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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under $20 for JANUARY 9, 2021 (annual “value” release) --

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under $20 for JANUARY 9, 2021  (annual "value" release) --
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.
....and a Happy New Year to all for 2021!!
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 Little While ---
1.Buena Vista Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 North Coast, $19.95 +254458 Vintages January 9, 2021: Buena Vista has been continuing with its historic-looking wine labels (the winery was founded in 1857). It's a nifty blend of cabs from Fountaingrove, Sonoma Mountain, and Alexander Valley (all part of the North Coast appellation). After 11 months in 10% new French oak it was racked. The emphasis is on darkness, with plenty of black fruit (cassis, black cherry) and butterscotch tones with black pepper spices, softish finish. Still needs time, another year. Do a double decant or leave it open for a day to get a taste of its potential. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico DOC 2018 Veneto, +160226, $18.95 Vintages: a fairly basic but inviting Veronese wine full of red cherry-berry fruit, a bit jammy on the finish, ready now. Typical forest floor elements as well. Pretty well goes with everything, good as a sipper and as a food paired wine. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC Ripasso 2017 Veneto, +165662, $24.95 Vintages: bright red fruit dominate both its texture and its palate, evoking some minerality that cuts through the balanced fruity cherry tones. Some forest floor; some mocha tones. Amarone grape pressings are added just before spring, to give it the second fermentation oompf. Great as a sipper or with food or both, ready now at three years after the vintage. It has been aged in large French oak for 18 months. This is a collaborative brand with the LCBO, and there will be a new release in May 2021. The grapes used are corvina veronese and corvinone (80%) with rondinella added. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, +424507, $29.95 Vintages: 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.
5.Westcott Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2017 VQA Vinemount Ridge, +424500, $29.95 Vintages: 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.
6.Henry of Pelham Family Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, $21.95, +268342 Vintages Essential: this bottling continues the tres elegante Burgundian character of earlier years. Some ripeness, pleasant balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place, wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. Overall balance of fruit and wood, vanilla, modest spices. 12.8% ABV, cork closure, barrel fermentation in French oak, barrel aging (some in 3K litre foudres for 8 months. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +657874 Vintages, $34.95: fruit-forward with enough black/dark tones of cherry-berry capable of long cellar aging. The winery says Clones 667 on Block 100 were used for 250 cases. Tank fermentation with 10 months European oak barrel aging (30% new), finishing as blended in an oak tank. Very, very food friendly. 13% ABV. Steady pricing at this level for some years now. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Pencarrow Chardonnay Martinborough NZ, +16028 Vintages, $21.95: 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 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Quails' Gate Pinot Noir 2018 BC Okanagan VQA, +585760 Vintages, $32.95: typical cool climate approach to pinot noir, emphasizing its savouriness: yellow flower aromatic notes, candied red fruit, sweet green herbals and black pepper on the medium- soft juicy-citric finish. 93% Pinot Noir, 7% Gamay (although this varies from year to year, usually within a percentage point). Aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. Astounding residual sweetness of 0.28 g/L. 13.5% ABV. Tasted over several days. Probably best with any Christmas fowl. Quality/Price rating is 91+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Quails' Gate Dry Riesling 2018 BC VQA Okanagan +308312 Vintages $19.95: this particular wine benefits from both an early and a late picked harvest, with the early contributing fresh acid and the later nectarine and citric orange tones. It's very crisp and dry (4.7 g/L RS) and full of orchard fruit (apples, pears, apricots, nectarines, peaches) and sweeter citric fruit such as tangerines and mandarins. There's lots going on here. Best with spiced or vinegared seafood. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Under $20 [this is the annual "value" release, post-Christmas/New Year, hence few wines are over $20]
W+147975    GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER    IGP Pays d'Oc    2018    $14.95    MVC/QPR: 92
W+488981    FOLLAS NOVAS ALBARIÑO    DO Rías Baixas 2019    $17.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+458810    TOM GORE CHARDONNAY    California    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+328559    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY    WO Western Cape    2019    $17.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+631820 DESQUICIADO MALBEC Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza 2017 $16.95MVC/QPR: 89
R+254458    BUENA VISTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON North Coast    2018    $19.95MVC/QPR: 91
R+488015    QUINTA DO ESPÍRITO SANTO    Vinho Regional Lisboa 2017 $14.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Over $20 [sorry, I have not tasted any from Jan 9 release at this price level]

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