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Saturday, November 30, 2019

The November 7 Event: Taste Napa Valley: a celebration of excellence trade tasting

The Date and Time: Thursday November 7, 2019  2:30 PM to 5 PM
The Event: Taste Napa Valley: a celebration of excellence trade tasting
The Venue: ROM
The Target Audience: wine trade in afternoon, consumers at night
The Availability/Catalogue: wines are available in the LCBO distribution system. The spiral catalogue was sturdy and easy to use with the basics of names and agencies.
The Quote/Background: this is probably the most professional and sophisticated of all the Toronto trade tastings, with serious FBMs and sommeliers.
The Wines: I did not try every wine. I tasted most of the Cabernets and the Chardonnays. I was impressed by the chardonnays; many exceeded the Sonoma profile of greatness.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Black Stallion Poseidon Chardonnay 2017 Los Carneros $79.95  Select
-Cain Concept The Benchland Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Napa  Rogers
-Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2016 Napa   Rogers
-Clos Pegase Hommage Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Napa   Azureau
-Frank Family Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Rutherford   AbV Group
-Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Rutherford  $200 Breakthru Beverage Canada
-Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2014 Napa $68 Vintages [my personal fave of the day]
-Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Napa  Rogers
-Groth Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Oakville $224.95  The Vine Agency
-Groth Vineyards and Winery Hill Family Chardonnay 2018 Napa $64.95  The Vine Agency
-Hoopes Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2014    Wilson Wine and Spirits
-Keenan Winery Chardonnay 2017 Spring Mountain District $50  Profile
-Keenan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa  Profile
-Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   EJ Gallo
-Palmaz Vineyards Amalia Chardonnay 2017 Napa  Profile
-Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   Rogers
-Revana Family Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 St Helena   Le Sommelier
-Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Noirs Sparkling 2015 Napa  The Vine Agency
-Schramsberg Vineyards J. Schram Sparkling 2010 Napa  $169  The Vine Agency
-Shafer Vineyards Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay 2016 Los Carneros  Rogers
-Silenus Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015 Napa   Carpe Vinum
-Silenus Winery Chardonnay 2018 Oak Knoll District Napa  $60   Carpe Vinum
-St.Supery Estate Vineyards Elu Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   Von Terra
-William Hill Estate Chardonnay 2016 Napa   EJ Gallo
-Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Calistoga   Rogers
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Artesa Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2016 Los Carneros   A Peller
-Black Stallion Bucephalus Red Blend 2015 Napa $199   Select
-Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Napa  A Peller
-Frank Family Chardonnay 2017 Los Carneros  AbV Group
-Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa  Breakthru Beverage Canada
-Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Rutherford  Breakthru Beverage Canada
-Frog's Leap Chardonnay 2017 Napa  Rogers
-Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Oakville  The Vine Agency
-Pine Ridge Collines Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 Carernos  A Peller
-Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Stags Leap District  A Peller
-William Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   EJ Gallo
-World's End If Six Was Nine Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Napa $100  Profile
-World's End Rocksteady Red Blend 2014 Napa $80   Profile
The Food: Daniel et Daniel with their superb smoked duck breast and meat platters, cheese platters, veggies, breads and dips. But no pate, unfortunately.
The Downside: I wished the catalogue had had a listing of overall prices, but each agency had to be asked.
The Upside: I felt comfortable talking about the wines and using the spittoons.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 90


Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

CHEESE BOARDS TO SHARE; how to create a stunning cheese board for any occasion, by Thalassa Skinner

CHEESE BOARDS TO SHARE; how to create a stunning cheese board for any occasion (Ryland Peters and Small, 2019, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-148-9 $19.95 USD hard covers) is by cheese professional and cheese educator Thalassa Skinner. This is a short introduction to the "world of cheeses" plus material on how to create 25 themed cheese boards with international cheeses. Themes include wine, beer and cocktail pairings, as well as kids, picnics, and camping trips. Each cheese has a detailed description and some suggested global alternatives if you cannot find an elusive cheese. She has accompaniment ideas and many tips and tricks, including a bibliography of books and magazines and websites for further reading. A typical board is the Alpine, an all Swiss cheese board. Four cheeses are described, 12 more are listed as substitutes, and she gives us the idea of doing more regional boards for other countries. Suggested "boughten" accompaniments for the Swiss board include rye bread toasts, salted almonds, pickled cornichons, and fresh apricots. Also, she has a tomato and smoked pepper jam for you to make from her recipe. I would have liked an all-blue cheese board for the sake of comparison, but she does have one board with two blues on it. In fact, cheese boards can also be instructive if there is the opportunity to compare and contrast very similar cheeses. Indeed, a few days ago I prepared a cheese board with four different Tommes (circular round shape, earthy gray-brown edible rind, and intensely nutty taste, made from skimmed milk: hence low-fat, high-protein) from four separate milk sources (water buffalo, cow, sheep, goat) from the same Ontario dairy – Monforte. Hey – that way I created a three-fold cheese board of regionality, Tommes, and milk sources! The book could have been improved if it had also used more metric in the recipes to include equivalents to teaspoons and tablespoons, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 90.


Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.


NOVEMBER 19, 2019
By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic
Epicures Writing, (World Wine Watch Newsletter).
          Twitter: @gothicepicures
There are always many new food and wine books out there for people who have picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have come up with a decent selection of materials published in 2019 to satisfy any pocketbook, any host, and any friend or relative. All books and book-like materials that are listed here are RECOMMENDED for gifting, and can be purchased at a discount via Amazon.Ca, Chapters.Indigo.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $25 or so), or even The Book Depository in Guernsey UK (free delivery and no GST).
Price Alert: Books are in CAD, but because of USD fluctuations, all prices may vary.
A. Art/travel/restaurant cookbooks might be some of the best books to give a loved one (or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one). Most may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And are often perused first by the donor (you). Don't let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at a discount from online vendors. Because of the "economy", not too many pricey food and wine books were released this year. Herewith, and in random order:
--PASTA GRANNIES; THE OFFICIAL COOKBOOK (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $42.99 hardbound) is by Vicky Bennison who created the YouTube channel "Pasta Grannies" five years ago. In her cookbook (and through the videos), she has a mission to save traditions and share skills, one Granny Nonna at a time, As 85-year old Lucia says, "when you have good ingredients you don't have to worry about cooking. They do the work for you." Everyone has their own special recipe and Bennison is capturing as many as she can before the nonne pass on.  While the cookbook is arranged by type of food (nuts, veggies, pulses, gnocchi, seafood, meat, brodo, ravioli), it is basically about the great divide of dairy (butter, cheese) of the north and the tomato of the south. Diversity is the name of the game. Profiles are given as well as background the the many kitchens, so it is more than just a cookbook. These are the secrets of Italy's best home cooks, and it is a wonderful gift for a hostess/holiday time.
--BINGING WITH BABISH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 336 pages, $43 hardbound) is by Andrew Rea, a chef and filmmaker. He's created the eponymous YouTube channel, and this is the resulting complementary cookbook...except it also involves storytelling as it relates to 100 recipes recreated from fave movies and TV shows (such as Homer Simpson's Space-Age Out-of-This-World Moon Waffles, or The Godfather's Cannoli, or shrimp gumbo from Forrest Gump).  He's got details about the cooking show itself, plus a range of photography and some memoir-material.  Outstanding are such classic dishes as the timpano from Big Night,  prison gravy from Goodfellas,  and big kahuna burger from Pulp Fiction. The ultimate food lovers or film lovers.
--BINGE-WATCHING EATS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 160 pages $19.95 hardbound) is a publisher's production, with themed snacks and drinks  for your next binge TV watch, as pulled together by Katherine Bebo and Julia Charles from  32 cookbook authors in the RP & S stable of writers. It's arranged by theme: lawyer shows, sports, medical shows, police, murder, etc. 60 party recipes for TV shows.
--SOUTH; essential recipes and new explorations (Artisan Books, 2019,  376 pages, $60 hardcover) is by Sean Brock, once chef of Husk restaurants. Now he will have his own place in Nashville (working name: The Kudzu Complex, serving Appalachian food and a tasting menu). His first cookbook "Heritage" was both  a Beard and Child winner in 2015. He's also been a subject on The Mind of a Chef and Chef's Table TV series. Here Brock goes all out with heirloom and indigenous Appalachian ingredients. 125 recipes cover boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, grilled catfish, hoppin' john, pot of greens, dirty rice, cornbread, buttermilk pie, BBQ, plus a Country Ham, Road Map. With an eye on international sales, there are also metric conversion charts. It has already been named one of the best new cookbooks of 2019 by a dozen publications.
--SHUK; from market to table, the heart of Israeli home cooking (Artisan Books, 2019, 368 pages, $53 hardbound) is by Einat Admony and Janna Gur.  Admony is chef-owner of three NYC restaurants; Gur lives in Tel Aviv and has authored some 40 other cookbooks. "Shuk" is an Israeli market and usually features  Mediterranean culinary crossroad food, a sort of cultural melting pot. The food here is flavourful, and comprises salad for breakfast, many cooking techniques for veggies, rich stews and soups, couscous and chicken, liberal use of lemon and oil, fresh herbs and lots of fish. These are 140 home comfort food preps, with tons of tips and on-site photos of the shuk tour of Israel. Included are Ethiopian chicken, Yemenite malawach sficha, crispy za'atar, green shakshuka, and Jerusalem bagels.
--NEW ORLEANS CELEBRATIONS (Gibbs Smith, 2019, 192 pages, $30 hardbound) is by Kevin Belton, a local chef with a PBS New Orleans cooking show. It's detailed, with sections on specific foods such as oysters, gumbo, crawfish, boudin, catfish, hand pies, jambalaya, rice, blue crabs, fried chicken, beignet, shrimp. This is followed by celebrations for the BBQ, the jazz festival, Bastille Day, Oktoberfest, and the cultures of Greece and Sicily and Latin America with explorations of neighbourhoods. Quite a nice package, well-laid out, with useful directions.
--MADE IN MEXICO THE COOKBOOK; classic and contemporary recipes from Mexico City (Rizzoli, 2019,  272 pages   $55 hardbound) is by Danny Mena, chef at NYC's Hecho en Dumbo, with great endorsements by Rick Bayless and Richard Sandoval. It's a flavourable and colourful work of preps and travel about Mena's fave diners, fondas, loncherias, taco stands, and restaurants in Mexico City, with recipes from the locals plus his own takes. This guidebook covers the city's dining and cooking activities, how the natives drink and eat, but with also a lot of relevant commentary. It's useful for any trip to Mexico City, with the caveat that the tome weighs about  1.25 kilos.
--AMERICAN SFOGLINO; a master class in handmade pasta (Chronicle Books, 2019, 272 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Evan Funke, an American sfoglino (maker of fresh pasta sheets called sfoglia) who rigourously trained with Bologna's Alessandra Spisni (eight-time world champion pasta maker) and Japan's Kosaku Kawamura. He's opened many restaurants in LA, but managed to find the time to offer this massive work which has a powerful log-rolling endorsement from TEN other chefs, many of whom  are Beard winners. It's arranged by 15 pasta shapes, such as tagliatelle, strichetti, strozzapreti, and gnocchi di ricotta. Each section has stories, recipes for sauces and accompaniments. Lots of full-colour photos of techniques for preparing bowls, plates and stuffed pastas. A great tome for pasta lovers.
--THE IMMIGRANT COOKBOOK (Interlink Books, 2018,  224 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is a collection of recipes and stories edited by Leyla Moushabeck, with about 100 different contributors. Each prep section gives a recipe and the story behind the recipe. Many of the sources behind each dish are professional chefs, and their individual stories are related, from childhood to food success. It has been endorsed by top chefs  – Ottolenghi, Waters, Deborah Madison, David Lebovitz, and the late Anthony Bourdain. The publisher will donate $5 from the sale of each cookbook to the ACLU.  It's arranged from apps to desserts, and any of them certainly do beat the presidential mac and cheeseburger. 'Nuff said.
--TORTELLINI AT MIDNIGHT (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages,  $35 USD hardbound) is by Emiko Davies, who is of mixed heritage but married a Tuscan man and lives in Italy. These are heirloom preps from four generations deep and many miles wide from Taranto in Puglia to Turin and then Tuscany in the north. It has a lot of memoir material, the food is comforting, and the photography a traveller's dream. There are great stories here for every dish. It is all arranged by one of the three regions followed by a series of  seven menus for larger holiday events (New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, All Saints' Day, etc.), all with page references to the preps themselves.  Recipes are in both metric and avoirdupois. Nifty gift package.
--BALADI PALESTINE (Interlink Books, 2019, 256 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Joudie Kalla, a UK professional chef who also wrote the cookbook "Palestine on a Plate". "Baladi" means "my home, my land". Here she takes us on a culinary journey through her homeland with rare Palestinian family recipes reflecting the diverse landscapes and seasons. It's arranged by geographic feature, which chapters on river and sea (salmon, sardines, sea bass, red mullet, monkfish, sea bream, squid), hills and orchards (lime, pomegranate, mango, lemon, ice cream, pastries), the farm (lamb, poultry), the earth (potatoes, beets, zucchini, fava beans, shallots), the markets (coffee, eggs, turmeric, eggplants, chili). Each dish has a story. Excellent photography too.
--BAKING WITH KIM-JOY: cute and creative bakes to make you smile (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2019, 176 pages, $34.99 hardbound) is by Kim-Joy, a finalist on two UK TV baking competitions. It's a spiffy, colourful work that is essentially a guide to decorating fun cakes, profiteroles, cookies, breads, macaroons. These are really imaginative designs: some are easy, some are complicated, all are enjoyable.  Of course there is much material on layouts, frostings, icings,  and other decorations. The basic requirement is merely a steady hand. She opens with an "easy" pistachio and cardamom cake with mango-saffron jam, followed by a vegan chocolate cake with praline – and then begins to move on to other enjoyments such as "pigfiteroles in mud".  All the photos are very bright and colourful, and all the ingredients are listed in both metric and imperial measurements.
--THE VIBRANT LIFE: eat well, be well (Chronicle Books, 2019, 240 pages, $42.95 hardbound) is by Amanda Haas, a cookbook author who is also a former culinary director for Williams-Sonoma.  She's got recipes, meditations, and guidance on ways to well-being, from acupuncture through meditation, for the midlife and beyond person. The 60 recipes emphasize self-care, and include basics for salsa verde, preserved lemon gremolata, and cucumber salad. It's all arranged by "best breakfasts", veggies and fruits, selected meats and seafoods, and useful sweets. Plus about 14 items for the mind-body-spirit.
--CALGARY EATS: signature recipes from the city's best restaurants and bars (Figure.1, 2019,  233 pages, $38.99 hardbound) has been edited by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph, who both edited the companion CALGARY COOKS. The is the ninth work in the Canadian series of urban food and eating from Figure.1; others included Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. It's a good second sampling of the cuisine scene in Calgary, with preps from  Alloy Dining, Cassis Bistro, Cilantro, Knifewear, Market (duck confit pot pie), and others. Great food styling photos, as in all the rest of the series. And: there are metric conversion charts!!
--WE ARE LA COCINA (Chronicle Books, 2019, 288 pages, $36 hardbound) is a collection of recipes in pursuit of the American dream. "La Cocina" ("kitchen" in Spanish) is an organization that promotes foodways from all over the world. It helps to develop food products, restaurants, food trucks, and food stall concepts. It's a group which lobbies for inclusion and equity for entrepreneurial women of colour and recent immigrants to the USA; all of the royalties go back into La Cocina to support new entrepreneurs. There are 75 recipes here and stories from 40 successful alumni of the kitchen incubator. These different foods (momos, albondigas, onigiri, et al) are accompanied by 150 photos by Eric Wolfinger.
--ANDALUSIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $57 hardbound) is by Jose Pizarro, who owns three restaurants in London called (wait for it):  Jose, Pizarro, and Jose Pizzaro. It's a good collection of local cuisine and preps from Seville and other places within the Spanish region by the sea. He's got some memoirish material plus lots of photos from Emma Lee. It's divided into 4 main sections of meat, fish, veggies, and desserts, plus some Andalusian menus with a timeline of work routines  for the days before. This is followed by a listing of places to eat in the area. Loaded with photos.
--PROVENCAL (Pavilion, 2019, 256 pages, $47 hardbound) is by Alex Jackson, owner of Sardine in London UK, which centres on Provence and the surrounding Mediterranean area. So this is Southern French cooking with an emphasis on fresh veggies, herbs, olive oil and breads. And it is seasonally arranged from Spring through Winter, opening up with socca with artichokes and closing with the grand bouffe of pot-au-feu. It's a charmer of a collection of preps, centred around rusticity. But it is hard to find at a commercial restaurant even in Provence. As the author says, "short of knocking on farmhouse doors, it's difficult to piece it all together." You have to rely on books and do it yourself. So this work is a good start to begin with, and then move on to Richard Olney and Robert Carrier.  Nicely laid out with line drawings. Pissaladiere  anyone?
--PROVENCE: the cookbook (Interlink Books, 2019, 208 pages, $43.95 hardbound) is by Caroline Rimbert Craig, whose fruit farmer heritage shines forth in this collection of recipes from the French Mediterranean. There is much detail (and photos) on how the locals eat and their customs over the years. The Provencal larder is explored, with its olive oils, herbs and aromatics, garlic, salads, preserved anchovies, wines, breads, cheeses, salt cod, nuts, and red wine vinegar. The contents are arranged by season, from Spring through Winter. Some faves of mine appear: salade de feves et d'asperges, pissaladiere, tarte de blettes, and the wonderful sandwich des cyclistes! The range is from accras de morue through soupe au pistou through tartines de truffes. Another great too for the armchair traveller and/or the home chef.
--PARIS FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2017, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Elin Unnes. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a guide to the new Paris, the 11th arrondissement (natural-wine restaurants, divey bars, market stalls, alley lanes for unmarked restaurants, and more). Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. She also covers other areas such as the 10th, 12th, and 20th. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
--ROME FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2018, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Peter Loewe. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a more traditional organization, with chapters on  different types of places to eat at, food stores, the outskirts of town, and the avoidance of tourist traps. Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
--TOKYO FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2018, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Jonas Cramby. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a personal guide arranged by type of food served: ramen, tsukemen, udon, tempera, yakitori, curry, biru, gyoza, tonkatsu, sushi, and izakaya. Plus locations of fast food, street food and bars (beers and sakes). Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
--CATALAN FOOD (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 273 pages, $40 hardbound) is by Daniel Olivella, a Catalan chef who opened Catalan cuisine restaurants in San Francisco and Texas. His collaborator is Caroline Wright. Catalan cuisine is one of the culinary crossroads: passing through were Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Jews, and others. There is lots of material and photos about Catalonia and its food, followed by recipes arranged by menu, beginning with small plates (pica pica), veggies (verdur4s i legums), paella, seafood, meats (del corral), pork, breads and desserts. A very useful armchair travel tool with many Mediterranean dishes.
--ETHIOPIA (Interlink Books, 2019, 224 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by  Yohanis Gebreyesus, chef-owner of Antica in Addis Ababa and host of a weekly food program on EBS, Ethiopia's  national television network. It's an impressive work on Ethiopian cuisine, with many recipes and traditions noted from the Horn of Africa. Its cuisine has been influenced by a religious  mix of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Typical dishes include dor wat (chicken stewed with berber spice), siga ribs (fried beef), asa shorba (spiced fish soup), gomen (collard greens with giner and garlic), azifa (green lentil salad), dinich alicha (potatoes and carrots in onion turmeric sauce. Of course, the tome opens with
injera and flatbreads, found in every global Ethiopian restaurant, followed by seasonings, soup to nuts, through to drinks. Every prep is geographically located and has a story as well as terrific photos. Where appropriate there are thoughts from local artisans.
--TOKYO STORIES (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Tim Anderson. It's subtitle is " a Japanese cookbook" . It is more – it is a tour through the various styles of food outlets in Tokyo: department store food halls in the basement; top floor hotel restaurants; noodle shops; sushi bars; yakitori shacks; convenience stores; vending machine foods;  and street foods in general. You're going to find cheesy fried chicken, gyoza, ramen, curries, udon, onigirl, and others. He's got 80 recipes with his memoir-like stories and "on location" photography. It's arranged by food type (street, local, national, global, modern) after a primer on depachika (Japanese ingredients). Good fun for anyone who loves Japanese food.
--ANDALUZ (Interlink Books, 2019, 304 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Fiona Dunlop, food and travel writer and photographer who has also written The North African Kitchen and Mexican Modern. Here, wit an endorsement from Yotam Ottolenghi she now covers the food, history, and culture of the south part of Spain by the coast. Moorish rule of nearly eight centuries has created a distinctly Arabian/Berberian influence on the food, with ingredients such as couscous, rice, eggplant, oranges, olives, apricots, marzipan, and a wide range of spices. With material on markets and both chef and home cook profiles, Dunlop gives us a pretty determined travel/food look at a specific region, from Granada (east) to Cordoba and Seville (south). Do try her mezquita salad (eggplant, tomato and olives)  or mozarabic albondigas in almond and saffron sauce. There's a listing of recommended restaurants, a bibliography, and two indexes to the recipes (by course and by ingredient).  And, of course, there are her own  photographs.
--FOOD OF THE ITALIAN SOUTH (Clarkson Potter, 2019, 256 pages, $40 hardbound) is by Katie Parla, an American Rome-based food and beverage journalist and author of the IACP award winner, "Tasting Rome" (2016). Here she moves on "south" to Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia in a travel journey of classic and lost dishes of tomato-based pasta-heavy Italian food. Each rustic recipe has a cultural story to tell, and Parla does it well in, um, parlaying it with insights. The arrangement is traditional, from antipasti through dolci with a section on making your own amari and vermouths, and concludes with a bibliography, a resources list, and conversion charts. There is a whole section on the wonderful carrati con ragu di castrato (mutton sauce in winter) and carrati con ricotta e noci (cheese and walnut sauce in summer).
--FROM THE LAND OF NIGHTINGALES & ROSES (Interlink Books, 2019, 318 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Maryam Sinaiee, an Iranian-born political analyst but now full-time food blogger of Iranian food. It's casual home cooking of Persian dishes,  arranged by season, beginning with Spring. Food history and culture are also covered, along with her own food styling photography and historical photos. Each season introduces memoir material about Iranian life while the preps themselves have more historical and detailed instructions. Each dish has a local name, such as kotlet for beef and potato fritters, Lamb preps include braised shanks, ground meat kebabs, sweet and sour lamb, lamb and eggplant stew, lamb and dried plum stew, rice with lamb and green beans, lamb stew with dried limes, and other variations. It all concludes with a glossary.
--BLACK SEA (Quadrille, 2018, 280 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Caroline Eden, an inveterate traveller who gives us a hefty tome that is part travelogue and part  cookbook. It's the tale of Odessa, Istanbul, and Trabzon. Covered are Bessarabia (65% of which is Moldova), Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey – as they border on the Black Sea. So it is a commentary on local foods, and embraces memoir material on the Jewish tables of Odessa, fisherwomen of Bulgaria, and White Russians in Istanbul. Of particular interest is the food of Trabzon (Trebizond)  -- when did you last see a Trabzon cookbook?  She gives us extensive food and cultural notes along with preps such as frontline pilaf, Trabzon kaygana with anchovies and herbs, bebe cake, Sumela brunch,  and apricot and cinnamon hosaf.
--FELIDIA; recipes from my flagship restaurant (Appetite by Random House, 2019,  246 pages, $42 hardbound) is by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, her Chef Fortunato Nicotra, and her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali who has also co-authored several cookbooks with Lidia. Felidia is one of the top Italian restaurants in North America, and it is augmented by Lidia's empire of entertainment production units (principally her PBS shows), her other restaurants, her prodigious output of cookbooks, and her food line. The upscale preps here come from her flagship restaurant, and include such oft-requested items as polenta crackers, carrot spread, eggplant flan with tomato coulis, capon broth with passatelli, gnudi, and a range of risottos and pastas. Not to mention main courses and sides. This is a well-developed cookbook for the Italian food lover.
B. And how about gift books for the beverage drinker? Try –
--FANCY AF COCKTAILS; drink recipes from a couple of professional drinkers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 208 pages, $35.99  hardbound) is by  Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval. It's the perfect gift for millennials: a loud, brassy tome with lots of colour and photos of both the drinks and the authors. With plenty of personal data too. The work has four main sections: classy, trashy, shots and recovery – drinks for all occasions with bourbon, Champagne, gin, Cointreau, margaritas, rum, vodka, whiskeys and more. Perhaps best taken in small doses, but it is a readable and affordable guide.
--THE CURIOUS BARTENDER'S WHISKEY ROAD TRIP; a coast to coast tour...US...(Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 384 pages, $34.95 hardbound) is by Tristan Stephenson, who has a whole range of  "The Curious Bartender's" books. There is a road trip map listing some 44 distilleries from California, Washington, Texas, and of course Kentucky and Tennessee. There are lots of colour photos, play lists for the auto trip, and a description of each business (along with tasting notes) including what to watch out for.  Oh, and there are some nifty cocktail recipes. An absolutely perfect oversized tome for the Bourbon, rye, and whiskey lover.
--ADVENTURES ON THE WINE ROUTE (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988, 2013, 2019, 276 pages, $25 softbound) is by Kermit Lynch. It's his wine buyer's guide of France, originally published in 1988 but with a 2013 addition of  a 33 page epilogue, a 2013 addition of "25 most memorable bottles of wines", and a 2019 affordable paperback reissue perfect for gifting. It's a classic work for wine lovers, especially for French wine lovers. It's a highly influential look at the wine trade as it is a record of Lynch's buying patterns (he was an importer: these are his notes).
--LONELY PLANET'S GLOBAL DISTILLERY TOUR (Lonely Planet, 2019, 264 pages, $26 hardbound) is from the publisher Lonely Planet  with contributions from over three dozen writers. It;s a guide to tasting whisky, gin, bourbon and other spirits at the world's best distilleries and bars. Over 30 countries are covered, with regional drinks from Canada (10 pages), USA, Mexico, Japan, the UK, and New Zealand. There are local itineraries that recommend top sights and experiences, and a special section that showcases the world's best cocktails. 
--THE ULTIMATE SCRATCH & SNIFF GUIDE TO LOVING BEER (Flatiron Books, 2019, 12 boards, $28.99 hardbound) is by Richard Betts. Rotem Raffe did the artwork. Together, with deft illustrations and sniffing they do a good job in breaking down the ingredients, the science, and the processes behind how beer is made and enjoyed. They claim that with this reference item the reader will have the tools to make informed decisions. A fun work of art.
--FINE CIDER (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 176 pages, $27.95  hardbound) is by Felix Nash, a cider merchant who looks at the history, the styles, the apple varieties, and the processes of cider-making, He's also got material on cider-producing regions, cider and food matches, and a great list of where to start with the bucket list of ciders to try. Styles are important (I love cider from Normandy or Brittany), but these are dependent on the varieties available.  There is an art to blending and to using wild yeasts. Cidermaking is a  lot like winemaking, substituting apples for grapes and finishing with a lower alcohol content, usually at the top end of a beer level, say 5 – 8% ABV.  There's the French style I like, usually at 4% ABV. There is also Pet Nat (petillant naturel) , ice cider, still cider, and Champagne method. A good too for those beginning to find their way into cider.
--BAR CART STYLE; creating super-chic cocktail stations (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 128 pages, $19.95 hardbound) has been styled by Emily Henson. It is basically how to put together a bar cart that makes a statement in its own right for iconic cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. Carts are from the Art Deco and Jazz Age period, but they are important simply because they are mobile and free-up counter space. The bar basics are here, equipment is minimal as is glassware, and there are some suggested recipes such as blackberry bellini, mai tai, jalisco flower, dill acquavit, and the Negroni. A great inexpensive gift for the millennial.
C. Perhaps some food and drink reference books? Such as:
--THE SIDE DISH BIBLE (America's Test Kitchen, 2019, 564 pages, $45 hardcovers) is an affordable look at 1001 great recipes for every salad, veggie, rice, grain, fruit, and bean dish you might need to accompany a main dish – right from a turkey down to a meatball.  The only thing missing is fresh meat as a garnish, save for bacon and pancetta (with over 50 preps between them). There are plenty of tips and advice to help the harried cook/chef to easily find a perfect matching side dish for any occasion. There's 10-minute Brussels sprouts, cauliflower salad, creamy farrotto (farro risotto), potato galette. And it is a perfect cookbook for those who actually enjoy a meal of side dishes (like me). One of the highlights of the holiday gift parade.
--THE BEST OF AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN; best recipes, equipment reviews, and tastings 2020 (America's Test Kitchen, 2019, 326 pages, $45 hardbound) is a group effort from the PBS television show. It comes out in late summer but is meant for the next year:  in this case, 2020. So all material here is pretty well is written up by the spring of 2019. This is a" best of the best" collection, active since 2007. It's arranged by course, from starters/soups/salads through veggies, pasta/pizza/panini, meat, poultry, seafood, breads, and desserts – with stops along the way for sides, breakfast and brunch. There are concluding sections on test kitchen resources, nutritional info, and conversion equivalents. Quite a lot packed into a handy package, and excellent value (particular for the buying guides and the technique photo displays).
--YOU ARE WHAT YOUR GRANDPARENTS ATE: what you need to know about nutrition, experience, epigenetics & the origins of chronic disease. (Robert Rose, 2019, 320 pages, $37.95 paperbound) is by long time food author Judith Finlayson who also writes about personal well-being and women's history. She provides an up-to-date global overview of the science linking one's experience as a fetus with the development of chronic illness later in life, and the possibility that one will pass on lifestyle choices to future generations. Epigenetics is the connection between our genes and  our environment: the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the lifestyle we choose.  It's a good basis for those millennials who try to understand where they are from and where they are going. Nature and nurture are intertwined, and early life experiences have an effect on diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancers.  She does a good job in making hard science accessible and readable. Something to think about over the holiday seasons.
--SPICE (DK Books, 2018, 224 pages, $32 hardbound)  is a publisher's reference work on spices. The scientific aspect has been written or overseen by Dr. Stuart Farrimond, science and health writer, while British food writer Laura Nickoll co-ordinated the non-science content of the spice profiles (the bulk of the tool). The 120 pages dedicated to profiles divides all spices into phenols, terpenes, acids, aldehydes, pyrazines, and compounds, with sub-divisions. Each of the 60 profiles is connected to one or more of the 40 regional guides presented. There are also 65 top-notch recipes. Eight other food writers, mainly British, worked on the profiles, the regions, and the recipes. Great team work for a food reference tool!
--WHERE TO DRINK WINE (Quadrille, 2018, 288 pages, $42.99 hardbound) is by Chris Losh, editor of Imbibe (UK). It's a guide to the world's must-visit wineries. It you've got the big bucks to travel, there is enough here for a lifetime (but start early). He opens with France and moves through Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Greece, North America (including both three places in the Okanagan Valley and nine in the Niagara Peninsula), South America, South Africa, the Antipodes, plus China, Georgia and Lebanon. Oh, if only they weren't so scattered!!  Basically, it is a descriptive work for each wine region with some commentary on those welcoming wineries such as, for Champagne, Pommery, Taittinger, Mailly, Moet & Chandon, and more. He gives us multiple reasons for each visit but no tasting notes. There is much to be seen at each winery, such as visitor centres, museums, art work, knowledgeable staff, etc. It's a must have reference tool for the bucket list!
--THE CIDER INSIDER (Quadrille Books, 2018, 224 pages, $26 hardbound) is by Susanna Forbes. It is a fairly comprehensive guide to over 100 international craft ciders and their global styles. It's arranged by country, with the UK getting the lion's share followed by France, and then Spain, Europe, North America, and then the antipodes. There are glossaries and flavour guides throughout, with a good bibliography of resources. There is not much for Canada (four from Quebec and one from BC) which is probably as it should be since cider production was not made legal in Canada until the 1970s. Its main contribution is the glorious "ice cider" made like ice wine. Each company gets a detailed description with deets on location and apples used, and where to go next for more in that style. Currently, it is a pretty unique reference tool, well worth reading.
--ITALY'S NATIVE WINE GRAPE TERROIRS (University of California Press, 2019, 376 pages, $70 hardbound) is by Ian D'Agata, the world's leading expert on Italian wine. In 2014 he authored NATIVE WINE GRAPES OF ITALY. This current work is all about the various DOCs and DOCGs in the wine production areas of Italy's native wine grapes. Easy-to-read descriptions have easy-to-read geologic data, biotype and clonal info, followed by producer interviews and comments.  Facts and figures provide the beginnings of in-depth analysis for the terroirs that produce the great wines (Barolo, Chianti Classico, Brunello de Montalcino) to the lesser-known Ischia and Turbiana. The slightly oversized tome has double columns, so lots of information is given. It all comes complete with a glossary, a bibliography, and three indexes. A brilliant giftbook for the demanding wine lover!
D. For the more literate person, there are the histories, "memoirs", polemics  and humour of writers, chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction", some with embellishments and gilding. And many of them may suffer from a lack of indexing, which makes it difficult to find what the writer said about another person or subject. But this also avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from  this year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. Here we go, in no particular order…
--SAVE ME THE PLUMS; my Gourmet memoir (Appetite by Random House, 2019, 268 pages, $32 hardbound) is by the inspired Ruth Reichl, a great food writer with a gripping-can't-put-it-down style – just perfect for the holidays. She's been the restaurant critic for the LA Times, the NY Times, and then editor of Gourmet magazine for a ten year gig. Then the magazine shut down, primarily because of the incursion of the Internet where recipes abound. This is her story, her memoir of the glamourous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Under her management, Gourmet flourished as a cutting-edge food magazine, far from its stodgy beginnings. It is also the story of how Reichl grappled with the changes and how the changes affected her and then how the shutdown affected her. There are about a dozen recipes here, but one caveat: no overall index to neither the preps or the subject content.
--THE DEVIL'S DINNER (St. Martin's Press, 2018, 296 pages, $36.50 hardbound) is by Stuart Walton. It's a gastronomic and cultural history of chili peppers. He also manages to go into depth about the biological impact, beginning with Mexico and South America. Spaniards returning to Europe brought chilis back with them, and this produced piri-piri and pimientos (Iberia), paprika in Austro-Hungary, and permeated the Indian sub-continent. There is much detail here in this look, culminating with a discussion on the hotness of chilis and how it became a guy thing. Notes and a bibliography complete the work.
--WHAT MAKES A WINE WORTH DRINKING (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  2018, 182 pages, $36 hardbound) is by Terry Theise, an importer of boutique wines from Germany, Austria and Champagne. He's also authored the title  "Reading Between the Wines" and has written wine articles for magazines. Here he concentrates on praising the sublime in wine. It's in a somewhat autobiographical tone, but he does tell us how to find and appreciate exceptional wine and how it can lead to a richer and fuller life. Just the perfect gift for the oenophile in your life. What makes a wine worth drinking is its authenticity: it's usually small-scaled artisanal wine of subtlety.  Taste matters, so that is first on the table in his tome – what does a good wine actually taste like?  Enjoy...and try also
--FRUIT FROM THE SANDS; the silk road origins of the foods we eat (University of California Press, 2019, 374 pages, $43.95  hardbound) is by Robert N. Spengler III, the Archaeobotany Laboratory Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. He's traced the history of many foods back to prehistoric Central Asia (the crossroads of the ancient world)  and the Silk Road, from where the foods moved to Europe, America, and East Asia. Covered then are apples, millet, barley, wheat, grapes, tea, legumes, rice and others,  The exchange of goods started over 5000 years ago, and the actual "organized" trade along the Silk Route can be traced back to Han Dynasty China (206 BCE). The major source of evidence are the preserved remains of plants found in archaeological sites. The Silk Road exchange (overland route) and the "accidental" Columbian exchange (maritime route) were similar attempts to get to the spices and foods of Central Asia. Fascinating reading complemented by notes and references.
--BELLA FIGURA (Appetite by Random House, 2018, 284 pages, $29.95 hardbound) tells us how to live, love, and eat the Italian way. It's by Kamin Mohammadi, a now-British journalist and broadcaster living and working outside Florence and in London. Living in Florence had changed her life, and she makes it a great spin on armchair travel. It's the "slow food" approach to life – taking the time to do things well.  Her memoir opens in January 2008 and moves through, monthly chapter by chapter, to the end of that year.  Topics include: how to taste the sweetness of life, how to celebrate being a woman, how to eat and not put on weight, and how style has nothing to do with money.  Recipes are scattered throughout, and at the end there is a summary of 21 different "rules".
--RITZ & ESCOFFIER (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 312 page, $35 hardbound) is by Luke Barr who wrote the amazing bestseller "Provence, 1970".  He deals with the hotelier Ritz and Chef Escoffier in the context of the rise of the leisure class.  In essence, he covers not just the two men but also the social aspects of the hospitality industry in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Savoy in London was the first hotel with electricity and elevators; all rooms had baths. "Toute le monde" stayed there, and Escoffier ran the first restaurant in Europe to welcome unaccompanied women. Barr covers the relationship between the two, and (after disaster and opulence) follows them to Paris  and the Hotel Ritz. Notes and sources, plus an index, are included.
--AMERICAN CUISINE AND HOW IT GOT THIS WAY (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. 451 pages, $53.95 hardbound) is by Paul Freedman, author of "Ten Restaurants that Changed America" . He's followed up on that earlier tome by covering more of the Colonial period up through processed industrial food, ethnic cultural diversified foods, and the farm-to-table movement. It's an ambitious too, covering regional cooking styles of the colonies and the westward evolution of the USA. His main thrust is the progression from regionality through national standardization and then variety (as a backlash). Thoughtful, interesting reading for the holidays.
--THE MUNCHY MUNCH COOKBOOK FOR KIDS (Familius, 2019, 170 pages, $28.99 spiral-bound) is by Pierre A. Lamielle, and award-winning kids' cookbook author with titles such as "Alice Eats" and "Kitchen Scraps: a humourous illustrated cookbook".  He's also competed on Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada (which he won). Great illustrations that even adults or new cooks will enjoy. These are the essential skills and recipes every young chef should know, beginning with ten pages of "safety". That deal with hot, sharp, and germs.
--COOKING CLASS GLOBAL FEAST! (Storey Publishing, 2019, 144 pages, $28.95 spiral bound) is by Deanna F. Cook, and it is  her third work in this series meant for food adventures for kids. It's a tour of 44 ethnic dishes from around the world – there's fried bannock bread from Canada, beans on toast from the UK, soda bread from Ireland, kasha from Russia, mealie meal bread from South Africa, coconut bread from Tonga, fried rice from China, et al. There are also pop-out food passports, world language flash cards, flag stickers, infographics for taste-test explorations of fruits, breads, veggies and ice creams from around the world. Great fun for over the holidays.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wines You Should Try

--WINES YOU SHOULD TRY; a guide for Canadians (Whitecap, 2019, 204 pages, $22.95 paperbound)  largely supersedes the ninth annual edition (2016) of   "The 500 Best-Value Wines In the LCBO 2017".  This new work by wine scribe Rod Phillips is now national, and has both international and domestic wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with an indication of a price range (under $12  to  over $49). He tasted about 1000 wines, and chose about 500 wines that are available in at least two provinces.  Each of the wines has some value, or else they would not be in this tool: they can be considered at least "better" if not "best" of what's around in Canada. Each  has an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook which features only those wines available in Canada -- that you should try.


Monday, November 18, 2019


By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing My "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.
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at  or at No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
NOTE: The first portion  is based on my sampling of the table wines chosen by the LCBO from this release for tasting. That presentation is about 50+  different labels out of about 125 released every two weeks. These wines are basically those that fit the categories of  any of the Featured Themes, Wines of the Month, Local Talent, and "new" -- wines that the LCBO has ordered in sufficient quantities for the Ontario marketplace. Not put out for us are the re-orders (even though they may be of a different vintage) , ISDs, or the expensive wines.  Thus, my report comes from a restricted database. I did not taste every one of these 50+ category wines, nor did I rate several of the wines I did sample because they did not seem to be of particularly good value in terms of their price.
NOTE: The second part (at the end) is a simple listing of  those wines that were NOT presented to the media, and are given here simply as a record of  what sampling I could not do. I have left in the name of the agency, in fairness to all.
PART ONE:  The "best" wines of a reduced tasting  --
Fizz+438994    KEW BARREL AGED BLANC DE BLANC    Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula     2011    $29.95 MVC/QPR: 92
Under $20
W+144386    SOHO WHITE COLLECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2018    $19.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+259788    JOSEPH CATTIN RIESLING    AC Alsace    2017    $14.95     12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90
W+156943    DOMAINE DE ROCHEBIN CHARDONNAY MÂCON-AZÉ    AC    2017    $17.95 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+147975    GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER    IGP Pays d'Oc    2017    $14.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
W+11138    CA' D'OR BIANCO PAGUS SOAVE CLASSICO    DOC    2017    $17.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+488981    FOLLAS NOVAS ALBARIÑO    DO Rías Baixas    2018    $17.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+R+606764    ARBOLEDA SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON    DO Aconcagua Valley    2017    $19.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+18721    VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Maipo Valley    2017    $17.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+15495    3 RINGS SHIRAZ    Barossa Valley, South Australia    2016    $17.95    14.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+343517    TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE    AP Côtes du Roussillon    2017    $18.95  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+10676    SIERRA NORTE EQUILIBRIO 9 MONASTRELL    DOP Jumilla    2016    $15.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+276030    MURIEL FINCAS DE LA VILLA RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2014    $19.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+11195    COLINAS DE ANÇÃ BAGA RESERVA    DOC Bairrada    2014    $16.95     13.5%ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+11152    COUTADA VELHA SIGNATURE RED    Vingo Regional Alentejano    2017    $15.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
Over $20
W+184549    LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $44.95     MVC/QPR: 92
W+208694    BURROWING OWL ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2017    $33.95  13.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+346304    GRGICH HILLS ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2014    $67.95  MVC/QPR: 93
W+677450    DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2018    $26.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+13421    HENRY OF PELHAM BIN 106 BACO NOIR    30th anniversary limited edition, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $29.95    13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+505610    HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ    Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2016    $44.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+184564    LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS PINOT NOIR    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $44.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+392738    QUEYLUS TRADITION PINOT NOIR    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2016    $31.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+312058    STRATUS RED    VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake    2016    $49.20    13.3% ABV,  MVC/QPR:  89
R+320986    THIRTY BENCH WINEMAKER'S BLEND RED    VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $24.95 13.3% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+11819    JACKSON-TRIGGS OKANAGAN GRAND RESERVE RED MERITAGE    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2016    $25.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+143784    SUMAC RIDGE BLACK SAGE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2017    $28.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+906404    LA CREMA RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR    Russian River Valley, Sonoma County    2015    $49.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+466938    UNÁNIME GRAN VINO TINTO    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2015    $29.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+129353    THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK    WO Swartland    2017    $39.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+167700    ARDAL SELECCIÓN ESPECIAL RESERVA    DO Ribera del Duero    2006    $23.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.5
R+261784    PAPALE LINEA ORO PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA    DOP    2015    $22.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+63891    EMILIANA COYAM    Los Robles Estate, Colchagua Valley    2016    $29.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+568774    QUINTA DO SAGRADO RESERVA    DOC Douro    2016    $29.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
PART TWO: The "rest" of the release [not offered for sampling by media] with agency names --
294041    2027 FALLS VINEYARD RIESLING    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2017    $18.95    2027 CELLARS LTD.   
578625    FLAT ROCK NADJA'S VINEYARD RIESLING    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $24.95    FLAT ROCK CELLARS   
581231    TZAFONA CELLARS NAVA BLANC KPM    VQA Ontario    2016    $19.95    NORTHERN WINE CORP   
485276    TZAFONA CELLARS COLD CLIMATE UNOAKED CHARDONNAY KP    Vegan friendly, VQA Niagara Peninsula    2015    $22.95    TRAJECTORY BEVERAGE PARTNERS   
566026    CAVE SPRING CSV RIESLING    Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2016    $29.95    CAVE SPRING CELLARS LTD.,   
469023    CUDDY BY TAWSE CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2014    $25.95    TAWSE WINERY INC.   
94375    DUCKHORN SAUVIGNON BLANC    Napa Valley    2017    $37.95    ROGERS & COMPANY   
288555    WILLIAM HILL NORTH COAST CHARDONNAY    North Coast    2017    $19.95    E&J GALLO WINERY CANADA LTD.   
125310    NORMAN HARDIE COUNTY UNFILTERED PINOT NOIR    VQA Prince Edward County    2017    $45.20    HARDIE WINES   
284570    TAWSE GROWER'S BLEND CABERNET FRANC    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2015    $28.95    TAWSE WINERY INC.   
246918    J. LOHR CAROL'S VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON    St. Helena, Napa Valley    2014    $89.95    BARRIQUE WINE IMPORTS LTD.   
723478    ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2016    $19.95    DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD.   
166298    LA POSTA PIZZELLA MALBEC    Mendoza    2017    $15.95    TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD.   
256685    MONTES LIMITED SELECTION CARMENÈRE    DO Colchagua Valley    2016    $14.95    VIN VINO WINE MERCHANTS INC.   
546424    ERRAZURIZ ACONCAGUA ALTO CARMENÈRE    DO Valle de Aconcagua    2017    $21.95    PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD.   
357475    DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ    McLaren Vale, South Australia    2017    $20.95    DU CHASSE WINES & SPIRITS   
684753    PORCA DE MURÇA RESERVA TINTO    DOC Douro    2014    $17.95    H.H.D. IMPORTS   
371518    BORSAO BEROLA    DO Campo de Borja    2015    $18.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC   
437319    ROSEWOOD MEAD ROYALE HONEY WINE    Barrel aged, Canada    2017    $19.95    CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD.   
709717    CAKEBREAD CELLARS CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2017    $69.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC   
21303    CAVE DE TURCKHEIM BRAND RIESLING    AC Alsace Grand Cru    2013    $38.95    NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC.   
10468    STAGS' LEAP THE INVESTOR RED BLEND    Napa Valley    2015    $64.95    MARK ANTHONY WINE & SPIRITS   
11166    YOUNGBERG HILL J BLOCK PINOT NOIR    Willamette Valley    2016    $67.95    LOYAL IMPORTS   
309625    PENFOLDS BIN 389 CABERNET/SHIRAZ    South Australia    2017    $99.95    MARK ANTHONY WINE & SPIRITS   
11082    AURORE DEZAT SANCERRE ROUGE    AC Sancerre    2016    $31.95    TOCADE   
466110    DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE DRY RED    PGI Achaia    2013    $29.95    THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC   
368373    VIÑA ARANA RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2011    $49.95    JOHN HANNA & SONS LIMITED   
10493    CELESTE RESERVA    DO Ribera del Duero    2014    $34.95    PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD.   
10901    TORO ALBALÁ DON PX    DO Montilla-Moriles    2017    $21.95    LE SOMMELIER INC.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

The November 5 Event: Wines of Chile: Love Wine, Love Chile – trade show

The Date and Time: Tuesday November 5, 2019  12PM  - 5PM
The Event: Wines of Chile: Love Wine, Love Chile – trade show
The Venue: ROM
The Target Audience: wine trade and media
The Availability/Catalogue: large-sized bold print, spiral-bound, name of contact and Ontario sales agent, space for notes, arranged alphabetically. First rate production.
The Quote/Background: Signs were on the table with page numbers, very convenient. Some live music was playing but it was hard to hear above it – at that end of the room.
The Wines: I did not try all the wines, focusing on whites and higher-end reds.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo 2017 $21.95 +353086
-Cono Sur Sparkling Rose Bio Bio $13.95  +365205
-Cono Sur Buculeta Viognier $11.50  +64287
-Emiliana Sparkling TM Organic Casablanca $19.95  +536607
-Emiliana Ge Red Organic Colchagua 2015  $79.95
-Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc $19.95  +462614
-Errazuriz Aconcagua Don Maximiano $89.95  +501247
-Montes Alpha Chardonnay Casablanca 2017 $19.95   Profile
-Vina Santa Alicia Millantu 2017 Maipo $24.95  +469288
-Vina Santa Carolina Herencia 2012 Peumo $69.95  Charton Hobbs
-Vina Santa Ema Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Leyda $17.95  +443507
-Vina Santa Ema Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2018 Leyda $17.95  +542365
-Vina Siegel Ketran 2014 Colchagua $99   Sylvestre
-Vina Siegel Unique Selection 2015 Colchagua $41.95  Sylvestre
-Vina Siegel Gran Reserva Viognier 2015 Colchagua $17.95  Sylvestre
-Valdivieso Caballo Loco Grand Cru Maipo 2015 $53.99  Wine Lovers Agency
-Vina Ventisquero Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Maipo $69.95   Univins
-Vinedos Veramonte Neyen de Apalta 2015 $60  +255976
-Hacienda Araucano Lurton Hamo Blanco 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Colchagua Lolol $19.95  Trajectory Beverage Partners
-Hacienda Araucano Lurton Clos de Lolol White Blend 2018 Colchagua Lolol $29.95  Trajectory Beverage Partners
-Vina I Wines Qu Chardonnay Curico 2018  $16.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Longavi Glup Chenin Blanc Marchique 2019  $24.95  The Case for Wine
-Montes Purple Angel 2017 Colchagua/Apalta $62.95 +62364
-Valdivieso Eclat Vigno Maule 2010 $33.99  Wine Lovers Agency
-Valdivieso Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari Syrah 2015 $53.99  Wine Lovers Agency
-Valdivieso Caballo Loco Grand Cru Apalta Santa Cruz 2015 $53.99  Wine Lovers Agency
-Valdivieso Extra Brut TM Bio Bio/Itata $23.99  Wine Lovers Agency
-Vina Siegel Single Vineyard Carmenere 2015 Colchagua $25.95  Sylvestre
-Morande Adventure Vigno Old Vines Maule 2017 $26.95  +638445
-Morande Brut K.O. NV Maule/Casablanca $19.95
-Perez Cruz Rose Lingal 2019 Maipo Andes  Charton Hobbs
-Vina San Esteban In Situ Reserva Chardonnay 2018 Aconagua $14.95  +10765
-Vina San Esteban Laguna del Inca 2017 Aconagua $27.95 MCO 
-Montes Alpha Special Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua 2017 $24.95   Profile
-Aresti Family Collection Assemblage 2015 $39.95 L'Excellent Wines
-Calcu Winemaker's Selection 2014 Colchagua $35  Don Ackerman's W&S
-Vina Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Gris 2019 Colchagua $23.99  The Case for Wine
-Vina Casa Silva Quinta Generacion Red 2016 Colchagua $29.99  The Case for Wine
-Clos de Luz Massal 1945 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Rapel $21.95 +12675
-Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay 2018 $13.95  +230565
-Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay $19.95  P Dandurand
-Vina Las Ninas Mitica Red Blend 2017 Apalta $29.95  United Stars
-Vina Las Ninas Ella Chardonnay Organic 2017 Apalta $16.95  United Stars
-Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc Leyda 2018 $16.95  Epic Wines and Spirits
-Montgras Antu Limited Syrah Leyda 2013 $24.95  Epic Wines and Spirits
The Food: two sets – baby empanadas with beef or chicken or cheese (the moist chicken was best) and the usual Daniel et Daniel charcuterie platters with smoked duck breast, meats, cheeses, pates, and the famous artichoke/parmesan dip.
The Downside: music was so loud that I had to shout at contacts (and they back at me) in over half the room at that end.
The Upside: a chance to taste some high end wines from Chile.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 86


Thursday, November 14, 2019

The October 21 Event: Tre Amici Wines: Veni, Vidi, Vino III, third portfolio tasting

6.The Date and Time: Monday, October 21, 2019  1PM to 5PM
The Event: Tre Amici Wines: Veni, Vidi, Vino III, third potfolio tasting.
The Venue: Palais Royale
The Target Audience: customers, sommeliers, wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available through the agency.
The Quote/Background: The tasting included wines from the Vertical Wine Group (
The Wines: I did not try all the wines, nor did I try any spirits. Prices for the most part seemed to be licensee.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Villa Pillo Borgoforte 2016 Tuscany $18.95
-Villa Pillo Cingalino 2017 Tuscany $15.95
-Chateau Roubine Provence La Vie En Rose Brut Rose
-Collard-Picard Champagne Selection Brut Blanc de Noir $75
-Collard-Picard Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut $87
-Collard-Picard Champagne Essentiel Brut 2010 $190
-Patrocinio Tempranillo Reserva 2012 Rioja $44.95
-Plan B The King Chardonnay 2015 Margaret River $27.95
-Plan B CV Chardonnay/Viognier 2016 Margaret River $24.50
-Fontanassa Gavi del Comune di Gavi 2017 Piemonte $32.50
-Fontanassa Gavi del Comune di Gavi "Citu" 2015 Piemonte $51.95
-Salvano Barbaresco Riserva 2012 $102
-Salvano Barolo Riserva 2011 $117
-Antonutti Traminer Aromatico 2018 $25.50
-Castelfeder Chardonnay "Doss" 2017 Alto Adige $29.50
-Punti Ferrer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2017 Cachapoal Chile $19.50
-Punti Ferrer Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2016 Cachapoal Chile $20.95
-Vina Amalia Signature Petit Verdot 2011 Mendoza $83.95
-Misty Cove Landmark Series Riesling 2019 $27
-Misty Cove Landmark Series Sauvignon Gris 2019 $27
-San Martino Undici Prosecco Extra Dry $19.95
-San Martino Millesimato Dry $19.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Casalbosco Dorato Chardonnay IGT Toscana 2017 $24.95
-Lodi Wine Company Chardonnay 2018 Lodi $18.50
-Vinihold Portinho di Covo White Blend Peninsula de Setrubal $12.95
-Vina Amalia Sauvignon Blanc Dos Fincas 2017 Mendoza $19.95
-Vina Amalia Torrontes Dos Fincas 2018 Mendoza $19.95
-Vina Amalia Malbec Dos Fincas Brut Mendoza $21.95
-Vina Amalia Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Mendoza $27.50
-Misty Cove Estate Series Marlborough Pinot Gris 2019 $24.50
-Misty Cove Estate Series Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019 $21
-Oak Ridge Winery Blazon Chardonnay Lodi 2017 $25.50
-Oak Ridge Winery Gnarled Vine Chardonnay Lodi 2018 $21.95
-Villa Pillo Sant'adele Merlot 2017 Tuscany $44.50
-Patrocinio Zinio Viura & Tempranillo Blanco 2018 Rioja
-Patrocinio Garnacha 2016 Rioja $19.50
-Patrocinio Vendimia Seleccionada Tempranillo 2014 Rioja $27.50
-Plan B OD Riesling 2017 Margaret River $24.95
-Plan B DR Riesling 2017 Margaret River $23.95
-Fontanassa Gavi "Ca Adua" 2018 Piemonte $25.50
-Castelfeder Pinot Bianco "Vom Stein" 2017 Alto Adige $27.45
-Castelfeder Sauvignon Blanc "Raif" 2017 Alto Adige $34.50
-Julius Treis Riesling Alte Reben Trocken 2017 Mosel
-Valle Secreto Sauvignon Blanc "First Edition" 2017 Cachapoal Chile $20.95
-Punti Ferrer Chardonnay 2018 Cachapoal Chile $14.50
-Punti Ferrer Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Cachapoal Chile $14.50
-Punti Ferrer Gran Reserva Malbec 2017 Cachapoal Chile $20.95
The Food: The Food Studio Catering provided us with charcuterie and salumi platters, international cheeses, peppers, dips, breads, etc.
The Downside: I had to leave early so I could pack for my trip to Wolfville and the Devour Food Film Festival.
The Upside: Palais Royale was easy to get to.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 90.


Monday, November 11, 2019


1.Best's Great Western Shiraz 2017 Bin 1 Victoria, +222323 Vintages, $21.95: very ripe and juicy at this point, with a longer than expected finish. 13.5% ABV is not hot at all. Typical black fruit of shiraz but also with some herbs and mint. It is a keeper for the next few years. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Gerard Bertrand Terroir Fitou 2017 $16.95 +403683 Vintages November: Bertrand continues to advance the Terroir series (and the Grand Terroir series) with more localized vineyards. Here it is Fitou, with its grenache and carignan grapes, vinified separately. The carignan has carbonic maceration for two weeks; the grenache is done in traditional style. Some of the wine is barrel aged for a year. Everything here seems to be concentrated in aromas and flavours, red fruit and undergrowth dominating. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Gerard Bertrand Reserve Speciale Viognier 2018 IGP Pays d'Oc, +147975, $14.95 Vintages Nov 2019: 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. No malolactic fermentation. Could go either way with or without food, hence versatile. 13.5% ABV, cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Estate 2015 VQA Short Hills Bench, +395855 Vintages, $24.95: both cabernets franc (4%) and sauvignon (50%) are used in this Bordeaux-styled blend (46% merlot) which comes across as a mid-Atlantic version of Cali/Bordeaux New World and Old World. It is still in its youth at 4 years of age, and it would be a shame to consume it this young. You could do what I did: open it and drink it over a couple of weeks, exposing it to air gently or speeding up the process by double-triple decanting. You will get several different wines out of one bottle over the course of time. Extended maceration in stainless, followed by French and US oak (40% new) for 18 months. Currently, you could match it with heavy meats. 13.5% ABV on label. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.The Audacity of Thomas G. Bright Chardonnay Sussreserve 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula +11565 LCBO $16.95: Arterra has unleashed a series in respectful memory of the work of its founder the indefatigable Thomas G. Bright. He brought over Euro grapes to grow in Ontario in the late 19th century. Some perished but others survived. I remember drinking "Pinot Chardonnay" from Bright's  in the late 1950s. This version from 2017 has been aged in French oak for eight months, then after MF it spent a year on lees. Some unfermented grape juice was added back into the wine before bottling. This brings it up against California chardonnay. RS is now 10g/L but the acidity level means that it can also be used with food, in addition to being a sipper at patios or stand-up events. 14% ABV, cork finish. Best with dairy and fatty foods (cream sauces, cheeses, buttered popcorn, avocado).  Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.The Audacity of Thomas G. Bright Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Whisky-Barrel Finish 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula +11564 LCBO $16.95: another Arterra salute to founder Thomas G. Bright. And this wine certainly is bright as a full-bodied red blend in the definite Cali style, mostly merlot. Aged in US oak for 8 months, finished in whisky barrels for 5 months for that smooth finish. Black fruit dominates through the over-the-top cassis tones, but it is countered with spices and smoke elements. Hearty foods are suggested (stews from lamb or beef, meaty pastas, BBQ). 14.5% ABV and RS 5 g/L (the latter well-under some leading Cali brands). Quality/Price rating is 88.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Henry of Pelham Bin 106 Baco Noir 30th Vintage Limited Edition 2018 VQA Ontario, $29.95, +13421: these vines were planted in 1984 by the Three Speck Brothers, and this is the 30th vintage for many of the grapes (and maybe the Brothers too). These grapes survived the cut, and represent the very best barrels. Kudos on the effort! Low yields on 3.5 tonnes per acre, gravity movement, destemming, etc. Aged in new and one year old US barriques for a year. Single vineyard. Top barrels were selected. As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy wood character and the lowish price – under $30 – a buck for each year. This bottle still needs another two years for proper aging, but with double decanting and prolonged exposure to air while under cork, it can be enjoyed now. 13% ABV. One of the top bacos in Ontario, works best with pronounced meats such as pork/boar, lamb, farmed or wild game – all either braised or grilled. Really old cheeses and blues as well. 400 cases produced; collectors' item. Quality/Price rating is 92.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.


Saturday, November 9, 2019

The October 23, 2019 Event: Devour! Food Film Festival aka DevourFest (Ninth edition) Opening Gala Reception (presented by Taste of Nova Scotia)

The Event: Devour! Food Film Festival aka DevourFest (Ninth edition) Opening Gala Reception (presented by Taste of Nova Scotia)
The Date and Time: Wednesday, October 23, 2019 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
The Venue: Acadia University, Fountain Commons, Wolfville Nova Scotia.
The Target Audience: well-wishers and foodies, gala lovers in their "fineries".
The Availability/Catalogue: In style, the Gala Reception was much like similar benefits in Toronto – a walk-around with beverage stations (wine, beer, cider and spirits) and food stations next to each other. It was the usual grazing pattern, except in our case, it is in the lovely autumn of Nova Scotia. So the beverages and the food were mostly available only locally. Still, the theme was Italian food and culture, and the invited restaurants did their amazing job in replicating Italian food.
The Quote/Background: This Opening Gala used to be part of a package with the Opening Gala Film, but recently the two got split (you could now do one or both), which suited our personal timetables better. My wife's account of some of the thought-provoking movies we saw at Devour is at
Eleven of Nova Scotia's finest chefs came together to create sensory explorations that celebrated local cuisine with an Italian theme. There may have been more food stations that I passed by.... But participating (and tasted) were:
-Martin Ruiz Salvador, Beach Pea Kitchen and Bar, Lunenberg, with his salt cod and celeriac cream with poached eggs, sourdough toast, lamb bacon and black garlic. This was my fave of the evening – I even went back for "seconds". He also did a nifty beef carpaccio. I would give him the "Award For Best Food Presented to an Outlander who Comes from Away". Last year he did an equally impressive tuna, squid, and oyster dish.
-Renee Lavallee, The Canteen, Darmouth NS with her duck liver parfait on housemade crackers and crabapple mustard. This was my wife's fave; she may have gone back for "seconds". In fact, last year Renee did a smoked beef brisket and she was the first to run out (everybody had to make 300 portions). Later that week, in a culinary workshop mt wife took, Renee replicated her duck parfait when she taught the class. Kudos all round.
-Matthew Krizan, Mateus Restaurant, Mahone Bay, with its pulled duck and dulse was a close second for both of us. Last year Krizan produced trout lox.
-The Flying Apron Inn and Cookery did a crespelle and white truffle dish, and a potato confit. Last year, they had a ricotta mousse decorated with beauty berries.
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Winery did a pork belly with a sauerkraut chip
-Meadowbrook Meat Market presented Italian salumi such as a meatball sausage with feta cheese balls.
-Keeper's Kitchen did an amazing smoked haddock pate
-Acadia Dining Services gave us a great "breakfast" of egg salad and smoked salmon
-The Carleton had Nova Scotia smoked swordfish
-Agyler's Lodge did their cannellini beans and pancetta; last year it was its famed lobster-scallop-haddock seviche).
-Founders House came up with a beef striploin, bone marrow and truffle.
The Beverages:  Bottled natural mineral water came from Canada Geese of Nova Scotia. Drinks came from The Good Cheer Trail featuring Annapolis Cider Company (best: Crisp and Dry, and Earl Blue), Benjamin Bridge, L'Acadie Vineyards, Compass Distillers,  Sober Island Brewing Company (best: oyster stout), Lake City Cider (best: Nieforth Original, Darkside Dry), Boxing Rock Brewing Company (Double IPA was terrific, so was Daskai Keji Black IPA), and Solas Kombucha. I did not try all the the wines, and I had some of the beers/ciders (I really enjoyed Sober Island's Oyster Stout, made with 20 kilos of oysters inserted for 10 minutes into a tank), but I did not have any distilled spirits or cocktails.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Benjamin Bridge Brut NV Methode Traditionnelle $27.99 NS
-L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee Rose MT 2016  $30  NS
-L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee MT 2017  $30  NS
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Rose 2018
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Fauna Red
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Flora White
-Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay 2018 $21.90 NS
The Downside: are you kidding? Maybe poorly amplified sound for the announcements and the tributes. It was hard to hear in the corners of the large room. Most attendees had to leave the Gala earlyish in order to get a seat at the film (the North American Premiere of "From the Vine", with Joe Pantoliano), which was followed by another cocktail party. My wife and I stayed with the Gala Reception, to visit more food and wine stations – we'll catch up with the movie later back in Toronto.
The upside: a great introduction to local Nova Scotia food and wine, and to keep an annual tab on the progress of the Nova Scotia wineries.
The Contact Person:;
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 95.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019


By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing My "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.
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at  or at
Thirty years ago I announced  in my newsletter that "Nobody can buy their way into, or out of this publication".
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
NOTE: The first portion  is based on my sampling of the table wines chosen by the LCBO from this release for tasting. This presentation for Nov 9 release is 111  different labels out of about 153 released. These wines are basically those that fit the categories of  any of the Featured Themes, Wines of the Month, Local Talent, and "new" -- wines that the LCBO has ordered in sufficient quantities for the Ontario marketplace. Not put out for us are the re-orders (even though they may be of a different vintage)  and the ISDs. Thus, my report comes from a restricted database. I did not taste every one of these 111 category wines, nor did I rate several of the wines I did sample because they did not seem to be of particularly good value in terms of their price. For the most part, these particular wines come from the New World.
NOTE: The second part (at the end) is a simple listing of  those wines that were NOT presented to the media, and are given here simply as a record of  what sampling I could not do. I have left in the name of the agency, in fairness to all.
PART ONE:  The "best" wines of a reduced tasting  --
Fizz+234161    JACKSON-TRIGGS ENTOURAGE GRAND RESERVE BRUT SPARKLING    Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario    2015    $29.95
Fizz+546762    CUDDY BY TAWSE SPARKLING    Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario        $25.95   
Dessert+341024    SOUTHBROOK FRAMBOISE    Ontario $19.95 375mL
Under $20
W+ 330407    KAIKEN TERROIR SERIES TORRONTÉS    Cafayate Valley, Salta    2018    $17.95       13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+10765    IN SITU RESERVA CHARDONNAY    Aconcagua Valley    2018    $14.95
13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
W+662775    D'ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER/MARSANNE    McLaren Vale, South Australia    2017    $17.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+148429    PENCARROW SAUVIGNON BLANC    Martinborough, North Island    2017    $18.95 12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+10104    CHRISTINA THE HERITAGE COLLECTION CHARDONNAY    WO Robertson    2017    $18.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+10473    DISTRICT 7 CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Monterey County, Central Coast    2016    $19.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+421198    UNDERWOOD PINOT NOIR Oregon 2017    $22.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+249201    SAN PEDRO 1865 SELECTED VINEYARDS CARMENÈRE    DO Maule Valley    2017    $19.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+11141    VUELO GRAND RESERVA MERLOT    Cachapoal Valley    2016    $16.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+10762    WILLIAM COLE GRAND RESERVE PINOT NOIR    Casablanca Valley    2017    $19.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+446146    SIDEWOOD SHIRAZ    Adelaide Hills, South Australia    2016    $19.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88.5
R+983742    L.A. CETTO PETITE SIRAH    Guadalupe Valley, Baja California    2016    $13.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+68767    NEDERBURG THE MANOR HOUSE CABERNET SAUVIGNON    WO Western Cape    2016    $16.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+403683    GÉRARD BERTRAND FITOU GRENACHE/CARIGNAN    AP    2017    $17.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+    452789    CONFIDENCIAL RESERVA    Vinho Regional Lisboa    2014    $14.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+    489963    DOMAINE DE LA RENNE TOURAINE SAUVIGNON BLANC    AC    2018    $16.95    12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88.5
Over $20
W+643361    HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE RIESLING    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $24.95 10.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+483875    THE TRAGICALLY HIP AHEAD BY A CENTURY CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $21.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+424507    WESTCOTT ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2017    $27.95 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
W+326165    ROBERT MONDAVI TO KALON VINEYARD RESERVE FUMÉ BLANC    Napa Valley    2015    $59.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+45583    SHAFER RED SHOULDER RANCH CHARDONNAY    Carneros, Napa Valley    2016    $84.95 14.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.5
W+359513    CLOUDY BAY CHARDONNAY    Marlborough, South Island    2016    $38.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+924555    KIM CRAWFORD RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2017    $24.95 12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+556613    BURROWING OWL PINOT NOIR    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2017    $39.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+238261    FAUST CABERNET SAUVIGNON Napa Valley    2016    $59.95     14.9% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90
R+350454    RODNEY STRONG ALEXANDER VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Alexander Valley, Sonoma County    2016    $32.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+12217    TURLEY JUVENILE ZINFANDEL    California    2017    $49.95     15.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+316984    VERSADO RESERVA ANCIENT MALBEC    Mendoza    2013    $59.95     14.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+123729    VIÑA COBOS BRAMARE MALBEC    Unfined and unfiltered, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2015    $44.95 15% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+115311    VIÑALBA GRAN RESERVA MALBEC    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2015    $24.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+222323    BEST'S BIN NO. 1 SHIRAZ    Great Western, Victoria    2016    $21.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91.5
R+9175    ELDERTON CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Barossa, South Australia    2016    $24.95    14.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+329706    THORNBURY PINOT NOIR    Central Otago, South Island    2017    $27.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+10497    DE MORGENZON MAESTRO BLUE    WO Stellenbosch    2015    $29.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+203364    ERRAZURIZ ACONCAGUA ALTO CABERNET SAUVIGNON    DO Aconcagua Valley    2017    $21.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
PART TWO: The "rest" of the release [not offered for sampling by media] with agents --
    13961    UNITED STARS KINDZMARAULI    PDO Kindzmarauli, Kakheti    2017    $17.95    THE DOCHAS COMPANY INC.
    244228    PETRA ZINGARI    IGT Toscana    2015    $19.95    NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC.
    408138    QUINTA DO QUETZAL GUADALUPE WINEMAKER'S SELECTION RED    Vinho Regional Alentejano    2016    $16.95    VINYA
    443945    EL GORÚ MONASTRELL/SYRAH/PETIT VERDOT    DOP Jumilla    2018    $13.95    THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC
    53397    LAKEVIEW CELLARS CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE    VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario    2017    $29.95    TRAJECTORY BEVERAGE PARTNERS
    117861    FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $15.95    FEATHERSTONE WINERY
    1537    NEWTON UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2017    $73.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC
    11255    CARABELLA ESTATE PINOT GRIS    Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley    2017    $27.95    DB WINE & SPIRITS INC.
    556217    MATURANA NARANJO ORANGE WINE TORONTEL    Maule Valley    2018    $24.95    WINE LOVERS AGENCY INC.
    10956    MONTEMAJOR FIANO DI AVELINO    DOCG    2017    $23.95    CARTO ENTERPRISE
    130997    TAWSE LAUNDRY VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC    VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula    2014    $34.95    TAWSE WINERY INC.
    163725    JOSÉ ZUCCARDI MALBEC    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2015    $44.95    DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD.
    986133    LEEUWIN PRELUDE VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Margaret River, Western Australia    2014    $31.95    TERRA FIRMA WINES
    156828    BABICH WINEMAKERS' RESERVE MERLOT    Hawke's Bay, North Island    2015    $29.95    DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD.
    11963    VILLA MARIA RESERVE GIMBLETT GRAVELS SYRAH    Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, North Island    2016    $49.95    PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD.
    195255    CHÂTEAU PIPEAU    AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru    2015    $86.95    PARADIGM FINE WINE AGENCY
    51458    LE VOLTE DELL'ORNELLAIA    IGT Toscana    2017    $64.95    MARK ANTHONY WINE & SPIRITS
    265710    TORRES COS PERPETUAL    DOCa Priorat    2015    $59.95    PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD.