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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Report on Bordeaux and Chateau LaRose Trintaudon....

The Date and Time: Friday September 10, 2021  Noon – 2:30 PM
The Event: A tasting of Vignobles de Larose wines along with a discussion on the new Classification of Crus Bourgeois.
The Venue: Boehmer, Ossington
The Target Audience: wine writers and other media
The Availability/Catalogue: Marchands des Ameriques is the agency (see below). Differing vintages are currently available; others will come in periodically.
The Quote/Background: Franck Bijon, the General Manager and Chief Winemaker of Vignobles de la Rose made the presentation, commenting on the company's history. It's got three major Chateaux in the Haut-Medoc: Chateau LaRose Trintaudon (huge seller in the USA), Chateau LaRose Perganson, and Chateau Arnauld, plus Chateau Tour de Pez in St. Estephe, which they bought in 2019. Area is 255 hectares of vines, production is 1.3 million bottles a year, and exports are 30% of the company totals. The company began its first rehabilitation in 1963, followed by another in 2000 to get numerous environmental certifications (and again in 2020). Franck also discussed the details on applying for classification. Crus Bourgeois were classified in 2003 and then again in 2020. Re-validation is every five years (e.g., 2025, 2030, etc.). Eligibility is mostly by blind tasting. There are 247 chateaux with three levels. The first is a basic entry, followed by "superior" and then "exceptional". He then went on to describe his own company's wines. LaRose's barrel program includes 3600 barrels (of which 900 are new) for the Trintaudon, 400 barrels (of which 140 are new) for the Perganson (superior), and 35 all-new barrels for the Arnauld (exceptional). M.Bijon then went on to taste and describe the wines he brought with him. Wines are mostly equal merlot and cabernet sauvignon, with some petit verdot. The St Estephe does have some cabernet franc, as most St Estephe wines do have.
The Wines: Kenneth Gunn of the Marchands des Vins agency has the Haut-Medoc wines for sale...but, on September 18 at Vintages, Chateau LaRose-Trintaudon  Sustainable, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut-Médoc 2014    $28.95 +297945 went on sale in Ontario.

**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau LaRose Trintaudon 2014 [juicy and racy]
-Chateau LaRose Perganson 2008 [my fave of the day, nicely aged, longer finish]
-Chateau Arnauld 2012 [another fave, still young, very juicy] close to Margaux

***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau LaRose Trintaudon 2018 [intense nose, very fresh]
-Chateau Arnauld 2018 [soft on the mid-palate]

A new wine of 6700 bottles has been introduced: L'Experience Sans Sulfites Ajoutes 2019, from sustainable old vines (70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot).

Other availability:  Château Arnauld Cru Bourgeois Haut Médoc 2015 – LCBO Vintages Classics #21928 $68.00 release date : December 02 2021   - 80 cases
 
Consignment (currently out of stock but available soon):
Château Larose Trintaudon 2011 - $30.00 (before tax and deposit)
Château Larose Perganson 2008 - $37.00 (before tax and deposit)
The Food: Bordeaux friendly food, such as a selection of meats (beef and lamb) atop lentils de puy, and wild mushrooms on richly buttered crostini. The main dish was classic tournedos with a wine sauce, potato puree, and grilled asparagus.
The Downside: I was nervous, mainly because this was my first trade event in over 18 months! In fact, the last trade event I was at (March 2, 2020) was an earlier version of this seminar with earlier vintages.
The Upside:  Chateau LaRose-Trintaudon  Sustainable, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut-Médoc 2014 $28.95 +297945 is now available in Ontario via LCBO Vintages (only 400 cases).
The Contact Person: isabelle.eon@vignoblesdelarose.com and kenneth@marchandsdesameriques.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus Ryerson School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada http://www.deantudor.com
http://gothicepicures.blogspot.com
https://twitter.com/gothicepicures

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 18, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 18, 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 recent wines and spirits books I have reviewed ---

1.THE SCIENCE OF WINE; from vine to glass. 3rd ed.(University of California Press, 2005, 2012, 2021, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-37950-3, $48.38 CAD hard covers) is by Jamie Goode, UK wine writer and columnist. The first edition in 2005 was the Glenfiddich Drink Book of the Year. It's a great introduction to the scientific and technical innovations applied to grape-growing and winemaking. He explains how the practical applications of science affects the quality, flavour and perception of wine. In addition, there is also some material on Mother Nature such as the newly re-written climate change and global warming chapter, and how this is affecting wine production and styles. As the book is about the "science" of wine, he also covers biodynamics, health benefits, and screw cap closures. About half the book is totally new or extensively re-written and updated to this third edition (published nine years after the second edition): a discussion of "when things go wrong", vine immunity and breeding for resistance, yeasts and bacteria, non-saccharomyces, phenolics, extraction and maceration, whole cluster and carbonic maceration, wine faults, evolution of élevage, flotation, and sweet wine. This is an immensely accessible book, written for the lay person, and with a glossary and bibliography at the end. Quality/price rating: 92.

2.WINE TIME; 70+ recipes for simple bites that pair perfectly with wine (Chronicle Books, 2021, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-8186-8 $32.95 hardbound) is by Barbara Scott-Goodman, a food book author. The book's title is a bit of a misnomer since wine is not discussed. As she says, "Almost all food goes well with wine...what matters most is that you enjoy the wine you buy and drink." With that in mind, she goes ahead and makes recommendations for wine types based on grape varieties. With black bean, mushroom and cheese quesadillas, she suggests Zinfandel. With roasted cauliflower, try a Vernaccia. With zucchini fritters, perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc. She does have a whole section on wine cocktails, including: Champagne pom fizz, Kir Royale, Autumn Bellini, Prosecco and ginger spritz, and a half dozen other fizzy drinks (including a white wine, orange and mint sangria). Arrangement is by food categories: snacks and bites (such as orange-scented olives & feta cheese), dips and spreads (such as tuna tapenade), cheese and cheese boards, veggies, bruschetta and toasts (such as chicken livers with red onion sauce), seafood (crudo, ceviche), meat (charcuterie, sliders, deviled ham), sauces and condiments. The book could have been improved if it had also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 90

3,STRANGER GINS; 50 things to drink while you watch TV (Dog 'n' Bone, 2021, 64 pages, $13.99 hardbound) has been compiled by Carol Hilker, a Chicago-based food writer. All of the shows are "series" and include old and new. Thus, there's Twin Peaks (recommended drink: Jacoby's Coconut). Fleabag (Hot Priest), Mad Men (Dirty Don Martini), and Seinfeld (Festivus)...But no Sopranos. She's got recipes and reasons for each show. PS: I'm not ashamed to admit having seen all of these shows but drinking just wine. Quality/price rating: 87

4.THE CURIOUS BARTENDER: Cocktails at Home (Ryland Peters & Small, 2021, 208 pages, $42.99 hardcovers) is by Tristan Stephenson, not only a drinks writer and author but also a brand ambassador and consultant in the UK world of cocktails. This work covers malt, bourbon and rye types of whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, brandy, sherry, wine and amari with histories, an exploration of the barrel-aging process, and a trip to major distilleries throughout the world (but principally the UK and the US). All the 75 recipes have been previously published in prior Curious Bartender books, but have been collated for this new volume. So there is the primer which deals with equipment, glassware and kitchen ingredients, followed by a collection of 7 distilled alcohol bottles and 6 alcohol add-ons (triple sec, maraschino, amari, vermouth, amontillado sherry, and absinthe). Under "Making a Drink" there are good notes on shaking, stirring, building, and blending. If you have his other books, then you might not need this one. He's got some classic and iconic preps for cocktails, such as the Boilermaker. His notes follow the rising tide of brown spirits that has returned after many years of clear spirits. There are lots of colour photos and a description of each business (along with tasting notes) including what to watch out for. Typical are sherry cobblers, champagne cocktail,  Americano, sidecar, pisco sour, margarita, et al. At the end there is a bibliography (including his previous 11 books) for further reading. 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: 89.

New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---

1.Paso Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Paso Robles AVA, +161141 LCBO General List, $18.95: from the Monterey Wine Company, this wine of 100% cabernet sauvignon shows rich dark berry components (currants, plums, blackberries) exhibiting a fruity audacious palate. It's a bit blowsy at the aroma stage but softens into ripe black fruit on the mid-palate, ending with California vanilla tones from oaking. Some finishing tannins and enough acid to accompany meaty foods. Opened and then tasted over several days. Well-enjoyed. Residual sugar is 5g/L, 13.5% ABV. MVC/QPR: 90.

2.Chateau LaRose-Trintaudon  Sustainable, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut-Médoc 2014    $28.95     +297945 Sept 18 Vintages:  dark colour dominated by deep black fruit (cassis, blackberry, plum) tones. Very filling on the mid-palate with the beginning of tannins near the end, leading to a long length with finishing acid. Best with food, of course, particularly meat such as beef and lamb. The blend always ranges around 45% cabernet sauvignon and 55% merlot and some added petit verdot to flesh it out. Peppery finish. This is a perennial favourite in North America, a brand that many are familiar (and comfortable) with. MVC/QPR: 92

I can recommend one red, one rose, one white and one fizz wine from the LCBO's Limited Time Offers selections...some are good values (see below)...on sale  through Sunday October 10...

[red] Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon Chile, +322586, on sale to October 10, now $16.95, down from $19.95. Buy a case.
[rose]  Cave Spring Dry Rose VQA Niagara, +295006,  on sale to October 10,  now $13.95, down from $15.95. Buy a case.
[white] Flat Rock Cellars Twisted White VQA Niagara Peninsula, +1578,  on sale to October 10 , now $14.95, down from $17.95. Buy a case.
[fizz] Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose Chile, +365205, on sale to October 10,  now $12.95, down from $14.95. Buy a case.

Wines Under $20
=========
W+246579    CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ    Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment        $17.95   MVC/QPR: 89
W+17742    PETER ZEMMER CHARDONNAY DOC Alto Adige 2018 $17.95  MVC/QPR: 89
W+573683    FERZO ABRUZZO PECORINO SUPERIORE DOP 2020  $17.95   MVC/QPR:  89
R+13434    ESCUDO ROJO RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Sustainable, Valle del Maipo    2019    $17.95   MVC/QPR:  89
R+18667    SPECK BROS. FAMILY TREE THE PADRÉ CABERNET/MERLOT    Sustainable, VQA Niagara Peninsula    2019    $19.95  MVC/QPR:  89
R+952804    GÉRARD BERTRAND MINERVOIS SYRAH/CARIGNAN    AC Minervois    2017    $17.95      MVC/QPR:  89

Wines Over $20
=========
W+241182    CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2017    $38.95     MVC/QPR:  90
W+593996    JACKSON-TRIGGS NIAGARA ESTATE GRAND RESERVE CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $20.95  MVC/QPR:  89
Fizz+175588    GRAHAM BECK MÉTHODE CAP CLASSIQUE BRUT SPARKLING ROSÉ PINOT NOIR/CHARDONNAY Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa   $22.95MVC/QPR:  89
R+297945    CHÂTEAU LAROSE-TRINTAUDON    Sustainable, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut-Médoc    2014    $28.95     MVC/QPR: 92

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Thursday, September 9, 2021

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK...

 
...is one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers, since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
 
 
9.BASQUE; Spanish recipes from San Sebastian & beyond (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 2021, 256 pages, $32.99 hard covers) is by Jose Pizarro (a Basque chef  who owns three restaurants in London. It's a well-illustrated and photographed travelogue-cookbook – and a great introduction to the Basque cuisine and country. It's all arranged by ingredient: meat, fish, veggies, desserts, concluding with a collection of Basque menus: two for pintxos, others for a simple three course menu and for a feasting menu for friends. Typical are roasted chicken wings with oregano and garlic, cured duck ham with pomegranate salad, griddled marinated quail with pickled shallots, piquillo peppers stuffed with oxtail, sukalki (beef stew), sardines a la plancha, pan-fried hake with wild chanterelles, and pan-fried porcini with egg yolk. It's a major contribution to the arena of Spanish cookbooks. Quality/Price Rating: 90.
 
 
 
 
10.THE MAGIC OF TINNED FISH; elevate your cooking with canned anchovies, sardines, mackerel, crab and other amazing seafood (Artisan Books, 2021, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-937-0, $33.55 hardbound) is by Chris McDade, owner-chef of Brooklyn's Popina, a western Mediterranean-styled restaurant with some US influences. He's got a short intro for preserved fish, principally tinned but also in glass jars. This is followed by a discussion on what to look for and a list of his 12 fave tinned products. Of necessity, his book is arranged by type of fish. Anchovies is first up, followed by sardines, mackerel, shellfish (sea urchin, oysters, clams, mussels, crab), squid, octopus, trout and cod – all with appropriate recipes fir cooking use. The photos also show the colourful labels of the tinned goods. At the end there is a US resources list for online ordering, if needed. Most of what he calls for is from sustainable fishing. One of my fave tinned fish is mussels, and through the index you can find preps such as mussel salad and potato chips on a brioche bun, or a mussel salad with fennel, chickpeas, and dill vinaigrette. Not everything here is seafood: there is roasted lamb with anchovies, rosemary and potatoes, and for pork, there is roasted pork loin with tonnato sauce. Cheese is also prominent (e.g. fusilli with sardines, 'nduja and pecorino). The 75 recipes include elevating mac and cheese with crab, and snacks such as anchovies, bread and butter. Comfort food includes smoked trout chowder. The book is a bit restrictive in that there is no tinned salmon, and no tuna, herring, shrimp, sprat, or caviar (or any other roe). But there is enough here to get you started. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric and fewer US volume measurements in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 4, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 4, 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 recent spirits I have tasted --

1.Dun Bheagan Single Malt Islay +576397 $54.90 750mL.: extremely intense, bottled straight from the cask. Small batch.  Eight years old. Some herbal complexity with strong floral notes makes this a real treat. Smokey peaty all the way...could be challenging for some. 43% ABV. Good value. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

2..Bas-Armagnac de Montal Les Hauts de Montrouge X.O. 700 mL. +21564 Vintages October 2021 $112: comes in a wooden gift box (it's that time of year again). From the producers of the finest Armagnac in the region. Armagnac has only 10% of the production of Cognac; it has a single distillation only. Uses all four grape varieties allowed. Comprised of about 12 years-old distillates, deep nose of roasted nuts, full fruity flavours with a soft peachy off-dry finish. Some mocha is evident. 40% ABV. A steal at this price. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

3.Bas-Armagnac de Montal Les Hauts de Montrouge 2002  700 mL. +11426 Vintages October 23 2021 $99.95: comes in a red gift box for the Christmas holidays. There are about 181 producers, and many make single vintage bottlings (unlike in Cognac). Hence, there are many bottles of older Armagnac brandies (10, 15, 20, 30 year olds) that sell everywhere in the world -- but in small lots. Montal's 2002 was aged a minimum of 19.5 years in oak. Armagnac sells well in Quebec – they recognize a bargain. Extremely aromatic with overtones of caramel, vanilla, dried fruits, and oak character. 40% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

4.Antica Valle Francescana Limoncino 500 mL. +17161 October 23, 2021, $45. 30% ABV, with a 2% infusion of lemon peels: decanter comes with two glasses and a gift box. Exceedingly fresh flavours with that citrus tang of sharpness from the essential oils. Largely hand-peeled in Umbria. Terrific as an ice cream topping (which is how I had my 40 mL sample). Sales of lemoncello or limoncino in total make it the number two liqueur in Italy, after Campari. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

I will also try to recommend one red, one rose, one white and one fizz wine from the LCBO's Limited Time Offers selections...some are good values (see below)...on sale  through Sunday September 12...
 
[red] Gran Feudo Reserva DO Navarra Spain +479014, on sale to September 12 , now $16.95, down from $18.95 [save $2]
[white] Susana Balbo Crios Torrontes Argentina Dominio del Plata +1834, on sale to September 12, now $12.95, down from $14.95 [save $2}
[rose]  Muga Rose DOCa Rioja Spain +603795, on sale to September 12, now $13.95, down from $15.95. Buy a case [save $24].
[fizz] Louis Bouillot Perle D'Aurore Brut Rose Cremant de Bourgogne Traditional Method Burgundy +48793, on sale to September 12, now $20.95, down from $22.95 [save $2]

Wines Under $20
=========
Fizz+746479    CRISTINA ASCHERI MOSCATO D'ASTI    DOCG, Piedmont, Italy 2019     $19.95       
MVC/QPR:  90
Rose+117861    FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ    VQA Niagara Peninsula 2020 $15.95 MVC/QPR:   90
W+557165    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING    Sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $19.95 MVC/QPR:  90
W+616466    HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY    Sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $29.95     MVC/QPR:  90
W+18566    LACHETEAU HAUT-POITOU SAUVIGNON BLANC    AC    2020    $16.95 MVC/QPR:  90
W+95802    PETER ZEMMER PINOT GRIGIO    DOC Alto Adige    2019    $18.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+21538    POCAS RESERVA WHITE    DOP    2019    $19.95 MVC/QPR:  90
R+12281    CHÂTEAU DE RIBEBON    AC Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux, France    2017    $15.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+14391    DOMAINE LA DÉCELLE RÉSERVE VALRÉAS    AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Rhône, France    2017    $16.95    MVC/QPR:  89
R+78725    CHÂTEAU PINERAIE CAHORS    AC    2017    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+56267    REMO FARINA MONTECORNA RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE    DOC    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR:   90


Wines Over $20
=========
W+68817    HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment        $29.95     MVC/QPR:   90
W+469023    CUDDY BY TAWSE CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2016    $25.95 MVC/QPR:  90
R+213132    LA PIEVE BAROLO    DOCG    2017    $39.95  MVC/QPR: 90
R+113357    DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2015    $65.95     MVC/QPR: 89.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com