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Wednesday, January 5, 2022



"SMART BUYS FEATURE"   [modestly priced wines]        

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 ---


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

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus Ryerson School of Journalism

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