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2002 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau de L'Eveche 2000 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau de L'Eveche 2003 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau La Haye 2004 St. Estephe
-Teresa Raiz Decano Rosso 2006 Friuli, 13.5% ABV
-Teresa Raiz Sovrej 2007 Venezia Giulia
-Chateau Du Grand Janisson 2004 Premiere Cotes du Bordeaux
-Chateau Janisson 2003 Cadillac Bordeaux, botrytisized sweetie
-Chateau Haut-Terre-Fort 2008 Entre-Deux-Mers
-Dom. Des Planes Flamant Rose Cotes de Provence 2008, organic.
-L'Or des Schistes 2003 St. Chinian, organic
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2003 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2005 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau Touteau 2007 Montaigne St. Emilion
-Chateau de L'Eveche 2005 Lalande de Pomerol
-Teresa Raiz Vigneti Le Marsure Merlot 2007
-Chateau Puy Bardens 2004 Premiere Cotes de Bordeaux
-Chateau La Bergere 2007 Montaigne St. Emilion
-Chateau Moulin La Bergere 2006 St. Georges St. Emilion
The Food: none.
The Downside: usually there is not enough space to sprawl out and write
notes. No paper was furnished, so I used some 3 by 5 cards.
The Upside: a chance to taste some engaging wines not available here.
There is a listing of wines with prices, but it is complicated.
The next show will be in October, 2009.
The Contact Person: for prices, etc., check with Pascal
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Good Food and Wine Books

THE FLEXITARIAN DIET; the mostly vegetarian way to lose weight, be
healthier, prevent disease, and add years to your life (McGraw Hill,
2009, 285 pages, ISBN 978-0-07-154957-8, $24.95 US hard covers)is by
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN (licensed dietician). She's heavily
involved in the online and TV nutrition world, as well as print and
cooking schools. Her main thrust here is simply to cut down on red
meat. "Flexitarian" means the same as omnivore: you'll eat everything.
But in moderation and balance. There are a range of options here, such
as flexible meal plans, meat-substitute recipes, and time of day. No
need to completely give up meat, dairy or fat. Typical one day programs
include vanilla spice French toast with berry syrup, arugula salad with
figs and goat cheese, grilled primavera on rigatoni, and peach
raspberry crepe. The trick is not to overdo it.
Audience and level of use: men, those trying to lose weight the easy
Some interesting or unusual facts: studies show that flexitarians
weight 15 percent less, have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes
and cancer, and live about four nears longer than carnivores.
The downside to this book: just another diet book but more acceptable
to men.
The upside to this book: good layout of meal programs.
Quality/Price Rating: 84.

4. LAST CANADIAN BEER; the Moosehead story (Nimbus Publishing, 2008,
178 pages, ISBN N978-1-55109-691-9, $29.95 Canadian hard covers) is by
Harvey Sawler, a Maritime writer who has often written about New
Brunswick businesses. Here he has conducted interviews with family
members and the company's communications area, and he was given access
to the corporate archives. His book is a straightforward business
history, and like all private family ownerships, there are the
inevitable disputes over money and direction. The current leader of the
firm is sixth generation Andrew Oland, born in 1967, one hundred years
after the firm was founded. He currently makes 13 different beers, some
for different markets. While other beer labels have been sold to
American and European interests, Moosehead remains independent. Sawler
has come up with lots of historical or archival photos, mostly black
and white. He has colour plates of labels and their changes over the
Audience and level of use:  beer lovers, history buffs, culinary
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: The appendices list and
identify the names of the family members through six generations. There
is also a list of awards since 1950 (were there no records before 1950?
Or no awards given?), a list of their markets for beers, and some
advertising slogans.
The downside to this book: NO INDEX, which is a shame.
The upside to this book: good contribution to Canadian corporate
business history, and to beer marketing.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
5. 200 BEST PANINI RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2008, 256 pages, ISBN 978-0-
7788-0201-3, $27.95 Canadian paper covers) is by Tiffany Collins, who
currently serves as culinary spokesperson for the Texas Beef Council.
35 panini here are made from beef; this represents one-sixth of the
book. Panini, for the uninitiated cook, are pressed and grilled
sandwiches. You can take almost any sandwich and make it into a panini:
just keep the ooze factor to a minimum. This book has several hundred
recipes, if you count all the variations, and it is a good place to
begin. The arrangement is by format or content, such as breakfast and
brunch panini, vegetarian, seafood (smoked salmon, red onion, cream
cheese and caper panini), poultry, meat (beef, caramelized onions and
blue cheese panini), deli, leftover, panini for kids, and desserts
(chocolate, hazelnut and strawberry panini). She has riffs such as
classic Reuben panini, Montecristo panini, Philly chicken panini,
chicken Caesar, lobster fontina, even pizza panini. Some of the preps
are glamorous such as the sardine and balsamic tomato panini. Others
are upscale. The type of bread is up to you, she says, but ciabatta and
focaccia are best according to the author. The book shows the standard
Robert Rose approach: larger typeface and additional leading,
avoirdupois and metric measurements, colour plates with page
references, cooks notes, and index.
Audience and level of use: basic sandwich primer.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above.
The downside to this book: this is a sandwich book, and you can easily
"panini" any sandwich.
The upside to this book: there is a chapter on condiments.
Quality/Price Rating: 83.
6. COOKING UP A STORM; recipes lost and found from the Times-Picayune
of New Orleans (Chronicle Books, 2008; distr. Raincoast, 368 pages,
ISBN 978-0-8118-6577-7, $24.95 US paper covers) is edited by Marcelle
Bienvenu and Judy Walker. All the preps come out of the Times-Picayune
newspaper. It is interesting that the newspaper became a post-hurricane
swapping place for old recipes that were washed away by Katrina. There
are about 225 recipes here, along with the stories of how they came to
be. They have been collated from the newspaper archives, local readers
and chefs, and local restaurants. Both classic and contemporary are
repped here, so you'll get a dose of beignets, chicken with okra, red
beans and rice, grits, and local drink recipes. It is wide-ranging, and
not all recipes are Creole or Cajun – it is more like a community
cookbook from New Orleans and the parishes. And it means that there are
many non-Creole dishes such as "Mexican lasagna" or "liver with onions"
or "beef kababs".  Arrangement is by course, from apps to desserts,
with, of course, a lagniappe chapter. The book concludes with a guide
to local descriptions of food, such as po-boy or gumbo. Recipes use
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents at
the far back. Anecdotes and pictures of a lost New Orleans complete the
Audience and level of use: Creole food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: pain perdu, seafood gumbo,
fresh corn and shrimp chowder, banana bread, anise cookies, praline
cookies, and muffuletta.
The downside to this book: typeface is a bit light, especially since
the ink used is beige or green. It can be hard to read at time.
The upside to this book: a good project, to keep recipes in print.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

7. 300 SENSATIONAL SOUPS (Robert Rose, 2008, 384 pages, ISBN 978-0-
7788-0196-2, $27.95 Canadian paper covers) is by Carla Snyder and
Meredith Deeds, both food writers living in the US Midwest. This is a
nice database of classics and contemporary soups, along with
international preps such as pho, harira, minestrone, or African peanut
soup. It is arranged by major ingredient. There are separate chapters
for meat, veggies, beans, cheese, poultry, fish, and styles such as
chowders, cold soups, and dessert soups. At the beginning there are
notes on soup stocks, and at the end, there are notes on garnishes and
toppings. As is standard with any Rose cookbook, the ingredients are
expressed in both avoirdupois and metric measurements, the typeface is
clean and lean and large, and there is plenty of white space for adding
your own notes.
Audience and level of use: basic soup primer.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: veal burgoo, chilled curried
pear soup, chicken-squash-sausage soup, lasagna soup, arugula soup with
salmon and roasted grape tomatoes, guacamole soup.
The downside to this book: there are some colour pix of the soups, but
really, you cannot see much, just the garnish and the top layer. This
is true of all soups, so why bother? It just adds to the expense of the
The upside to this book: nifty collection.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
8. A YEAR OF WINE; perfect pairings , great buys, and what to sip for
each season (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008, 250 pages, ISBN 978-
1-4169-4815-5, $24 US hard covers) is by Tyler Colman, aka Dr. Vino,
author of the award-winning wine blog He encourages wine
lovers to "drink different". This is a book about a year of wine
enjoyment and "pairing wine with food". Thus, it is arranged by season,
and then by month. He begins with January in winter. Staples here
include champagne, sweet and/or older rieslings, BA whites, burgundy,
barolo, N Rhone, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel. Other sweet
wines are included. The heavy and fruity wines would get you through
the cold winter months (if you live in Canada or the northern part of
the USD: what about Southern USA?). In summer, it is lots of Prosecco,
vinho verde, unoaked whites, Malbec, lambrusco, roses, Beaujolais, and
moscato. He has recommendations for every season, mood, budget, event,
and suggestions for gifts. A highlight for me was the timeline for what
goes on in a winery and vineyard over a twelve month period.
Audience and level of use: basic primer, with a twist.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: He has a "sommelier survey"
in which he asks wine professionals queries such as: how does context
matter? Your fave pairings? Fave wines by season? Best season for
drinking wine? Your best food and wine occasion?
The downside to this book: there's a lot of entry level and wine primer
stuff here, Also, the index does not list all holidays or events, such
as Christmas, and so you'll have to go to the appropriate month.
The upside to this book: some producers are recommended, but in
different price ranges.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

9. BAKING FOR ALL OCCASIONS; a treasury of recipes for everyday
celebrations (Chronicle Books, 2008, 396 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-4547-2,
$35 US hard covers) is by Flo Braker, baking cookbook author and food
writer and educator. Log rolling is by Chuck Williams, Nigella Lawson,
and Alice Medrich. "Occasions" here really means mostly for
entertaining, for a group of people. It is organized with these
occasions in mind. There's a section on makeaheads which can stashed
and finished off later. Another is on fresh fruit. The compendium of
200 preps covers most events. The first 50 pages is a baking primer.
Her baking is a very exact science. Ingredient listings have volume and
weights in both metric and avoirdupois. Even so, there are conversion
charts for US/UK/Metric forms. A good reference book, but you must
follow the rules first, as they are explained in the primer and cook's
Audience and level of use: cooks who want to become bakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chocolate chip cookie logs;
trufflewiches; Neapolitan bars; yogurt pound cake; pumpkin ice cream
profiteroles; almond apricot berry buckle.
The downside to this book: typeface is too light, being sans serif and
narrow in the ingredient listing.
The upside to this book: separate indexes by recipe categories, such as
tarts, turnovers, pies, cupcakes, pastries, and the like.
Quality/Price Rating:

10. CHOOSING THE RIGHT WINE (Teach Yourself, 2008; distr. McGraw-Hill,
36 pages, ISBN 978-0-07-162102-1, $14.95 US soft covers) is by Beverley
Blanning, a freelance writer and Master of Wine. This book is one of
500 in the Teach Yourself series (the original self-help series). The
emphasis in all the books is on "shelf help" – read notes and form
observations and opinions. This is the latest wine primer, and it is
pretty basic: you won't find any extraneous material here. The book is
ideal for any wine classes, and it is certainly cheap enough. No
pictures, which is a good thing. Blanning's role is "to provide the
tools to make choosing wine stress-free" and "to give an overview of
the most interesting wines". You can learn a lot about wines without
actually doing much tasting. That was the premise of the bluffer's
guides. Major topics here: how to taste, grape varieties, terroir,
winemakers, regions, and buying-storing-serving. She has a Q & A,
glossary, references, bibliography, list of websites, and an index. She
also has material on how to be a green wine shopper, with material on
organic wines, biodynamic wine, and recycling. In every section, there
are blocked off passages labeled "try these", which are the structured
wine tastings to have on your own. You are supposed to compare your
notes to hers. No brands are mentioned.
Audience and level of use: standard primer.
Some interesting or unusual facts: In the UK, the excise duty on a
bottle of wine is 1.46 pounds (1.87 on any sparkling wine). VAT is
additional. This is a flat rate, not a markup. Thus, the more you pay
for wine in the UK, the more value you get for the liquid contents.
The downside to this book: slightly British orientation, which is
The upside to this book: no pictures of wine bottles or other twee
stuff. And thus, no specific wine producers are mentioned.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TASTING: LCBO Vintages Aug 15 Release: some notes...

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing <>
Always at since 1995. Also visit my "Wines, Beers and
Spirits of the Net Compendium", a guide to thousands of news items and
RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits.
My tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are
QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated
wines are here. NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the
release for wine writers or product consultants. Also, some defective
or corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Creekside Estate Laura White 2007 Niagara: very aromatic blend of
sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot gris, viognier and riesling. Sipper.
+121764, 17.95, QPR: 90.
2. Stratus Wildass White 2006 Niagara: another very aromatic blend but
with semillon and gew├╝rztraminer replacing Laura's pinot gris. A bit
spicier with more depth, but also an earlier vintage at a higher price.
More a first course wine than a sipper. +85100, $19.95, QPR: 90.
3. Stonechurch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 Niagara-on-the-Lake:
nicely integrated wood tones, but not buttery or creamy, good value.
+121772, $16.95, QPR: 90.
4. Liberty School Chardonnay 2006 Central Coast California: a
restaurant wine, very engaging, useful forwardness. Spot on. +960120,
$15.95, QPR: 90.
5. Lapostolle Casa Chardonnay 2008 Casablanca: balanced and integrated,
a bit of everything here, apples, limes, melons, oak. 14% ABV. Good
price for a mid-weight. +396986, $14.95, QPR: 90
6. Zilzie Chardonnay 2007 Victoria: nothing is better than a Gold Medal
heavily-oaked wine, but done in a Euro style. 14.5% ABV. +108027,
$17.95, QPR: 94.
7. Domaine Francis Fichet Macon-Villages 2007: pretty decent mid-weight
wine with a chardonnay hit on the long finish. +127399, $16.95, QPR: 90
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2007 Mendoza: soft vanilla tones
despite the 14% ABV, oak aged of course. +746727, $12.95, QPR: 91.
2. Emiliana Natura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Chile: juicy organic wine,
touches of oak and butter. +61069, $15.95, QPR: 90.
3. Montgras Reserva Carmenere 2008 Colchagua: 14.5% ABV, but not a hot
finish. Dark fruit and mocha tones. Excellent value. +960542, $12.95,
QPR: 91.
4. Barossa Valley Estate E Minor Shiraz 2007: black fruit and depth,
good zest and Euro style +71043, $17.95, QPR: 90.
5. Chateau Courriere-Rongieras 2005 Lussac Saint-Emilion: great
mouthfeel, North American merlot softness appeal. +125492, $18.95, QPR:
6. Chateau Haut-Canteloup 2003 Medoc: black fruit merlot dominates in
this over-the-top ripe wine. +125534, $17.95, QPR: 90.
7. Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2001 Puglia: a nicely aged wine, dry
bouquet, subtle finish. Great price. +724674, $13.95, QPR: 90.
8. Finca Sobreno Crianza 2005 Toro: almost ready to drink, dense
development of flavours. Woodsy. +40360, $18.95, QPR: 90.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers
could buy and bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1.Nicolas Potel Montagny Blanc 1er Cru 2007, +127431, $24.95 retail
2. Chateau de Sancerre Sancerre 2007, +340893, $25.95 retail.
3. Domaine Carneros Estate Pinot Noir 2006, +101816, $34.95 retail.
4. Montes Alpha Syrah 2007 Colchagua Chile, +612, $22.95 retail.
5. Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, +971705, $39.95.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lunch Event: a working lunch with Santa Rita winemaker Carlos Gatica , July 23/09

3. The Time and Date: Thursday, July 23, 2009   Noon to 2PM
The Event: a working lunch with Santa Rita winemaker Carlos Gatica
The Venue: Sharkey's Village Caf├ę, Bloor West Village.
The Target Audience: wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: all nine wines tasted are available, three
by current private order.
The Quote/Background: Carlos is one of a dozen winemakers at Santa
Rita. He is responsible for the 120 series, an entry level wine selling
for about ten dollars. There are around 9 of these 120 wines, but only
two are in the Ontario marketplace.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Santa Rita Triple C 2005, $49.95 private order (20th anniversary wine,
with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and carmenere as the high "C"s.
-Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005, $54.95 private order, 85% carmenere
and 15% cabernet sauvignon.
-Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Maipo, $59.95 private
order, top of the line.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Casablanca, +275677, $13.95,
13.8% ABV.
-Santa Rita Floresta Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2007, +680959 Vintages,
$19.95, one of a terroir series from three different clones, 13.5% ABV.
-Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, +253872, $13.95, 13.9%
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc 2008, +23606, $10.45: twist top, 14%
-Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, +218644, $10.45: twist top,
13.9% ABV.
-Santa Rita Reserva Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca, +348359, $13.95, 14%

The Food: we ordered off the menu, and had a collection of wraps,
pastas, wings, salads, ribs – typical people food for summer enjoyment.
The Downside: it rained a lot that day.
The Upside: a chance to taste some really good wines with useful food.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.