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Wednesday, September 28, 2011


By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at My
"Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net Compendium" is a guide to
thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers
and spirits, at since 1995. 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. Corked wines are not normally available
for re-tasting from another bottle.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Coyote's Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinto Gris 2009 Four Mile Creek
Niagara: succulent and rich, 12.5% ABV, twist top, good finish.
+116582, $17.95, QPR: 89.
2. Cicchitti Torrontes 2010 Mendoza: another best value aromatic
Argentine wine, useful if there is a heat wave in October. 13% ABV,
succulence. +243204, $11.95, QPR: 89.
3. Valdivieso Reserva Chardonnay 2010 Leyda Valley: balanced wood
flavours after nine months in French oak barrels, lovely chardonnay
charmer, smooth despite 14% ABV. +981621, $14.95, QPR: 89.
4. Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough: good lingering
complexity, full of body and elegance. 14% ABV. +9142, $17.95, QPR: 90.
5. Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Gris 2008 East Coast NZ: ripe and
richer tones, more succulence., 13.5% ABV. +727255, $13.95, QPR: 90.
6. Dourthe La Grande Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Bordeaux: not an
intense savvy but a useful representation of white Bordeaux at its
finest. Crisp finish. +159640, $14.95, QPR: 89.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Perez Cruz Limited Edition Syrah 2009 Maipo: a major Rhone-type
blockbuster, 14.5% ABV, lots of spices and earth. +589812, $19.95, QPR:
2. Domaine Les Yeuses Les Epices Syrah 2008 Vin de Pays d'Oc: an even
better wine, delicious Rhone MVC, yet some aromatics too. +177584,
$14.95, QPR: 90.
3. Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Central Coast: juicy, traditional MVC
for California cab mainly from Monterey. 14.5% ABV. +57877, $17.95,
QPR: 89.
4. Lamadrid Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Mendoza: great cab
presence, MVC, cassis all round, 13.7% ABV. +234518, $13.95, QPR: 89.
5. Zolo Malbec 2010 Mendoza: delivers value MVC for Argentine Malbec,
useful at Fall BBQs, 13.8% ABV. +183905, $12.95, QPR: 89.
6. Hickinbotham Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 South Australia:
unfiltered, 14.5% ABV, thick, unctuous deep red wine full of flavours.
+159632, $15.95, QPR: 89.
7. Wild Rock Gravel Pit Red 2008 Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Nay: great
tasting blend of merlot, malbec and cab franc, 14% ABV, twist top.
+163600, $17.95, QPR: 89.
8. Remo Farina Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009: not the 2008 as
stated in the Vintages catalogue, so it is not as well-aged. At 13.5% ABV, it's the
"Ripasso of the Month" at the LCBO. +999946, $16.95, QPR: 89.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are READY to enjoy right NOW. Consumers
should buy these wines to bring to restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Le Clos Jordanne Talon Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 Vinemount
Ridge Niagara, +143974, $40 retail.
2. Yalumba FDW 7C Chardonnay 2008 Adelaide Hills, +244384, $23.95.
3. Domaine Les Vieux Murs Poully-Fuisse 2008, +241117, $23.95.
4. Henri Bourgeois La Porte du Caillou Sancerre 2009, +244806, $23.95.
5.Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2005, +579094, $38.95
6. Wolf Blass Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Coonawarra, +606939,
7. E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2007, +704908, $24.95 retail.
8. Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc 2008 Prince Edward County,
+149039, $22.95.
9. Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa, +246900, $46.95.
10. Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir 2008 Carneros Napa, +438697, $29.95.
11. Chateau Moulin de Sales 2003 Lalande de Pomerol, +245845, $29.95.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sept 20/11: STEM Wine Group's 6th annual portfolio tasting in Toronto

The Time and Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011    3PM to 9PM

The Event: Stem Wine Group's 6th annual Family of Wines Gala Tasting

The Venue: 99 Sudbury, Toronto

The Target Audience: invited trade, writers, and private clients.

The Availability/Catalogue: everything is here or will be via consignment and private orders. The catalogue was a model of efficiency, with a quick section on how to use the guide. All prices were given, as well as the terms. The wines were listed by region and producer, in table order. Helpful cards were placed at each table, with more details about each wine. This really saved me a lot of time, and I am sure the patrons appreciated it.

The Quote/Background: Partners Robert Tome and Tony Macchione have assembled a good portfolio of wines, specializing in sought after wines from Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, and other regions of Italy. There are also a select few wines from other European countries plus the New World. Nineteen owners or export directors came from abroad for this event.


The Wines: I did not try all the wines, there were over 135 of them.

Prices are retail, but due to a strong Canadian currency, they are also lower than last year, in general.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Boroli Barolo 2005, $47.99.

-Zyme Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004, $135.99

-Villabella Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Fracastoro 1999, $125

-Villabella Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Fracastoro 2003, $59.99

-Villabella Passito del Fiordilej 2008, $24.99 (375 mL)

-Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2005, $94.99

-Collemattioni Brunello di Montalcino 2006, $59.99

-Andeluna Cellars Grand Reserve Pasionado 2005 Mendoza, $44.99

-Andeluna Cellars Malbec 2010 Mendoza, $15.49

-Villa a Sesta Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, $34.99

-Tenuta Monteti IGT Tuscany 2006, $39.99 [petit verdot blend]

-Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco 25th Anniversary 2006 Umbria,


-Henri Abele Brut Champagne Traditionnel NV, $54.99

-Husic Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2005, $149


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Andeluna Cellars Malbec Reserve 2008 Mendoza, $22.99

-Henri Abele Rose Champagne Traditionnel NV, $62.99

-Boroli Barolo Villero 2004, $99

-Ca' del Baio Langhe Nebbiolo Bric del Baio 2009, $21.99

-Ronco del Gelso Friulano 2007 Friuli Venezia Giulia, $26.99

-Villabella Villa Cordevigo Bianco Veronese 2008, $29.99

-Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2004, $139.99

-Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna del Piano 2005, $209.99

-La Fattoria de Magliano Poggio Bestiale IGT 2008, $49.99

-La Fattoria de Magliano Perenzo Syrah IGT 2008, $56.99

-Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano 2006 Umbria, $54.99

-Masciarelli Castello di Semivicoli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2007, $29.99

-Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 Villa Gemma, $74.99

-Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Aglianico 2007, $84.99

-Jax Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2006, $54.99

-Merry Edwards Pinot Noir 2008 Klopp Ranch Russian River, $89.99

-Andeluna Reserve Chardonnay 2007 Mendoza, $22.99

-Az. Ag. Forchir Pinot Grigio Rosadis Rose 2010 Friuli Venezia Giulia, $15.99

-Rockbare Shiraz McLaren Vale 2009, $22.99

-Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010, $51.99

-Husic Vineyards Palm Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2008, $75

-Jean Gauteau L'Autre de Sociando-Mallet 2009, $44.

-Chateau du Val d'Or St. Emilion Grand Cru 2009, $32.99

-Marisco Vineyards King's Wrath Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, $19.99


*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Ca' Del Baio Barbaresco Pianrosa 2007, $32.99

-Delibori Vignetti Cantine Amarone della Valpolicella 2007, $32.99

-Tenuta Monteti Caburnio IGT 2007 Tuscany, $19.99

-Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2008 Umbria, $22.99

-Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi 2006, $39.99

-David Franz Lehmann Barossa Benjamin's Promise Shiraz 2006, $59.99

-David Franz Lehmann Barossa Georgie's Walk Cabernet Sauvignon 2006,


-Michael Sullberg Merlot 2009 Central Coast, $16.99

-Hart & McGarry Chardonnay Napa Valley 2009, $24.99

-Cant. Produttori Colterenzio Pinot Bianco 2010 Alto Adige, $19.99

-Zyme Il Bianco 2010 Veneto, $25.99

-Tombaco Ca'Del Doge Primitivo IGT 2009 Puglia, $11.99

-Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato Alianico 2008 IGT Campania, $19.99


The Food: it is always about the porchetta (here, from Vertical, with head attached)! But there were also a Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel and food stations supported by restaurants (veal and spinach ravioli at Paese, white chocolate cannoli at Mercatto, scallop and lobster at Crush, risotto and tuna at Mercatto), plus coffee.

The Upside: there was a jazz-pop group that got louder as the day unfolded. I left at 6PM, just after the big crowd came.

The Downside: the music group was too well-hidden, and they might as well have been recorded musicians.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 92.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sept 16/11: Taste Ontario! in Toronto

The Time and Date: Monday, September 19, 2011  1PM to 4PM

The Event: Taste Ontario! Toronto

The Venue: Ritz-Carlton Toronto

The Target Audience: wine trade

The Availability/Catalogue: all wines listed in the catalogue are available through the winery, although some might be at the LCBO. The trade show had 203 wines, while the consumer show in the evening had 104 wines. I did not attend the consumer show which featured some different wines and was run by Wine Country Ontario and Vintages, with several options to buy wines onsite.

The Quote/Background: This as the third annual Taste Ontario Toronto, with 54 wineries. The exhibits were arranged alphabetically (Lake Erie North Shore through Prince Edward County) both by region and then by winery. The catalogue had size and vintage details, as well as licensee prices and space for making notes.

The Wines: I did not try every wine, nor did I try every winery. ALL PRICES ARE LICENSEE except where noted.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Cave Spring Cellars Blanc de Blancs CSV 2004, $33.51

-Flat Rock Cellars Gewurztraminer 2010, $19.37

-Hidden Bench Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2009, $27.02

-Tawse Robyn's Block Chardonnay 2009, $32.65

-Chateau des Charmes Sparkling Rose 2008, $21.30

-Coyote's Run Estate Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009, $26.53

-Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Entourage Silver Series 2006 Methode Classique, $16.82

-Stratus Vineyards White 2007, $32.70

-Closson Chase South Clos Chardonnay 2009, $33.56

-Hardie Wines Chardonnay Unfiltered 2009, $25.97

-Huff Estates Pinot Noir 2009, $17.48


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-13th Street Brut Rose, $20.80

-Alvento Emilie 2006, $17.57

-Alvento Elige 2007, $14.48

-Cave Spring Cellars Riesling Dolomite 2009, $12.85

-Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2009, $20.69

-Creekside Estate Broken Press Syrah 2008, $29.52

-Creekside Estate Laura's White 2007, $13.83

-Featherstone Gewurztraminer 2010, $16.84

-Fielding Estate Pinot Gris Estate Bottled 2010, $18.53

-Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $37.95

-Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2009, $25.28

-GreenLane Estate Old Vines Riesling 2010, $21.38

-Hidden Bench Vineyards Estate Riesling 2009, $20.26

-Hidden Bench Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, $32.08

-Malivoire Gewurztraminer 2010, $17.48

-Peninsula Ridge Estates McNally Vineyard Proprietor's Reserve Pinot Noir 2009, $18.46

-Peninsula Ridge Estates Meritage 2009, $16.97

-Ridge Road Estate Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2009, $16.95 RETAIL

-Rockway Glen Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $14.73

-Rosewood Semillon 2010, $13.27

-Foreign Affair Temptress 2008, $33.44

-Thirty Bench Winemaker's Red 2009, $17.90

-Vineland Estates Cabernet Elevation 2009, $18.50

-Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008 Estate Bottled, $12.34

-Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc 2007 St. David's Bench Vineyard, $19.06

-Coyote's Run Estate Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009, $26.53

-Coyote's Run Estate Pinot Noir 2009, $14.58

-Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Gold Series Merlot 2090, $16.07

-Konzelmann Estate Riesling Grand Reserve 2009, $18.39

-Konzelmann Estate Heritage 4th Generation 2007, $20.92

-Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay 2009, $14.75

-Mike Weir Cabernet-Merlot 2008, $14.14

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc 2008, $42.74

-Reif Estate Meritage 2007, $17.48

-Reif Estate Chardonnay Reserve 2009, $14.82

-Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Syrah 2009, $18.32

-Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2007, $16.82

-Stratus Vineyards Tollgate White 2007, $14.58

-Vintage Ink Rite of Passage Chardonnay 2010, $13.04

-Pelee Island Winery Vinedresser Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, $16.69

-Closson Chase CCV Chardonnay 2009, $20.89

-Closson Chase Church Side Pinot Noir 2009, $43.73

-The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards Diana Block Pinot Noir 2007, $25.82

-The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards Brut 2008, $22.06

-Huff Estates Cuvee Peter F. Huff Sparkling 2008, $26.33

-Huff Estates South Bay Chardonnay 2008, $18.70


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-13th Street White Palette 2010, $12.44

-Alvento Vio 2008, $14.58

-Cave Spring Cellars Riesling CSV 2008, $25.12

-Creekside Estate Laura's Red 2007, $14.58

-Fielding Estate Pinot Noir 2009, $21.06

-Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay 2008, $14.31

-GreenLane Estate Riesling 2010, $15.48

-Henry of Pelham Family Tree White 2009, $14.30

-Hidden Bench Vineyards Roman's Block Riesling 2008, $28.70

-Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007, $33.58

-Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Meritage 2007, $33.58

-Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Merlot 2007, $32.09

-Malivoire M2 Small Lot Chardonnay 2010, $13.09

-Peninsula Ridge Estates Beal Vineyard Reserve Merlot 2009, $16.22

-Tawse Grower's Blend Pinot Noir 2009, $23.69

-Tawse Meritage 2008, $43.16

-Foreign Affair Dream 2008, $21.90

-Foreign Affair Conspiracy 2008, $13.98

-Vineland Estates Brut Reserve 2008, $16.67

-Wayne Gretzky Estate Gewurztraminer 2010, $16.59

-Wayne Gretzky Estate Cabernet Merlot 2007, $17.48

-Wayne Gretzky Estate Shiraz Cabernet 2008, $20.13

-Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Montague Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2010, $13.83

-Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2008, $24.29

-Konzelmann Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2009, $25.14

-Mike Weir Sparkling 2008, $20.89

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Redcoat 2009, $13.83

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Riesling 2009, $20.59

-Riverview Cellars Estate Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $42.01

-Riverview Cellars Estate Angelina's Reserve Chardonnay 2009, $16.67

-Stratus Vineyards Red 2007, $32.70

-Stratus Vineyards Tollgate Red 2007, $14.58

-Closson Chase CCV Pinot Noir 2009, $33.56

-Hardie Wines County Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2009, $25.97

-Rosehall Run Vineyard Chardonnay Cuvee County 2009, $16.25

-Rosehall Run Vineyard Pinot Noir Cuvee County 2009, $16.25


The Food: there were four food stations (see below) paired with Riesling, and cheeses (Beaufort, Asiago, Brie, Gruyere, Munster) with appropriate breads.

The Downside: it got crowded really fast, so I took the media option and retired to a quiet space with my writer colleagues.

The Upside: there were four food stations emphasizing Riesling wines with food, in a variety of styles from dry to sweet. Crab cakes were paired with 30 Bench Riesling 2010, pork loin with Fielding Riesling Estate 2010, vegetable sushi with Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2010, and a mini-quiche rectangle with Wildass Riesling 2009.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness/Execution of the Event(numerical grade): 94.


Friday, September 23, 2011


UNDERSTANDING WINE TECHNOLOGY; the science of wine explained. 3rd ed.
(Wine Appreciation Guild-DBQA Publishing, 2011; distr. McArthur, 307
pages, ISBN 978-1-934259-60-3, $44.95 US paper covers) is by David
Bird, MW. Previous editions have been praised by a wide range of wine
writers and industry personnel. His book is virtually essential reading
for students of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma and Institute
of Master of Wine examinations. It was first published in 2000, with a
second edition in 2005. Currently, then, it appears to be on a five-
year cycle. It is five dollars more retail, but has 50 more pages.
Updated sections include HACCP (hazard analysis and control) for
wineries, more detail on the making of red, pink, white sweet,
sparkling and fortified wines, and new information on histamine, flash
d├ętente, maceration, whole bunch and whole berry fermentation. It's a
very clear book written for the non-scientist and wine student.
Chapters deal with grapes, vineyards, the must, fermentations, types of
wine, wood, filtration, additives, bottling lines, quality assurances,
legislation and regulations. There are also expanded chapters on wine
faults and wine tasting. A bibliography and glossary complete the
package. Lots of photos, diagrams, and tables when and where needed.
But there could also have been a discussion on LEED certification for
wineries, and more details on organic, biodynamic, and sustainable
viticulture. Still, a book for all wine lovers who want to know more
about what they are drinking. A must purchase. Quality/price rating:  90.