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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Vinho Verde from Portugal...

Adega Ponte de Lima Grande Escolha Vinho Verde DOC 2021: this is a terrific vinho verde from a co-op that rises above the usual FFLLCC designation (Fresh and Fruity, Light and Lively, Crisp and Citrusy). It is all that and more, coming in at a reasonable 12% ABV with only 5 grams of residual sugar per litre. As an aromatic balanced blend of loureiro and alvarinho grape varieties, the latter contributes more than its share of complexity of tropical fruit, pear, and linden. The addition of alvarinho is a definite upgrade. The loureiro is from the Lima River valley while the alvarinho is from the Lima River slopes. Initial aromas are floral and citric, followed on the mid-palate with some passion fruit, and a long finish with some pear and lemon tones. Very refreshing for that patio/deck/terrace affair, or with light finger food such as sushi or shrimp, white meat skewered kebabs, or cold pasta salads. It's a winner. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

Saturday, August 20, 2022


M.Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc Cote du Rhone 2021, +245340 LCBO, $17.55 NOW on sale at $14.55 (save $3 a bottle) until September 11: "Belleruche" is French for "beautiful beehive". Chapoutier's company, which follows biodynamic principles such as night harvesting, has many beehives scattered throughout their sustainable properties in the Cote du Rhone. This is one of my fave white wines; my wife loves Belleruche Rouge with its grenache noir and syrah, also at the LCBO. The white uses grenache blanc, roussanne, viognier (with some light skin maceration), clairette and bourboulenc grapes, with the first two varieties dominating its vinous character. The nosing is strong, with botrytis-inflected bouquets of voluptuous flowers and aromas of grapefruit, pear, and melon leading to a mid-palate tasting of red fruit and honey (those bees!). On the nose, it seems sweet, but the residual sugar is a low 2 grams per litre. There is a modest acidity but some intense flavours from the wine being aged on its lees for half a year – just perfectly right for a refreshment on a hot summer day on the patio/deck/balcony/terrace/porch/beach etc. Also, some anise on the finish makes this a compelling accompaniment to grilled or poached fish. But do not overchill. It's one of the better values at the LCBO, and made even more so with its temporary price reduction of $3 a bottle. It is certainly worth buying by the case. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

Wednesday, August 17, 2022


The Date and Time:  August 16, 2022  3:30PM - 8PM
The Event: Travel South USA Media Event
The Venue: Malaparte TIFF
The Target Audience: travel writers and spirits writers
The Availability/Catalogue: we had three bourbons set before us as a tasting (see below), led by a very capable Mike McLean of MixxIT Canada By Beam Suntory. This was the major presentation from Kentucky, and, of course, the main reason for my attending.
The Quote/Background: The Travel South USA states represented in Canada included Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. There was also a rep from New Orleans and one from Atlanta. It was a trade fam tour to entice travel writers to explore the American south. There were many regional foods to be sampled (see below) and many cocktails to be tasted. The best appeared to be the Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail of Jim Beam Bourbon 1.5 oz, lime juice [no sugar] 1 oz., and topped up over ice with Gosling's no-al ginger beer. Dynamite. Hors d'oeuvre were passed while the reps were available for short talks with the travel writers. And then it was on to the bourbon tasting and thence to the BBQ buffet dinner.

The Bourbons:

**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Maker's Mark Kentucky Bourbon $45.45 LCBO +103747, 45ABV – very smooth, 70% corn and 30% red winter wheat. One of my personal faves.

***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Basil Hayden Kentucky Bourbon $55.95 (on sale at LCBO at $50.95 until Sept 12) LCBO +326025, 40% ABV – 63% corn and 37% rye, and thereby introduces savoury herby rye notes finishing with some grassiness.
-Jim Beam White Label Bourbon $30.95 (on sale at LCBO at $29.20 until Sept 12) LCBO +21378, 40% ABV – 77% corn

The Food: Oliver and Bonacini did the catering, beginning with the multiple hors d'oeuvre platters: tuna salad on a lettuce leaf; BBQ short rib on polenta; shrimp and hot sausage; lightly battered fried okra; fried chicken drumettes; and cheddar cheese tarts with carmelized onions and piped goat cheese cream. Each came on a bed of a different sauce: these 5 BBQ sauces are available online (Carolina Gold Classic   - South Carolina, Rendezvous Mild Barbecue Sauce  - Memphis, Alabama White BBQ Sauce – Alabama, Sam Jones Vinegar Sauce – North Carolina, Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ Original – Kansas City). These sauces were also put out for the buffet, and were easily available for mixing and matching and savouring. So the major food of the evening was a small buffet of fried chicken and corn bread waffle with scallions, short ribs and grits with collard greens, and smoked brisket and potato bun slider with macaroni. To top it off, there was a variety at the dessert table: southern pies (key lime, coconut cream, blueberry) and peach cobbler.
The Downside: music was too loud, and interfered with Mike's bourbon tasting.
The Upside: A chance to do wide tasting and nibbling around a variety of southern cuisine dishes.
The Contact Person: or
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for AUGUST 13,  2022 release.

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 for 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 Little While  ---

The Date and Time: Monday June 6  Noon to 4PM
The Event: Northwest Wine Expedition Trade Show
The Venue: Steam Whistle Brewing, Locomotive Hall, Bremner Blvd
The Target Audience: wine media, sommeliers, agents
The Availability/Catalogue: The BottleBooks catalogue of 192 products was online and accessible by mobile. Information was provided on the name of the product, AVA, types of grapes used, suggested pricing, and the like.
The Quote/Background: The potential usefulness of BottleBooks was shown by the host information on the event and making connections digitally.
The Wines: There were 192 wines (plus or minus, as there were last minute additions and subtractions). Many wineries were seeking representation in Ontario. Few had tech/sales  sheets. I only tasted Chardonnays and Sparkling wines. Among the latter, I certainly enjoyed:   Treveri Cellars Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay) NV   Four Stars 91+
 Treveri Cellars Blanc de Noir (Pinot Noir) NV Four Stars 91+
 Treveri Cellars Brut Zero (Chardonnay) NV  Four Stars  91+
 Sokol Blosser Bluebird Cuvee Sparkling 2019 (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Müller-  Thurgau, Muscat) Three and a half Stars 88 – 90

**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Revana Vineyards Alexana Chardonnay Terroir Series 2020 $46 retail Le Sommelier.
-A to Z Wineworks REX HILL Seven Soils Chardonnay 2019
-Adelsheim Vineyard Staking Claim Chardonnay 2018
-Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Chardonnay 2018
-Milbrandt Estates Chardonnay 2018
-Milbrandt Family Chardonnay 2020
-Centerstone Willamette Valley Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2017
-Citation Oregon Chardonnay Cristom Vineyards 2015
-Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2020
-Domaine Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay 2018 $26.95
-Foris Vineyards and Winery Chardonnay 2019 $23.95  DB Wine and Spirits
-Phelps Creek Lynette Chardonnay 2018
-Sokol Blosser Estate Dundee Hills Chardonnay 2019
-Stoller Family Estate DUNDEE HILLS CHARDONNAY 2020
-The Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay "The Eyrie" 2018
-Chateau Bianca Wetzel Estate Chardonnay 2019

***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-A to Z Wineworks Oregon Chardonnay 2021
-Adelsheim Vineyard  2019  Willamette Valley
-Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay 2020
-J. Bookwalter Readers Chardonnay 2020 (Chardonnay, 24% Viognier)
-K Vintners Substance 'Ch' Chardonnay 2020
-Woodward Canyon Washington State Chardonnay 2020
-Division Chardonnay Un 2020
-Phelps Creek Chardonnay Columbia Gorge 2019
-Elk Cove Vineyards Pike Road Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019
-Westmount Wine Co Westmount Chardonnay 2020

The Food: The Food Dudes provided many samples of hors d'oeuvre, such as reuben sliders, halloumi flatbreads with pears, chimichurri shrimp, tomato toasts with ricotta,  prime steak tartare, seed crusted tuna, and avocados with veggies. Some food was provided by Pacific Northwest suppliers looking for agents. But no one seemed to have any bread or other platform to display the large number of sauces and dips and preserves. Overall, my favourite was Cardamon Hills Chutney which had a variety of chutneys that included apricot, apple-ginger, tomato, mango and quince. Laurel Brand had a great series of hazelnut spreads, macadamia butter, and hazel nut chocolates.
The Downside: BottleBooks was affectionately known as BottleNecks by the Luddites
The Upside: it was a large space and there was plenty of room for elbowing.
The Contact Person:  and
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92 is...
... a new online platform connecting Ontario VQA boutique wineries to new customers.
They've asked me to review some of the VQA wine bottle products they have listed on their website,
and to let people know about the availability of these wines through I earn no money from the reviews listed below.
They are not resellers but a platform that provides a service to both the local VQA craft wineries and the customers as an intermediary. This should have great appeal to Ontario residents, especially for those who have ever wanted to buy VQA boutique wines (about 17 wineries are currently listed for Niagara, 2 for Prince Edward County, and Lake Erie North Shore will be listed soon), but cannot or don't feel like travelling to the individual wineries (such as myself, with no car).

Here is their URL:

--Konzelmann Estate Winery Gewurztraminer Late Harvest 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula.
Very aromatic with some tropical tones of melons and lychees, very much in the fruity Alsatian style of gewurztraminer. Yum. Cool fermentation in stainless steel, with typical concentrated gewurztraminer tones of spices, limes, some roses on the mid-palate. Best as an off-dry aperitif by the deck or porch or pool, or with fragrant cheeses, spicy and/or creamy foods, with a tad of bitter on the finish. Great with Asiatic foods. Twist-off closure. 11.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

--Strewn Premium Riesling Lively 2020 VQA Niagara Peninsula.
Here is a basic, all purpose semi-dry Ontario riesling that is lightly acidic with a smooth sweet tone on the mid-palate, and with some zestiness coming off the tongue. It's got all the elements of stone fruit (peaches, apricots, nectarines) plus the "lively" character of the lime-citrus mineral complex.
11.7% ABV. Residual sugar is 11.6 g/L. Probably best with all manner of light and white food such as white-fleshed fish, cooked pork roast, chicken. And, of course, extremely useful as a drink on the deck/patio/balcony/terrace/pool. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

--Icellars Estate Rose 2020 VQA Niagara Peninsula.
The current blend contains 9 different unspecified grape varieties from the Niagara Peninsula, which gives the producer much leeway in crafting a final blend. The label says strawberries and burnt sugar, and when I first opened the bottle I was immediately hit with the overpowering aromas of strawberries. Wow. Each of the grape varieties contributes distinctive fruit to the mix. So – depending on the vintage and the grapes available, the blend can change over the years. Very aromatic, emphasizing cherry-berry and orchard fruit layered under a tart bone dry cranberry-ish finish-length. A nice cheese wine from a very hot and dry vintage year. 13.1% ABV. Residual sugar is 5.9g/L. 100 cases made. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

--2027 Cellars Gamay Rose 2021 VQA Twenty Mile Bench. [$22]
This wine (all Gamay Noir) comes from the Foxcroft Block of the Wismer Vineyard on  the Twenty-Mile Bench. It has undergone a cold fermentation to complete dryness, and exhibits the typical red Gamay character of red berries on the palate, with some aromatics of  violets, black tea and some earthy rhubarb minerality. It is a light and balanced easy drinking wine for the patio/deck. Indeed, it can be an all-purpose free-standing social drink or aperitif or first-course wine.
394 cases. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

--Leaning Post Rose 2021 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake. [$22]
A first-time production for Leaning Post, and using all Pinot Noir: an immediately overwhelming sensation of strawberries and raspberries on the nose. Almost made me want to douse myself with this "perfume". Undertones of orange and lemons. Some sweetness on the mid-palate. Fermentation was begun in stainless steel before 43% of the wine was transferred to concrete for finishing and roundness (emulating the fired-clay vessels of early winemaking). The porous nature of the storage added to the length of the minerality, and also suggested some sour tart cherries on the finish.  An excellent wine for socializing. Personally, I loved it. Vegan-friendly. 5.5 g/L residual sugar. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

--Nomad at Hinterbrook Winery Garden Rose 2021 VQA Niagara Lakeshore. [$17.95]
Amazingly enough, this wine comes with a cork finish – very unusual in a sea of Ontario roses that use twisttops/screwcaps for what is basically a fresh quaffing wine. This suggests that aging is ok and might be a possibility, changing the aromatics to bouquets and promoting change to the wine's structure. I only had one bottle, so I might never know for sure. My first sense on tasting was the presence of some petillance, not enough to affect the nosing but enough to suggest that any light carbonation could actually enhance its ageability potential. The prickliness enhanced the cherry-berry basket of fruit flavours, and provided some refreshing melon tones to my palate. A very good wine for the patio/deck. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 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 August 14--
[red] Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon +226944, regularly $27.95, now $24.95, save $3
[red] Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile +408658, regularly $19.95, now $16.95, save $3
[white] Flat Rock Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula +286278, regularly $19.95, now $17.95, save $2
[rose]      JULIET PROSECCO ROSE DOC Italy +20979 regularly $14.95, NOW $12.95, SAVE $2
[splurge] La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay +962886, regularly $29.95, now $27.95, save $2
[splurge] Zenato Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC Veneto +413179, regularly $52.95, now $49.95, save $3

AUGUST 13 MAJOR THEME:  White Wine Magic
Note: This is what I call a New Moon release...A once-a-month release of physical wines to the LCBO shelves, unlike the Blue Moon releases of three-a-month...I'll cover mostly the in-store wines since the "Online Curated Assortment" has only small quantities...If I do mention an online order wine, then it will have OCA initials and a date in front of it.

OCA July 30, 2022 Sparkling+514323 BERLUCCHI '61 BRUT FRANCIACORTA DOCG Lombardy Italy 49 cases  $39.95. MVC/QPR: 91.

Wines Under $20
W+20599    FEATHERSTONE PINOT GRIGIO    Vegan, VQA Niagara Peninsula 2021 $17.95
MVC/QPR:  90
W+25613    MARTIN CODAX MARA MARTIN GODELLO    Vegan, DO Monterrei     2020    $17.95        MVC/QPR:  89
Rose+333260    CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CUVÉE D'ANDRÉE ROSÉ     VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake        2021    $18.95  MVC/QPR: 91
R+15763    BON COURAGE ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON    WO Robertson 2017    $15.95      MVC/QPR: 89
R+134544    MONTE DEL FRÁ BARDOLINO    DOC     2020    $16.95     MVC/QPR: 89

Wines Over $20
MVC/QPR:  89
R+973214    DI MAJO NORANTE RAMITELLO DOP Biferno Rosso    2016 $25.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+261784    PAPALE LINEA ORO PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA    DOP    Varvaglione Vigne & Vini    2017    $21.95 MVC/QPR:  90

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

Saturday, August 6, 2022

REPORT FROM The Living Vine Acid Trip: portfolio tasting & try-and-buy, June 15, 2022

REPORT FROM The Living Vine Acid Trip: portfolio tasting & try-and-buy, June 15, 2022
The Date and Time: Wednesday June 15, 2022 11AM to 3PM for trade
The Event: The Living Vine Acid Trip: portfolio tasting & try-and-buy
The Venue: Birreria Volo, College Street
The Target Audience: sommeliers, wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are in stock. There was a two page order list, divided by country (France, Italy, Spain, New World, Hidden Bench).
The Quote/Background: It was a great weather day, so all the tables were set up outside Volo in the street patio area, with umbrellas for shade.
The Wines: There were 66 wines, ciders and no-al; I did not taste all of them. Prices are licensee. Delivery is free in Toronto, $6 a case outside Toronto. Wines listed are either 6 packs or 12 packs.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Clos Roussely L'Escale Sauvignon Blanc 2020, $20.66
-Terres Dorees Beaujolais Le Ronsay, $17.96
-Fattoria Sardi Pet-Nat [sparkler], $23.36
-Massimago Garangega 2021, $26.96
-Raimones Orange NV Spain, $31.46
-Alta Alella Pet-Nat Rose 2021, $27.86
-Portal del Priorat Luno Montsant 2020, $23.36
-Bodegas Comenge Biberius 2020, $19.76
-Nikolaihof Terrassen Gruner Veltliner 2019, $25.16
-Mouflon Muscat 2021 [partial skin contact], $24.98
-Mouflon Pinot Gris+Riesling 2021 [orange], $26.79
-Mouflon Viognier60+Chardonnay20+Marsanne20 [orange, magnum], $56.35
-Bordlet Sidre Brut Tendre [France], $17.96
-Cambridge Road Peche Naturalist 2021 New Zealand, $33.36
-Folklore Chardonnay 2019 Western Australia, $15.99 [Vintages +19905 $17.95 retail]
-Hidden Bench Bistro Riesling 2017 VQA, $15.05
-Hidden Bench Bistro Chardonnay 2019 VQA, $19.71
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Langelier Polaris Muscadet 2020, $18.86
-Terres Dorees Bourgogne Pinot 2020, $26.96
-Orsogna Lunaria Ramoro Pinot Grigio, $19.76
-Cirelli Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Rose 2021, $23.36
-Antica Enotria Bianco 2020, $18.86
-Finca Fabian Sparkling NV [sauvignon blanc, viognier, chardonnay], $15.26
-Alta Alella GX Garnacha 2020, $20.66
-Meinklang Gruner Veltliner, $22.46
-Decideret Hip Hop Cider [dry hopped], $31.46
-Folklore Shiraz Western Australia, $17.65
-Jumpin' Juice Sunset [orange] NV, $33.26
-Jumpin' Juice Riesling NV, $33.26
-Alpamanta Breva Pais Pet-Nat Criolla 2021 Mendoza, $29.66
-Hidden Bench Bistro Pinot Noir 2019 VQA, $20.71
-Hidden Bench Locust Lane Rose 2021 VQA, $19,71
-Hidden Bench Nocturne Rose 2021 VQA, $19.71
-Hidden Bench Sauvignon Blanc Beton Methode 2021 VQA [concrete egg], $22.10
-Rachis & Derma Chardonnay 2020 VQA, $27.88
The Food: no food, but there was water.
The Downside: no food (bread cubes would have helped)
The Upside: "taste and try before you buy" – as the song says...
The Contact Person: or
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89