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Saturday, February 27, 2016


1.WHITE SPIRITS (Dog 'n' Bone, 2015, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-909313-72-9, $19.95 US hard covers) is by a committee of five food and wine writers, with all recipes credited. It is a basic book on 100 cocktails all using gin or vodka or white rum or tequila or other white spirits. The preps are easy, and the presentation in the book is colourful and attractive for the millennial. Beyond classics such as pina colada and negroni and martini, there is "casino", "Golden Gibson", "Apricot Caipirinha", and "Mary Pickford".
Measurements are in ratios. A fun book.
Audience and level of use: beginners
The downside to this book: I would have liked more.
The upside to this book: the layout is useful for the flitters.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! -Taste of Haida Gwaii (Musgrave)

A TASTE OF HAIDA GWAII (Whitecap, 2015, 374 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-216-1, $34.95 CAN paper covers) is by the indefatigable award-winning Susan Musgrave, better know for her 19 books of poetry, plus other fiction and non-fiction and children's books. This is her first cookbook. It is a unique and entertaining look at the remote archipelago Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands) on the northwest coast of BC. Musgrave has lived there for decades. In 2010 she acquired Copper Beech House, a guest home. She has long been devoted to foraging and eating locally, and this has now resulted in a cookbook based on her stash of recipes that she has collected over the years. It is a good read, especially for fans of Canadian Literature. A lot of it is based on good gathering and foraging, with appropriate recipes and stories. It starts with breakfast at Copper Beech House, moves through foraging for the oven, food gathering all year long, harvesting the sea and the land, and ending with dinner on the deck. But these are just chapter headings. Haida culture is covered as well as wildlife and food preservation. This is probably my most eclectic cookbook received this year.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: serious cooks, Canadian culture and literature lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cold-smoked salmon; baked yams with honey, butter and lime; shipwrecked chicken wings in saltwater brine; spruce tip syrup; crunchy cabbage and sugar pea salad with sesame miso dressing; sauteed sea asparagus; smoked salmon on seaweed with avocado.
The downside to this book: heavy in weight
The upside to this book: lots of photos and stories, eclectic in nature.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Usually, many diet/cleanse books are released close to the Christmas period so as not to be dominant in people's minds, but are there if you need them or go looking for them. The latest and the newest are the most successful in sales...I am certainly not guaranteeing that these books work, although most authors would promise some kind of "change". Here is the latest that turned up on my doorstep ---
10.THE TACO CLEANSE (The Experiment, 2015, 226 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-272-4, $17.95 US soft covers) is by four people: Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger, and Jessica Morris. They introduced the Taco Cleanse in 2014 at a vegan month of food by eating tacos for 90 meals in 30 days. Of course it is all good fun...But you do get 75 vegan tacos, made with corn or flour, and even waffle tortillas. Many vegan knockoffs of hot dogs, mayo, cheese, and the like. Useful for many parties, give it a try....the parties, not the cleanse...Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois and some metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
11.SCARED WHEATLESS (Whitecap, 2015, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-244-4, $29.95 CAN paper covers) is by Mary Jo Eustace, a Canadian chef and TV personality (He Said, She Said and What's for Dinner?). Both she and her daughter were diagnosed with a pair of autoimmune diseases, and had to be come "gluten-free". Her book has straight forward recipes for some food allergies, gluten intolerance, and for replacement of commercialized foods. She's got 96 recipes, a well-developed pantry, tips and advice. It is all arranged by course, with specifics of pasta, sauces, quinoa, snacks, salads, veggies, soups and desserts. Typical preps, one to a page, include "Merry Christmas" quinoa, rosemary balsamic hummus, potato pancake breakfast sandwiches, chicken salad wraps, chick pea stew with feta and honey, hoisin pork with lettuce folds, and mushroom arugula frittata.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.  Quality/price rating: 87.
12.THE ANTI-INFLAMMATION COOKBOOK (Chronicle Books, 2015, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-3988-3, $27.95 US hard covers) is by Amanda Haas, culinary director for Williams-Sonoma, with Dr. Bradly Jacobs, an integrative medicine physician-educator and book author. Inflammation is a naturally occurring response, but chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, IBS, and more. Haas, a sufferer and a recipe developer, along with Jacobs, has developed a diet made with anti-inflammatory foods. After identifying the food, they develop the ant-inflammatory kitchen: organic versions of the "dirty dozen" that absorb the most pesticides; some specific foods (avocados, brassicas, citrus fruits, dark chocolate, dried chiles, eggs, fish, green tea, lily family, herbs, mushrooms, legumes, oils, quinoa, seeds, tree nuts and sweet potatoes. No-nos include alcohol, corn, coffee, dairy, nightshades, sugar, salt, gluten. In this opening chapter, then, the authors describe the pantry needed. Chapter contents begin with basic recipes and make aheads, breakfasts and smoothies, appetizers and snacks, veggies, legumes, meats, and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mostly avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
13.AUTOIMMUNE COOKBOOK: Idiot's Guides (Alpha Books, 2015, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-866-5, $21.95 US paper covers) is by Amari Thomsen, RD, founder of Eat Chic Chicago and magazine writer on nutrition subjects. Here she has 120 preps for auto-immune protocols, using quick and simple cooking techniques. Recipes avoid all the problem foods such as grains, dairy, eggs, nightshades, and sugars. Like the book above, the arrangement is by course with apps, soups, stews, mains, sides, salads, and desserts. At the end, there are meal plans (no page references) and shopping lists, good for six weeks. Lots of colour photos. Preparations have their ingredients listed mostly in avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
14.OPTIMUM NUTRITION: Idiot's Guides (Alpha Books, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-884-9, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Stephanie Green, RDN, and culinary writer. It's a basic guide-book for the consumer on nutrition, and how to get the best possible values. There is a discussion on how foods affect one's physical and mental health, ideas on filling the diet with whole foods, how to deal with cravings and bad eating habits, and some ideas on how to deal with food labels and conflicting claims. There is a just a handful of recipes scattered though the book. Quality/price rating: 87,
15.MEDITERRANEAN PALEO COOKBOOK: Idiot's Guides (Alpha Books, 2015, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-861-0, $21.95US paper covers) is by Molly Pearl, author of other Idiot's Guides on paleo foods and other materials on paleo food in general. Here the stress is on the Mediterranean, a sort of combo paleo/Med diet, with the benefits of both. 100 preps are pulled together, using those paleo foods which are part of the Med diet: fresh produce, lean meats, good fats, natural ingredients. For those, one would need the Med herbs and spices to reduce inflammation and lower chronic risk. It is all in the planning and the breakfasts. Arrangement here is by course. Great colour photos. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents even though nutritional data is given in metric. Quality/price rating: 87.
16.REAL PALEO FAST & EASY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-58264-4, $29.99 US paper covers) is by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., generally acknowledged as the expert on the paleolithic diet. His book has a range of speedy dishes, using flash cooking and microwaves. The subtitle indicates more than 175 recipes can be ready in 30 minutes or less. It is arranged by type of flesh, beef and bison through pork, lamb, poultry, fish and shellfish, to eggs and smoothies. Veggies and fruits are part of many dishes. At the end, he has a paleo pantry, divided as to kitchen shelves, cool storage, refrigerator, and freezer. The recipes use paleo convenience foods such as salt-free canned tomatoes and frozen veggies. As well, he has a series of paleo condiments and spice blends, both types of food one can make in advance for storage. Good photos. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
17.THE STEVIA SOLUTION (Familius, 2016; distr. Raincoast, 170 pages, ISBN 978-1-942934-06-6, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Caleb Warnock, author of many gardening and cook books. He also owns Here he gives a good presentation of what stevia is all about: no-calorie, no-carb, no-chemical, all-natural healthy sweetener. It is great for sugar reduction and low Glycemic Index ratings. But stevia has its problems (no bulk, no browning, no immediate sweet flavour on the tongue). It's slight bitterness is a direct result of using too much at one time, which is very possible since only the smallest amounts are used and must be used precisely (e.g. 1/32 of a teaspoon fore a cup of coffee). He clarifies the different styles of stevia available, saying that price should be a guide; it is expensive. So one pound of organic stevia should sweeten over 10,000 coffees – for under $100. Read all about it here. You can grow it at home in good climates; you can convert stevia powder to a number of different fruit bases called for in his recipes. There are major tips on how to convert classic desserts, and a presentation of syrups, jams, frostings, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, and drinks. He's got 70 pages on stevia and 100 pages of recipes. But unfortunately, preparations have their ingredients listed only in avoirdupois measurements, and there is no table of
metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 90.
18.THE GOOD LIVING GUIDE TO MEDICINAL TEA (Good Books Skyhorse, 2015, 216 pages, ISBN 978-1-68099-061-4, $14.99 US hard covers) is by Jennifer Browne, Vancouver author of Happy Healthy Gut and Vegetarian Comfort Foods. Here she explores the medicinal properties of teas made from herbs, spices, fruits, and barks. Many have proven to be effective for common ailments such as minor pains, high blood pressure, insomnia, stress, digestive problems, coughs. In some cases they can help fight off and reduce cancerous cells, heart disease, fibromyalgia and dementia. She's got details on 50 medicinal herbs (anise to yerba mate) followed by 50 ailments (divided into acute, chronic and random) such as
allergies (use eyebright, feverfew, lemon balm) or depression (use ginseng, hawthorn, lavender, lemon balm, st.john's wort) or hair and nail health (use horsetail and rosemary). All the preps call for eight ounces of water. She concludes with a list of extensive references. Quality/price rating: 89.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for February 20, 2016.

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for February 20, 2016.
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing 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 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 restructured wine newsletter for the Ontario market, with wines available through the LCBO and Vintages on a bi-weekly basis can always be found at or at
20 under $20
W- See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Gris 2014 BC VQA Okanagan Valley, +263699, $17.95: twist top, 13% ABV,    MVC/QPR:  90
W- Creekside Estate Marianne Hill Riesling 2014 VQA Beamsville Bench, +443572, $19.95: twist top, 10.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 92
W- Flat Rock Unplugged Chardonnay 2014 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, +68015, $16.95: twist top, 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  88
W- Rosehall Run Righteous Dude Riesling 2014 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, +426486, $19.95: twsit top, 9.5% ABV, $19.95,  MVC/QPR:  89
W- Delicato Irony Small Lot Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Napa, +27409, $19.95:  MVC/QPR: 90
W- Mountadam Riesling 2013 Eden Valley South Australia, +288266, $19.95: MVC/QPR: 90
W- Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marlborough, +441394, $19.95:  twist top, $13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W- Hugel Gentil 2014 Alsace, +367284, $16.95: cork closure, 12.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 87
W- Gadais Pere & Fils Vieilles Vignes Muscadet Sevre & Maine 2013 Sur Lie, +444406, $15.95: MVC/QPR: 89
R- Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Four Mile Creek, +445759, $18.95: 12% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 91
R- Trapiche Fincas La Palmas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Mendoza, +143206, $16.95:  14.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 89
R- Caliterra Tributo Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Single Vineyard Colchagua, +205567, $16.95, MVC/QPR:  89
R- Undurraga Sibaris Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Maipo, +301200, $15.95:  MVC/QPR: 89
R- 3 Rings Shiraz 2013 Barossa, +15495, $18.85: 15.2% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 88
R- Jip Jip Rockas Shiraz 2013 Padthaway South Australia, +673897, $16.95:  14.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 91
R- Donnafugata Sedara Rosso 2013 Sicily, +900274, $15.95: 13% ABV,  MVC/QPR:  88
R- Montefino Tinto Reserva 2007 Vinho Regional Alentejano Portugal, +165159, $16.95: 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  91
R-  Juan Gil Honoro Vera Monastrell 2014 Jumilla Spain, +167684, $13.95:  MVC/QPR:  88
R- Bod. Arzuaga Navarro La Planta 2014 Ribera del Duero, +439588, $17.95:  MVC/QPR: 89
R- Valdelacierva Crianza 2011 Rioja, +438713, $19.95: 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
20 over $20
W- Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, +56929, $40: cork closure, 13.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 93
W- J.Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2013 Arroyo Seco Monterey County, +171272, $34.95: MVC/QPR: 92
W- Mr. Riggs Cold Chalk Chardonnay 2014 Adelaide Hills South Australia, +438242, $20.95: MVC/QPR: 91
W- Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marlborough, +164228, $23.95: twist top, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
W- Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris 2012 Alsace, +971762, $23.95: cork closure, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W- Domaine Bouchard Pere & Fils Les Clous Meursault 2013, +661322, $44.95: MVC/QPR: 89
W- Bertrand Jeannot & Fils Domaine de Riaux Pouilly-Fume 2014, +200063, $25.95: cork closure, 13% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 92
R- Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2013 VQA Ontario, +461699, $24.95:  MVC/QPR: 93
R- Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, +33951, $36: MVC/QPR: 88
R- Sanctuary Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Santa Maria Valley, +157248, $34.95: MVC/QPR: 90
R- Desert Wind Merlot 2013 Wahluke Slope Columbia Washington, +465559, $25.95: cork closure, 14.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 89
R- Cicchitti Gran Reserva Malbec 2008 Mendoza, +155713, $25.95: cork closure, 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R- Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Coonawarra South Australia, +590471, $29.95: MVC/QPR: 90
R- Muriel Gran Reserva 2005 Rioja, +984187, $28.95: 13.5% ABV, cork closure,  MVC/QPR: 91
R- Marques de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva 2010 Rioja, +209148, $27.95: cork closure, 14% ABV, MVC/QPR:  93
R- Luigi Righetti Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2012, +575787,  MVC/QPR: 89
R- Cantina di Monteforte Clivus Amarone della Valpolicella 2011, +438499, $39.95: 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R- Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2010, +579094, $44.95: 14% ABV,  MVC/QPR: 91
R- Domaine Pavelot Aux Gravains Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er cru 2013, +206136, $59.95: 13% ABV,  MVC/QPR:  90.
R- Raymond Usseglo Cuvee Imperiale Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 Unfiltered, +22319, $57.95: 15% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92


Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Event: Simply Italian Americas Tour 2016, Feb 8/2016 at AGO

The Date and Time: Monday, February 8, 2016  11AM to 5PM
The Event: Simply Italian Americas Tour 2016
The Venue: AGO
The Target Audience: wine agents, writers, sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: only the Franciacortia and some of the Chianti are available with agents.
The Quote/Background: we had some introductory seminars of mainly sparkling wines (Prosecco, Franciacortia). These have been folded into the ratings below.
The Wines: I did not sample every wine.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Vignole Chianti Classico 2013
-Castello di Fonterutoli Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011
-Felsina Gran Selezione Colonia Chianti Classico 2010
-Tenuta San Jacopo Quarto di Luna 2014 IGT Toscana Bianco
-Az. Agric. Cerrino Sergio Moscato d'Asti 2015
-Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Saten Brut 2011, $57   Wine Moves
-Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Extra Brut 2011, $57   Wine Moves
-Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Gualberto 2008, $80   Wine Moves
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Colle Manora Ray 2013 Piemonte Albarossa
-Colle Manora Piangalardo Barolo 2011
-Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2013  Treasury Wine Estates
-Poggio al Sole Chianti Classico 2013
-Colle Bereto Chianti Classico Riserva 2011
-Rocca di Castagnoli Poggio a'Frati Chianti Classico Riserva 2011
-Castello Vicciomaggio Gran Selezione La Prima Chianti Classico 2013
-Ornella Molon Raboso 2010 Piave
-Tenuta San Jacopo Orma del Diavolo 2011 IGT Toscana Rosso
-Tenuta San Jacopo Poggio ai Grilli Chianti Riserva 2011
-Raphael Dal Bo Moscato Spumante Dolce
-Domus-Picta Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry NV (2015)
-Az. Agric. Benazzoli Ruffiano Chiaretto Spumante Brut 2014 Bardolino Rose
-Az. Agric. Botto Pier Luigi Convento Cappuccini Brachetto d'Acqui 2015
-Az. Agric. Botto Pier Luigi Convento Cappuccini Piemonte Albarossa 2011
-Az. Agric. Cerrino Sergio Langhe Nebbiolo 2013
-Az. Agric. Cerrino Sergio Langhe Chardonnay 2014
-Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut NV, $50   Wine Moves
-Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Demi Sec NV, $47   Wine Moves
-Ricci Curbastro Vigna Santella del Grom 2011 Curtefranca Rosso, $37   Wine Moves
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Raphael Dal Bo Organic Prosecco Extra Dry
-Ricci Curbastro Vigna Bosco Alto 2011 Curtefranca Bianco, $37   Wine Moves
-Ricci Curbastro Brolo dei Passioni Chardonnay Passito Sebrino IGT 2010, $50   Wine Moves
The Food: panini buns with chicken, pancetta, salumi, grilled eggplant, porchetta, portobello, plus cheeses (goat, cheddar, etc.) and breads.
The Downside: because it was agency-related, there were lineups at each booth as this was a selling event.
The Upside: a good chance to see what other wines there were out of the market.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 88.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Event: Wine Australia Winter Trade Tasting & Langton's Classification Seminar, Feb 1/2016

The Date and Time: Monday February 1, 2016  11AM – 4PM
The Event: Wine Australia Winter Trade Tasting & Langton's Classification Seminar
The Venue: Vintage Conservatory
The Target Audience: sommeliers and wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: the 30 wines for the trade show were available from agencies such as Lifford, J Cipelli, B & W, Terra Firma, Kylix, Univins, Mark Anthony, and Treasury Estates. Some of the seminar wines were from other agents. About 40 wines in all were tasted.
The Quote/Background: Langton's is a wine auction house in Australia that issues a list of the prestigious wines of Australia every 5 years, based on demand and pricing. There are three categories – excellent, outstanding, and exceptional. Our seminar was a tasting of these wines. Most of the wines sampled today in both the seminar and the trade show were high end. The seminar wines have been folded into the ratings below.
The Wines:
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2013 Margaret River, $99.95  Terra Firma
-Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2013 Canberra, $95   Alto Vino
-Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2008 Barossa, $95  B & W
-Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Coonawarra, $88.89 TWE
-Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Eden, $188  B & W
-Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz 2012 Barossa, $198.95   J. Cipelli
-Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Margaret River, $69.95  Terra Firma
-Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2014 Margaret River, $24.95   B & W   BEST WHITE VALUE
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2012 Eden Valley, $24.95 B & W
-Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz 2013 Hunter Valley NSW, $169.95 Lifford
-Torbreck RunRig Shiraz 2010 Barossa, $220 Noble Estates
-Majella The Malleea Cabernet Shiraz 2010 Coonawarra, $70   Halpern
-Moss Wood Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Margaret River, $120   Terra Firma
-Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon 2014 NSW, $19.99 Lifford
-Hentley Farm Beast Shiraz 2012 Barossa, $110.45  J. Cipelli
-Hentley Farm Beauty Shiraz Viognier 2013 Barossa, $79.45  J. Cipelli
-Hentley Farm Stray Mongrel Grenache Shiraz Zinfandel 2014 Barossa, $41.35 J. Cipelli
-Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2012 Barossa, $74.95  B & W
-John Duval Wines Plexus 2012 Barossa, $54.95  B & W
-Moss Wood Chardonnay 2014 Margaret River, $65   Terra Firma
-Moss Wood Amy's Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Merlot Petit Verdot 2014 Margaret River, $40
   Terra Firma
-Tahbilk Marsanne 2015 Nagambie Lakes Victoria, $17.95  Kylix
-Tahbilk The Tower Shiraz 2013 Central Victoria, $19.95  Kylix   BEST RED VALUE
-Tahbilk Shiraz 2013 Nagambie Lakes Victoria, $22.95  Kylix
-Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Nagambie Lakes Victoria, $22.95  Kylix
-Teusner Joshua Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2013 Barossa, $29.95   Univins
-Teusner The Riebke Shiraz 2014 Barossa, $21.95   Univins
-Teusner Avatar Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2013 Barossa, $34.95   Univins
-Tyrrell's Wines Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz 2013 NSW, $55   Mark Anthony
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2007 Hunter Valley, $59  E&J Gallo
-Coldtream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 Yarra Valley, $26.51    TWE
-Hentley Farm Farm Shiraz 2014 Barossa, $41.35  J. Cipelli
-Hentley Farm Riesling 2015 Eden, $30.75  J. Cipelli
-Brokenwood Hunter Valley Shiraz 2013, $34.99  Lifford
-Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015 Margaret River, $35   Terra Firma
-Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Margaret River, $60   Terra Firma
-Tahbilk Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2014 Nagambie Lakes Victoria, $23.95  Kylix
-Tyrrell's Wines Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2011 NSW, $55   Mark Anthony
-Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Coonawarra, $24.73  TWE
-Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache 2014 Barossa, $19.95   B & W
The Food: salumi platter, cheeses, samosas, sausage rolls, breads, crackers.
The Downside: fewer wines than last year.
The Upside: a chance to taste some good high-end Oz wines.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 90.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


1.Gerard Bertrand Reserve Speciale Viognier 2014 IGP Pays d'Oc, +147975, $14.95 Vintages Feb 6/16: aromatic but on the dry side, perfect as a social wine or for first course. Expect peachy and orange character, but of course no oak. Youthful and useful with nuances of orchard fruit and spicy nuts. Could go either way with or without food. Versatile. 13% ABV, cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Jean Leon 3055 Merlot/Petit Verdot 2014 Penedes, +437699, $18.95 Vintages: I have always been a fan of Jean Leon wines when they turn up at Vintages, and this one is no exception. "3055" refers to his taxi license number, acquired when he first arrived in NYC. The merlot vines used here are about a decade older than the petit verdot, and the wine is partially aged for 3 months in French oak. It's a heavy deep wine (still young) redolent of red fruit (red currants, cranberries) with merlot softness and verdot tannins. At this stage, best with  dense meats, sausages, and grills. 14% ABV, cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve Estate 2013 VQA Ontario, +461699 Vintages Feb 20/16, $24.95: low yielding grapes come from original 1984 plantings in Short Hills Bench. As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy character and the price (it has been $24.95 for years). Both new and older US barrels are used for a year and a half aging. It is still too young for today, needs another five years. 14% ABV. One of the top bacos in Ontario. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Brut "Cuvee Thomas Jefferson" 2013 AOP Limoux, +438838, $19.95 Vintages Feb 6/16: sparkling wine from Limoux was the only bubbly to be found in TJ's personal cellar. So there is a connection, apart from American marketing. It's a basic and useful sparkler, done up in the French Cremant style (Champagne method of secondary fermentation in the bottle) with chardonnay, chenin blanc, mauzac and pinot noir grapes. Golden yellow colour, aromas of honey, flowers, green apple and some toastiness. Fine bubbles, 12.5% ABV. All from one year: 2013. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Champagne Taittinger Brut Millesime 2008, +989905 Vintages, $97.95: the chardonnay, (50%) along with pinot noir (50%), really shines through with toasty-lemony complexity anchored by the body of the pinot noir. Somewhat racy, at times floral with some structured honeyed tones and citrus notes. Good aging potential certainly, needs more time, minimum three years more at least, and it will easily last a decade or more at this level. Taittinger is one of my fave champagnes. Quality/Price rating is 94 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Rose Brut VQA Niagara Peninsula, +217505, $29.95: a well-made traditional in style champagne method bubbly, with rose accents from pinot noir. Great for Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, and all the points afterwards through the summer. Aging is anywhere from 24 to 30 months on the lees, and the blend is 70-80% poinot noir aith 20–30% chardonnay depending on the vintages used. Goes well with any pink food such as salmon. Expect upfront juiciness tempered by an apple-lemon finish for briskness. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Henry of Pelham Rose 2015 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +613471, $13.95: blend of pinot noir, merlot, gamay, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, with each variety contributing fruit to the mix. Very aromatic, emphasizing cherry-berry fruit layered under cranberry length tastes. A nice cheese wine. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Gerard Bertrand Cote de Roses Rose 2014 Languedoc, +37895, $18.95 Vintages: out just in time for Valentine and then continuing through Easter. A hefty 13% ABV, but fresh and fruity with an excellent pale rose colour. The bottle has a bottom shaped like a rose in bloom (to view it, turn it around). It is a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah, emphasizing both red and black currants with some candy floss on the finish.
Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Torres San Valentin Garnacha 2014 Catalunya, +673541, $13.95 Vintages: an approachable aperitif red from fresh grapes, out in time for Valentine's Day (related to the name?). No oaking, just stainless steel. 14% ABV makes it a powerhouse, but the red fruit and anise dominate, ending up with a smooth finish. Screwcap under plastic.
Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Tenute Balbia S.X.E. Bianco 2014 Calabria IGT, +386995, $10.95: a re-packaging and a new formula for the greco-malvasia bianco blend has reduced its price from $13.55. It is a sortof southern Italian version of popular pinot grigio, emphasizing orchard fruit, citrus and some some floral notes. Light and crisp: good value at this price for an appetizer wine. Twist top under plastic wrapping. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Event: Annual dinner of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada, at Mistura Restaurant

The Date and Time: Monday, January 25, 2016   6PM to 12AM
The Event: Annual dinner of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada.
The Venue: Mistura Restaurant, Ave and Dav
The Target Audience: members of the WWCC plus partners.
The Availability/Catalogue: wines came from our own cellars, an attempt was made to list them all. They are probably not all available in Ontario.
The Quote/Background: We had several donated wines, principally from New Zealand and Robert Ketchin. The NZ sparklers were used at the reception:
-Villa Maria Estate Private Bin  Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014  
-Kim Crawford (Constellation Brands) Small Parcels Fizz 2009           
-Oyster Bay Sparkling Rose NV
-Hunter`s Wines Miru Miru Sparkling NV
From Noble Estate came Bottega Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2013 $21.95 Vintages
The Dinner Wines:
-Jackson-Triggs Entourage Brut VQA 2008
-Pelee Island Vinedressers Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 VQA
-Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2001
-Chateau Pipeau 2009 St.Emilion Grand Cru
-Georgian Hills Ida Red Ice Apple 2014, 375mL $19.95 (dessert, from Robert Ketchin)
-Tandem Inmacula 2013 Navarra
-P.Labet Beaune 2005
-Lungarotti Rubesco 2012
-Arnaldo Caprai Anima Umbra 2012 Umbria
-Closson Chase Chardonnay 2005 Beamsville Bench VQA
-Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 VQA
-Grange of PEC Gamay 2012
-Malivoire Gamay 2007 VQA
-13th Street Winery Gamay 2007 VQA
-Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2011 VQA
-G. Gagliardo Barolo 2004
-Finca Flichman Malbec Reserva 2007
-Chateau de Domaine de l'Eglise Pomerol 2005
-Calcarli Alvarinho 2012
-Chateau Ste Anne Bandol 2012
-2012 Trius red shale cab franc
-2012 Cattail Creek small lot Cabernet franc
-California: Gundlach Bundschu Cuvee 2011
-Bordeaux: Chateau Puyfromage 2010
-Veneto: Cantina Negrar Amarone 2010
The Food:
Reception: Four sparkling wines from New Zealand plus Mistura's bruschetta (three different kinds, including pate and anchovy)
Appetizers: (all 3 were excellent) Crispy Fried Artichoke, "Gribiche" fresh herbs, Gherkin, Caper & Boiled Egg; Lamb Ribs, sticky Balsamic glaze, Cucumber spaghetti & Minted Yogurt; and Wild Boar Agnolotti, Port stewed dry cherries, Wilted Greens – all served on a triple platter for each of us. One diner remarked that the fried artichoke was better than anything he had had in Rome.
Salad: Radicchio with Apples, Asiago, Pomegranates, Black Walnuts, Empire Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Main Course:  choice of - Branzino, Broccolini, shaved fennel, orange, black olives, chickpea puree OR Boneless Roast Free-range Chicken (white and dark meat), Squash puree, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash OR Veal Loin Scaloppine, Sperone Marsala jus, Mixed mushrooms and mashed Potatoes. It was pretty well all split equally among the diners; I opted for the fab veal loin.
Dessert: Cassata Mistura, candied nut and fruit whipped ricotta.
Coffee or Tea  
Both Restaurateur Paolo Paolini and Executive Chef Klaus Rohrich came out to take their bows and accolades. It was a terrific evening, our thanks to the restaurant.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 94.