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Home Wine Ratings January 2016 Wine Ratings

January 2016 Wine Ratings

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87 The Entertainer Red Blend 2014 ($15.95)

From Wolf Blass comes these easy drinking blend of Grenache and Syrah. Cherry, plum, rhubarb, pepper, herbs and hints of cocoa/vanilla mesh together with a medium plus body and 14% alcohol. Very good length and ready to drink. Try with bbq ribs or grilled sausage. (ES)



91 Stratus Sémillon 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($32)

This full-bodied, some would say massive Sémillon exudes honey, wax, apricot, pineapple, binned apple, toast, smoke, vanilla, cream and spice. Ripe and concentrated, there is a thick/creamy texture, low acid and a long finale. Pushes 15% alcohol, so chill slightly and serve on its own. (ES)

91 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($45.95)

Made from 30-year-old vines, this Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in partially new French oak for twelve months. Peach, toast, anise, green apple, honey, white flower and vanilla are built on a medium to full-bodied frame. Excellent length with a long mineral and citrus aftertaste. Pair with a pork roast or chicken in a cream sauce. (ES)

91 Tawse South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Prince Edward County ($45)

Tawse sourced the Chardonnay grapes for this wine via a fruit exchange with Huff Estates. The later received Pinot Noir from Niagara in return. Deeply mineral, there is sweet vanilla, anise, nectarine, tangerine, spiced apple and pear rounding out the package. Great length and a crisp personality make for a perfect pairing with pickerel topped with a beurre blanc sauce.

90 Tawse Estate Chardonnay 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($37.95)

Citrus, mineral, white peach, toast, anise and lime are all in play in this medium-bodied white. Refreshingly crisp with a long mineral aftertaste. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)

88 Château des Charmes Brut NV, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($22.95)

CDC’s Brut is one of Ontario’s original traditional method sparklers. This blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir delivers pinpoint bubbles and a profile of green apple, citrus, pear, lemon and subtle toasty notes. Fine length and ready to drink with oysters or smoked salmon. (ES)

88 Redstone Brickstone Riesling 2014, Niagara ($14)

A solid value Riesling with a profile of bergamot, lime, peach, grapefruit, white flower and mineral. Light bodied, yet lengthy with crisp acidity and a touch of sweetness rounding out the edges. (ES)


91 Château des Charmes Rose Sparkling 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($28.95)

Done in the Sec (22g/l of sugar) style, this blend of 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir obtained its colour via the Pinot grapes being left in contact with their skins for a short period of time. It spent three years on the lees so you can expect a creamy texture and flavours that lean to the red fruit spectrum as well as apple, citrus and earth qualities. Ready to drink with spicy sushi. (ES)


91 Pondview Cabernet Appassimento 2013, Four Mile Creek ($70)

Pondview’s first Appassimento wine is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The drying period of 120 days has produced a dark ruby colour and a huge bouquet of plum, cherry jam, anise, vanilla, After Eight chocolate and herbs. This carries over to the palate where additional where raspberry, blackberry and raisins join the mix. Excellent length with a glycerin laden sweet texture and enough underlying structure to age for five to six years. (ES)

91 Creekside Estate Winery Unbroken Press Syrah 2012, St. David’s Bench ($42.95)

This powerful 100% Syrah serves up a sophisticated bouquet of cassis, violets, tobacco smoke, black pepper, bay leaf, raspberry and cocoa. Still grippy, I would suggest holding it until 2017 and then drink until 2022, preferably with a peppercorn crusted NY strip. (ES)

90 Creekside Estate Winery Broken Press Syrah, St. David’s Bench ($42.95)

Modelled after a Côte-Rôtie, this wine contains 4% Viognier.  A dark ruby colour with purple highlights, one can expect to find cassis, raspberry, vanilla, oregano, black olive, black tea and pepper. This wine was made for roast leg of lamb. Drink until 2022. (ES)

90 Tawse Grower’s Blend Cabernet Franc 2012, Niagara ($26.95)

Still tannic, this punchy red needs a few years to resolve itself. Cassis, blueberry, raspberry, roasted herbs, smoke, anise, vanilla and graphite are built on a medium plus body.  Excellent length. Hold until the end of 2016 and drink until 2021. (ES)

90 Redstone Syrah 2012, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

A cool climate Syrah with a perfume of black pepper, cassis, grilled meat, oregano, violets, vanilla and smoke. Full-bodied and elegant, the finish carries long. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

90 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013, Niagara ($30/200ml)

Sweet cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam meld with hints of blue fruits, cocoa and herbs. Vibrant acidity buttresses a rich texture. Long finale. A flourless chocolate cake would be gorgeous with this stickie. (ES)

89 Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Queenston Road Vineyard 2011, St. David’s Bench ($34.95)

An impressive Cab Sauv from a cool vintage. An enormous nose of After Eight Chocolate, smoke, violets, graphite, cassis, dark cherry, beef bouillon, smoke and spice. Medium plus body with great length. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)

89 Creekside Estate Winery Laura’s Blend 2012, Niagara ($19.95)

The 2012 Laura is the best rendition of this bottling to date. Ripe, it exudes plum, raspberry, vanilla, blue corn, green olive, cocoa and spice. Splendid length, medium body and dusty tannins. A fine wine that won’t break the bank for weeknight meals.  A blend of all five Bordeaux grapes with a dash of Syrah. (ES)

89 Tawse Gamay 2014, Niagara ($18.95)

A powerful nose of red cherry, strawberry, dark plum, rose, herbs and black pepper. There is a light oaking that comes through on the palate in the form of cocoa and vanilla. Supple tannins, fresh acid and a juicy finale make for a beautiful partner with seared duck breast or a chorizo and seafood paella. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2013, Ontario ($24.95)

HOP’s 203 Reserve Baco continues to be the benchmark by which all other Bacos are judged. Full- bodied, there is an explosive bouquet of dark and red fruit, coffee, chocolate, smoke and spice. Vivid hybrid acidity leads the palate before some residual sugar kicks in to act as a counterpoint. Drink or hold. Pair with some Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs. (ES)

88 Pondview Bella Terra Pinot Noir 2013, Four Mile Creek ($50)

Pondview’s first Pinot Noir succeeds in capturing plum, sweet cherry, earth, vanilla, cocoa aromas and flavours. With a natural alcohol of 14.5%, there is very good length, lifted acid and supple tannins. Accessible right now. Pair with mushroom risotto topped with duck breast. (ES)

88 Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($24.95)

Fresh cracked pepper, smoke, cocoa, raspberry, blackcurrant, thyme, earth and leather are supported by acid, supple tannins and a lengthy aftertaste. All in all a textbook example of Ontario Syrah, which should be served with braised meats. (ES)

87 Creekside Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Serluca Vineyard 2013, Four Mile Creek ($26.95)

A mid-weight Franc with raspberry, dark cherry, tobacco, violets, graphite and coffee. Medium length, fresh acid and solid tannins. Now to 2020. (ES)



92 Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2008, Champagne ($97.95)

Made from equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Delicate yet lengthy, it explodes with chalk, green apple, pear, lemon, toast and honey. A fine mousse, excellent length and elevated acidity on the palate bode well for aging if ones enjoys a more mature style of bubbly. (ES)

90 Gérard Bertrand Cuvée Thomas Jefferson Crémant de Limoux 2013, Limoux ($19.95)

Limoux is the birthplace of sparkling wine, some 150 plus years before Dom Pérignon even touched a grape in the Champagne region. Made in the traditional method, this blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac possesses pinpoint bubbles and a personality of apple, citrus, pear, white peach, wax, anise and yeast. Long finish. Superb value and one that easily shames many champagnes at double or triple the price. (ES)

88 Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2014, IGP Pays d’Oc  ($15.95)

A great value Viognier from Southern France. Peach, apricot, orange, banana, spice and white flowers waft over the senses. The fresh acidity gives lift and focus, carrying the finish. Pair with halibut filet topped with a jalapeno and fruit salsa. (ES)


87 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé 2014, Languedoc-Rousillion ($18.95)

An eye-catching salmon colour!  Produced from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this serious and dry Rose reveals cherry, strawberry, blackcurrant, rose, grapefruit and spice qualities. Pour alongside a pork tenderloin with a mushroom sauce. (ES)


86 Jean Leon 3055 Merlot Petit Verdot 2014, Penedès ($18.95)

A singular blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot, which is easy drinking and chock full of blackberry, plum, cherry, anise flavours. Medium length. Sausage and peppers or hamburgers are solid pairings. (ES)

United States

87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, California ($16.95)

Dry with citrus, lime, grapefruit, white flower and hints of honey and herbs. Crisp, refreshing with a long citrus aftertaste. (ES)

87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Chardonnay 2013, California ($16.95)

An upfront Chardonnay, which will thrill those who like oak and tropical fruit in their wine. Peach, pineapple, mango, sweet apple, honey, vanilla, butterscotch and spice pack a solid punch. Very good length and ready to drink. (ES)


88 Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, California ($17.95)

A solid value from Beringer’s bang-for-the-buck tier. Mid-weight, there is sweet plum and blackberry fruit encapsulating the spice, vanilla, cocoa, mint and tobacco. Suave tannins make this wine ready to drink. Enjoy your favorite cut of steak with this bottle. (ES)


Wine Facts

Dom Perignon (1638-1715), the Benedictine Abbey (at Hautvillers) cellar master who is generally credited with “inventing” the Champagne making process, was blind.