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Sunday, November 19, 2017

FOOD BOOK REVIEW -- THE PLAGIARIST IN THE KITCHEN (Unbound, 2017, 176 pages, $42.95 CAD) is by the redoubtable Jonathan Meades.

THE PLAGIARIST IN THE KITCHEN (Unbound, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 9781783522408, $42.95 CAD hardbound) is by the redoubtable Jonathan Meades, the UK journalist, TV personality, and filmmaker who also specializes in food. He says that this book will be the only cookbook he will ever write. Meanwhile, as this book does exist, it is his take in praise of the unoriginal recipe. Very very entertaining and provocative. It was funded by readers through the writer website "Unbound". You pledge for it in advance, and it gets published once it receives critical mass. This particular title was distributed in Canada by Penguin Random House. He says it "is an anti-cookbook, a recipe book that is also an explicit paean to the avoidance of culinary originality, to the daylight robbery of recipes, to hijacking techniques and methods, to the notion that in the kitchen there is nothing new and nor can there be anything new. It's all theft." So: ultimately, it is a basic book of workable standard classic recipes with his pithy and enlightening comments. Because it is British, it is all in metric, with no tables of equivalents or conversion charts. There is a an index, plus four pages of three columns each which feature the names of contributors/subscribers. There is a short bibliography of "books referred to" and presumably borrowed from. Most of the books are old, and most of the authors have since passed on. So there. The book could have been improved if it also used US volume measurements in the recipes; this would improve sales in the last remaining country on the planet to ignore metric. Quality/price rating: 88.


The Event: Annual Wines of Chile Toronto tasting

The Date and Time: Tuesday, November 7, 2017   11:30AM to 4PM
The Event: Annual Wines of Chile Toronto tasting
The Venue: ROM
The Target Audience: wine trade, with consumers at night 7PM to 9:30
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available in various contexts, ranging from GL through Consignment and Private Orders. The catalogue had full details on ordering, including prices, contact names, and Ontario agent names.
The Quote/Background: I attended the seminar this year. There was a wrinkle: none of the wines were in the trade show itself. There used to be a focus table with these wines. Instead, there were focus tables just for sparkling wines (this was new in 2017), top wines for licensees, and small producers' table. I managed to get around to all of them: the seminar, the tables, and then dabbled in the trade show itself. The seminar was conducted by Patricio Tapia, author of "Descorchados". He was assisted from time to time by agents or principals who were seated at separated round tables with lucky members of the trade who snagged a seat at the seminar. My ratings from the tables and the seminar are folded into the lists below.
The Wines: I did not taste every wine at the show. Most prices below are retail.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Morande Extra Brut NV Casablanca $30  Majestic
-Morande Extra Brut K.O. Secano Interior $23.95   Majestic
-Valdivieso Brut Charmat NV $12.99  Wine Lovers
-Anakena Ona Special Reserve Red Blend Cachapoal 2015 $19.95  Accolade Wines
-Aresti Family Collection Assemblage Curico 2012 $29.95 Southern Glazer's
-Caliterra Edicion Limitada M Colchagua 2015 $21.95  LCBO
-Caliterra Cenit Colchagua 2014 $21.95  Churchill Cellars
-Carmen Winemaker's Red Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo 2014 $29.95 Select Wines
-Carmen Gold Reserve Maipo 2013 $59.95 Select Wines
-Casa Silva Romano 1912 Vines Colchagua 2015 $27.90  Churchill Cellars
-Concha y Toro Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon Pirque 2014 $34.95  LCB0
-Emiliana Metodo Tradicional Chardonnay/Pinot Noir Casablanca Brut $17.95  PMA
-Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2014 Aconcagua $84.95 LCBO
-Perez Cruz Pircas de Liguai Single Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Andes 2013 $29.95
-San Esteban In Situ QV Blend Aconcagua 2014 $54.95  MCO
-San Esteban In Situ Laguna del Inca Blend Aconcagua $32.95
-San Esteban In Situ Signature Chardonnay/Viognier 2016 Aconcagua $17.95 LCBO
-Santa Carolina VSC 2012 Cachapoal $39.95   LCBO
-Santa Carolina Herencia 2010 Peumo  $69.95   Charton Hobbs
-Siegel Family Ketran 2013 Colchagua $80     JCipelli
-Valdivieso Caballo Loco Grand Cru Maipo $39.99  Wine Lovers
-Ventisquero Tara Chardonnay Atacama $47.95   LCBO
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Santa Ema Sparkling NV Leyda $34.95   ROUST
-Valdivieso Extra Brut TM NV $19.99  Wine Lovers
-Siegel Unique Selection 2013 Colchagua $39.95   JCipelli
-Ventisquero Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo 2012 $79.95  Univins
-Veramonte Ritual Chardonnay Casablanca $18.95  LCBO
-Veramonte Neyen Apalta 2012   $49.95   Epic Wines
-Arboleda Chardonnay Aconcagua Costa 2016  $19.95 LCBO
-Casa Silva Lago Ranco Sauvignon Blanc Otorno 2016 $27.95  Churchill Cellars
-Carmen Do Quijada #1 Semillon Colchagua 2016 Select Wines
-Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo 2015 $22.95  LCB0
-Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay Limari 2015 $19.95  LCB0
-Emiliana GE Syrah/Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua 2013 $79.95  PMA
-Emiliana Signos de Origen La Vanilla 2016 Casablanca $20  PMA
-Caliterra Tributo Petreo Colchagua 2015   Churchill Cellars
-Valdivieso Eclat Vigno 2010 Maule $34.95   Wine Lovers
-Santa Rita Bougainville Maipo 2012 EJ Gallo
-De Martino Legado Reserve Chardonnay Limari 2015 $21.35
-Errazuriz Max Reserva 2015 $20.09 Licensee LCBO
-Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo 2015   $17.81 LCBO Licensee
-Montgras Intriga Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo 2014  $22.95  LCBO
-Montgras Ninquen Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Colchagua 2014  $29.95  LCBO
-San Esteban In Situ Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Aconcagua $22.95    LCBO
The Food: empanadas (of course: beef, chicken, veggie), charcuterie and cheese boards, dips and breads.
The Downside: as with many trade shows these days, too many wines to taste in one go.
The Upside: I was grateful to be able to taste the seminar wines while seated, with enough time to write notes.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 91

Thursday, November 16, 2017

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK.. one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers, since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
9.GRILL SMOKE BBQ (Quadrille, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-715-2 $35 USD hardbound) is by Ben Tish, chef-director of UK's Salt Yard Group of restaurants. It opens up the 2017 season of BBQ books with "we were determined to make it [this book] different (hopefully) from other barbecue books out there, and to show you how versatile barbecuing can be". He emphasizes the big fat smokey flavours. His book is arranged by topic: breakfast and brunch, tapas and small plates (largest chapter in the book), large plates, sides, and desserts. His suppliers list embraces both the UK and North America. His preps include some basics such as brines and cures of smoked salt and butter, chorizo ketchup, mojo verde, plus crunchy shallot and garlic salsa cruda. Desserts include charcoal-grilled peaches with lavender honey and mascarpone ice cream, carmelized oranges with orange flower yogurt and honeycomb, and smoky rice pudding with pomegranate molasses. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89
101.JAPANESE PATISSERIE (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-810-9 $24.95 USD hardbound) is by James Campbell, head pastry chef at many UK restaurants (including Michelin-starred ones). Currently, he;s a product development manager for Marks & Spencer specializing in Japanese food. So here are 50 elegant recipes for desserts and confectionery with a contemporary Japanese twist: cookies, macarons, tarts, gateaux and savouries. Fusion at its finest, arranged by form (small cakes, sweet tarts, large cakes, "desserts", cookies, savouries). Try furikake popcorn, gyoza chicken wings, yakitori chicken, match-pink peppercorns-wild strawberry madeleines, or apricot-tahini-sesame donuts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 87.
11.GLUTEN-FREE COOKING FOR TWO (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-82868-1, $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Carol Fenster, a food writer who has written many GF books and articles. She has also appeared on PBS. Here she has 125 downsized preps for two people, divided as to breakfast-brunch, soups-stews-sandwiches, mains, sides, breads and desserts. She's also got the basics of shopping and stocking and planning for the smaller household, which makes the book more valuable for any couple who are eating less of almost anything, not just GF foods. Every prep has details on kitchen equipment and kitchen waste, plus of course the usual nutritional data. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Very useful as a couples' cookbook. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements as noted, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87
12.FOOD SWINGS (Ballantine Books, 2017, 276 pages, ISBN 978-1-101-96714-0, $32 USD hardbound) is by Jessica Seinfeld, food author of three other cookbooks. She's also the president and founder of GOOD+ Foundation which supports more than 100 anti-poverty programs in the US. It's a mixed book of some 125 preps ranging from healthy through indulgent: virtue and vice. It's divided into two: Virtue is up first, with breakfast, meals, and dessert, followed by Vice, with breakfast, meals, and dessert. It's a good concept. There's no real nutritional data, but the ingredients clearly let you know what is a vice and what is a virtue. Virtue is celebrated with quinoa and date muffins, ginger salmon with sesame cucumbers, and whole roasted cauliflower with tomatoes and garlic. Vice is celebrated with fluffy buttermilk pancakes and roasted berry syrup, lasagna bolognese, and chocolate fudge cake. You're probably safe if you just indulge at lunch times. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87.
13.THE PRESERVATORY (Appetite by Random House, 2017, 260 pages, ISBN 978-0-14-753005-9, $32 CAD hardbound) is by Lee Murphy, who owns and operates The Preservatory and Vista D'oro Farms & Winery in South Langley BC. She makes artisanal west coast preserves that are sold internationally, including Harrods of London. She's got 80 "simple" preps for creating and cooking with preserves all year long. Part One has 40 recipes for the seasons, beginning with spring. Part two has recipes for using preservatives in courses: brunch, aperitvo, dinner, and dessert. She's got a resources list for buying foods and equipment, and notes for making gifts. Just ahead of the index there is a list of 101 uses for jam, none of which involve  toast. It's a first rate book with detailed food styling and photography by Janis Nicolay. There are savoury Dutch (bouncing) babies, brandade croquettes, and cheesy grits. Preserves include rhubarb and vanilla, strawberry with pistachio and vanilla, and raspberry with merlot and peppercorn. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes; at least it had metric conversion charts at the back. Quality/price rating: 86.
14.THE GREENHOUSE COOKBOOK (Penguin Canada, 2017, 294 pages, ISBN 978-0-14-319828-4, $24 USD, paperbound) is by Emma Knight, co-founder of Greenhouse Juice Co. in Toronto. With her are Hana James (also a co-founder), Deeva Green and Lee Reitelman (the latter two are product developers at Greenhouse). There are 100 recipes here from the company: 50 to eat with a fork, spoon or fingers, and 50 to drink. It's a boon at breakfasts, and the food is sturdy enough to make lunch last 'til dinner. Some heavy logrolling helps push the book along. The material on plant-based eating and DIY juicing is first rate: sun-dried tomato tapenade; vanilla bean cheesecake with coconut whipped cream; and chocolate hemp peanut butter balls. For drinks, try The Good (spinach, romaine and cuke), East of Eden (romaine, kale, celery), TKO (butternut, zuke, celery), or Brazil Nut Milk. At the end there are a series of cleanses, with some pre- and post-cleanse menus to enjoy. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87.
15.A NEW WAY TO BAKE (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 319 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-95471-8, $26 USD paperbound) is From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart. These are classic recipes updated with better-for-you ingredients from the modern pantry. It's loaded with high reference value data, mostly at the end under The Basics chapter. The book is not really about any new techniques of baking. It's mainly using higher nutritional whole gains and gluten-free flours. There are ingredient listings for the flours and the sugars plus some valuable advice on grinding your own flour. It's arranged starting with breakfast and then moving on to cookies, brownies, bars, pies, tarts, crisps, cobblers, cakes, cupcakes, breads and rolls. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Baking is exact if it is scaled, and metric is the lingua franca of scaling. Quality/price rating: 86.
16.EVERYDAY SEAFOOD (Quadrille Books, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-915-6, $29.99 USD hardbound) is by Nathan Outlaw, who has five restaurants in the UK. One of them is the only seafood restaurant in the world to hold two Michelin stars since 2011. His previous cookbook was awarded "Cookery Book of the Year" in 2013 at the UK Food and Travel Magazine Awards. Here he has 100 recipes for both fish and seafood, with an endorsement by Jamie Oliver. He begins with apps, moves to the sea with raw foods, then on to pickled/marinated seafood, soups, salads, baked seafood, broiled and BBQ seafood, and then some 9 desserts for those Brits who refuse to leave the table without their pudding. This is an engaging collection of preps, but of course the UK orientation means that it might be a little hard to find sea robins for your BBQ. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
17.THE HAVEN'S KITCHEN COOKING SCHOOL (Artisan, 2017, 376 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-673-7, $35 USD hardbound) is by Alison Cayne, founder of Haven's Kitchen (cafe, cooking school, event space). She's also involved with Edible Schoolyard. Her log rollers include Tom Colicchio, Amanda Hesser, and Gail Simmons. These are recipes and inspiration to build a lifetime of confidence in the kitchen. There are about 100 recipes, all the basics, with some movement in the variations to allow for creativity. Everything seems to be covered by "masterclass" topics: grains/beans, fritters, veggies, soups, eggs, salads, animal protein, sauces, and desserts. It's a good layout with varying typefaces and nice leading. There are many photos of techniques. For example, the chapter on fritters includes all the technique basics and descriptions, plus preps for quinoa broccoli patties, latkes, veggie tempura, pakora, falafel, arancini, and apple beignets. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
18.THE BOOK OF GREENS (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 318 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-984-4, $35 USD hardbound) is by Portland's Jenn Louis, chef and TV cooking competitor with a string of awards. The award-winning (IACP, MFK Fisher) focusing food writer is Kathleen Squires. There are more than 175 recipes here for 40 varieties of greens from agretti, arugula to watercress, and water spinach. Along the way we are introduced to celtuce, minutina, several varieties of spinach, red orach, spigarello, and some wild and foraged greens (extending the list beyond 40, to include fiddlehead, burdock, ramp greens (don't pick too many), lemon balm – ten of them, plus some recipes following. From the main section there is braided bok choy with apples and bacon, bagna cauda, kale with anchovy, moong dal and basmati rice kitchari with beet greens, salt-roasted Yukon gold potatoes with radicchio and crème fraiche, and dandelion greens with prosciutto and olive picnic cake. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both avoirdupois and metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
19.NOPALITO; a Mexican kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 242 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57828-1 $30 USD hardbound) is by Gonzalo Guzman who is a chef-partner with two San Francisco locations of Nopalito. Food and travel journalist Stacy Adimando is the focusing food writer. It comes with some strong logrolling, including Rick Bayless, who declares the salsa chapter  as "so much joy to be had". There are about 50 pages of basics (food, pantry, equipment) followed by small plates (platillos pequenos), big plates, drinks and desserts, and 17 salsa recipes. He's got adobo-rubbed trout in banana leaves, salsa-dipped griddled chorizo and potato sandwiches, short rib stew, tamales with red spiced sunflower seed mole, sliced cabbage salad, and smashed shrimp with eggs and salsa. About 110 preps in all. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 88.
20.SPANISH MADE SIMPLE (Quadrille Publishing, 2016, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-760-2, $24.99 USD hardbound) is by chef Omar Allibhoy, once with Ferran Adria, then his own restaurant in Notting Hill London, and now he has six Tapas Revolution restaurants across the UK. He gives us the basics in family-style for 100 classic Spanish dishes, each one full of Mediterranean-type sunny flavours. His chapters are arranged by course, beginning with nibbles, meat, game, fish, seafood, eggs, poultry, veggies, salads, soups, stews, pulses, paella, rice,and ending with desserts. Begin with salt cod fritters, mushroom gratin with ham mayonnaise, grilled cuttlefish, scallop and serrano ham gratin served in the shell, or rice with sausages, ribs and cauliflower. All very tasty, with good upfront plated photography. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
21.THE LOST KITCHEN (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-0-553-44843-6 $32.50 USD hardbound) is by Eric French, owner-chef of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine. It's located in an 1834 gristmill. In fact, French grew up in Freedom, working at her father's diner. But now – "Each spring, the day the phone line opens to accept reservations, the restaurant books up fore the entire year". There are about 100 recipes here, mainly from the restaurant itself, with notes about Maine and its food. The arrangement is by season, spring through winter, with three sub-categories of firsts, mains, and sweets, and 7 – 8 recipes for each category. This can also serve as a three course menu for several days of the season. As with most restaurant books of this type, it is certainly stylish and useful to the adherents. It also makes for quite a useful gift to anyone from Maine. And some cookbook collectors specialize in restaurant cookbooks for their non-recipe stories about the place and the region and the people/suppliers/employees. Hers is about 16 miles west of Belfast, a midcoast Maine town. Expect razor clam seviche with from-scratch saltines, rhubarb spoon cake, Maine shrimp roll, ramp and fiddlehead fried rice, halibut nicoise, skillet mussels, and elderflower fritters. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 88.
22.CASA MARCELA (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, 266 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-80855-3, $30 USD hardbound) is by Marcela Valladolid, co-host of The Kitchen on Food Network, and host of five seasons of Mexican Made Easy, also on FN. This is her third book, and based on what the eight log rollers say (including an Iron Chef, Rachel Ray, Eva Longoria) it is all about family traditions and family life that intersect with Mexican food. It ranges from apps through salads, soups, sides, salsas, mains, with breakfasts, drinks, and desserts. For salads, typical are chickpea and bean, kale and cilantro, pomegranate and chicken with lettuce cups, watermelon-mint with queso fresco. It's a combo of California and Mexican food, as would be found on the Tijuana-San Diego stretch. Red chile lamb stew is a winner, as is huita waffle salmon. But, meaning no disrespect,  there are far too many personal family pix of her and her family at the expense of finished plates of the food. The stories are fine, and offer insights, but not the photos. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
23.SIX SEASONS; a new way with vegetables (Artisan, 2017, 400 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-631-7 $35 USD hardbound) is by Joshua McFadden, executive chef/owner of Ava Gene's  and Tusk in Portland OR. It comes with log rolling by David Chang and Alice Waters. His collaborator is Martha Holmberg, former editor of Fine Cooking and CEO of the IACP. He believes that there are six seasons for veggies: spring (tender), early summer (fresh and green), midsummer (colour and variety), late summer (lush textures), fall and winter (storage roots). Each has a coloured margin for differentiation. From earlier stints at Momofuku in NYC through Four Season Farm in coastal Maine, McFadden cultivated a further love of veggies. His book is part memoir, beginning with basic recipes and larders. It goes in seasonal order, from asparagus and peas in spring to carrots and celery in early summer, through broccoli and summer squash in midsummer, and corn, eggplant, tomatoes in late summer. Fall has cabbage family greens, while winter has root veggies. Life is full. The 225 preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! Cooking with the Wolfman (Douglas & McIntyre)

COOKING WITH THE WOLFMAN; INDIGENOUS FUSION (Douglas & McIntyre, 2017, 274 pages, ISBN 978-1-77162-163-2 $29.95 CAD paperbound) is by David Wolfman and Marlene Finn. He's a member of Xaxli'p First Nation and a culinary arts prof at George Brown College in Toronto since 1994. He's also host of the TV show "Cooking with the Wolfman". Finn is Metis, and with the Wolfman she does cooking demos and workshops on Indigenous food and family nutrition, as well as consulting for First Nations restaurants. Over the years Wolfman has been asked by First Nation members (and others) for recipes dealing with any of their occasional surplus of game, fish, and wild edibles. He's now an internationally recognized expert in wild game and traditional Indigenous cuisine. Many preps have been worked out and/or demonstrated via his TV show and workshops. And the reader gets the benefit of this. The book is an interesting weave of storytelling behind the recipes, classical cooking techniques, traditional ingredients, cultural history, and relationships with food. He's got some step-by-step photos for techniques. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: the adventuresome, those wishing to learn more about Indigenous cooking from a master teacher.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: campfire bear onion balls with mole sauce; curried caribou in pastry with blackberry dip; elk carpaccio on salad greens; chestnut and prune turkey roulade with Saskatoon berry compote; breaded cod tongues; dandelion and pepper stuffed salmon; sea asparagus crab cakes; fried coconut breaded smelts.
The downside to this book: while the index has pages noted in bold-face, the words are in tiny typeface.
The upside to this book: a unique cookbook, great gift book.
Quality/Price Rating: 94.

Monday, November 13, 2017

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! Modern Cider (Emma Christensen, Ten Speed Press)

MODERN CIDER (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 186 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-968-4, $23 USD hardbound) is by Emma Christensen, author of "True Brews". She makes her own, of course, and this  guide, with simple recipes to make ciders, perries, cysers, shrubs, fruit wines, vinegars, and other drinks. Hard ciders are incredibly easy to make. I used to do cider for 10 years, using unpasteurized apple cider juice from the supermarket. I only stopped doing it when, for PC reasons, the supermarket decided to pasteurize it. This actually killed any yeast I would be adding...for shame! The book comes with six heavy-duty log rollers. The primer takes the first 60 pages, followed by such topics as beginner ciders, cider family (perry and cysers), modern ciders, ciders for beer lovers (my fave chapter), apple wines, traditional (UK, Breton) ciders, and even soft non-alcoholic ciders and vinegars. There's a resources list and a glossary to complete the reference package. Well worth a look since cider is the current thing these days, being led by the millennial charge. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: those who want to make their own cider
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cysers are ciders fortified with honey.
Quality/Price Rating: 95

Sunday, November 12, 2017


1.Chateau des Charmes Pinot Noir 2015 Estate Grown % Bottled VQA NOTL, +454967, $16.95 LCBO: A nifty young wine, with some forest floor (mushrooms, earth) to complement the red fruit (strawberries are suggested). Estate grown and bottled. Good written notes on the back label are spot on. Just under subtle oaking, with a moderate intensity of medium flavours. Ready to drink now. Cork closure, 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2016 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $14.95, +81653 LCBO: A consistent wine, year in and year out, my fave Ontario chardonnay at this price point. The label has more info, stressing a lighter body and more fruit finish for 2016 (orchard fruit) with some buttery nuanced complexity from the barrel fermentation, and with a longer finish. Aged in oak for 9 months. The palate is just as rich as previous vintages, but with slightly less alcohol and RS=7 g/L. Cork closure, keep it around for awhile. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Family Estate Chardonnay 2015 VQA Short Hills Bench, $19.95, +268342: slated for Vintages release November 25 [but now available online and at the winery], this bottling continues the tres elegante Burgundian character of earlier years. Some ripeness, pleasant balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place, wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. Overall balance of fruit and wood, vanilla, modest spices. 13.5% ABV, cork closure, BF in 90% French oak (25% new), BA for 8 months. Tasted October 25, 2017. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Brut Blanc 2015 AOP Sud de France, +438838, $19.95 Vintages: from Haute Vallee de l'Aude in Languedoc comes this excellent under $20 Cremant derived from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, indigenous Mauzac, and Pinot Noir. The nose is textbook white: flower, pepper, honey, green apple, biscuit; the mousse is excellent and full. Long dazzling finish. Hand harvested with disgorged bottles (Cremant). 12.5% ABV. Good comparison with the late lamented Saumur Brut which was delisted by the LCBO in the spring. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Gerard Bertrand Terroir Saint Chinian 2015 +370247, $17.95 Vintages: the last vintage here was 2011 at $1 less. Bertrand has a Terroir series embracing the range of Sud de France wines. Here it is older vines in a schist area of Languedoc, specifically syrah and mourvedre. Expect black fruit all over the place (even black olives, mocha and garrigue). The "f" word comes to mind: full, fat, fleshy, fabulous at this price. One third of the wine is aged for nine months in barrel, the rest matured in vats and then blended before bottling. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Cloudline Pinot Noir 2015 Willamette Valley Oregon +159970 $26.95 Vintages: Domaine Drouhin introduced the Cloudline label in 2002. It proved a very popular alternative to its more showy siblings, and serves as a second label for the Domaine. Certainly it is very affordable. Lots of approachability with its fruit forward elegance. Earthy with "black and blue" fruit tones. Nutty with mocha nuances. 13.5% ABV. For travellers to Quebec, the 2016 is now at SAQ. The back label of this 2015 sample bottle was entirely in French...Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, +128629, $19.95 Vintages: black fruit dominates this substantial wine. Made from older vines (50 years old). Ageing in new French oak barrels for a year, still needs time to resolve despite 4.5 years of age. 14.1% ABV, a hefty thick wine that dominates. Best for carnivores? You decide. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Fess Parker Pinot Noir 2014 Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley +209858 November 25 Vintages, $64.95: lots of bright red fruit such as raspberries and strawbs, with spicy-toast woodsy points and some vanilla and pepper, finishing off at 12 months in 1/3 new French oak. Definitely the "f" word: fruit forward, fat, fleshy, French oak, from the F Block of 18 year old vines. A whopping 14.1% ABV may still need to be tamed despite its quaffability. Juicy-jammy California wine all the way. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2014 Oregon +961284 $52.95 Vintages November 25: both black and red fruits are in play here, with clear definitions of black cherry, plum, dark cherry, black berry, and a Burgundian balanced sensibility with some earthiness. Long fat finish, capable of a decade or more in aging. Gravity flow, French oak barrels. 14.1% ABV but no hot finish. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Vinha do Cais Ribeira Douro Reserva 2014 +523639 Vintages $13.95: a fine wine from the vineyards of Barao de Vilar in the hills of Douro Superior. The red blend contains tourigas nacional/franca/barroca plus tinta roriz. The wine is named after one of the top 31 streets in the world for walking (Conde Nast). The wine is a little dense right now and needs to open up, despite three years in bottle: I did a double decant over three days and – bingo – great fruit, soft aromas, fat/fleshy/fresh/fruity flavours, at a marvelous price. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Maynard's Port Wine Encyclopedia, Vol. III, $49.95, +516963 LCBO Gift Purchase:
this is a great introduction for tasting port, a sort-of tutorial. And very useful for a Christmas gift in that price range (it is actually five dollars cheaper than last year's vol. II). Here are six of the Van Zeller family's Barão de Vilar's fine Ports for this sampling set. They have been in the business of port for 16 generations (since 1652); the LBV concept was originated by them in 1954. The six tubes are 60 mL each: 12 ounces in total. Just perfect for 2 – 3 persons, say about $18 each, for that educational experience and fun. There are notes on the inside of the box (which looks like a book), and if you want more, there is always Wikipedia. The first three may not seem much like a bargain (white, ruby, tawny) but the latter three are bargains in this context (reserve tawny [10-20 yrs, 40-year old tawnies, plus a Colheita 2006 single vineyard). There are tasting notes provided (the tawnies regularly get over 90 points or gold medals just about everywhere) as well as suggested pairings with food. Unfortunately, the food pairings are difficult since the quantity of wine is so small: by the time a couple have tasted and enjoyed the ports, there is little left but the aromas. But it is worth a shot if you go at it alone. One suggestion: the package will cost a bit more, but it may be appropriate to just keep the ports on the dark side by dropping the white port and adding a 20 year old or LBV in addition to the Colheita, a sort-of comparison with all the tawnies. White ports are about $17 a full bottle, but Colheitas are twice that. My fave, of course, was the 40-year old tawny, with its complicated nose, nuttiness, and dried fruit tones on the palate. Kudos all round, better than volume II. Quality/Price rating of the package is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
12.Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2016 California, +369686 Vintages Essentials $19.95: a killer wine winner in the USA since 1982, the KJC is now at Vintages Essentials, although given that the brand is sixth in US sales by dollar values (sells for $12.10USD on average) and should be selling equally well here in Canada, it ought to be a General List wine. This month (Nov 5 – Nov 25) it is also an LTO with $2 off each bottle (=$17.95). Time to load up, for it's been 95% barrel-fermented and exploits a creamy palate and finish. All chardonnay from Monterey (47%), Santa Barbara (30%), Mendocino (22%) and Sonoma (1%) is done up sur lie and aged five months in older French and US oak with 11% of it new. Good integration of off-dry tropical flavours on the mid-palate with vanilla and cream, followed by slight oak nuances in the finish. A key example of a winemaker's wine blend: consistent from year to year. With a plastic cork there is no need to store – drink as you buy. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for November 11, 2017.

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for November 11,  2017.
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 wines available through the LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at or at
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone tastes like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
20 under $20
R+17400    PIERRE AMADIEU ROMANE-MACHOTTE GIGONDAS    AC    2014    $19.95        14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+140889    DONATIEN BAHUAUD LES GRANDS MORTIERS VOUVRAY    AC    2016    $19.95    11.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+310219    LUZÓN SELECCIÓN 12 MESES CRIANZA    DO Jumilla    2013    $18.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+370247    GÉRARD BERTRAND SAINT CHINIAN SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE    AP    2014    $16.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+388645    ORESTIADI LUDOVICO    IGT Rosso Sicilia    2009    $19.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+423509    HACIENDA VALVARÉS    DOCa Rioja    2012    $18.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+482505    CR GOLD 5 MONASTRELL/SYRAH    DO Jumilla    2013    $17.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+672345    HENRI BOURGEOIS PETIT BOURGEOIS SAUVIGNON BLANC    IGP Vin de Pays du Val de Loire    2016    $15.95 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+984997    TEDESCHI CAPITEL NICALO    IGT Rosso delle Venezie    2015    $17.95  14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+5199    THE LACKEY SHIRAZ    Australia    2016    $17.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+128629    LUIGI BOSCA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Mendoza    2013    $19.95 14.1% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+256552    CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY    Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2015    $18.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+277665    SACRED HILL MARLBOROUGH PINOT NOIR    Marlborough, South Island    2014    $19.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+278325    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHENIN BLANC    WO Western Cape    2014    $16.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+561142    CATHEDRAL CELLAR SHIRAZ    WO Western Cape    2014    $16.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+291989    ABAD DOM BUENO MENCÍA    DO Bierzo    2013    $16.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+258806    ROSEWOOD SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING    VQA Niagara Escarpment    2016    $15.95
11.2% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+464537    DÜRNBERG L & T FALKENSTEIN GRÜNER VELTLINER    Niederösterreich    2015    $15.95    11.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+494682    CAVE DE RASTEAU GRANDE RÉSERVE VISAN    AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages    2015    $15.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
R+523639    CAIS DA RIBEIRA RESERVA    DOC Douro    2014    $13.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88.
20 over $20
R+62711    DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIÈRE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE    AP    2013    $44.95      15 % ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+92361    ALPHA ESTATE S.M.X. RED    Unfiltered, PGI Florina    2013    $29.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+167700    ARDAL RESERVA    DO Ribera del Duero    2006    $21.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+283499    BORGOGNO BAROLO    DOCG    2012    $45.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+471540    LE DOMAINE SAGET POUILLY-FUMÉ    AC    2014    $21.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+475996    CORTE MEDICEA ATHOS    IGT Toscana    2014    $28.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+685263    LUCE    IGT Toscana    2014    $114.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+67231    LA CREMA RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY CHARDONNAY    Russian River Valley, Sonoma County    2015    $39.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+148866    CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY    VQA Prince Edward County    2014    $28.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+209148    MARQUÉS DE MURRIETA FINCA YGAY RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2013    $29.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+287268    CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES PAUL BOSC ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake    2013    $24.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+450510    RENWOOD PREMIER OLD VINE ZINFANDEL    Amador County    2014    $26.95
14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W+454587    HAVENS CARNEROS NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY    Carneros, Napa Valley    2015    $24.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+578625    FLAT ROCK NADJA'S VINEYARD RIESLING    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2016    $24.95    11% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+622571    CLOS DE LOS SIETE    Uco Valley    2013    $22.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+639641    QUAILS' GATE STEWART FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2015    $43.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+982413    RIDGE LYTTON SPRINGS    Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County    2014    $64.95 14.4% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+385757    LA CREMA WILLAMETTE VALLEY PINOT NOIR    Willamette Valley    2015    $38.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Event: Devour! (Seventh edition) Opening Gala Reception (presented by Taste of Nova Scotia)

The Date and Time: Wednesday, October 25, 2017   5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
The Event: Devour! (Seventh edition) Opening Gala Reception (presented by Taste of Nova Scotia)
The Venue: Acadia University, Fountain Commons, Wolfville Nova Scotia.
The Target Audience: well-wishers and foodies.
The Availability/Catalogue: In style, the gala was much like similar benefits in Toronto – a walkaround with beverage stations (wine, beer, cider and spirits) and food stations. It was the usual grazing pattern, except in our case, it is in Nova Scotia. So most of the beverages and all of the food were mostly available only locally.
The Quote/Background: This Opening Gala used to be part of a package with the Opening Gala Film, but this year the two got split (you could do one or both), which suited our personal timetable better. Twelve of Nova Scotia's finest chefs came together to create sensory explorations that celebrated local cuisine. Participating were: Renee Lavallee (The Canteen on Portland), Charlie Burtt (The Port Pub), Margie Lamb (Meadowbrook Meat Market), Stephanie Ogilvie (Brooklyn Warehouse), Ludovic Eveno (Agricola Street Brasserie), Martin Ruiz Salvador (Fleur de Sel), Matthew Krizan (Mateus Bistro), Chris Bolt (The Press Gang Restaurant and Oyster Bar), Virginia Fynes (The Union Street, with a unique venison slider), Ingrid Dunsworth (The Cake Lady), Peter Welton (Chartwells at Acadia University). Plus Jonathan Joseph from Argyler Lodge and Restaurant was there – a delicious smoked salmon cake [from Willy Krauch?} AND the Argyler Lodge was the Judge's Choice at this year's Chowder Smackdown. They did a terrific smoked haddock and corn chowder. But the best food I had there (and I went back for seconds) was from Brooklyn Warehouse and Chef Stephanie Ogilvie. She had prepared pastrami cured salmon, pimento cheese, salmon roe, "everything spiced" smoked creme fraiche, and pickled quail egg, on a sprouted rye eclair. Dy-no-mite!! I gave her the "Award For Best Food Given to an Outlander who Comes from Away"
The Beverages: Drinks came from The Good Cheer Trail featuring Domaine de Grand Pre, Planters Ridge Winery, Avondale Sky Winery, Benjamin Bridge, Saint-Famille Wines, L'Acadie Vineyards, Barrelling Tide Distillery, Halifax Distilling Co., Tangled Garden (herb liqueurs and fruit cordials), Boxing Rock Brewing Company (Double IPA was terrific, so was Daskai Keji Black IPA), and Bulwark Cider (best was their Bulwark Original, followed by Bulwark Blush and People's Cider). I sampled the wines and some of the beers/ciders, but did not have any distilled spirits or cocktails.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Benjamin Bridge Brut NV Methode Traditionnelle $28 NS
-Domaine de Grand Pre Haskap Sparkling 11.5% ABV  $27.50 NS
-L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee Sparkling MT 2014 $31 NS
-L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee Rose MT 2015  $30
-Planters Ridge Quintessential Red $24 NS PN/Lucy Kuhlman/Marquette/Castel [gold medalist]
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Ancienne Chardonnay 2015 $40  [biodynamic principles, Demeter next year]
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Planters Ridge Elevation Sparkling 2016 $24 NS Muscat ottonel/L'acadie/Frontera blanc
-Planters Ridge Chardonnay 2015 $25 NS
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Fauna (off-dry Marechal Foch and Leon Millot, presented here as matched with "red velvety truffle" made with Fair Trade and organic chocolate via Just Us).
-Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 $25 NS (also available in Ontario)
-Domaine de Grand Pre Castel Vintner's Reserve 2016 13.5% ABV
-Domaine de Grand Pre Tidal Bay 2016 $20
-Sainte-Famille Wines Fundy Fizz 2015 $19 NS
-Sainte-Famille Wines Siegfried 2014 $16 NS
-Avondale Sky Tennycape 2015 $19 NS
-Avondale Sky Leon Millot Rose 2016 $18 NS
-Avondale Sky Leon Millot Red 2015 $25 NS
The Downside: are you kidding? If anything, people had to leave the Gala early in order to get a seat at the film, which was followed by a cocktail party.
The Upside: There was a chance to speak with actor Gordon Pinsent who presented his fave food film, "The Hundred-Foot Journey". He curated it with a discussion. His daughter, actor Leah Pinsent (Made in Canada), was also along, and she told us of her impending rom-com/drama series "Savoury".
The Contact Person:;  
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 95.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Event: Grand Portfolio tasting of Tre Amici wine agents (Veni, Vidi, Vino II)

The Date and Time: Monday October 23, 2017   2PM to 5PM
The Event: Grand Portfolio tasting of Tre Amici wine agents (Veni, Vidi, Vino II)
The Venue: Palais Royale
The Target Audience: trade and media in the afternoon, guests in the evening
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines could be purchased
The Quote/Background: it had been some time since the VVV I portfolio tasting, and I needed to catch up with Tre Amici teams.
The Wines: I did not taste every wine. Prices are licensee.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Wines of Carlos Basso Mendoza Malbec Gran Reserva Vina Amalia 2012 $39.95
-Wines of Carlos Basso Mendoza Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot Signature Blend 2012 $59.95
-Wines of Carlos Basso Mendoza Petit Verdot Signature 2011 $75
-Rockway Vineyards Chardonnay SLR Wild 2012 Niagara $19.50
-Punti Ferrer Chardonnay Gran Reserva 2015 Chile $23.95
-Valle Secreto Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Malbec/PetitVerdot/Carmenere Profundo 2012 Chile $95
-Chateau Roubine Cotes de Provence Grenache/Cinsault/Syrah La Vie en Rose Brut Rose 2015 $26.95
-Cascina Adelaide Piedmont 2010 Barolo Fassati $89.95
-Cascina Adelaide Piedmont 2009 Barolo Riserva Per Elen $110.95
-Ellena Giuseppe Nascetta Langhe 2014 Piedmont  $19.95
-Ellena Giuseppe Barolo 2012 Piedmont  $42.50
-Ellena Giuseppe Barolo Ascheri 2011 Piedmont  $59.95
-Fattoria di Lulano Tuscany 2014 Chianti Classico Riserva $35.95
-Villa Pillo Tuscany 2013 Merlot Sant'Adele $39.95
-AnticaVigna Amarone Della Valpolicella 2012 $46.50
-Tenuta Santome Prosecco Superiore Brut NV  $24.95
-Misty Cove Marlborough NZ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Wild Ferment Gravel & Loam $22.95
-Louis de Vernier Penedes Cava Brut Nature NV $18.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Mas Fi Xarel.lo/Macabeo/Parellada Cava Brut NV $13.95
-Gnarled Vine California Chardonnay 2015 $18.95
-Wines of Carlos Basso Mendoza Malbec 2 Fincas Brut NV $19.95
-Wines of Carlos Basso Mendoza Torrontes 2 Fincas 2016 $17.95
-Wines of Carlos Basso Mendoza Malbec 2 Fincas Rose 2016 $17.95
-Valle Secreto Cabernet Franc Private 2013 Chile $36.95
-Valle Secreto Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah/Carmenere Private Blend 2011 Chile $36.95
-Chateau Roubine Cotes de Provence Tibouren/Cinsault La Vie en Rose 2015 $22.95
-Chateau Roubine Cotes de Provence Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Terre de Croix Cru Classe 2014 $39.95
-Cascina Adelaide Piedmont 2012 Barolo Privilegiati $52.95
-Cascina Adelaide Piedmont 2011 Barolo 4 Vigne $64.95
-Cascina Adelaide Piedmont 2010 Barolo Cannubi $89.95
-Ellena Giuseppe Nebbiolo Langhe 2015 Piedmont  $32.95
-Nuraghe Supramonte Sardinia Vermentino 2015 $13.50
-Casalbosco Tuscany 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Orchidea $34.95
-Fattoria di Lulano Tuscany 2014 Cabernet/Merlot/Colorino Toscana Lui $45.50
-Fattoria di Lulano Tuscany 2012 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Ottantuno $64.95
-Villa Pillo Tuscany 2013 Syrah $39.95
-Tenuta Santome Santhomas's Spumate Brut Rose NV  $16.50
-Misty Cove Marlborough NZ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Gravel & Loam $17.95
-Misty Cove Marlborough NZ 2015 Chardonnay Gravel & Loam $35.95
The Food: there was a salumi platter, potato croquettes, roasted and grilled veggies, breads and cheeses and biscuits, plus fruit.
The Downside: I had to leave early for a trip to DevourFest food film festival in Wolfville, Nova Scotia
The Upside: a chance to see the redecorated Palais Royale. The last time I was there they had featured sweaty line dancing and beer. It was now an "event palace".
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Event: Delicato Family Vineyards Vintages tasting with Tammy Brown, Regional Sales Manager for the Americas, followed by a paired wine dinner.

The Date and Time: Tuesday October 17, 2017  4:30PM - 8PM
The Event: Delicato Family Vineyards Vintages tasting with Tammy Brown, Regional Sales Manager for the Americas.
The Venue: Wine Academy, Richmond Street
The Target Audience: wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are at Vintages or by consignment.
The Quote/Background: Tammy spoke about the company's history and development. They are now one of the top ten grape growers by hectares (1700 hA) with vineyard properties in Napa, Monterey, and Lodi, plus many grower contracts. The company has several tiers of wines ranging from the Bota Box (3L, $42.65 LCBO) to some prestigious $200 a pop wines. Today we were to taste, after the presentation, some Irony, Noble Vines, Black Stallion, Z. Alexander Brown, and Gnarly Head wines, ranging from $19.95 to $30.95.
The Wines:
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Black Stallion Estate Chardonnay Napa Valley 2015 Vintages +339689 $30.95
-Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay Monterey County 2015 $19.95 Not yet at Vintages.
-Irony I Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 North Coast $24.95 Vintages +25106
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Irony I Chardonnay Monterey County 2015 $22.06 consignment [the Napa version is available at Vintages +27409 for $24.95 retail]
-Noble Vines 667 Pinot Noir Monterey Vintages +342808 $19.95
-Z. Alexander Brown Uncaged Proprietary Red Blend 2015 North Coast Vintages +519785 $21.95 [zin, syrah, petite syrah, cab sauv]
-Gnarly Head 1924 Double Black Limited Edition 2015 California  Vintages +498881 $19.95 [zin, PS, syrah]
The Food: we began with a leafy salad and some julienne root veggies, paired with the Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay 2015 and/or the Irony I Chardonnay Monterey 2015 (I found the Noble Vines a better match when eating just the leaves, but when the root veggies with their sugar was on the fork, the Irony I worked better...just sayin'). This was followed by medium-done steak on mash with Brussels sprouts and bacon, paired with Irony I Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (the cab was more food friendly than the heavier red blends). For dessert, there was apple crisp a la mode paired with the richer Black Stallion Chardonnay Napa 2015. The apple was indeed crisp with a tang of acid, so it worked ok once the ice cream was out of the way.
The Downside: I had difficulty finding the entrance, which apparently was not uncommon.
The Upside:
The Contact Person: or
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 86.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


1.Miguel Torres Chile Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016 Central Valley, +177444 Vintages $14.95: a Fair Trade wine, 13% ABV, low RS of 1.3 g/L. Cool fermentation, no oak, typical varietal character for Chilean sauvignon blanc and instantly recognizable as such. Apples, lemons, ripe fruit (on the nose). Aperitif or with a first course. Value-priced. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer Reserve 2015 Alsace, +377721 Vintages $18.95: cool fermentation with typical gewurz tones of spices, lychee, roses. 13% ABV, and RS of 14 g/L (off-dry). Best as aperitif, or with fragrant cheeses, spicy foods. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466 Vintages $29.95: the last time I wrote about this wine concerned the 2010 vintage. I  rated it 91+ and the price then (2013) was $35. I am not sure why the price is now lower. Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (1988 onward), hand picked. Fermented in French oak (40% new Allier, rest in one year barrels).This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place. Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 13.5% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Henry of Pelham Classic Tier Cabernet-Merlot 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula +504241 LCBO $14.95: this wine is dependable and consistent from year to year. This time it has 53% cabernet franc, 28% merlot, and 19% cabernet sauvignon. This Bordeaux-themed blend comes across as a mid-Atlantic version of Cali/Bordeaux. It is still a young wine and could profit from a double-decant. Extended maceration in stainless, followed by barrel aging. It has been modestly aged in used French and US oak barrels. Great with foods cooked in the Mediterranean basin style. 13.5% ABV on label. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2016 Speck Family Reserve VQA Ontario +461699 $24.95 at winery now: These low yielding grapes come from Short Hills Bench which was planted in 1984. Some of these old vines are still producing, and you can find their juice in this very bottle.  As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy character and the low price – under $25. Aged in premium American Oak for more than 18 months. It's still young, needing another two years or so for proper aging, but with multiple decanting it can be enjoyed now. 13.5% ABV on the label. Works best with pronounced meats such as pork, lamb, farmed or wild game – all either braised or grilled. And spicy foods. Speck Family Reserves are the top tier by HOP. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2015, +719435, $29.95 Vintages: this wine is a cool climate offering, so much as current California "heat" would allow, from the coast coolness in the evening and the early morning, and with fruit (ten different clones) from eleven different vineyards. Head winemaker Craig McAllister celebrated his tenth anniversary with La Crema, and here has crafted a minor gem. Expect a combo of cherry-berry, underbrush, some (but low) oaking, some mocha, spices. I had it with roasted chicken thighs; it went very well. 100% French oak, 20% being new. Not a heavy pinot noir (nine months in barrel), unlike many others from California. 13.5% ABV. Price has not increased in years. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Cusumano Syrah 2016 Terre Siciliane IGT +145490 LCBO $13.95: one of Cusumano's international single varietal series, coming in at 13.5% ABV. It is an interesting addition to the LCBO general list program. The average age of the vines here is 13 years. Cold maceration and cool fermentation, followed by circulation and MF in stainless. It sits on its lees for a half year and then lightly filtered into bottles. No oak, but plenty of black berries. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Cusumano Nero d'Avola 2016 Terre Siciliane IGT +143164 LCBO $12.95: one of Cusumano's single indigenous varietal series, average age of vines is 14 years, 13.5% ABV. Cold maceration and cool fermentation, followed by circulation and MF in stainless. It sits on its lees for a half year and then lightly filtered into bottles. No oak, so very fruity, fresh and with a smooth finish. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Familia Torres Habitat Red 2015 Catalunya +511527 Vintages $19.95: certified organic, 14.5% ABV, made with garnacha and syrah grapes. Cold maceration and cool fermentation, followed by circulation and MF in stainless. Lees aged in oak for 6 – 8 months, 20% new French oak barrels. Exhibits typical syrah blackberries and some cloves from wood. Other spices can include rosemary and fennel. Warm, long finish. Can be served with family meat and cheeses. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Event: Rogers & Company Annual Portfolio Tasting, with some principals attending at George Restaurant

The Date and Time: Monday October 16, 2017  1Pm to 4Pm
The Event: Rogers & Company Annual Portfolio Tasting, with some principals.
The Venue: George
The Target Audience: sommeliers, private clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are landed or soon will be.
The Quote/Background: There had been some churning over the previous year, so there were new principals in attendance.
The Wines: I did not taste every wine. Prices are licensee per bottle.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Astrolabe Marlborough "Province" Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $21.25
-Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Rioja 2007 $129.95
-Tr3smano Vendimia Ribeira del Duero 2014 $76.95 wooden case of three x $76.95
-Alpamanta Breva Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Argentina Unfiltered Biodynamic $37.95
-Zardetto Spumanti Porta Monticano 2016 Sparkling $14.95
-Vignole Chianto Classico DOCG 2014 $19.95
-Fontodi Flaccianello della Piave IGT 2013  $117.95
-Chateau de Maligny Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey 2016 $42.95
-Chateau Mire L'Etang La Clape Blanc 2016 $14.95
-Chateau Mire L'Etang La Clape Rouge 2015 $14.95
-Domaine Brusset Gigondas Les Hauts de Montmirail 2015 $50.95
-Champagne Delamotte Blac de Blancs NV $75.95
-Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Case Vecie 2012 $75.95
-Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2012 $72.95
-Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2012 $109.95
-Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Carernos Chardonnay 2015 $79.95
-Shafer One Point Five Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $133.95
-Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $399.95
-Truchard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $39.95
-Dominus Estate Dominus 2013 $398.95
-Red Cap Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $136.95
-O'Shaughnessy Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2014  $205.95
-Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2013 $101.95
-Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $114.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Astrolabe Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $19.95
-Continuum 2014 (Pritchard Hill) $299.95
-Laughing Stock Portfolio Red Blend 2015 $56.95
-Share a Splash Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County Red 2015 [mainly zinfandel] $29.95
-Share a Splash High Dive Napa Valley Red 2014 $144.95
-Rutherford Wine Co. Cedar Rock Chardonnay 2016 $15.15
-The Originals "Cab Sauv" Columbia Valley 2015  $19.95
-"Bench" Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Knights Valley $29.95
-Bodegas Val de Vid Verdejo 2016 Spain $15.95
-Cruz de Piedra Macabeo 2016 $12.95
-La Giustiniana Gave di Gavi Lugarara 2016 $22.95
-Falchini Paretaio IGT 2013 $29.95
-Agricola Punica Barrua 2013 $49.95
-Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru La Clavoillon 2015  $164.95
-Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2015 $36.95
-Clos Bellane Chateauneuf-du-Pape Urgonien 2014 $54.95
-Champagne Delamotte Brut NV $56.95
-Volpai Coltassala 2013 $59.95
-Pio Cesare Barbaresco DOCG 2012 $72.95
-Shafer TD-9 Napa Valley 2015 $89.95
-Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2014 $56.95
-Forman Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $143.95
-Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $137.95
-O'Shaughnessy Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $122.95
-Quintessa Rutherford 2014 $213.95
-Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $105.95
-Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 $75.95
-Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2015 $64.95
-Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay 2015 $43.95
-Paul Hobbs CrossBarn Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2016 $31.95
-Paul Hobbs CrossBarn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014  $66.95
-Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015 $66.95
The Food: in addition to cheese and biscuit stationary platters, there were passed platters with arancini, skewered meats, and salmon and cheese rollups.
The Downside: I could not easily locate water for rinsing or refreshing.
The Upside: A great series of impressive wines.
The Contact Person:;
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 91.