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July 2018 Wine Ratings

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Austria

94 Kracher TBA No.6 Grand Cuvée 2015, Burgenland ($75/375ml)
From Austria’s dessert wine producer par excellence comes this unctuous blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Welschriesling which possesses 240g/l of residual sugar. Layers of fig, nectarine, peach, pineapple, golden apple, cantaloupe and spice just bowl over the senses. Insane finale. It should age well for two decades, if not more. (ES)

92 Domäne Wachau Smaragd Kellerberg 2017, Wachau ($40)
An overt, dry Riesling with sweet peach, pineapple, melon, honey and flowers. There is a deep minerality and spice on the palate all supported by a beam of freshness. Excellent quality. (ES)

91 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Axpoint 2017, Wachau ($40)
Full-bodied, this Gruner sings with peach, grapefruit, sweet apple, honey and banana aromas. Much of the same is found on the palate where it is joined by green notes, minerality and spice. Echoes long. Drink or hold. (ES)

88 Weingut Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner “13” 2017, Niederösterreich ($13.20)
The LCBO’s only general list Gruner is a fabulous value and a solid introduction to the varietal if you have yet to experience it. White peach, honey, green apple, lime, white pepper, mineral and celery notes. Refreshing, dry and very good length. (ES)

Canada

White

91 Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc 2013, Short Hills Bench ($44.95)
HOPs top end bubbly is a 100% Chardonnay which has been given the full premium Champagne treatment: hand-picked, whole cluster press, partial new oak and five years aging on the lees. Refined, it offers up toast, apple, citrus, hazelnut and honey. The mousse is fine and creamy with great length and freshness. A pure delight to drink!
(ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Riesling Speck Family Reserve 2016, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
The perception her is an of a dry wine with layers of yellow apple, lemon, honey, pineapple and white flowers.  Acidity and minerality carry the finale, making for a perfect match with Alsatian Choucroute Garni or schnitzel. (ES)

89 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay, Niagara ($21.95)
From year to year, the Chardonnay is always of top quality. Made from estate and purchased grapes and fermented via natural yeasts, it was then aged in 20% new oak. Pear, apple, peach, honey, cream, vanilla and spice all play nice together. A fresh finish bodes well for pairing against scallops and crab. (ES)

88 Tawse Limestone Ridge North Riesling 2016, Twenty Mile Bench ($25.95)
Mineral, lime, bergamot, peach, honey and hints of jasmine encompass the vibrant acidity. Off-dry with fine length. (ES)

88 Cuddy By Tawse Spark Riesling, Twenty Mile Bench ($24.95)
Mature and ready to drink with apple, lemon, pear and yeasty/toasty aromas. There is a light sweetness which is off-set by the crisp acidity. Pair with shrimp tacos or warm goat cheese salad. (ES)

88 Tawse Redfoot Vineyard Pinot Gris 2017, Lincoln Lakeshore ($27.95)
Tree and stone fruit are at the core of this somewhat lighter Gris. Add in nuances of flowers, smoke, spice, and banana, and what you have is an easy drinking, food-versatile white. Dry with a crisp personality and hints of minerality finalize everything. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Riesling 2017, Niagara ($14.95)
Lithe, this Riesling is off-dry with lemon, lime, mineral and hints of white peach floating around. Light bodied and ready to drink, so chill and serve alongside perch or sole. (ES)

87 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($15.95)
A clean well made SB with lime, peach, fresh herbs, grapefruit and white flowers. Dry, it is vibrant on the palate with a mouthwatering finale. Ceviche please. (ES)

Red

89 Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Vinemount Ridge ($35.95)
Farmed biodynamically, this Pinot Noir reveals aromas of cherry cola, raspberry, wet earth, spice and vanilla. Mid-weight with a vibrant minerality on the taste buds and long-lasting. (ES)

88 Cave Spring Cabernet Franc 2016, Niagara ($17.95)
Cave’s workhorse Cab Franc is a super solid offering with blackcurrant, raspberry, roasted herbs, cherry, and purple flowers. Grill up some mild Italian sausage or dry rubbed ribs and head right to town. Drink or hold. (ES)

88 The Foreign Affair The Conspiracy 2016, Niagara ($19.95)
FA’s take on a Ripasso wine features cassis, plum, raspberry, tobacco, graphite, cocoa and vanilla. Medium plus body with lots of fine tannins and very good length. Drink over the next five years. A blend of Cabernet Franc (62%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and Merlot (13%).  (ES)

88 Red House Wine Co. Cabernet Shiraz 2017, Niagara ($13.95)
From the good folks at Henry of Pelham comes this well priced and easy drinking blend. Cassis, raspberry, pepper, leather, oregano and hickory all find a home in this medium-bodied red. Tannins are smooth, and there is lovely length. (ES)

87 Château des Charmes Cabernet Merlot, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($15.95)
A Cabernet Franc dominant Bordelaise blend. Medium body with classic cassis, raspberry, cherry, plum, herbs, cocoa and spice. Lengthy with fine-grained tannins supporting everything. Solid value to be had. Pair with shish-kabobs. (ES)

Rose

87 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé 2017, Niagara ($17.95)
A heavy reliance on Pinot Noir (85%) has created a medium pink colour with an orange tinge and flavours of cherry, strawberry, herbs, spice and red flowers. On the dry side, so pair with tuna poke or salmon tartare. (ES)

France

90 Manoir de Mercey Mercurey Chateaubeau 2015, Burgundy ($31.95)
The combination of 60-year-old-vines and the warmth of the 2015 vintage have created a Pinot Noir with a punch. Cherry, raspberry, strawberry, undergrowth, spice and hints of vanilla are in play.  Try with duck rillettes or terrines.  (ES)

Italy

89 Dievole Chianti Classico 2014, Tuscany ($22.95)
A charming and straight forward CC with sour cherry, strawberry, plum, humus and tobacco leaf. Fresh acidity and mild tannins mean that pasts and pizza will work well with this red. (ES)

 

 

May 2018 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

90 Trapiche Gran Medalla Malbec 2014, Mendoza ($25.95)

Inky/purple, this is a substantial Malbec with blueberry, cassis, cherry, smoke, vanilla and distinctly spicy. Concentrated with loads of fruit and spice lingering long. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

Australia

91 Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2015, Barossa ($21.95)

Superb value! There is a good amount of oak in the form of coffee and chocolate which weaves between the dark cherry, damson plum, blackberry and eucalyptus. It is deeply coloured with firm tannins which will allow it to age for a decade. (ES)

Canada

90 Stratus Wildass Rosé 2017, Niagara ($18.95)

Cotton candy colour with an explosive bouquet of strawberry, raspberry, gooseberry, cassis, herbs and citrus. Medium plus body with refreshing acidity and excellent length. There is just a touch of sweetness, so pair alongside tuna/salmon sashimi. (ES)

Chile

89 Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo ($17.95)

On the nose, cassis, blackberry, plum, cherry, mint, herbs, licorice and tobacco.  Medium plus body and tannins. Lengthy aftertaste. Drink until 2021, preferably with grilled tri-tip. (ES)

89 San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Maipo ($19.95)

This friendly and well priced Cabernet Sauvignon features cassis, blackberry, herbs/mint, spice, vanilla, black olive and violets. Full bodied, it starts of fleshy, almost creamy, and then the tannins appear, turning the finale dry. (ES)

France

White

86 Baron de Hoen Reserve Pinot Blanc 2016, Alsace ($13.95)

An easy drinking PB with melon, apple, citrus and notes of white flower. Acidity is medium as well as the length.  Try alongside a chilled seafood tower. (ES)

Rose

92 Luc Belaire Rare Sparkling Rose NV, Provence ($38)

Fruit driven, this bubbly from Southern France exudes strawberry, cherry, raspberry, plum, red flowers, herbs and hints of spice. Impressively rich on the palate with some residual sugar, so chill and serve alongside Indian curries or Tacos al Pastor. (ES)

91 Taittinger Prestige Rosé NV, Champagne ($79.95)

Aromatic, this Rose obtains its colour from the addition of 15% Pinot Noir red wine added to a white wine base which contains a high percentage of Chardonnay. Strawberry, cherry, apple, toast and mineral transition from the nose to the palate where a creamy texture comes in to play via the bubbles. It is all about the finesse here! (ES)

87 Chateau Bellevue La Forêt 2017, Fronton ($14.95)

Fronton is a small appellation in South West France which uses the singular Négrette grape as it’s signature varietal. Here, it is blended with Gamay to produce a dry and tangy Rose with a personality of strawberry, lemon balm, herbs and pepper.  Chill and serve with mild cheeses. (ES)

 

Red

89 Gérard Bertrand Saint Chinian Syrah/Mourvèdre 2015, Languedoc ($17.95)

From a reputed producer, this wine packs lots of punch for the price. Firm, there is plum, blackcurrant, garrigue, spice, violets and earth qualities to be found. Very good to excellent length. Grilled meat all the way. (ES)

Greece

White

91 Santo Santorini Grand Reserve Assyrtiko 2014, Santorini ($44.95)

Most Assyrtiko is vinified in the stainless steel, unwooded, purity of fruit style. That said, the wooded versions are on the rise, and in my esteem, this is the one that leads the pack, qualitatively. Full-bodied, this wine doles out, honey, salty minerals, quince, pineapple, peach, banana, and spice. There is strong Assyrtiko acidity on the palate which meshes with creamy notes. Excellent length. Lobster and cream-based dishes all the way! (ES)

88 Thalia White Sauvignon Blanc-Vilana 2017, Crete ($9.85)

The is the best yet for this wine and it an absolute no-brainer for the warm summer, especially for under $10. It is a delicate offering with banana, citrus, apple, grapefruit, gooseberry, honey and herbs all supported by crisp acidity. Chill thoroughly and drink up. (ES)

Red

91 Boutari Grand Reserve Naoussa 2012, Macedonia ($24.95)

Made from 100% Xinomavro, this wine is a dead ringer for a quality Barolo - for half the price. Full-bodied and complex, there is cherry, plum, herbs, tomato paste, tar, leather and rose. Grippy, there is high acidity, so best serve alongside beef brochettes or braised or lamb chops. (ES)

90 Mega Spileo Cuvee III Red 2016, Achaia ($18.95)

From the Peloponnese region comes this assemblage of 40% Mavrodaphne, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Agiorgitiko. Intense and somewhat over-ripe, there is cherry syrup, blackberry jam, plum, vanilla, spice, mint and laurel. It is an unmistakable style which will flatter many, especially for the price. Drink or hold. (ES)

87 Kir-Yianni Paranga, Macedonia ($13.95)

Paranga always over-delivers for its price-point. A blend of Xinomavro, Syrah and Merlot this medium-bodied red features plum, cherry, spice, black pepper, herbs and some cocoa. Very good length with enough punch to pair alongside lasagna or a meat lovers pizza. (ES)

Italy

87 Fontanafredda Gavi di Gavi 2016, Piedmont ($18.95)

Gavi is always 100% Cortese, a grape known for it vibrant acidity which is most definitely found in this bottling. Add lime, apple, honey, almond and herbal elements and you have a perfect pairing with pickerel topped with a tarragon infused beurre blanc sauce. (ES)

New Zealand

89 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection 2017, Marlborough ($21.95)

Quintessential Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc with pink grapefruit, lime, nectarine, passion fruit and fresh peach juice. Zest acidity, medium body and a long fruity/mineral aftertaste. (ES)

Portugal

Red

91 Ramos Pinto LBV 2013 ($31.95)

An unfiltered style of LBV, the wine is opaque black/purple with a soaring bouquet of plum, blackberry, crème de cassis, raspberry, violets, raisins and spice. Concentrated, powerful and sweet, it is very much enjoyable right now but should age well for a decade. (ES)

90 Messias LBV 2013 ($25)

Deeply coloured, this LBV dishes out intense plum, blackberry, dark cherry, raisin, chocolate and spice. Rounds, mouth-filling and sweet. Excellent length and ready to drink. (ES)

88 Adegame Dory 2016, Lisboa IGP ($16.95)

This red blend from Lisbon is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Tinta Roriz. Fresh, juicy and easy drinking there is plum, cherry, cassis, violets and black pepper. Solid length and tailored for grilled sausages or roast pork loin. (ES)

USA

White

91 Cline Viognier 2017, North Coast ($18.95)

When Viognier is done right, it is a truly ethereal experience, and Cline has hit the mark with this offering. Medium body with a beautiful perfume of banana, peach, honeysuckle, golden apple, yogurt, fresh flowers and spice. The palate doles out the same alongside a combination of cream and acidity. (ES)

90 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Napa Valley ($29.95)

A delicious Sauvignon Blanc which leans towards the tropical side of the varietal. Passion fruit, nectarine, guava, pineapple, cucumber, lime and pink grapefruit explode out of the glass and onto the taste buds. There the acidity tidies everything up and helps carry the extended finale. (ES)

90 Buena Vista Pinot Noir 2014, Carneros ($29.95)

A melange of plum, earth, smoke, herbs, red flowers and vanilla flow from the glass. It is somewhat jammy on the palate with some alcohol creeping in on the grand finale. Ready to drink. (ES)

88 Josh Cellars Chardonnay, California ($17.95)

With the Josh Cabernet Sauvignon as the number one selling California Cabernet at the LCBO, it was only time before a white wine companion would be listed - enter this Chardonnay! It is a well-balanced wine with restrained pineapple, apple, peach citrus and spice. Medium body with a refreshing palate and great length. Can be sipped by itself or with food. (ES)

Red

92 Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Oak Knoll ($89.95)

Planted on rocky, well-drained soils, this Cab possesses a dark ruby/purple colour and feature a gorgeous nose of crème de cassis, boysenberry, blackberry, mint, anise and cocoa. Powerful and linear, there are enough tannins to allow  15 years of cellaring. (ES)

90 Levendi Sweetwater Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley ($69.95)

Levendi means “handsome man/eye-pleasing,” and indeed this wine will please to those who enjoy jammy reds decked in oak. Full-bodied, the wine hits the senses with blackberry, crème de cassis, cherry liqueur, vanilla, smoke and mint. Full-bodied and ready to drink. (ES)

89 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2016, Contra Costa County ($23)

I have always been a fan of this bottling! Jammy plum, blackberry and cherry fruit mesh with raisin, vanilla, chocolate and spicy undertones. There 15% alcohol punches alongside a certain richness on the palate. Excellent length.  Serve alongside a coffee crusted rib-eye, now or over the next five years. (ES)

89 Cline Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($26)

The vineyard for this wine is situated in the cool ‘Petaluma Gap’ which is slated to become Sonoma’s next AVA. Sweet cherry, raspberry jam, plum, cinnamon and violets coat the palate and are supported by lovely acidity and smooth tannins. (ES)

89 Irony Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, North Coast ($24.95)

This multi-appellation blend from Northern California is made in a crowd-pleasing style with plum, dark cherry, blackcurrant, mint, spice, cocoa and vanilla. The tannins are suave and the fruit echoes long. Ready to drink. (ES)

87 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, California ($16.95)

This is a multi-versatile Cabernet that won’t break the bank. Smoke, tobacco, blackcurrant jam, plum and surround notes of mint and cocoa. Very good length and ready to serve with tonight’s dinner. (ES)

87 Joel Gott Merlot 2014, California ($24.95)

A pleasant, drink up Merlot featuring plum, cherry, chocolate, vanilla and some herbal elements. The palate is four square and it is made in a style for the masses. (ES)

 

 

March 2018 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

92 Luigi Bosca Gala 2 2014, Mendoza ($36.95)
This high-quality Bordeaux blend from Bosca unleashes the blackberry, plum, sweet cherry, raspberry, mint, vanilla, anise and toast across the senses. Full-bodied and layered with a grippy finale. Drink over the next 10 to 12 years. (ES)

Canada

91 Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2016, Vinemount Ridge ($30)
A round and textural Chardonnay which has seen quality oak treatment peach, apple, honey, cream, tangerine, vanilla and spice.  Excellent length and a perfect partner with grilled lobster. A must purchase for Chardonnay lovers!  (ES)

Red

92 Burrowing Owl Syrah 2015, Okanagan Valley ($44.95)
An extravagant and polished Syrah with wall to wall blackberry, blueberry, cherry compote, black pepper, violets and vanilla. Full-bodied with a protracted finale and refined tannins. Lovers of new-world reds will fall in love with this beauty. (ES)

91 Malivoire Stouck Meritage 2014, Lincoln Lakeshore ($29.95)
Another super Stouck (vineyard) wine! This Meritage which is Merlot dominant doles out the chocolate, coffee, smoke, cassis, plum, cherry, herbs and baking spice. Full bodied with a concentrated palate and a great finish. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

90 Westcott Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2016, Vinemount Ridge ($30)
The warmth of 2016 has created a fruit-driven, forward Pinot with cherry, plum, blackberry, violet, anise, red flowers and vanilla. Soft in the mouth with subdued tannins and a long aftertaste. Medium rare duck breast with a cherry glaze please! (ES)

90 Vineland Estates BoTeek Cabernet Franc Clone 327 2015, Twenty Mile Bench ($35)
Made from a mono clone of Cabernet Franc vines which were planted in 1996. On the full end of the spectrum, this Franc delivers up a bouquet of raspberry, cassis, cherry, tobacco, sweet herbs and violets. There is a sweet core of fruit on the mid-palate and finale which echoes raspberry. (ES)

90 Reif Estate Shiraz Reserve 2016, Niagara ($27.15)
A lovely nose of cassis, smoke, black pepper cocoa, oregano and purple flowers. The same carries over onto the taste buds where there is sweetness to the fruit and a great finale. Medium plus body with subdued tannins makes for an ideal pairing with moussaka or lamb brochettes. (ES)

90 Wildass Merlot 2016, Niagara ($18.95)
Combine a top-notch vintage with one of Niagara’s top producers (Stratus), and you have a value-priced red that will serve you well this upcoming BBQ season. This Merlot possesses a medium body and bouquet of cherry, plum, smoke, cocoa and herbs. It is concentrated with fine tannins and excellent length. (ES)

88 Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2015, Niagara ($24.95)
Classic Syrah aromas of black pepper, violets, herbs/mint, smoke and blackcurrant. Mid-weight with fine-grained tannins and great length. Serve alongside lamb gyros or pepper crusted pork tenderloin. (ES)

88 Cave Spring Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara Escarpment ($17.95)
An attractive price for a Franc of this quality. Linear, there is blackcurrant, raspberry, smokey tobacco and dried earth qualities. Mid-weight and very good length. Pasta, pizza and antipasti all the way! (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Niagara ($42.95)

Lots of grip to this youthful Cab. Cassis, smoke, game, herbs, violets and baking spice are at the core of this fuller red. Very good length and ideally it should be paired with a medium rare rib-eye steak. Drink over the next 5 to 7 years. (ES)


Chile

91 Concha Y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2016, Colchagua Valley ($18.95)
Lots going in the glass! Toast, vanilla, pineapple, peach, cream, yellow apple, yeast and spice. It is soft in the mouth with a protracted finale. Wine for lovers of new world/oaked Chards! (ES)

France

90 Faiveley Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015, Burgundy ($25.95)
An amped-up basic Bourgogne that benefited from the warmth of the 2015 vintage. Cherry, raspberry, plum, anise and red flowers. Medium body, elegant with lots of flavour echoing on the finale. Substantial value and a great intro to the world that is Burgundian Pinot Noir. (ES)

Germany

90 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese 2015, Mosel ($29.95)
Starts off with a nose of honey, spice, peach, lemon and then transitions into a mouthful of lime, apple, citrus and mineral. Medium sweet with solid acidity. Serve alongside medium spiced curries. (ES)

Italy

White

89 Attems Pinot Grigio 2016, IGT Venezia Giulia ($19.95)
A surprisingly soft Grigio with a mineral core which supports the peach, citrus, yellow plum, apple and citrus. Put a good chill to it and serve it this summer on the patio. Very good to excellent quality. (ES)

Red

93 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2015, Toscana IGT ($84.95)
Absolutely delicious! The deep ruby colour leads into a bouquet of blackcurrant, dark cherry, plum, herbs, cocoa, vanilla and coffee. Full-bodied and still sharply tannic, so hold until 2020 and then drink until 2040. (ES)

92 Marziano Abbona Terlo Ravera Barolo 2011, Piedmont ($59.95)
I have had the chance to visit and taste at this winery on a couple of occasions and their commitment to quality is undeniable.  This 2011 is a soft (for Barolo) and fruity offering with cherry, rose, dried flower, mocha and spice. Full-bodied, with a grippy finale and the 15% alcohol peaking out at the edges. (ES)

89 Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2012, Tuscany ($44.95)
Not the biggest Brunello I have ever had, but a textbook rendition with raspberry, cherry, orange, plum, tobacco and earth. It still needs a year or two to come together. Roast leg of lamb would be brilliant with this wine. (ES)

88 Castelli del Grevepesa Clemente VII Chianti Classico 2014, Tuscany ($18.95)
A straightforward well made CC with sour cherry, plum, cassis and tobacco. Medium-body with high acidity and suave tannins. Perfect for that weeknight pasta or pizza meal. (ES)

Portugal

93 Pocas Junior Vintage Port 2013 ($58.95)
Made from vines between 40 to 60 years, this Vintage Port is black as night (as any good VP should) and serves up a beguiling nose of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, mint, cocoa and coffee. The palate starts off lean and the expands on the finale with a massive explosion of crème de cassis which carries long. Drink over the next 25 years. (ES)

USA

White

90 Franciscan Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley ($25.95)
A well priced Napa Chardonnay with the oak influence of cinnamon and vanilla working in tandem with banana, yellow apple pineapple and cream. There is sound acidity which gives lift. Pair with fish tacos topped with tropical fruits salsas. (ES)

Red

91 Raymond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley ($42.95)
Crème de cassis, blackberry, spice, mint and vanilla are found in this vibrant and full-bodied red. Acidity is higher than you would expect and the tannins are rounded. Excellent length and priced right for a Napa Cab. A blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot, Malbec and Petit Syrah. (ES)
 
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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.