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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for JANUARY 22, 2022

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for JANUARY 22, 2022

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 New Wines I Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---

REPORT ON RED WINES FROM RIBERA DEL DUERO SPAIN –

Spain's Ribera del Duero is home to the most Spanish iconic wine estates—- Vega Sicilia and Tinto Pesquera. Both have defined the taste and style of Ribera del Duero. This region has more great wines than any other in Spain.

-Hermanos Penez Pascuas El Pedrosal Crianza 2016 Ribera del Duero, LCBO +540070 $18.95:
a basic entry level wine at a good price for Ribera wines. Actually, it is rare to find Ribera del Duero for under $20 in Canada. This is all tempranillo from 20 year old vines, aged 12 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels. There's a lot of wine packed into this bottle. Although medium-bodied, it is warm and spicy, floral, with toasted ripe fruit and oak tones. Charcuterie and cheese boards work very well here as food pairings. 14.5% ABV, 4 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

-Legon Premium Vina Vilano 2018 Pedrosa Ribera del Duero, LCBO +270645 $29.95: 100% tempranillo, aged two years in French oak. Vineyards are 90 years old (on average) with some at 100 years plus. Rich nose, "pumpkin pie" spices, cooked plums, berries. Long wooded tannins with some olive complexity and a slightly bitterish finish. Should be great with all manner of roasts. Dryish, dense rich and plush on the mid-palate. 14% ABV, 2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

-Real Sitio de Ventosilla Pradorey Finca la Mina Reserva 2015, LCBO +995191 $36.95: 95% tempranillo, 3% cabernet sauvignon and 2% merlot, from a single vineyard. 18 months in French oak, six months in Nevers oak vats. Very savoury in tone (the cab and merlot seem to contribute nuances of eucalyptus), yummy fruit which just gets better as it aerates (do a double decant). Classic complex wine for Ribera del Duero at the median price point: black and red baked fruit (cherries, plums, berries) and even some garrigue in its herbs and smokey spices. Finish is smooth and velvety. Tasted over several days. 14.5% ABV, 2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

-Penafiel Silencio de Miros 2015 Raphael Vineyard Ribera del Duero, LCBO +21214 $86: 100% tempranillo grown at 1000 metres, aged in new French oak barrels. Fruity aromatic compounds are extracted: red currants, plums, forest floor nuances, raisinated grapes, mocha, spices, new oak tones, even a touch of sherry. At the end, everything comes together with a melding of flavours, in an extremely long finish. Tasted over several days. Probably even better after some aging, say a decade more in bottle through 2032. This vintage was rated at 96 points by Decanter in 2018. 14.5% ABV, 2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 94+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

** Some Recommended Wines from the LCBO's Limited Time Offers selections...these  are good value...on sale  through Sunday January 30...
 
[red]+168716  M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages was $13.95 LTO for $11.95 Save $2 until Jan 30 [buy a case!]
[rose]+279661 L'ORANGERAIE ROSE PAYS D'OC Sas Vignobles Lorgeril  WAS: $ 11.80  LTO for $ 9.80 SAVE: $ 2  Until Jan 30 [buy a case!]
[white]+286377 Cave Spring Estate Riesling regularly $19.95, LTO for $17.95 Save $2 until Jan 30
[splurge fizz] +462432 PIPER HEIDSIECK BRUT CHAMPAGNE  WAS: $ 60.30 LTO NOW: $ 55.30 SAVE: $ 5.00  Until Jan 30 – great for St. Valentine's Day

Jan 22 Wines Under $20
=========
W+389726    BOYA SAUVIGNON BLANC    Sustainable, Coast Zone, DO Valle de Leyda    2020    $14.95  MVC/QPR:  89.
R+160226    MONTE DEL FRÁ LENA DI MEZZO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO    DOC    2019    $18.95 MVC/QPR: 89.
R+488015    QUINTA DO ESPÍRITO SANTO    Vinho Regional Lisboa    2017    $13.95 MVC/QPR:  89


Jan 22 Wines Over $20
=========
Fizz+23971    JACQUES BRUÉRE CAP CLASSIQUE BLANC DE BLANCS SPARKLING    Traditional method, WO Robertson, South Africa    2011    $25.95  MVC/QPR:  89.
Fizz+113035    PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURE SERIES ICE CUVÉE SPARKLING ROSÉ    Traditional method, Icewine dosage, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $36.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+638445    MORANDÉ ADVENTURE VIGNO VIGNADORES OLD VINES DRY-FARMED CARIGNAN    Valle del Maule    2018    $28.95  MVC/QPR:  89.
R+12736    ENRICO SERAFINO PICOTENER NEBBIOLO    DOC Langhe    2018    $41.95 MVC/QPR:  89.
R+342824    CANNONBALL MERLOT    California    2019    $22.95  MVC/QPR:  89.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus Ryerson School of Journalism

REPORT ON RED WINES FROM RIBERA DEL DUERO SPAIN –

REPORT ON RED WINES FROM RIBERA DEL DUERO SPAIN –
 
Spain's Ribera del Duero is home to the most Spanish iconic wine estates—- Vega Sicilia and Tinto Pesquera. Both have defined the taste and style of Ribera del Duero. This region has more great wines than any other in Spain.
 
 
-Hermanos Penez Pascuas El Pedrosal Crianza 2016 Ribera del Duero, LCBO +540070 $18.95:
a basic entry level wine at a good price for Ribera wines. Actually, it is rare to find Ribera del Duero for under $20 in Canada. This is all tempranillo from 20 year old vines, aged 12 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels. There's a lot of wine packed into this bottle. Although medium-bodied, it is warm and spicy, floral, with toasted ripe fruit and oak tones. Charcuterie and cheese boards work very well here as food pairings. 14.5% ABV, 4 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
-Legon Premium Vina Vilano 2018 Pedrosa Ribera del Duero, LCBO +270645 $29.95: 100% tempranillo, aged two years in French oak. Vineyards are 90 years old (on average) with some at 100 years plus. Rich nose, "pumpkin pie" spices, cooked plums, berries. Long wooded tannins with some olive complexity and a slightly bitterish finish. Should be great with all manner of roasts. Dryish, dense rich and plush on the mid-palate. 14% ABV, 2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
-Real Sitio de Ventosilla Pradorey Finca la Mina Reserva 2015, LCBO +995191 $36.95: 95% tempranillo, 3% cabernet sauvignon and 2% merlot, from a single vineyard. 18 months in French oak, six months in Nevers oak vats. Very savoury in tone (the cab and merlot seem to contribute nuances of eucalyptus), yummy fruit which just gets better as it aerates (do a double decant). Classic complex wine for Ribera del Duero at the median price point: black and red baked fruit (cherries, plums, berries) and even some garrigue in its herbs and smokey spices. Finish is smooth and velvety. Tasted over several days. 14.5% ABV, 2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
-Penafiel Silencio de Miros 2015 Raphael Vineyard Ribera del Duero, LCBO +21214 $86: 100% tempranillo grown at 1000 metres, aged in new French oak barrels. Fruity aromatic compounds are extracted: red currants, plums, forest floor nuances, raisinated grapes, mocha, spices, new oak tones, even a touch of sherry. At the end, everything comes together with a melding of flavours, in an extremely long finish. Tasted over several days. Probably even better after some aging, say a decade more in bottle through 2032. This vintage was rated at 96 points by Decanter in 2018. 14.5% ABV, 2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 94+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Friday, January 14, 2022

* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS

* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS
  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
3.A GOOD MEAL IS HARD TO FIND; storied recipes from the deep South (Chronicle Books, 2020, 160 pages, $23 CAD hard covers) is by the team of Martha Hall Foose (recipes) and Amy C. Evans (illustrations). Both are also storytellers. Each of the 60 preps here are preceded by vignettes about Southern living, such as Francine's doughnut, Edna's blind date at a BBQ, or Camille's egg salad at a bridge club. Dee-lightful eccentricities, arranged by course (morning glories through lingering lunches through afternoon pick-me-ups, dinner dates and late-night takes...plus, of course, "anytime sweets". Great recipes and paintings (acrylics on wood panels) merge into whimsical stories based on whimsical characters. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 88.
 
 
 
4.ZERO PROOF DRINKS & MORE; 100 recipes for mocktails & low-alcohol cocktails (Robert Rose, 2021, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0675-2, $29.95 soft covers) is by Maureen Petrosky, an entertainment and lifestyle writer currently living in Pennsylvania. These are mindful concoctions devoted to socially-distanced happy hours at home. While Spring is the official season of the mocktail, it reminds us of better times. Lo-al (low-ABV) drinks are the obvious choices for the hotter climate of summer and the harshness of winter. She's got basic preps for syrups, shrubs, aperitifs, and spritzers. Mocktails are best as a day drink followed by lo-al happy hours. She's also got thirty pages of punches and pitcher drinks for that high volume party. Anything that reduces our alcohol consumption is a good necessity, such as the Michelada from Mexico. Most drinks can be tweaked upwards or downwards in quantities of add-ons. And every mocktail can have as much alcohol (if you need it) as you can pour into it – simply by topping up with a bland white wine. This is an infinitely expandable book once you have assimilated the basics. She's got easy ways to mix up flavours. Trendy titles include Bloody M, Rosemary Pear Bellini, Grilled Pineapple Mint Mojito, Lemongrass Cilantro Highball, and Grapefruit Radler. Certainly much better than a premixed non-al pretender bottle such as a gin clone, a bourbon clone, a tequila clone, which retail for $40 or more. Just use stuff like juniper berries and rum flavouring at home. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Apart from the punches and pitchers, drinks are for one person. Quality/price rating: 88.
 
5.FOOLPROOF BBQ; 60 simple recipes to make the most of your barbecue (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2021, 144 pages, $28.99 hard covers) is by Genevieve Taylor. It's a manual to home BBQ, with an emphasis on year-round fail-safe grilling. Material embraces equipment and techniques. The whole range of meats is covered: chicken, pork, beef, lamb, fish/seafood, veggies, even desserts. Well-worth a look, and a pretty good book in the "Foolproof" series. Quality/price rating: 87
 
6.FOOLPROOF ONE POT; 60 simple and satisfying recipes (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2021, 144 pages, $28.99 hard covers) is by Alan Rosenthal. It's another entry in the publisher's "Foolproof" series. It's open and shut: throw a lot on ingredients into a single pot or pan. These are the "acoustic" versions of the "electric" pots: no slow cookers or instant pots here, although the preps can be adapted to that equipment, Most recipes here are "low and slow" on top of the stove; some are pot bakes for the oven. There are both savoury and sweet preps. Vegan and vegetarian recipes are marked as such. There are two types of pot needed – deep and wide-shallow. Browning meats is a plus, as are side dishes which are mainly potatoes, rice, whole grains and pasta.  Easy-peasy. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
7.DUMPLINGS AND NOODLES; bao, gyoza, biang biang, ramen, and everything in between (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2020, 192 pages, $35 hard covers) is by the indefatigable Pippa Middlehurst (winner in 2018 as Britain's Best Home Cook) who actually makes all her own noodles and dumpling pastas. Her book is divided into three parts: dumplings, noodles, sauces plus sides and snacks. Great photographs of Pippa at work, a section on how to use this book, a pantry one can live with (variety of sauces, oils, pastes and vinegars) , types of equipment needed, and cooking from frozen. Dumpling wrappers and noodles are easily bought. She's got six meal planners for course suggestions, ranging from a Friday night in to a Vegan dinner to something for the kids. There are only two recipes for dumpling dough (these are all that you will need): fa mian and jiaozi-- both richly illustrated with photos and texts on technique.  There are plenty of sauce recipes, such as dan dan, spicy sesame, crunchy topping, XO sauce, chilli sauce, and others.  Typical preps include okonomiyaki (my fave), spring onion pancakes, rainbow soba salad, ramen eggs, and yakisoba. Not only for the adventurous cook – but also for the armchair chef. Highly recommended, especially as  a chef's reference book. Quality/price rating: 92.
 
8.BOWLS & BROTHS; build a bowl of flavour from scratch, with dumplings, noodles and more (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2021, 176 pages, $35 hard covers) is the follow-up book by the indefatigable Pippa Middlehurst. These are broth-based preps with layering, seasoning (sauces, crunchy bits, aromatics), and ultimate versatility: constructing a bowl from the bottom up for max texture and flavour. She continues along the lines of her "Dumplings and Noodles" book, from ramen to rice bowls. The layout and illustrations continue on from her first book, with separate chapters on noodles, hotpot, dumplings, rice and sweets. A lot of what she covers comes from foraging in her freezer and refrigerator plus a quick look at her shelf pantry for extras. The principles are exceptionally useful and have a wide application to what you can find at home. Not only for the adventurous cook – but also for the armchair chef. Highly recommended, especially as  a chef's reference book. Yum-yum to both books. Quality/price rating: 92.
 
9.CHINESE TAKEOUT IN 5; 80 of your favorite dishes using only five ingredients (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2021, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78713-653-3 $30 hard covers) is by Kwoklyn Wan, a UK chef who now teaches and demos Chinese cooking. Here here tells all, how to replicate Chinese takeout food at home in minutes. Alongside a basic pantry of five essentials (salt, pepper, soy sauce, sugar and oil), one can make a feast of easy dishes using the bare minimum. All major favorites are here, from Tom Yum Soup to Prawn Toast, Sweet Chilli Salmon and Lemon Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork Balls or Beef in Oyster Sauce, Eggplant Fritters and Chilli Ginger Crispy Tofu. All use only five key ingredients, all of which are readily available in local supermarkets. Wan has step-by-step instructions expert tips, and classically good photography. It's all arranged by major ingredient or course, from soups through apps, seafood, poultry, meats, veggies, and desserts. The condiments section has those notorious sauces such as wasabi mayo, five spice wedges, and lucky seven seasoning salt. Do it yourself, stay home, cook at home, and have fun with such as Chinese-style BBQ wings: 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook. 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: 88.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for JANUARY 8, 2022


WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for JANUARY 8, 2022
=======================================

"SMART BUYS FEATURE"   [modestly priced wines]        

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 New Wines I Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---

REPORT FROM ALSATIAN WHITE WINES Dec 14, 2021 –

I was given a half dozen bottles of Alsatian wine via Sopexa, to try pairing against a variety of Asian foods. Of course I shared the meal with my wife...

We started with Crémant d'Alsace Brut Dirler-Cadé 2016 and then Crémant d'Alsace Domaine Frey-Sohler 2012. Both were totally different.

The Crémant d'Alsace Brut Dirler-Cadé 2016 (LCBO +184357, $41) was Brut Nature (bone dry) with 60% pinot gris, 30% auxerrois, and 10% riesling, coming in at 12.4% ABV and 0.66 g/L residual sugar. Average age of the vines: 35 years. The wine has been certified by ECOCERT as biodynamic since the 2012 vintage. It was aged 24 – 32 months on lees, no dosage. The taste was compellingly dry and lemony, being driven by the auxerrois, with a soupcon of riesling on the mid-palate. The finish was lip smacking and appetite provoking. A very good first wine. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

The Crémant d'Alsace Domaine Frey-Sohler 2012 (LCBO +185511, $31.45) was all riesling and Extra Brut at 3.9 g/L residual sugar and 12.1% ABV. It sat for 9 (NINE!) years of aging on fine lees. It can be an aperitif or first course wine with bivalves. It had a riesling austerity that emphasized minerality, orchard fruit and lemons. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

The food Sopexa sent came from local chef Alex Pivnick; it included --

-Ontario salad leaves with terrific sesame miso vinaigrette, julienned daikon and carrot,
-Explosive spicy Thai sesame peanut noodles with vegetables and green onion,
-Smacked spicy cucumber salad, chiliflakes and shoyu, and
-good fatty Duck rillette.

Ending with underripe/tartish fruits: cactus pear, passion fruit, kiwi, and apricot.

The main condiment was chili crisp with peanut pieces.

With the food, we began with Pinot Blanc Joseph Cattin 2019 (LCBO +226642, $14.95) which was a bargain in a sea of pinot grigio from other countries. Pinot blanc has value in its unctuousness and thicker body. Residual sugar was 7 g/L and there was 12% ABV. On the palate, there was orchard fruit, especially white peaches, along with a yeast and citrus complexity. It certainly went with tasting samples of all the courses. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Other wines included Wilm Riesling Réserve 2019 (LCBO +11452, $19.95) just a tad dry with 2.4 g/L residual sugar and 12.55% ABV from the minerality of the terroir. Tangy citric tones with an underlying raciness on the mid-palate. I loved it with the duck rillete; it cut through the fat content. Should also do well with cream-sauced based seafood. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Then we had a chance to compare different styles of gewurztraminer. First up was the Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer 2020 (LCBO +373373, $17.95) with its 13.5% ABV and 14.9 g/L of residual sugar. It seemed to be totally lychee and peaches, exceedingly ripe fruit, long bitterish finish. Good with all manner of Asian foods. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

The last wine was the Willm Gewurztraminer Réserve 2019 (LCBO +269852, $17.95) with its 13.31% ABV and 18.39 g/L of residual sugar: it's all about tropical fruit, flowers and spices, from lychees to pineapples, to roses, to cinnamon. Everything lingers, and it is hard to beat at this price. Great with all manner of Asian foods. Terrific value. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
   
** Some Recommended Wines from the LCBO's Limited Time Offer selections...these  are good value...on sale  now through Sunday January 30.

[red]+168716  M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages was $13.95 LTO for $11.95 Save $2 until Jan 30 [buy a case!]
[rose]+279661 L'ORANGERAIE ROSE PAYS D'OC Sas Vignobles Lorgeril  WAS: $ 11.80  LTO for $ 9.80 SAVE: $ 2  Until Jan 30 [buy a case!]
[white]+286377 Cave Spring Estate Riesling regularly $19.95, LTO for $17.95 Save $2 until Jan 30
[splurge fizz] +462432 PIPER HEIDSIECK BRUT CHAMPAGNE  WAS: $ 60.30 LTO NOW: $ 55.30 SAVE: $ 5.00  Until Jan 30.

Wines Under $20
=========
W+196956     JOSEPH CATTIN PINOT GRIS    AC Alsace    2019    $15.95     MVC/QPR:  89
W+23972         PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CHARDONNAY    Sur lie, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake    2020    $19.95  MVC/QPR:  89
R+258673         G. MARQUIS THE SILVER LINE PINOT NOIR    VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake    $19.95  MVC/QPR:  89
R+64618       FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+20949         CHÂTEAU COURAC LAUDUN COTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES    AP    2017    $18.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+21282         CHÂTEAU LA COMMANDERIE DU BARDELET    AC Bordeaux    2019    $15.95    MVC/QPR:  89
R+548560         ALICE VIEIRA DE SOUSA RESERVE RED DOC Douro    2019    $16.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+492561         FARINA VALPOLICELLA    DOC    2020    $15.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+21087         CHÂTEAU LA PIROUETTE Cru Bourgeois, AC Médoc    2016    $18.95 MVC/QPR: 89

Wines Over $20
=========
R+461699          HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE BACO NOIR  VQA Ontario $24.95  MVC/QPR: 90


Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus Ryerson School of Journalism