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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for MAY 1, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for MAY 1, 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.Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay 2016 St. David's Bench Vineyard VQA St David's Bench, +430991, $24.95 Vintages May 1: one of their several chardonnays at different price points, from Chateau des Charmes. My last vintage tasted was the 2014 (which was $5 less). Barrel-fermented and barrel-aged in French oak for a year, with lees stirring. 27-year old vines. Expect full-bodied balance with nuances of minerality and some muted tropicality, served up with orchard fruit and a buttery consistency with some slight smokey spices. Cork closure. Long finish. One of my fave chards, but do not serve overchilled. Very age worthy, should see us through (and after) the pandemic period. 500 cases. 13.3% ABV. Residual sugar 3g/L. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.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.
3.Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose Rose 2020 IGP Coteaux de Beziers (Languedoc) +20012 $16.95 Vintages May 15: this is a super-value rose from the Deep South of France, comprised of all red grapes: cinsault (45%), grenache (40%), syrah (5%) and caladoc (10%). The latter is an interesting cross between grenache and malbec, useful for its high resistance to disease, tannins and aromatic quality. The mostly bush vines are 25 – 50 years old. Each variety separately undergoes a long and cool fermentation before blending together. In colour, the wine is extremely pale. The aromatics exhibit plentiful floral and berry notes, continuing on through the mid-palate before resolution with the finishing acids – great with foods such as appetizers or first courses, even salads. Sophie Larose was a late 19th century vine handpicker who fought for women's rights in the vineyards. See the back label. This wine is suitable for vegans. RS is 4g/L; ABV is 12.5%. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Featherstone Estate Winery Four Feathers 2020 VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 +341586 April 17 and August: a summer social sipper or quaffer, combining 62% riesling and 3% chardonnay with 20% sauvignon blanc and 15% gewurztraminer – all highly aromatic grapes. The percentages change from vintage to vintage depending on vineyard conditions. Stainless steel fermentation. Typical fruit flavours to be found include pineapple, melon, lemon, some mango, and some sweet parts of citric tones near the finish. A popular seller with 1999 cases. Incredibly fresh and fruity tones for summer. 12g/L residual sugar. 12.3% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.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.

6.Featherstone Estate Winery Rose 2020 VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 +117861 Vintages (and again on September 4): over the years, this rose has had different and varying amounts of grape varieties – all dependent on what wily winemaker David Johnson sees as the best possible blend. In the past it has had pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, as well as gamay noir, merlot, and cabernet franc: the latter three are in the 2019. This latest vintage (2020) has cabernet sauvignon 50%, gamay noir 30%, merlot 7%, and chardonnay 13%. It's extremely useful for any event, any occasion, with any food, or just alone as a sipper on the beach/patio/deck/terrace/balcony – even in front of a roaring fireplace in winter (as I did just this week when the sub-zero snow dropped in High Park North the day before Earth Day). Expect plenty of red fruit tones with some cranberry tartness in its deliciousness. Great price. 1359 cases. 6.59g/L residual sugar, 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Under $20

White+18705    STRANDVELD FIRST SIGHTING SAUVIGNON BLANC    WO Cape South Coast    2020    $14.95     MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+117861    FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ    VQA Niagara Peninsula 2020 $15.95 MVC/QPR: 90
Rose+719062    FAMILLE PERRIN RÉSERVE ROSÉ    AC Côtes du Rhône    2020    $15.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+377481    HACIENDA LÓPEZ DE HARO CRIANZA    DOCa Rioja    2017    $16.95 MVC/QPR: 89.
Over $20
Sparkling+19346    THE FOREIGN AFFAIR BRUT SPARKLING ROSÉ    Charmat method, VQA Ontario    2019    $25.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+17553    TE AWANGA SAUVIGNON BLANC    Hawke's Bay, North Island    2019    $23.95 MVC/QPR:  89
W+616466    HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY    Sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $29.95    MVC/QPR: 91
W+430991    CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID'S BENCH VINEYARD CHARDONNAY    VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake    2016    $24.95     MVC/QPR: 92
W+541557    LAKE SONOMA CHARDONNAY    Russian River Valley, Sonoma County    2018    $26.95     MVC/QPR: 89
R+261784    PAPALE LINEA ORO PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA    DOP    2016    $23.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+130252    TAWSE SKETCHES CABERNET/MERLOT    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $21.95     MVC/QPR:  89
Port+87551    FONSECA LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT    Unfiltered, DOP, Portugal    2015    $23.95 MVC/QPR: 89

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