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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for MAY 30, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for MAY 30, 2020
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).
Currently, the wine media have no access to the 50 or so tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on until at least the June 13 release. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling. At the end are some fuller reviews of new products....
[I'm in the midst of conducting the annual rose tasting held by the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada. Here are some nifty ROSES from this May 30 release for your enjoyment] ---
Still Rose --
+552497    PELEE ISLAND LOLA CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ    VQA South Islands, Lake Erie North Shore    2018    $15.95     W+461640    MVC/QPR: 89
+552562    HENRY OF PELHAM THREE OF HEARTS ROSÉ  VQA Niagara Peninsula    2019 $19.95     Now a Vintages Essential.  MVC/QPR: 90
+177840    PENINSULA RIDGE BEAL VINEYARD CABERNET ROSÉ    VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $14.95     MVC/QPR: 89
+562595    THE PALM BY WHISPERING ANGEL [rose]    AC Côteaux d'Aix-en-Provence    2019    $22.95    MVC/QPR: 89
and for those big, big lawn parties, in the 1500 mL magnum bottle:  +490912    GÉRARD BERTRAND CÔTE DES ROSES ROSÉ AP Languedoc    2018    $37.95    1500mL  MVC/QPR: 90
Sparkling Rose --
+15686    GRUET BRUT SPARKLING ROSÉ Traditional method,  New Mexico $26.95 MVC/QPR: 90+
Under $20
W+413757    LA CAVE DU COUDRAY RÉSERVE DU CHIRON MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE    Sur lie, AC    2018    $15.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+394288    GÉRARD BERTRAND GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE    AP Corbières    2016    $17.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+538041    THE FOREIGN AFFAIR THE EMBRACE    [gamay] VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $16.95 MVC/QPR: 90
R+131540  FEATHERSTONE RED TAIL MERLOT    VQA Niagara Peninsula        2017    750    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 90   
R+166512    VALDEMAR INSPIRACIÓN SELECCIÓN DOCa Rioja    2015    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+ 545772    BUENA VISTA THE LEGENDARY BADGE PETITE SIRAH    California    2018    $17.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+516765    JEAN-PIERRE MOUEIX BORDEAUX    AC    2016    $18.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+630103    CHÂTEAU LES PETITS ARNAUDS TRADITION    AC Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux    2016    $16.95     MVC/QPR: 89
R+574087    I BALZI GOVERNO ALL'USO    IGT Rosso Toscana    2017 $16.95    MVC/QPR:89
Over $20
Sparkling+400432    MOUTARD PÈRE & FILS GRANDE CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE    AC, France        $52.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Sparkling+234161    JACKSON-TRIGGS ENTOURAGE GRAND RESERVE BRUT SPARKLING    Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario    2016    $29.95     MVC/QPR: 90
W+461640    WILLIAM FÈVRE CHAMPS ROYAUX CHABLIS 2018     $29.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+393686    NUGAN ESTATE ALCIRA VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Coonawarra, South Australia    2016    $29.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+489922    TAHBILK GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE    Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria    2017    $22.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+ 11986    QUEENSTON MILE RED    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2016    $25  MVC/QPR: 89
R+73817    RUTHERFORD RANCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Napa Valley    2016    $39.95
R+533711    PENDULUM CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Columbia Valley    2017    $24.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+129353    THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK    WO Swartland    2018    $39.95     MVC/QPR: 90 R+251645    LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE    AP    2018    $20.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+704908    E. GUIGAL CROZES-HERMITAGE    AC    2017    $35.95     MVC/QPR: 89
9.Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2018 VQA Niagara Escarpment $29.99 winery, licensee:  much like Lillias but with oak overtones. This Estate wine has had full MLF, 100% wild yeast, barrel fermentation, and French oak aging for 9 months (20% new, 40% one fill). Two different clones were used (95, 96), and the results show a typical Westcott feature of orchard fruit with some tropicality concentrated notes contributed by the oak aging' leading to a slight citric finish. Still too young, lay it down – or taste it (as I did) over a stretch of time. A good first course wine since the oak appears in the background as grace notes. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Westcott Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay 2018 VQA Vinemount Ridge $44.99 winery:
11.Westcott Vineyards Block 76 Chardonnay 2018 VQA Vinemount Ridge $44.99 Wine Club:
this is a great exercise in comparative horizontal values. The Block 76 is new this year, made for the first time as an exclusive for the Westcott Wine Club. Differences are notable but subtle. Both labels are elegant Burgundian-styled wines, with virtually the same winemaking of full malolactic fermentation and wild yeast, but Block 76 has limited lees stirring. Both are barrel fermented and aged for 10 months in French oak, but Block 76 has more new oak than the Reserve. Block 76 is 12.8% ABV; Reserve is 12.5% ABV. Block 76 has slightly higher total acidity. Chardonnay clones 95 and 96 were used in the Reserve; Chardonnay clone 76 was used in, well, Block 76. But both had strong whiffs of pineapple and butter on the nose. The proof is in the pudding: a tasting over several days showed a more "complex basket" of medium-toned flavours for the Block 76, which was ultimately (and given that it is the same price) my choice of the two. The wines got better as they were exposed to more air over a week; new bottles should really be laid down for a few more years. Soft elegance and incipient balance are keystones here in the long, lingering finish. Also, do not overchill: it just mutes the flavours of layers of fruit and wood. Quality/Price rating for the Westcott Reserve is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures. Quality/Price rating for the Westcott Block 76 is 93+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
12.Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve 2018 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466, $29.95 Vintages June 27: Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (beginning 1988), hand-picked. Barrel fermented in French oak with a portion in 3000L foudres, and then barrel aged for 8 – 10 months in a mix of new and older barrels. This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place.  Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 13% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
13.Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer Reserve 2017 Alsace, +377721 Vintages $19.95 July 11: from around Beblenheim area, cool fermentation with typical gewurz tones of spices, lychee, roses. 13.5% ABV. Best as aperitif, or with fragrant cheeses, spicy foods. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
14.Gerard Bertrand Terroir Picpoul de Pinet 2019 AOP Picpoul de Pinet Languedoc, +13000, $17.95 Vintages July 25: from between Narbonne and Montpellier, just north of the Mediterranean. Affordable tastiness from the piquepoul grape, 13% ABV, twist top. Expect white floral and mineral tones, with medium acidity, some citrus notes and honey on the finish. One to go up against pinot grigio (but it is better than PG). Best with shellfish or eels rather than sipping. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
15.McPink Blended Scotch Whisky and Port Cask Finish, $59.95 700 ml bottle. Vintages +12248: McPink is so-called because it has been matured in a Port-wood cask giving it a pink tinge. The tech sheet says it is a blend of 16 single malts (60%) and Edinburgh grain whisky (40%). It's a sweeter and fruitier spirit, made to compete with rums and gins in the "neat" and "soda" market. There's a nose of stewed red fruit such as strawberry plus some mocha elements, and the redness persists on the palate and on the finish. Some herbal complexity makes this a real treat: why mix it? Of course, as a blended whisky, you can, but why bother?  Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
16.Featherstone Estate Winery Canadian Oak Chardonnay 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 +149302 Vintages May: one of my faves, and occasionally an LTO at under $20. Over the years it has simply gotten better as the grapevines have matured. Wild indigenous yeast is used. Good mid-tone oaky component (it is very easy to say it is mid-way between French and US oak) from the use of nearby Canadian oak trees. 10% new oak, 90% 1 to 5 year old. Terrific ripe orchard fruit aromas and palate. Plus vanillin and cream after the mid-palate leading to citric food-friendly finish. Needs more time for balancing, but then at that time it will be awesome. 13.2% ABV. Only 0.26 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
17.Featherstone Estate Winery Four Feathers 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 +341586 August 22 and Dec 12: a summer social sipper or quaffer, combining 50% riesling and 40% chardonnay with 8% sauvignon blanc and 2% gewurztraminer – all highly aromatic grapes. Stainless steel fermentation. Typical fruit flavours to be found include pineapple, melon, lemon, some mango, and some sweet parts of citric tones near the finish. 12.1% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
18.Featherstone Estate Winery Black Sheep Riesling 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 +80234 Vintages Essential: more in the Mosel mode than Rhine wine, this delicious sipper is loaded with a nose of citrus highlights (lemon, lime, grapefruit) evolving to orchard fruit on the mid-palate with some minerality and a long lean-ish finish which also makes it nifty food wine for Asiatic dishes of all sorts. Medium body but not dry. Suitable for aging, to get that "petrol" character. 10.1% ABV. RS 20 g/L. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
19.Featherstone Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 +64618 Vintages Essential: a blend  of 86% cabernet franc and 14% merlot. 100% US oak was used – 25% new, balance in 1 to 4 year old barrels. Full malolactic fermentation. Medium-bodied with an assortment of berries, plums and cherries. Long, long finish showing tart-ish food-loving acid balances. Should go well with BBQ or other fatty meats. Keep for another few years (I tasted it daily) or do a double-decant. 12.7% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
20.Featherstone Estate Winery Red Tail Merlot 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 +131540 Vintages October 17 (May 30 is the Vintages release date for the 2017 vintage): Merlot is still recovering from its dissing by Pinot Noir in the movie "Sideways". But a lot of wineries are still making it. David Johnson the winemaker has here produced a delightfully fruity but dryish (RS 1.4 g/L) drop that is also affordable. Aged 10 months in French oak, 100% malolactic fermentation. Expect black fruit cherry-berry complexity, headed by black currant. Both a patio sipper and a food wine, and ready now for current drinking and accompanying any kind of comfort food. 12.4% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
May we all have 2020 vision.

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