Some wines recently tasted and sampled --
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.Featherstone Estate Winery Black Sheep Riesling 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 +80234 Vintages Essential: more in the Mosel mode than Rhine wine, this delicious sipper is loaded with a nose of citrus highlights (lemon, lime, grapefruit) evolving to Ontario orchard fruit on the mid-palate with some minerality and a long lean-ish finish which also makes it nifty food wine for many Asiatic dishes. Medium body, off-dry .
Suitable for aging, to get that "petrol" character. 1429 cases made. 10.6% ABV. RS 22.4 g/L. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Featherstone Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 +64618 Vintages Essential: a blend of 95% cabernet franc and 5% merlot. All US oak was used – 25% new, balance into 1 to 4 year old barrels. Full malolactic fermentation. Medium-bodied with an assortment of tastes of berries, plums and cherries. Long, long finish showing tart-ish food-loving acid balances. Should go well with BBQ or other fatty meats. Keep for another few years (I tasted one bottle daily for a week). 2408 cases. 3 g/L residual sugar. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Featherstone Estate Winery Red Tail Merlot 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 +131540 Vintages May 15: Merlot is still recovering from its dissing by Pinot Noir in the movie "Sideways". But a lot of wineries are still making it. David Johnson the winemaker has here produced a delightfully fruity but dryish (RS 1.4 g/L) drop that is also affordable. Aged 10 months in French oak, 100% malolactic fermentation. Expect black fruit cherry-berry complexity, headed by black currant. Both a patio sipper and a food wine, and ready now for current drinking and accompanying any kind of comfort food. 12.4% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Featherstone Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2020 VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 +89011 Vintages June 12 and October: 20% of this wine went into barrel fermentation, leaving 80% for stainless steel. That contributed to the softness and to the muted tones of grassiness. Tropical flowers are accented rather than tropical fruit, and this too adds to its dryness culminating with ending citrus notes for a long finish. It's a great wine for savvy lovers who go for complexity rather than just herbs. At the same time, this allows for more food choices. Only 293 cases. 5.5g/L residual sugar, 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.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 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.