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Tuesday, October 26, 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 I Tasted Over the Past Fortnight or so ---

The Date and Time:  Wednesday September 21, 2021  11AM – 12:30PM
The Event: 2021 Northwest Wine Expedition
The Venue: The Globe and Mail Centre
The Target Audience: wine media, sommeliers, wine agents.
The Availability/Catalogue: most wines were available or will be. The event was also a feature for acquiring new agents. The catalogue contained the basics of estate name, website, and Twitter address. There was no agency name, even if the winery had an Ontario agent. Name of the wine was followed by the vintage date and a space for notes. Opening text was confined to photos, maps, climate bar graphs, vineyards, and quality. 75% of Oregon wineries produce fewer than 5,000 cases per year. Similar information appeared for Washington, except that here 90% of all Washington wineries produced under 5,000 cases per year.
The Quote/Background: October 2 was the release date for a highly touted Washington-Oregon spotlight in the Vintages catalogue. Unfortunately, of the seven wineries with wines in the release, only two wineries were in this trade show: Del Rio Vineyards and Chateau Ste. Michelle. So I had no chance at this show to taste any Northwest wines being released on October 2. The show was originally to be held in the spring of 2020 but it was shut down on March 17 along with everything else, to reduce the spread of covid-19. The wines were already in Toronto, so what we tasted this morning were wines principally from 2016-2018, with a few from 2019 and 2020, and some from 2015 as well. I went to the show to taste on1y chardonnays. There were 23 of them from Oregon, and I managed to taste 16 (one wine did not turn up). There six from Washington but I was only allowed to taste one of them. In the organization of the event, we were all seated six feet apart with no masks, while our masked servers and winery principals asked us what we wanted and then delivered it. Halfway through the tasting the show administration decided that we could not taste by varietal but by winery. At that point I had tasted most of the chardonnays, and I did not want anything else.
The Wines: All the chardonnays were remarkably good; we were not given many prices (I guess we had to ask but I had no time to wait for a winery rep). So my ratings are based on taste alone, without consideration for prices and value. Wines in each tier are listed alphabetically by winery name.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality Rating terms):
-A to Z Wineworks Oregon Chardonnay 2018 [$22.95CAD price volunteered]
-Angela Estate Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2017
-Foris Vineyards and Winery Chardonnay 2018 [$23CAD volunteered]
-Sokol Blosser Winery Estate Dundee Hills Chardonnay 2018 [Nov. Vintages $28]
-Trisaetum Coast Range Estate Chardonnay 2017 [$52CAD price volunteered]
-Trisaetum Coast Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019 [$39CAD price volunteered]
-Barnard Griffin Washington State Chardonnay 2018
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality Rating terms):
-A to Z Wineworks Rex Hill Seven Soils Chardonnay 2017 [$44.95CAD volunteered]
-Adelsheim Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019
-Adelsheim Vineyard Staking Claim Chardonnay 2018
-Angela Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
-Chateau Bianca Wetzel Estate Chardonnay 2017
-Citation Centerstone Willamette Valley Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2017
-Cristom Vineyards Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2019
-Domaine Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay 2018
-Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019 [Nov. Vintages]
-Winderlea Winery Chardonnay 2017
The Food: we each got a bento box from Salon by Alo Yorkville. I shared it with my wife when I got home. Coffee came from Hot Black, Queen Street west. The bento box had torched Norwegian salmon, heirloom cherry tomato with burrata, beef tartare and charred eggplant, and a cheesecake dessert. A Northwest cheese course would have been preferable.
The Downside: we were not supposed to taste by grape variety but rather by winery, which limited my interest. I cannot leap from pinot noir to pinot gris to syrah to riesling to chardonnay – and back – within four to eight bottles at a time.
The Upside: this was my first trade show in 19 months; I may have been a little rusty.
The Contact Person: Nicholas Pearce Wines – or
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): very good – 92.

** Some recommended  wines from the LCBO's Limited Time Offers selections...these are good value (see below)...on sale  through Sunday November 7...
[red] +59311 7 Deadly Zins Old Vine Zinfandel was $24.95, now $21.95, save $3 to Nov 7.
[red splurge]  CHÂTEAU PIPEAU SAINT-ÉMILION GRAND CRU VINTAGES +302018  WAS: $43.95 | NOW: $ 39.95 | SAVE: $ 4.00  to Nov 7.
[white]  FLAT ROCK RIESLING Niagara VQA VINTAGES +43281 WAS: $ 17.95 | NOW: $ 15.95 | SAVE: $ 2.00  to Nov 7.
[Christmas port] TAYLOR FLADGATE 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT Portugal VINTAGES +149047 | WAS: $ 69.95 | NOW: $ 62.95 | SAVE: $ 7.00 to Nov 7

This is the October Blue Moon Release for Best Wines Under $20
W+256552    CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY    Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $19.95  MVC/QPR: 90
W+599274    LOOSEN BROS. DR. L RIESLING    Qualitätswein    2020    $15.95     MVC/QPR: 89.
MVC/QPR: 89.
W+19399    NIETO SENETINER SEMILLON    Valle de Uco, Mendoza    2019    $15.95 MVC/QPR: 89.
W+928580    SANTA CAROLINA GRAN RESERVA CHARDONNAY    Sustainable, DO Valle del Itata    2018    $18.95  MVC/QPR:  91
R+81588    CRASTO    DOC Douro    2019    $18.95    MVC/QPR: 89.

This is the October Blue Moon Release for Best Wines Over $20
W+431593    TAWSE LIMESTONE RIDGE-NORTH ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $21.95     MVC/QPR: 89.
W+346304    GRGICH HILLS ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2017    $67.95 MVC/QPR:  90.
R+22977    DOMAINE QUEYLUS RÉSERVE DU DOMAINE PINOT NOIR VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula    2016    $45.00     MVC/QPR: 89.
R+427500    WESTCOTT ESTATE PINOT NOIR    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2017    $29.95     MVC/QPR: 91.
Dessert+94110    HENRY OF PELHAM RED, VIDAL & RIESLING ICEWINE    Three-bottle gift set, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario        $99.95      MVC/QPR: 89
Fizz Splurge+490482    BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE    AC, France        $204.95 MVC/QPR: 93.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus Ryerson School of Journalism

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