Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


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.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.
6.Monte del Fra Bardolino DOC 2019 Veneto, +134544, $15.95 Vintages, January 23, 2021: Bardolinos in Ontario are very rare these days, but this brand (purchased by the LCBO as a "direct" for the past six years) continues to come back year after year. It's awfully good value since the Veronese grape blend is similar to Valpolicella (here, %65 corvina, 30% rondinella, and 5% molinara). Basically, it is the corvina which provides the stuffing, and here it is only 65% unlike Valpolicella which has about 80% corvina. Bardolino is thus usually considered a lighter wine than Valpolicella and has probably reached its comparable price point this way. Expect red fruit and dark spices.
Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.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.
8.Lamothe de Haux Chombart & Speck Cave Mystere Merlot 2018 Bordeaux AOC, +17232, $18.95 Vintages: This is a collaborative wine effort by Henry of Pelham (Speck family) and Chateau Lamothe de Haux in Bordeaux (Chambart family) using rich, ripe pre-selected merlot grapes from the Cadillac region, part of Entre-deux-Mers. It's very Mid-Atlantic in style (New World flash, Old World elegance). Cultivated on limestone soils. Supple, with red cherry-berry and mocha notes and fine balanced tannins. It's on the lighter side of medium-bodied after being in French oak barrels for 18 months. Ready soonish. 14.5% ABV. Residual sugar is just 1 g/L. Tasted over several days. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Paradise Vineyards Joliesse Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 California, +16564, $17 Vintages: another modest cabby from California (mostly Lodi). Good basic black fruit (cassis, black cherry, spices) – but with a medium body detailed by oak tones of vanilla. Long finish, warm tannins. Tasted over a few days. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.   
10.Taittinger Domaine Carneros Brut Vintage Cuvee 2016, +301655 $49.95 Vintages: Cool climate Carneros fruit is perfectly adaptable to sparkling wine done up in the traditional method of double fermentation in the bottle. This is the signature wine of the company's California holdings – with three years of bottle age before release. Content is chardonnay 51%, pinot noir 47%, and pinot gris 2%. Expect a typical yeasty nose from sitting on the lees, moving on to baked spicy fruit and ending with citric tones. It's jumped in price since last year ($42 in June 2019 Vintages) and the vintage has jumped three years as well. The company encourages "food friendly" for those bright, white appetizers of soft cheeses and shellfish. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Henry of Pelham Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2019 VQA Ontario +395228 Vintages, $19.95 for 375 mL: SSLH are my fave sweet wines. They are affordable and not as cloying as some other sweeties; I think that they are also more versatile since they can be paired with savoury apps (nuts, cheeses) or a cheese/dessert course, followed by an extra sip or two on their own. Henry of Pelham's has that honeyed ripe flavour of apricot and fig tones, with a citric background to the finish. These are frozen grapes, picked and then fermented and aged in stainless. It's the only one at the LCBO; this bottle is a newer vintage and tastes really fresh. 10% ABV, 136 g/L RS (down from 2018's 149 g/L). Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Under $20
Sparkling+16604    CELENE CUVÉE ROYALE ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BORDEAUX    Traditional method, AC, Bordeaux, France      $17.95  MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+552562     SPECK BROS. THREE OF HEARTS ROSÉ    VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95
W+10765    IN SITU RESERVA CHARDONNAY    Aconcagua Valley    2019     $14.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+308312    QUAILS' GATE DRY RIESLING    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2019     $19.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+310532    CREW MERLOT    VQA Lake Erie North Shore    2017     $17.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+542183    RAVANAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON Colchagua Valley 2017     $15.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+90035    MAYU APPASSIMENTO GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE    Elquí Valley    2017     $18.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+134544    MONTE DEL FRÁ BARDOLINO    DOC    2019     $16.95 MVC/QPR: 90
Over $20
W+268342    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    $21.95 MVC/QPR: 90
W+377770    QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY    BC VQA Okanagan Valley $24.95 MVC/QPR: 91
W+430561    HENRY OF PELHAM RIESLING ICEWINE    VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario         $49.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+70607    WATERBROOK SYRAH    Columbia Valley 2018  $21.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+213132    LA PIEVE BAROLO    DOCG    2016     $39.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+65995    DOMAINE BONNARD SANCERRE RED    AC    2017     $27.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+17139    ZORZAL EGGO FRANCO CABERNET FRANC    Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2018     $29.95  MVC/QPR: 89

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.

No comments: