Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 14, 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 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
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


No comments: