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Home Wine Ratings December 2014 Wine Ratings

December 2014 Wine Ratings

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88 Beckett’s Flat Five Stones White Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, Margaret River ($19)

From the cool Margaret River comes this Kosher and Vegan friendly wine. This blend shows a personality of peach, honey, apple, lime, cream, herbs and minerals. The palate is mid-weight with very good length and a slight sweet edge. Put a good chill to it before serving. (ES)


91 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra ($27.95)

This wine is a recent addition to the Vintages Essential program at the LCBO. Polished and dense, Coonawarra’s hallmarks of eucalyptus/menthol and cassis mesh with violets, graphite, dark cocoa, smoke and raspberry. Hold until 2016 and then drink until 2024. I also had the opportunity to try the 2012 and it is right on par with the 2010! (ES)



89 Palatine Hills Sauvignon Blanc Neufeld Vineyard 2013, Niagara Lakeshore ($18)

This is a superb barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc. Huge fruit salad, honey, passion fruit, guava, pink grapefruit, cream, spice and mineral weave around a core of refreshing acidity. Fine depth and excellent length make for an ideal partner with a halibut filet or even a grilled rosemary scented veal chop. (ES)

88 Palatine Hills Prestige NV, Niagara Lakeshore ($22.95)

Even though the label says it is non-vintage, the majority of the base wine for this bubbly came from the cool 2009 vintage, which was perfect for sparkling wine production. Made from 100% Chardonnay, it spent 30 months on the less, imbuing the wine with yeast, brioche, cream, peach, anise, and apple qualities. The palate shows fine mousse, fresh acidity and very good length. (ES)


89 Palatine Hills Merlot Neufeld Vineyard 2012, Niagara Lakeshore ($25)

Winemaker Jeff Innes has really upped the quality of the wines since his arrival at Palatine. Case and point, this Merlot which absolutely flatters with huge plum, dark cherry, cola, spice and vanilla. It is ripe, with good depth, a round texture and enough tannins to allow 5 years of aging. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2012, Ontario ($24.95)

For my taste, this is the best Baco in Ontario. Full bodied, there is copious amounts of jammy dark fruit which is supported by smoke and cocoa notes from new barrel aging. Fresh acidity and a slight sweetness rounds out the texture. There is solid length and 5 to 6 years of life ahead. (ES)

88 Palatine Hills Meritage Neufeld Vineyard 2012, Niagara Lakeshore ($30)

Slightly tight at this early stage, this Meritage might even turn out to be better than their Merlot. Cassis, earth, vanilla, cherry, roasted red pepper, oregano and red/dark flowers reveal themselves. The tannins still need to resolve themselves, so hold until 2016 and then drink until 2022. (ES)


89 Concha y Toro Winemaker’s Lot 148 Carmenère 2012, Rapel Valley ($18.95)

This is a solid Carmenère, which features cassis, blackberry black cherry, violets, anise, mint, roasted herbs and chocolate.  It is medium plus bodied with an attack of rich fruit which leads to some dry tannins on the finale. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

87 Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Carmenère 2012, Rapel Valley ($12.95)

For its price point, this Carmenère really over delivers. Cassis, violets, raspberry, cocoa and the tell-tale spice/herbal note of the varietal are built on a medium bodied frame. It is elegant, with some dusty tannins which make pairing with a medium-rare grilled steak a fine choice. (ES)


90 Piper-Heidsieck NV Champagne Brut, Champagne ($54.95)

It has been a long time since I tasted a non-vintage Piper this good. Toast, caramel, citrus and apple weave through a creamy texture, fresh acidity and long finish. Oysters on the half shell anyone? (ES)


91 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009, Porto ($18.55)

This LBV shames some vintage ports – easily! From a hot vintage comes this super ripe and opulent wine with loads of dark fruit, chocolate, raisins, violets, pepper and orange peel.  It is long on the finish with some unresolved tannins which will allow for short term aging, if so desired. (ES)

89 Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009, Porto ($16.95)

In the past decade, Sandeman has really elevated their game. This full bodied Port is ripe and elegant on the palate. Plum, cassis, violets, spice, earth and smoke flavours are long lasting. A quintessential fireside sipper with Stilton cheese.  (ES)


88 Batasiolo Barolo 2010, Piedmont ($29.95)

The hallmark of the fabulous 2010 Barolo vintage is florality - and there is certainly none lacking in this wine. Add the cherry, plum, tobacco, earth, round tannins and very good length and you have a solid value Barolo, which has mid-term aging potential. Pair with a mushroom risotto topped with duck breast. (ES)


88 Miguel Torres Sangre de Toro 2013, Catalunya ($12.95)

This wine really packs in the flavour, and for the price, it is a steal. It is rich and flavorful, full of raisins, plum, vanilla, licorice and lilac. There is density, very good length and some underlying tannins. Pair with sausage and peppers or vegetable casseroles. (ES)


90 Belle Glos Clark and Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Santa Maria Valley ($45)

Caveat emptor - please read this tasting note before purchasing! If you are Pinot Noir lover, then you will be alarmed with what is in the bottle, and probably score it in low 80s, as it has more in common with Australian Shiraz or Argentinian Malbec. That said, this is a purple coloured, super concentrated, oaked monster which gushes jam: plum, dark cherry, raspberry, as well as cocoa, vanilla and clove. Based on these attributes and the ambitious nature of this wine, is why I give it 90 points. (ES)

88 Louis M. Martini Caberent Sauvignon 2012, Sonoma County ($18.95)

A superb value from the realm of California Cabernet. The blackberry and blueberry fruit meets up with violets, roasted herbs, vanilla and spice. Medium plus body with very good length and some gritty tannins on the aftertaste. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, California ($14.95)

Cassis, blackberry, raspberry, mint, violets, vanilla and anise are all present in this friendly and accessible Cab. It is balanced, with no overt alcohol, soft tannins and a slightly sweet finish. Drink now. (ES)


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The lip of a red wine glass is sloped inward to capture the aromas of the wine and deliver them to your nose.