Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
1.Gerard Bertrand Reserve Speciale Viognier 2018 IGP Pays d'Oc, +147975, $14.95 Vintages July: [This a re-order]....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 89.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Henry of Pelham Pinot Grigio Classic 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +250217 LCBO, $14.95: a wine made in the pinot gris style (Oregon, Alsace) but labeled pinot GRIGIO should sell well for those looking at a pinot grigio with some kick. Grigio has a reputation of being the vodka of wine, but here it is done up as a fairly complicated off-dry wine with layers being revealed as the wine chills down or warms up. One time it has tropicality then it becomes more citrus with more chilling. That makes it a sipper and a food wine, suitable for pre-prandial in the winter or spring. Of note is its slight tinge of orange colour (aha, another "orange" wine!!) from the grape – it is "gris" after all. Some part of the juice was from warmer regions in Niagara, other parts came from a cooler regions. There is some Ontario cranberry tartness and some melon sweetness, with some pear notes. Stainless steel all the way. 12% ABV, twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +430546 LCBO.
$14.95: good balanced fruit, citric tones, zest, MVC typicity of savvy zestiness. Fresh, 12.2% ABV. Very aromatic with nuances of grassiness both in the nose and on the palate. Medium finish accents of lemon character, melon tones. Best with a lightly aromatic first course of seafood or dairy. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Estate 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench, +395855 Vintages, $24.95: both cabernets franc and sauvignon are used in this Bordeaux-styled blend with 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 (30% new) for 10 months. Match it with grilled meats. 13.5% ABV on label. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Lazzara Bianco Secco Charmat Method NV VQA Ontario, +16789, LCBO $17.95: this is the latest entry in the domestic "prosecco" sweepstakes in Ontario. The wine is named after Julia Lazzara, the Speck brothers' great grandmother. It comes in at a respectable 11.5% ABV. With RS 20.4/gL. Off-dry but with aromatic grape varieties in the mix (and they could change from harvest to harvest). Tried with smoked BBQ ribs. Bubbles really play around via Charmat method. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Ivory & Burt Old Vine Zinfandel 2017 Lodi, +479303, Vintages August $19.95: very plush style with plum jam, oak lashings, and some herbs on the long engaging finish. Concentrated dark berry fruit tones (black cherry, blackberry), propped up by new US oak for 15% of the production. Sustainable certificate. Best with grilled meats.
15% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Sartori Valpolicella Superiore DOC 120th 2016, +14584, Vintages August $24.95: this is a limited release for the company's 120th anniversary. The mix includes corvina veronese (50%), corvinone (35%), plus croatina and rondinells. About 20% of the must was drawn off to concentrate flavours and tannins; the rest was done up in stainless steel fermentation to which malolactic fermentation was employed. It was all aged in small oak casks for 18 months, and then blended with a cuvee selection. Red fruit dominates, especially ripe cherries and a twist of savouriness near the finish. Great with red meats and older cheese. 13% ABV. If you're going to spend $25 on a better valpolicella, then this is the one to get. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Henry of Pelham Family Tree The Goat Lady Chardonnay 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +16792 LCBO $16.95: in the highly competitive market of chardonnays between $14.95 and $19.95, this one – at a mid-point in that price range – works well. It is part of a new "Family Tree" addition, beyond the current Red and the White. The whole series is under cork, and not screw-cap. Here the Chardonnay has been in US oak for 7 months, and some of it underwent malolactic fermentation. Very much a creamy mouthfeel, almost Californian in style with some coconut tones. 8.79 g/L residual sugar. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Henry of Pelham Family Tree The Padre Cabernet-Merlot 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula, available only at the HOP winery or online, $21.95: a classic blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, done up in French style with barrel aging for 16 months in both new and older oak (60% French oak, 40% US oak). 13% ABV. Gobs of fruit and vanillin tones, good entry level. But needs more time – do a double decant or taste over several days. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Henry of Pelham Family Tree The Bootlegger Baco Noir 2019 VQA Ontario, +16791, LCBO $17.95: all baco noir, which is the deft signature wine of Henry of Pelham. Twenty percent of it has been barrel aged in all US oak, and 80% done up in stainless steel. This one definitely needs time, and exposure is recommended beyond a double decant. It gets more plummy as it opens up. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.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.
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.