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Wednesday, November 25, 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 tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. 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 100 or so biweekly released wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
1.Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Syrah Mourvedre Grenache 2017 Cotes du Roussillon Les Aspres, +413245, $19.95 Vintages Nov 28: G-S-M style all the way. One third of the wine is matured in barrels for 9 months and then blended with the other, vatted wines. Jammy, upfront black fruit coupled with both mocha and subtle spice cake tones. Sip or with food. Consistent from year to year.14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Jim Barry Shiraz 2017 Clare Valley, +16036 $19.95 Vintages Nov 28: The entire Clare Valley (well-known for its Riesling) produces just over 1% of Australia's entire wine flow. This is a typical Shiraz, 100% (from family vineyards), in the Oz mode, aged in some light French oak, with plummy red fruit tones – but with none of that sweaty-bretty leather saddles from the Rhone. Released in time for the beginning of the Christmas season. Fresh easy drinking. RS 1g/L,14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Alvear Palacio Quemado Vendimia Seleccionada 2018 Ribera del Guadiana Extremadura, +16588, $13.95 Vintages Nov 28: Palacio Quemado wines are New World in style with grapes like tempranillo, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, and with experimentation involving other local varieties such as garnacha tintorera. For the most part, oak aging takes place in 500 litre Fr barriques and less so in 225 litre US barrels. So here the blend is tempranillo with garnacha tintorera, and the aging is about 5 months before bottling. On the palate it is all cherry-berry with toasted smoke tones, a good balance, soft tannins, and some edgy but creamy length. Suitable accompaniment with Christmas poultry. 13% ABV. Good price. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Estate Blanc de Blanc "Carte Blanche" 2015 VQA Short Hills Bench, +315200, $49.95 Vintages Nov 28: quite possibly this is my favourite Ontario wine overall. I would gladly drink more of it, except I have to pay for it. But then, this is the type of wine that many wine writers would gladly pay for. Estate grown chardonnay is hand-picked, partially barrel-fermented (20%) and then aged 54 months in the bottle on lees before degorgement. I love the baked lemon curd and toasted buttery brioche tones. I love watching the endless stream of bubbles. Traditional Method, of course, and pairs best with the usual Champagne accompaniments (caviar, oysters, Brie and goat cheeses).  12.5%, RS 6.4g/L. Lay it down for another half-dozen years. Quality/Price rating is 95 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Henry of Pelham Bin 106 "Lost Boys" Limited Edition Baco Noir 2019 VQA Ontario, +13421 $29.95, Vintages Nov 28:  Last year's Bin 106 was a 30th Vintage Limited Edition. This 2019 Bin 106 has been labeled "Lost Boys" in recognition of the three young Speck brothers who spent their summers maintaining the vines (planted by them in 1984). These grapes survived the cut, and represent the very best barrels. Low yields on 3.5 tonnes per acre, gravity movement, destemming, etc. Top barrels were selected. Aged in new and one year old US barriques followed by a year's aging in a Foudre. Single vineyard. As with their other baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy wood character and the lowish price – under $30. 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. 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. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Stel+Mar California Rose 2019, $16.95 LCBO March 2021: this is a multi-blended wine from central California and from a vintage that produced lowered grape sugars. Hence, the lack of typical off-dry California sunshine. Instead, the innovative Stel+Mar team (they produce wine in cans, Tetra paks, and bottles) came up with a drink that looks a lot like and tastes a lot like higher priced roses from southern France. The blend includes grapes such as barbera, petite sirah, and syrah, principally from the Central Coast. Sugar levels are at 7g/L and the acidity is up at 5.6g/L. The colour and palate is definitely food worthy. The mid-palate is attractive with overtones of stonefruit, with a slightly herby bitter finish which makes you want to eat something savoury: it was also my wine of choice for the Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey. They nailed it with this one, at that price. 12.8% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, +424507, $29.95 Vintages November 28: This Estate wine has had full MLF, 100% wild yeast, barrel fermentation, and French oak aging for 9 months (50% one fill, 50% neutral). Two different clones were used (95 and 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 (it's lighter in toast tones than the 2018). Do not overchill. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Westcott Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2017 VQA Vinemount Ridge, +424500, $29.95 Vintages November 28: This Estate Pinot Noir (clones 115, 667, 777) has been barrel aqed in French oak (15% new) for 23 months. Overall it is harmoniously silky in a cool climate way, with red cherry-berry fruit and nuances of mocha. Good acid levels and soft tannins highlight an herbal consistency. Definitely a food wine that should appeal to all, especially with simply prepared meats and poultry. A slight chilling can enhance its performance with fish such as salmon or trout. It is still too young, so do a double decant or taste over several days as I did. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Pencarrow Chardonnay Martinborough NZ, +16028 Vintages November 28, $23.95: one of the nicest balanced fresh chardonnays to come past my palate in quite some time, full of that old style oaking (not too toasty but at least noticeable). Golden hue and golden tastes, stressing a nuttiness from the French oak (20% new) and the wild yeast fermentation (50%). Aged on the stirred lees for 10 months. Plenty of stonefruit nuances. 13% ABV. The buttery finish lingers and nicely accompanies many complex first course dishes. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
+315200    HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario    2015    $49.95
+87205    MESSIAS 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT    DOP, Portugal     $29.95 MVC/QPR: 89
+94110    HENRY OF PELHAM CABERNET, VIDAL & RIESLING ICEWINE TRIO    Three-bottle gift set, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario    2017    $99.95  MVC/QPR: 89
Under $20
W+369850    KIM CRAWFORD PINOT GRIS    Marlborough, South Island    2019    $19.95 MVC/QPR:  89
W+391847    THIERRY DELAUNAY TOURAINE SAUVIGNON BLANC    AP    2019    $16.95   
R+15134    DESQUICIADO EL CORTE RED BLEND    Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2017    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+131540    FEATHERSTONE RED TAIL MERLOT    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $19.95
R+16036    JIM BARRY BARRY BROS SHIRAZ    Clare Valley, South Australia    2017    $19.95
R+413245    GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LES ASPRES SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE/GRENACHE    AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres    2017    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 90
R+300004    AMASTUOLA PRIMITIVO    IGP Puglia    2016    $16.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+16588    PALACIO QUEMADO VENDIMIA SELECCIONADA    DO Ribera del Guadiana    2018    $13.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Over $20
W+14552    PALLISER PENCARROW CHARDONNAY    Martinborough, North Island    2018    $23.95  MVC/QPR: 92
W+184549    LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $44.95    MVC/QPR: 89
W+424507    WESTCOTT ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Escarpment    2019    $29.95 MVC/QPR: 92
R+408393    SUNROCK RED MERITAGE    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2016    $34.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+16563    TAROT NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Napa Valley    2016    $49.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+912956    RUFFINO MODUS    IGT Toscana    2017    $29.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+184564    LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS PINOT NOIR    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $44.95      MVC/QPR: 89
R+427500    WESTCOTT ESTATE PINOT NOIR    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2017    $29.95     MVC/QPR: 91
R+13421    HENRY OF PELHAM LOST BOYS LIMITED EDITION BIN 106 BACO NOIR    Sustainable, VQA Ontario    2019    $29.95    MVC/QPR: 92.
The Amadeus Choir and Henry of Pelham have joined forces to provide an exclusive mixed wine case, available for purchase. Henry of Pelham wants to help support  fundraising efforts, during these uncertain times. When you purchase the exclusive mixed wine case, 20% of the proceeds go to Amadeus Choir. Fundraiser closes Sunday, December 6th and quantities are limited, so order today! (P.S. This exclusive mixed wine case would make a great upcoming holiday gift!)
Enjoy 12 bottles of 8 different wines and support this Amadeus Choir Fundraiser. Use code MUSIC at checkout to void shipping charges. Wine will be delivered in Toronto and can be picked up in Richmond or Downtown. PLEASE NOTE: Pickup for your purchase will be available as of December 11th and you will be all set for your end of year festivities! Exact details will be provided. Please contact Paola Carmagnani at for all inquiries. If you purchase more than one case, you may customize the second case.
Henry of Pelham is a wonderful local Ontario winery and recognizes that the non-profit sector, arts and music have been impacted greatly by Covid-19.
To take advantage of this offer, follow this link:


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