SOME NEW BEVERAGE SAMPLES SENT TO ME FOR TASTING REVIEWS THIS MONTH –
1.Southbrook Canadian Framboise NV, $19.95/375 mL, winery: jammy raspberry nose and palate, excellent on its own, with chocolate or (even better) as a Raspberry Kir with your bubbly of choice. 13.5% ABV. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay Organic 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +172338 Vintages $24.95: fruit is from two contracted growers (Saunders and Laundry), all barrel fermented in oak(2d and 3rd year barrels), lees aging one year, all vegan friendly. 12.6% ABV. Very soft and engaging, much like the 2012 in its youth, some toast but a longish length. Showing some orchard fruit on the mid-palate. Burgundian in style. Best tasted in contemplation, underpriced. Do not overchill. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2017 Biodynamic VQA Niagara Escarpment, $35 retail at winery and online (releasing December 2018) and also available through select restaurants: 100% chardonnay. The wine is biodynamic, suitable for vegans. Wild fermentations are slow and produce complex wines. Freshness and acidity is emphasized. At 13% ABV, it is quite an experience, especially so after more aging or exposure to air. So far there are tones of lemons, melons, green pear, and some oak. As a distinct food wine, it would pair nicely with cheeses and seafood, but do not overchill. It also tastes more expensive than it is, rich, full with a plush finish. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Southbrook Skin Fermented Vidal (Orange Wine) 2017 Biodynamic VQA Ontario, $29.95 retail: this is a terrific wine from Four Mile Creek estates. There is natural expression wild fermentation (juice, stems and skin) over a month long period with foot-trodding. After pressing ans chilling outdoors, the wine settled on lees and was bottled cloudy without any filtering or additives (e.g., no sulphites). It's got a searing intensity and a bit of a sour tang on the finish for character; sugar was <1.5 g/L. The free naturally occurring SO2 is only 6 M/L. So – there is a lot going on here, such as citric tones and tropical fruits, flowers, tea, some green and herbaceous fruit. The winery suggests that it seems to be a successful pairing with vinaigrette salads, bitter greens, and artichokes. I really liked this wine and gave the 2014 version (which admittedly had some aging by 2018) a sound 95 points. The 2017 is somewhat different but in the same style, and hopefully it will age as well. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore Organic, UPC 621605, $35 Winery only: This is the start of the new Southbrook Single Vineyard series. The originating source is Heather Laundry's organic pinot noir clone 115 from Lincoln Lakeshore. A second organic Single Vineyard series will be launched next year, from the Warren Saunders Family vineyards. Natural fermentation with 40% whole clusters, aged 19 months in large French oak (11% new oak), 12.6% ABV. It's what a natural pinot noir should be: red fruit dominated by cherries, some forest floor, and a seam of acidity in the finish for food. Very Burgundian in style. It needs more time, and so a double decant is recommended. But I kept mine open for days and returned from time-to-time to re-enjoy. But obviously others are ready to drink it now. Vegan-friendly. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Gamay 2017 Biodynamic VQA Vinemount Ridge, $24.95 retail from winery: another in the Single Vineyard series, this one from Vinemount Ridge. It too is biodynamic and suitable for vegans. 12.9% ABV with low free SO2 (12 mg/L). Wild yeast and malo complete the almost four weeks of fermentation on skins, followed by barrel aging in older French barriques for seven months. Light bodied and herbal with red fruit tones, slightly fewer tannins than expected. Not your typical gamay. Screwcap closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Riesling 2017 Organic VQA Vinemount Ridge, +581603 $22.95 retail from winery: another in the Single Vineyard series, this one from Vinemount Ridge. It's organic, suitable for vegans, and comes from the fab Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation: the home of many great Ontario rieslings which are very close in style to the terpenic Alsatians. Residual sugar is a lowish off-dry 8 g/L. Delicious palate blend of orchard and stone fruit in the mineral style. 11.1% ABV. Could be aged a bit. Screwcap closure. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.La Celia Elite Malbec 2015 Paraje Altamira Uco Valley Mendoza, +578187, $24.95 Vintages: a current blend of 93% malbec, 5% syrah, and 2% cabernet franc (varies every year, sometimes with some tannat). Very dense black texture with black fruit dominating and some toasty tones of American wood in the finish. Some butter and cream for mouthfeel, good coffee elements as well. 14.7% ABV. As of now, still a young wine. So do a double-decant and/or taste it over several days. A keeper through 2015+. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.La Celia Reserva 2015 Uco Valley Mendoza, +618280 $14.95 Vintages December 8: a baby brother to the Elite, with a malbec and cabernet franc blend. Red fruit tends to dominate, complete malolactic fermentation. Smooth all the way, especially on the finish. Try a double-decant at this stage, to being out its warmth. 13.5%ABV. Competitively priced at under $15. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.SonVida Malbec 2015 Reserve Paraje Altmira Mendoza $29.95 Vintages +458240: some cabernet sauvignon added in, plus aging in a bit of new French oak for almost two years (with some US oak). Some smoky mocha tones with mild but upfront black fruit riffing off the full-body but getting louder and more prominent with the finish. Produced by Sonia and David Smith, former UK journalists now making high altitude malbec wine since 2007. Double decanting is needed to bring out the proper fruit expression. But of course the wine can be aged for at least a decade. 14% ABV. Try it with lamb chermoula as I did Saturday night....terrific match. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.G. Marquis Vineyards Chardonnay The Silver Line 2017 Single Vineyard Niagara Stone Road VQA NOTL, +258681, $17.95 Vintages: a nifty all-purpose chardonnay with enough fruit (apples, pears, melons) and oak tones (muted vanilla, buttery), probably best as a first course or entry level wine for fish. Slightly off-dry. 13% ABV. No price change in years. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
12. G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir 2016 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +258673 Vintages, $20.20: with ML and BA (six months in new, mainly French oak, this wine seems burgundian cool climate in style with a wash of Ontario cranberries. Red fruit, black cherries, some smoke, forest floor, long finish. 13.2% ABV. Expect some velvety tones and feel. Hand-picked from over-25-year-old vines. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
13.G.Marquis The Red Line Pinot Grigio 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, $13.10 +276501 LCBO:
for an Ontario PG at this price level the melons and pears really come through, with a clean, dry, zesty finish. 12.4%ABV Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
14.G.Marquis The Red Line Sauvignon Blanc 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, $13.95 +556894
LCBO: expect a basic but useful savvy here, with the usual emphasis on the green weedy character plus some limes and other citric tones. It's an acidic but fresh lingering finish. 12.5%ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
15.G.Marquis The Red Line Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, $14.10 +473090
LCBO: much is going on here, albeit in a red fruit mode (red currant, cranberries, raspberries, crushed cherries) tempered by some mild oaking and forest floor complexity. 13%ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
16.Rapscallion Frisky Beaver Frisky Red 2017 VQA Ontario, $14.95, winery only: a deep BBQ and gutsy wine for the Man of the House, based on baco noir, marechal foch, and cabernets. 13%ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
17.Magnotta Vidal Icewine Limited Edition VQA Niagara 2016 $32.90, 375 mL, +587154 Vintages: 10%ABV and showing apricot, mango, and pineapple tones, very sweet at 205 g/L residual sugar. I would lay this down for awhile so the fruit flavours can meld together and the finishing acidity rise. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
18.Kittling Ridge Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara 2017 $40.45, 375 mL, +563247 Vintages:
10%ABV with orchard fruit (pear, apricot), melon nuances, and honey (botrytis?). Some hot tropical fruit too. 185 g/L residual sugar is 10% less than the Magnotta.
Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
19.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.
20.Henry of Pelham Riesling Estate 2017 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165 Vintages, $19.95: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with a very off-dry palate but a dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip or food. 11.2% ABV, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (33+ year old riesling vines). Should also age well. Try with fish that live in water but die in wine. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
21.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Marlborough, +489112, $18.95 LCBO General List: a warm and dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. It should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, RS=5.9 g/L, twist top. The Reserve version appeared in Vintages at three dollars more. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.