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Monday, April 19, 2021

Re: WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for FEBRUARY 20, 2021

 
WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for FEBRUARY 20, 2021
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. 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 http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com 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.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, LCBO & Grocery +326975, $15.95: fruit-driven aromatics come from the bouquet of orchard fruit which clearly shows on the mid-palate, finishing off with a slight citrus tang (thus making it perfectly adaptable to a first course food offering such as seafood or light salad). As a social drink for the patio/deck/terrace or party, the balanced fruit-acid of the wine is very nicely placed. Stainless steel cold aging [no oak]. Also available in 60 grocery stores. 13.5% ABV. Twist top. Good value price. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Cabernet 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, LCBO & Grocery +499384, $15.95: a blend of 51% cab sauvignon and 49% cab franc, although in taste and performance it seems as if there is more franc in the mix. There is a melange of both red and black fruit, such as cherries, raspberries, cranberries followed by cassis and blackberries. From the short wood aging comes some vanilla, coffee-toffee, and woody spices. Medium in mouthfeel and well-balanced all the way, just what you want from a party red wine that can also extend through to the cheese course. 12.8% ABV. Capable of aging for a few years. Tasted over several days after a double-decanting. Twist top. Also available in 60 grocery stores. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Vintages, +19899 April 3, $19.95 [only 30 cases available, sold out at the winery]: very light and pale in colour, but full of flavours such as an herbed-induced introduction to Ontario fruit (gooseberries, nectarines) and florals. A very nicely developed bone dry drink for late spring and Easter. Cold stainless steel fermentation accentuates the dried tropical fruit component. 12.1% ABV, 3 g/L residual sugar. A good little savvy that will take you all the way through from the table's first courses to the fresh cheeses. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
4.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Rebecca Rose 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Winery Only [320 cases], $19.95: I have really enjoyed previous vintages of this wine. The grape here is gamay, as in light and fruity Beaujolais. So it's a typical light, refreshing, and fruity drink with low alcohol and low tannins. Cold stainless fermentation helps it retain the strawb and rasp berry nature of the grape, as well as some of that typical Ontario cranberry taste. Best on its own as a patio/terrace/deck party drink or with a light platter of first course foods. 12.3% ABV. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
February 20 -- Under $20
=========
W+225557    ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC    Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island    2020    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 90
R+18173      DOMAINE DE LA PLAIGNE RÉGNIÉ    AP    2017  [BEAUJOLAIS]  $18.95     MVC/QPR:  89
R+273672    STORIA ANTICA SUPERIORE VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO    DOC    2018    $18.95    MVC/QPR:  90
 
February 20 -- Over $20
=========
W+490326   SACRED HILL RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2018    $21.95     MVC/QPR:  90
W+149211   THE FOREIGN AFFAIR CHARDONNAY VQA NIAGARA PENINSULA  2018 $26.95   MCV/QPR: 91+
R+268391    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE PINOT NOIR    Sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $24.95    MVC/QPR:  91
R+157347    ENRICO SERAFINO SANAVENTO BARBARESCO    DOCG    2017    $30.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+438580    QUERCECCHIO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2015    $34.95 MVC/QPR:  89
 
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for APRIL 17, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for APRIL 17, 2021
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. 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 http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com 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 Terroir An806 Corbieres 2018 $17.95 +394288 Vintages: In this Terroir Corbieres (from the Narbonne), Bertrand uses traditional fermentation for the grenache, syrah, and mourvedre. It is an appealing Rhonish G-S-M, with one-third of the blended wine aging in wood for nine months before bottling. Very firm with some very dark fruit leading on to the very full and ripe finish. Needs hearty food. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
2.Parker Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Paso Robles $24.95 +17684 Vintages [wine of the month for April 17, 2021]: an affordable Cali-Cab, but only 5,000 cases made. Part of the Fess Parker winery unit, the US SRP is $17. Aged six months in all French oak resulting in typical cabby spicy mocha flavours, blackberry/plummy fruit (and with a leathery hint suggestive of syrah), vanilla finish. My wife said "yum", which is her description for a juicy palate. Changed for better complexity over time with stoppered exposure and a double decant. Smooth but dry with a long lingering finish: great with food. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
3.Lazzara Rosato Secco NV VQA Ontario $17.95 +18248 LCBO Seasonal Rose April 1 release:
this is the Speck Brothers' rose version of the Lazzara Bianco Secco, which was made in the style of prosecco. It has the palest of pale "rose" colour and is incredibly fresh at this point. Off-dry but barely, with enough stuffing to wow my wife who loved it. Typical melange of cherry-berry flavours. Very well-priced. Stainless steel, Charmat process (but with very tiny mousse bubbles). 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90-91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
4..Chateau des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot Old Vines 2017 VQA Niagara-On-The-Lake, $24.95 +222372 at winery and online: a substantial wine made from plots planted beginning in 1983-1985 and then again in 1992-1996 (in all four of their vineyards) – about a third each of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot, coming in at 12.6% ABV after 15 months time in French oak. Expect some intricacy with its medium mocha, cedar, vanilla and cassis, but double-decant the bottle before serving. The extra airing will help soften it and give it a longer length from the older vines. Tasted successfully over a number of days. 485 cases. Residual sugar 1g/L. It should outlast the pandemic. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
Under $20
=========
W+286377    CAVE SPRING ESTATE RIESLING    VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 89
W+17658    LA GIUSTINIANA TERRE ANTICHE GAVI DI GAVI    DOCG    2019    $17.95  MVC/QPR: 89
W+341586    FEATHERSTONE FOUR FEATHERS    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2020    $14.95
MVC/QPR: 90
W+458687    NOBLE VINES COLLECTION 446 CHARDONNAY    Monterey County    2018    $18.95     MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+19509    CAVES D'ESCLANS WHISPERING ANGEL ROSÉ    AC Côtes de Provence    2020    $17.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+19903    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE GAMAY    Sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $19.95  MVC/QPR:  90
R+39925    CUNE CRIANZA    Vegan, DOCa Rioja    2017    $15.95     MVC/QPR: 89
R+394288    GÉRARD BERTRAND GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE    AP Corbières    2018    $17.95     MVC/QPR: 91
 
Over $20
========
Sparkling+213983    CAVE SPRING BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT SPARKLING    Traditional method, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario        $29.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+184549    LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $44.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+368050    PLUME CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2018    $29.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+17684    PARKER STATION CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Paso Robles    2017    $24.95  MVC/QPR: 91                   
 
You get old and you realize there are no answers -- just stories.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, April 10, 2021

* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS

CARPATHIA; food from the heart of Romania (Interlink Books, 2020, 224 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Irina Georgescu, a Romanian food writer with a blog (Small Bites). Romania is a well-travelled through country with many melting pot dishes. I was very impressed with a Romanian food documentary from some years back, about farmers who grew just two crops (potatoes and cabbages) and tried to work with a depressed market for those two items. So I used this book's index to find caraway sauerkraut clorba with potatoes, potato bread in cabbage leaves, and potato moussaka. There were more preps with cabbages, including sauerkraut. Her book concentrates on small plates (from her blog), breads, street food baked goods, and a broth soup augmented by "bors" (sour fermented wheat) or by "ciorba" (vinegar, pickled brine). The heart of Romanian cuisine is carefully explored with material on pork, coarse polenta, broth, garlic, cheese, yogurt, pickles, and wine. Desserts are based on the Austro-Hungarian empires. She concludes with some notes on the seasons and superstitions in Romanian cuisine, the culinary heritage, and the cultural food values.

 

.WHY WE COOK: Women on food, identity, and connection (Workman Publishing, 2021, 232 pages, $33.95 hardbound) has been pulled together and edited by Lindsay Gardner, who also illustrated the book with her watercolours. These are essays, interviews, recipes, and stories from 112 women in food. Sections deal with Memorable Meals, Kitchen Portraits, Home Cooks, Profiles, and advice from contributors. Included are such well-known names as Ruth Reichl, Deborah Madison, Dorie Greenspan, and Anita Lo. The 11 preps are eclectic but not indexed. There is a contributor idex with notes and credits. The main section delves into such matters as "what is your fave part of the cooking process?", "how do you overcome creative ruts?", and "what kitchen tools do you love most?". There are activists here, as well as food truckers, bakers who give back, women in wine, and even ice cream innovators. This is a terrific gift book for any occasion.

 

.FOODIE BREAKS: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales (Dog'n'Bone, 2020, 144 pages, $19.95 flatbound) is by Richard Mellor who had previously written Foodie Breaks: Europe. In this book he examines 25 cities and towns with 250 (10 each) essential eating experiences within his UK homeland. With pictures, it provides a snapshot of 25 culinary UK "hotspots" with recommendations to try establishments. He's got the best places for breakfasts and brunches, street food, gastropubs, inexpensive diners, and cool places to drink. This is a quick, easily digestible summary for your British traveller.

 

AEGEAN (Interlink Books, 2021, 224 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Marianna Leivaditaki, who was raised on Crete and now is a London UK chef at Morito. Her paean to the Aegean is centred largely on Crete as just one of the many islands that belong to Greece. Other major islands include Rhodes, Karpathos, and Kasos. As the largest and most populous island, Crete has an original cuisine that Leivaditaki delves into. She conveniently divides the book into three: the sea, the land, the mountains, with recipes and personal stories for each. And there are lots of great photos here of prawns with ouzo, orzo and zucchini, tomato and oregano fritters with feta, and the kakavia one-pot fish stew. This is the Mediterranean diet in all of its full-blown glory, with olive oils, fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish. A delight.

 

HOW WILD THINGS ARE; cooking, fishing and hunting at the bottom of the world (Hardie Grant Books, 2021, 241 pages $42.56 hardbound) is by Analiese Gregory, and partly biography by Hilary Burden, and recipes and memoir material from the chef- author herself. First rate photography is by Adam Gibson. Gregory grew up in coastal New Zealand (there are sections here on her youth and on New Zealand cooking) but on a whim she later moved to Tasmania in 2017 after forgoing France. This story is featured as the bulk of the book: living on a somewhat isolated island far from the mainstream. Her credits include working in some of the top notch restaurants of the world. But here she is doing a reno of an old 110-year old farmhouse while foraging and hunting and cooking. She's got 40 recipes, including ferments, all mixed in with narratives. Many of the preps are unique, such as sea urchin farinata, abalone fritters, chargrilled oyster mushrooms with wakame sabayon, and oca (yam) with spelt and roasted pears. Try also the confit lamb ribs with date syrup. Some of the book was written during the recent pandemic. An excellent book for Oz and Kiwi expats.

 

PARWANA (Interlink Books, 2021, 256 pages, $52 hardbound) is by Durkhanai Ayubi, with recipes by Farida Ayubi and Fatema Ayubi.. These are stories and preps from an Afghan kitchen – Parwana Restaurant in Adelaide, Australia, which opened in 2009. The 100+ recipes have been family-held for years, and embrace both day-to-day preps and celebrations: rice, curries, meats, kebabs, naan flatbread, halwah, dumplings, Afghan pasta, sweets, chutneys, pickles, soups and breads. Everything is complemented by food photography and family photos as the text convincingly shows the interrelationship between food, people and communities over time and place. There's morabayeh anjir (whole fig jam), torshi bemasalah (pickled veggies), shorwa thin soup with vegetables, aush thick soup with noodles, and banjaan borani (braised eggplant with yogurt dressing).

 

BITTER HONEY; recipes and stories from the Island of Sardinia (Hardie Grant Books, 2020, 256 pages,, $58 hardbound) is by Letitia Clark, a seasoned UK chef with a great resume that includes pastry and baking. She moved to Sardinia with her then-boyfriend (also a cook) to work a rural farm and produce Sardinian recipes. Although Italian, there is a strong French influence from this part of the Mediterranean (e.g., the onion soup prep is straight French Onion Soup). As she says, it's all about traditions, stories and memories, with insight into people's lives, habits and histories. Age-old methods and tools means that just about everything is cooked very slowly. So this is all home-food with great photography by Matt Russell. Topics are arranged by theme: apertivo, terra, merenda, mare, verdure, grano, and dolci e bevande. There 's a Sardinian pantry, which includes bay leaves, borage, capers, chestnuts, limoncello, myrtle, guanciale, and oranges. Lots of local food and colour here – a good book for your Mediterranean food lover who has everything (when was the last time you saw a Sardinian cookbook?)

 

PERSIANA; recipes from the Middle East and beyond (Interlink Books, 2014, 2021, $49.95 hardbound) is by Sabrina Ghayour. It's a needed reissue of a Middle East food and culture book, with 100 preps for dishes from the Mediterranean Sea's south and eastern shorelines. All of the dishes are modern and accessible, covering the range from mezze through breads, soups, tagines, roasts, salads, and desserts. Dishes include fava beans with garlic, dill and eggs (baghala ghatogh), smoked eggplants with garlic (mirza ghasemi) and lamb-butternut squash-prune-tamarind tagine. Many dishes are from the eastern end of Iran-Persia, and some of the variations come African shores. Food culture notes accompany all dishes.

 

PIE ACADEMY; master the perfect crust and 255 amazing fillings with fruits, nuts, creams, custards, ice cream and more: expert techniques for making fabulous pies from scratch (Storey Publishing, 2020, 470 pages, $48 hardbound) is by Ken Haedrich who runs the Pie Academy and has authored more than dozen cookbooks. He's also won a Julia Child Cookbook Award. Since the subtitle is fairly explanatory, I don't really need to add much more: there's a lot of primer material about pie making and doughs (the first 86 pages) followed by pies arranged by fruits such as berries, apples, pear, pumpkin, cranberry, et al. Then come the nuts, custards, hand pies of minis and turnovers, icebox pies, and cream pies. The ingredients are by volume but there is a metric conversion chart. There are even some savoury pies using cheese and eggs. A good-looking gift for the baker in the family!

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...

15.SOURDOUGH FROM SCRATCH; slow down, make bread (Hardy Grant Quadrille, 2020, 2021, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78713-695-3, $24.99 flexiboard covers) is by James Morton. It is based on (and has been extracted from) a larger book published in 2020, "Super Sourdough". This is a basic guidebook at a decent price for an easy procedure that just takes time sitting around and must be routinely fed in even less time than a household pet. And no walking either – the perfect pandemic time occupier. The hardest part is just setting up a schedule for the various procedures. Sourdoughs work on their own but you do need to know how to take care of your starter. This is your refrigerated pet: yeast. Morton has a glossary of key ingredients and key recipes, plus advice on how to take care, how to get a "perfect" crust and crumb, and a long chapter on troubleshooting. He's got nine core recipes, including pretzels, crispbread, Danish rye, brioche, Frisco style white bread, and (of course) the levain. Everything is scaled (in metric) with bakers' percentages. A great looking basic manual, welcomed because of its troubleshooting section. Quality/price rating: 93.

16.THE NOODLE BOWL; over 70 recipes for Asian-inspired noodle dishes (Ryland Peters and Small, 2015, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-235-6, $19.95 hardbound) is by Louise Pickford, a food writer now living in France with over 15 cookbooks to her credit (many for Ryland Peters & Small). It was originally published in 2015 as "Oodles of Noodles", and is back again in a revised format. Here she runs through the basic types of wheat noodles, buckwheat, rice sticks, sweet potato, flat rice, cellophanes, vermicelli, rice paper, buckwheat, and more. There are 70 recipes here for mostly Asian noodles. After the basics, she delves into separate chapters called for in soups, salads, apps, stir-fries and curries. Each prep has a full colour photo. A very good, well-prepared book. Some interesting preps include steamed rice noodle dumplings with scallops; vegetarian spring rolls; shio ramen with pork and eggs; num banh chok; seared salmon and green tea noodle salad. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 88

17.EGGS ALL DAY (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 2021, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-346-9 $27.99 hardbound) is a publisher's book with recipe contributions from 34 different cookbook writers. But mostly they are from Miranda Ballard, Tonia George, Shelagh Ryan, and Laura Washburn. It ws originally published in 2016 as "100 Ways with Eggs". These are 100 ways to do eggs (boiled, baked, fried, scrambled) from breakfasts to salads, hashes, desserts and cocktails. There is also included the usual food safety notice for when dealing with raw eggs. Pea, basil and feta fritters with roast tomatoes caught my eye, as did matambre (Argentine stuffed flank steak). The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com