SOME NEW BEVERAGE SAMPLES SENT TO ME FOR TASTING THIS MONTH –
1.Stel+Mar Premium Red (+14775, $4.95), White (+14776, $4.95) and Sparkling Rose (not yet available at LCBO): These are wine-in-a-can, 250 mL each. By proper blending it was possible to get the most out of the wine. The appellation is California, and for the Red (13.7 ABV)it is a cherry-berry typical zinfandel from the Lodi area. The White is unoaked chardonnay (14.5% ABV with some vanilla minerality) from the North Coast. The Sparkling Rose (12.5% ABV) is off-dry, but the bubbles are an added attraction [apparently it is their basic rose with bubbles]. Simple, easy to drink, good with picnics of course. The size is right – one-third of a bottle, 8 ounces (two drinks). A good idea. Pretty basic wine. By July, the LCBO hopes to also have Stel+Mar Rose Tetra, +15515, 3 Litres (6 x 500mL, $45.95). Quality/Price rating for each is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures (although I did enjoy the chardonnay a tad more).
2.Terlato Steep Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 California, $19.95 release TBD: another Cabernet Sauvignon with just a California appellation. Made principally with grapes from the north east area of Mount Diablo in northern California. There are 20 other California wines at the LCBO at this same price level, some with names such as Victor, Joel, Josh, Tom, et al. The Terlato label says "big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon" to enjoy with heavier meats such as steak or lamb, but it actually tastes of soft tannins with a medium body: more like a Merlot (which would still put it within the lamb area). 13.5% ABV, Stelvin closure. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Marlbrough +190454 Vintages $19.95: down a dollar since last time at LCBO. The wine typical Kiwi Savvy, with a combo of citric tones across the spectrum, grass, and melon-like tropicality. It's a blend of different Marlborough vineyards. Every vineyard batch from Woolshed, Wairau, and Awatere is kept separate for a final blending before bottling. Best served with seafood. I rated this 89 at the media tasting, but in the comfort of my own home, I easily gave it a 90. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Nugan Estate Cookoothama Cabernet Merlot 2016 New South Wales +91669 Vintages May 16 $17.95: from Darlington Point in New South Wales, night harvested, cold mascerated, and then transferred to US and French oak (1,2 and 3 year old) prior to final blending and bottling. Currently it is a lively MVC style (black fruit, herbs, mocha, vanilla), ready now, for red meats or simply just as a conversation social wine. Easily affordable and nicely received. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Nugan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Coonawarra Alcira Vineyard +393686 Vintages May 30 $29.95: after fermentation, the wine moved to French oak for 14 months. Full of cassis, mint, earth, and overlaying oak. Still needs time, say about two more years, or one could do a double decant or one could keep the bottle open for a week, tasting a little each day (as I did). 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2017 VQA Ontario, +247882, $18.95 Vintages: This red blend for 2017 (the blend can change with each release) comprises syrah (31%), cabernet franc (24%), merlot (24%), cabernet sauvignon (16%), 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, 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Classic 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +13904 LCBO, $16.95: Here is a deft entry-level character lightish pinot noir wine, with some cherry-berry tones, some nuances of wood, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Four different clones are fermented in stainless and aged in "European" oak for six months plus. Expect also light cloves, fresh fruit tones, and oak vanillin which will mute over time. Ready soon, but will get better, very food friendly and drinkable. Maybe decant first. 12.8% ABV, twist top. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Baron de Hoen Riesling Reserve 2018 Alsace, +446427, $16.95 Vintages: a classic straight-up Alsatian Riesling in the MVC dry mode, 12% ABV, twist top, fairly priced. Orchard fruit dominates, with a nice lemony citric finish meant for fish. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
May we all have 2020 vision.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada http://winewriterscircle.ca
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.