1.Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2016 VQA Ontario, +247882, $18.95 TBD Vintages: This red blend for 2016 (the blend can change with each release) comprises syrah (32%), cabernet franc (15%), cabernet sauvignon (18%), merlot (30%), and baco noir (5%). The latter may have resulted in a VQA Ontario designation rather than a VQA Niagara. It's all barrel aged, 65% French oak and 35% US oak for 17 months. It is substantial, reflecting the aromatics and flavour profiles of the grapes used. Cherry-berry tones, fresh spices on the finish, some spine to stand up to hearty food. Cork closure, 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Henry of Pelham Family Tree White 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +251116, $17.95 Vintages: HOP makes a very serious blended white wine and red wine (see above), with grapes from their site (about 40% of the blend) and from across Niagara. The grapes change from year to year, as do the percentages. For 2016, they've got chardonnay (40%), viognier (29%), gewurztraminer (19%), and chardonnay musque (12%). Each, of course, contributes various distinctive aromatics and flavour profiles. Not only that, about 40% of it is barrel fermented and aged in barrel for 8 months (I'm guessing mostly chardonnay), and the balance is in stainless steel with no malolactic so as to preserve freshness. So we have orchard fruit, citrus, and some lingering spicy aftertaste. Cork closure, 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Chardonnay 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +291211 LCBO, $14.95: ripeness, pleasant balance of acid and fruit, integrated style in place, some freshness in the finish. Overall, terrific balance of fruit in the finish, with residual sugar under 2 g/litre. 13.5% ABV, screw cap, fermented in stainless with aging sur lie. Apple and citric tones, completely unwooded. Try with a light cream sauce (pasta, trout). Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench Niagara, +268391 Vintages, $24.95: Here is a deft Burgundian character pinot noir wine, with cherry-berry tones, some toast, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in "European" oak (30% new) for 10 months. Ready in a year or two, coming to Vintages in September 2018 [at winery now]. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench, +657874 Vintages TBD, $34.95: top of the line pinot noir from Ontario, fruit-forward with enough black/dark tones of cherry-berry capable of long cellar aging. The winery says "multiple clones play a role in the layered complexity of this wine". Oak tank fermentation with 10 months small barrel aging. Very, very food friendly. The label has been changed to a black finish from a silver-blue. 13.5% ABV. [at winery now] Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Sartori di Verona "Corte Bra" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010 DOCG, $49.95, +225540 Vintages February: this wine has aged nicely (7 years now) and becomes more of a bargain at this price level. 15.5% ABV puts it in the bigger leagues. Black fruit dominates the nose and palate, lots of body, lush and luscious in a Juicy Lucy style, and a long finish. Unfiltered. We had it with aged sheep cheeses from Monforte (Ontario). Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Tenuta Le Colonne 2015 Bolgheri, $26.95, +544619 Vintages February: Bolgherie is one of my fave blends; this one has 70% cab franc, 20% merlot and 10% cabernet sauvignon -- all international varieties. It's been aged for 12 months in large barrels, and can keep safely for a decade. Perhaps it might be better in 2010. Here it boasts a structure to last, trimmed with fresh and fragrant black fruit (cherries and berries), with a long long finish. Basically, it is a meat wine. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Buena Vista The Count Founder's Red Wine 2014 Sonoma, $26.95, +382267 Vintages February: this wine honours the company's founder (1857, Agoston Haraszthy) and it is usually an award winner in various competitions. It's a true blend, with different grapes (mostly merlot, with syrah and zinfandel and some other Rhone varietals: it varies every year) fermented separately in open and closed-top fermenters, aged in a variety of Hungarian, French, and American oak before final assemblage and bottling. Expect some mocha tones with baking aromas of cinnamon and vanilla, black and dark fruit. It's a thick wine that will improve over the next year, and is suitable for a sit-down dinner of any barbecue. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Sonoma County, +331603 Vintages, $27.95: in time for the upcomingspring season and early BBQs (this is a re-release of a popular selling red wine). It's sourced from Sonoma County (99%) and retails in the US at $24 USD. Black fruit all the way (black cherry, blackberry, black currant), 90% cabernet sauvignon, 6% cabernet franc, rest is petit verdot, merlot, and malbec – which makes it a Bordeaux-styled wine. 13.5% ABV, aged 10 months in French and US oak (86% of total production) plus balance in stainless for freshness. And there's some mocha nuances for the millennials to pick out and go wild over. I last tasted this in May 2017; here, it has picked up a few non-fruit tones such as leather and tobacco leaf, even some "smoke". All of which is a good thing for the evolution and maturing of wines. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.