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Home Wine Ratings May 2015 Wine Ratings

May 2015 Wine Ratings

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90 Thirty Bench Winery Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard 2013, Beamsville Bench ($30)

From a vineyard planted in 1981, comes this redolent Riesling full of bergamot, kaffir lime, white peach, petrol and smokey minerals. The tension between acid and slight residual sugar is beautifully. The long finale will ensure a decade or more of life ahead. Red snapper in a red curry/peanut sauce or chicken satay will be magical with this wine. (ES)

89 Thirty Bench Winery Small Lot Riesling Steel Post 2013, Beamsville Bench ($30)

Always the most austere of the Thirty Bench Rieslings, this tight wine is just starting to show peach, white flower, grapefruit, lime and smokey minerals. It is best left untouched for a couple of years and then consumed until 2025. (ES)

89 The Foreign Affair Enchanted 2013 ($17.95)

This one of a kind blend of 45% Riesling and 55% Sauvignon Blanc reveals a huge perfume of passion fruit, honey, sweet peach, cassis, violets, guava and white flowers. The same follows through on the palate, where bergamot and citrus chime in. Fresh acid, off dry and ready to drink. (ES)


94 The Foreign Affair Gran Q 2010, Niagara ($150)

The name of this wine is a tip of the hat to the famed Amarone producer Guiseppe Quintarelli, whose wines were the reference point for Len Crispino, when he decided to start the Foreign Affair, a decade ago.  The grapes for this 17%+ alcohol monster were dried for 3 months before being pressed.  It possesses the texture of syrup, and a sexy profile of plum, dried olives, maraschino cherries, anise, mint, milk chocolate and vanilla.  Yes, the price is out of reach for most of us mere mortals, but this is a singular wine, which will continue to evolve for the next 15 to 20 years - and I have never said that about Ontario red before! Serious meditation wine here! (ES)

92 Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2012, Beamsville Bench ($40)

After winning three gold (including this wine) and two silver medals at this year's Ontario Wine Awards, it is no wonder that Emma Garner also took home the winemaker of the year trophy. This powerful and concentrated Franc pumps out the cocoa, violets, cassis, raspberry, grilled red peppers, graphite and earth. Elegant, the sweet mid-palate, long finish and ripe tannins mean that this wine will cellar until 2022. (ES)

91 The Foreign Affair Dream 2012, Niagara

This appassimento-style blend of 33% Merlot, 33% Cabernet France, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot is truly impressive. Clocking in at 14.7% alcohol, it sings with chocolate, blackberry, kirsch, violets, dark cherry, prunes and a hint of rubber. Full-bodied, with some residual sugar, the wine is already approachable, but will handle another 5 to 6 years in the cellar. (ES)

91 Thirty Bench Small Lot Benchmark Red 2012, Beamsville Bench ($60)

This 14% plus alcohol Meritage is smooth and concentrated with loads of plum, vanilla, raspberry, dark cherry, mint, chocolate, vanilla. The palate is rich with a long finish and a tannic backbone.  Hold for a year and then drink until 2023. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. (ES)

90 Thirty Bench Small Lot Merlot 2012, Beamsville Bench ($40)

A textbook example of Merlot. Plum, dark cherry, spice, roasted herbs, chocolate and red/purple flowers flow from the glass. The 14.4% alcohol, suave tannins and excellent length make for one tasty drop of juice. Drink until 2022. (ES)

88 The Foreign Affair Conspiracy 2013, Niagara ($19.95)

Modelled after a Ripasso, this wine contains 62% Cab Sauv, 22% Cab Franc and 16% Merlot. Plum, cherry, blackberry, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa powder, incense, green jalapeno and violets are all in the glass. Medium body, fresh acid and great length round out the experience. Pair with a grilled veal chop or moussaka. (ES)


92 Santo Wines Assyrtiko Grand Reserve 2012, Santorini ($30)

I have the highest respect for this co-op which represents close to 1000 growers as it always turns out bang for the buck wines. But now they have taken it to the next level with the introduction of this beauty, which blew me away! From 100 year old vines and aged in partial new oak, it features a golden colour and a huge bouquet of toast, peach, bay leaf, honey, golden apple, spice, resin and white flowers. The same flows over onto the taste buds where Assyrtiko’s telltale crystalline/saline acidity carries the long finale. A wild ride in the best possible sense! (ES)

South Africa

90 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2011, Stellenbosch ($29.95)

Opulent, this Chenin serves up toast, sweet apple, smoke, cream, lilac, spice and slight light tropical edge. Full bodied with a ying-yang of cream and acid which carry the long finish. Pair with pan seared halibut. (ES)

88 Vinum Chenin Blanc 2012, Stellenbosch ($15.95)

Always a solid value! If you are a fan of oaked Chardonnay, spread you wings and try this wooded Chenin. Peach, toast, honey, spice, wet wool and are underpinned by fresh acidity and splendid length. Tandoori chicken or a filet of salmon will pair brilliantly with this wine. (ES)

88 Ken Forrester Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch ($17.95)

Peach, yellow apple, honey, pineapple, pear, white flowers and mineral find a home in this crisp white. Great length and read to drink, preferably with a cheese board or freshwater fish. (ES)


92 Kanonkop Pinotage 2012, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch ($44.95)

Until about five years ago, the majority of Pinotage wines were bitter and ridden with loads of brettanomyces (leathery, gamey qualities.) Today, as a means to gain favour with international palates, Coffee Pinotage has taken over, a style which emphasizes heavy oak flavours of chocolate, mocha and coffee as a means to cover the undesirable qualities. That said, there have always been a few producers who have churned out profound Pinotage, and Kanokop is certainly at the top of my list. The 2012 shows lovely raspberry, cassis, sweet cherry, vanilla, herbs and a touch of animal. Full bodied, there is excellent length and structure to take it into the late 2020s. (ES)

91 Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch ($47.99)

From a top producer comes this equally Cabernet Sauvignon. Full-bodied and elegant, it doles out the cherry, plum, blackberries, cassis, vanilla, violets and earth. The palate shows sweet fruit and  suave tannins,  allowing  for a decade of cellaring. (ES)

89 Constantia Glen Three Cape Peninsula, Constantia ($21.95)

This great value, fruit forward Bordeaux-styled blend doles out plum, dark cherry, smoke, game and iodine qualities. No need to cellar, so drink up with some bbq. (ES)

89 Boeschendal 1685 S&M 2013, Simonsberg Paarl ($19.95)

All jokes of Fifty Shades of Grey aside, S&M is a Rhone blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre. Full bodied, there is lots of oaky mocha and vanilla rubbing shoulders with raspberry, dark cherry, blackberry, black pepper and game. Lengthy, there is a creamy texture, which rounds everything out. (ES)


Wine Facts

Wine is often called the nectar of the gods, but Sangiovese is the only grape named after a god. Sangiovese means “blood of Jove