JANUARY 1 -- 10 --
1.Henry of Pelham Estate Gamay 2019 VQA Ontario, +19903, $19.95 Vintages April 2021: [currently at winery] Aromatic black and red fruit (cherries, raspberries, blueberries), augmented by oak tones with vanilla cake spices, not as lean or Euro as Beaujolais. Fermented in stainless and aged in a mix of US and French oak for about 10 months before bottling. Medium-bodied, good for patio drinking (sangria too), parties, BBQ. Ready now, but with some tannic structure to carry through a whole meal. Hey, summer weather is coming! 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
1.Henry of Pelham Riesling Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +643361
$27.95 [now available online and at winery]: absolutely delicious MVC intense riesling in a Mosel style (and using a Mosel clone), 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. Residual sugar is 15.4g/L, 9.8% ABV, cork closure, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (35+ year old riesling vines, handpicked, stainless steel fermentation). 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.
3.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018 Marlborough, +490326, $21.95 Vintages February 20: a dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. Some creaminess in the texture (60% was fermented in older French oak barrels, and 15% new oak was also used). If you lay it down, it should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, twist top. Residual sugar 4g/L. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Lapis Luna Zinfandel 2018 North Coast AVA, +17264, $19.95 Vintages February 20, 2021: [cheese and rice, where do they come up with these labels? 400-year-old copperplate engravings]. Anyway, something to look at and something to read while you consume and meditate on the niftiness of the blend (80% zinfandel, 20% sangiovese) done up in 10% new French and US oak for 10 months. The rich zin has been curbed and lightened by the sour cherries of the sangiovese. Think of a variety of flavours: cedar, jammy black fruit (plums, blackberry, blueberry), spicy florets. Dark and bold flavours. 14.3% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Durant & Booth Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Napa Valley, $34.95, +16565, Vintages February 6, 2021: The blend is cabernet sauvignon (87%), petit verdot (6%), merlot (5%), and petite sirah (2%). Chock full of some lightly floating red fruit (think cherries, strawbs, red mulberry) and then some plateaus of darker elements (plum, blueberry, mocha tones). Really good balance, but better after a year more in the bottle. There's some muscle here after 10 months in 25% new French oak. Do a double decant or taste it over a few days as I did. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
JANUARY 10 - 16 --
1.Troupis Fteri Moschofilero 2019 Greece, +647388 $14.95 Vintages March 20: flower aromatics and some grape tones (much like muscat) and with a deceptive citric finish. So: starts out floral, rises to fat perfume, and then descends to crispness for the food as a first course wine, paired with white meats. 12% ABV. Price dropped $2 since the 2017 vintage was in Ontario. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench Niagara, +268391 Vintages, February 20, $24.95: Here is a deft Burgundian-character pinot noir wine, with cherry-berry tones, some toast, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in oak. Ready in a year or two. Dependable. And also available in Denmark, Hungary, Japan, USA and Czech Republic. Needs time; try a double decant. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466, $29.95 [currently at winery] Vintages May 1: 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. 12.8% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165, $19.95 Vintages March 20: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with very off-dry palate but dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip (mainly) or food. 9.8% ABV, 19.5 g/L RS, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate riesling vineyards (planted 1984). Should also age well. Try with fish that live in water but die in wine. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Buena Vista The Sheriff Sonoma County 2017 +539114, $49.95 Vintages March 6: well, here was a surprise – a really good wine from 10 different red grape varieties, a sort-of California Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For the record, this 2017 vintage has petite sirah (28%), petit verdot (21%), cabernet sauvignon (16%), carignan (9%), grenache (9%), syrah (7%), malbec (4%), cabernet franc (2%), merlot (2%), and mission (2%). The proportions can vary from vintage to vintage. All grapes were grown on different parcels in Sonoma. One of California's first sheriffs, Agoston Haraszthy was elected Sheriff of San Diego County in 1850. He built the first jail. This is a full and firm field blend type of wine, with aromas/palates of every good thing you could find in the "kitchen sink": black fruit cassis, cherries, blackberries, plums, red raspberries – and then drifting off to mocha, followed by savouries such as black pepper and tobacco leaf. Oak aging was 10 months, with 15% new oak. The rich tannins need time, so put it away for a few years. If necessary, do a double decant and taste over several days. 15% ABV. Serve with rich game stews or tomahawk steaks. Quality/Price rating is 91-92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Cinsault 2018 Paarl South Africa +18618, $17.95 Vintages March 6: this is a broad basic, entry-level wine from a grape imported to South Africa via Languedoc and South Rhone. Indeed, cinsault is one of the parents of "pinotage" (the other is pinot noir). Until recently, it had the largest acreage planted in South Africa (cabernet sauvignon now has the largest number of plantings). This particular vineyard in 2018 had 30 year old cinsault vineyards. Expect some heady fruity ripeness aromas, a slight sweetness despite 3.8 g/L residual sugar, with a pronounced peppery backspin, much like grenache. Needs tomato sauce dishes, with veal-beef-pork meats. Cork closure. Ready now. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Gustave Lorentz Sylvaner Reserve 2019 +18160, $16.95, Vintages March 6: sylvaner is the workhorse wine of Alsace. It turns up everywhere by itself or as a zwicker wine. It is light and delicate, somewhat reminiscent of the pinot grigio style and mood. Indeed, it could have been marketed the same way. It's an uncomplicated fresh wine stressing lemons and citric attack with a dry finish. Aperitif wine or first course (seafood/fish). A good entry level wine with lots more body than the pinot grigio style. [a wine colleague of mine had accidentally left a car-trunk full of Alsatian white wines to freeze in the cold – only the sylvaner survived] 13.5% ABV, 1.8 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
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