1.Miguel Torres Chile Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016 Central Valley, +177444 Vintages $14.95: a Fair Trade wine, 13% ABV, low RS of 1.3 g/L. Cool fermentation, no oak, typical varietal character for Chilean sauvignon blanc and instantly recognizable as such. Apples, lemons, ripe fruit (on the nose). Aperitif or with a first course. Value-priced. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer Reserve 2015 Alsace, +377721 Vintages $18.95: cool fermentation with typical gewurz tones of spices, lychee, roses. 13% ABV, and RS of 14 g/L (off-dry). Best as aperitif, or with fragrant cheeses, spicy foods. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466 Vintages $29.95: the last time I wrote about this wine concerned the 2010 vintage. I rated it 91+ and the price then (2013) was $35. I am not sure why the price is now lower. Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (1988 onward), hand picked. Fermented in French oak (40% new Allier, rest in one year barrels).This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place. Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 13.5% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Henry of Pelham Classic Tier Cabernet-Merlot 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula +504241 LCBO $14.95: this wine is dependable and consistent from year to year. This time it has 53% cabernet franc, 28% merlot, and 19% cabernet sauvignon. This Bordeaux-themed blend comes across as a mid-Atlantic version of Cali/Bordeaux. It is still a young wine and could profit from a double-decant. Extended maceration in stainless, followed by barrel aging. It has been modestly aged in used French and US oak barrels. Great with foods cooked in the Mediterranean basin style. 13.5% ABV on label. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2016 Speck Family Reserve VQA Ontario +461699 $24.95 at winery now: These low yielding grapes come from Short Hills Bench which was planted in 1984. Some of these old vines are still producing, and you can find their juice in this very bottle. As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy character and the low price – under $25. Aged in premium American Oak for more than 18 months. It's still young, needing another two years or so for proper aging, but with multiple decanting it can be enjoyed now. 13.5% ABV on the label. Works best with pronounced meats such as pork, lamb, farmed or wild game – all either braised or grilled. And spicy foods. Speck Family Reserves are the top tier by HOP. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2015, +719435, $29.95 Vintages: this wine is a cool climate offering, so much as current California "heat" would allow, from the coast coolness in the evening and the early morning, and with fruit (ten different clones) from eleven different vineyards. Head winemaker Craig McAllister celebrated his tenth anniversary with La Crema, and here has crafted a minor gem. Expect a combo of cherry-berry, underbrush, some (but low) oaking, some mocha, spices. I had it with roasted chicken thighs; it went very well. 100% French oak, 20% being new. Not a heavy pinot noir (nine months in barrel), unlike many others from California. 13.5% ABV. Price has not increased in years. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Cusumano Syrah 2016 Terre Siciliane IGT +145490 LCBO $13.95: one of Cusumano's international single varietal series, coming in at 13.5% ABV. It is an interesting addition to the LCBO general list program. The average age of the vines here is 13 years. Cold maceration and cool fermentation, followed by circulation and MF in stainless. It sits on its lees for a half year and then lightly filtered into bottles. No oak, but plenty of black berries. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Cusumano Nero d'Avola 2016 Terre Siciliane IGT +143164 LCBO $12.95: one of Cusumano's single indigenous varietal series, average age of vines is 14 years, 13.5% ABV. Cold maceration and cool fermentation, followed by circulation and MF in stainless. It sits on its lees for a half year and then lightly filtered into bottles. No oak, so very fruity, fresh and with a smooth finish. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Familia Torres Habitat Red 2015 Catalunya +511527 Vintages $19.95: certified organic, 14.5% ABV, made with garnacha and syrah grapes. Cold maceration and cool fermentation, followed by circulation and MF in stainless. Lees aged in oak for 6 – 8 months, 20% new French oak barrels. Exhibits typical syrah blackberries and some cloves from wood. Other spices can include rosemary and fennel. Warm, long finish. Can be served with family meat and cheeses. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.