SOME NEW BEVERAGE SAMPLES SENT TO ME FOR TASTING THIS QUARTER –
1.Henry of Pelham Riesling Speck Family Reserve 2018 VQA Short Hills Bench, +643361 Vintages June, $24.95 [now available online and at winery]: absolutely delicious MVC intense riesling in a Rhine style, with an off-dry palate but a dry finish (good acid levels on the finish); broad fruity strokes of peaches and flowers on the mid-palate; quite a blazing riesling with intense pleasure, sip or food. 10.5% ABV, cork closure, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (35+ year old riesling vines, handpicked). Try with rich bivalve dishes or porchetta. Should improve in the bottle over the years. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape Syrah/Carignan/Mourvedre 2016 AOP Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape, +370262, $19.95 Vintages June: the South of France bargains continue at the LCBO with this southern Rhone clone emphasizing aromatic red fruit (with some black) and garrigue. Nice long finish for that heavy meat dish. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Gerard Bertrand Terroir Corbieres 2016 $17.95 +394288 Vintages: In this Terroir Corbieres (from the Narbonne), Bertrand uses traditional fermentation for the syrah, grenache and mourvedre. It is an appealing Rhonish G-S-M, with one-third of the blended wine aging in wood for nine months before bottling. Very firm with some very dark fruit on the very full finish. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2018 BCVQA Okanagan Valley +377770 $24.95 Vintages Essential: from one of the leading producers of Chardonnay in BC. Soft orchard fruit (pear, apple, peach), some citrus tones. Soft and versatile, with a medium balance good to accompany any foods. 13% ABV, Residual Sugar 1.0 g/L. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Westcott Vineyards Temperance 2018 VQA Vinemount Ridge $19.99 winery [and SAQ +14209964]: this is a passtoutgrain-styled wine (as found in Burgundy) which is very popular in France, made from 50% Gamay Noir and 50% Pinot Noir grapes. There is a 30-day maceration, with a stainless steel all wild and malo-lactic fermentation. Very soft, fleshy, fruity (despite a low residual sugar of only 1 g/L), good for the patio and deck. It would be excellent with all kinds of soups. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Westcott Vineyards Brilliant Traditional Sparkling 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge $39.99 winery, licensees: this is a still-fresh terrific sparkler done up in the traditional style of long lees contact (75 months here), hand riddling, and disgorgement for a secondary fermentation in the bottle. 667 cases were produced of this pinot noir (66%) and chardonnay (33%) blend from their own estate in Vinemount Ridge. It's got a complex basket of flavours, ranging from orchard fruit through to citrus, with the lightness of the chardonnay being balanced off against the heavier tones of the pinot noir. It stays this way right from the entry through to the long finish, and the latter makes this a pretty good food wine too. You'll need to put some down for 2025. 12.9% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Westcott Vineyards Lillias Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment $24.99 +425322 Vintages: a bright and fresh Chardonnay reflective of the vintage. Tank fermentation and storage with full MLF to soften, and six months lees contact. No oak. Slightly off-dry feel despite 1.8 g/L residual sugar, but a rounded mid-palate. Very stylish with a light lingering finish, great as a non-appetite-provoking aperitif, which makes it a fab cocktail party white wine. Emphasis is on fresh orchard fruit (apples, pears, peaches): it could change over the next two years, which would make it more versatile in being also a first course wine. 12.9% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
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.Westcott Vineyards Riesling Butler's Grant 2019 VQA Twenty Mile Bench (available as a Wine Club Exclusive only) $24.99: a new entry in the Westcott lineup, a devilishly competent 10% ABV Mosel style and light...first time produced. Parts of the vineyard were planted in 1980. Perfectly attuned to summer, if you can find it (the wine, that is): mine was a trade sample, It was delicious in that Germanic style, ready for consumption now. And certainly affordable for an "old vines" wine. 40 cases offered.
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). 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 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 (tasted daily for a week). 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 May: 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.