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Wine Reviews

November 2017 Ratings

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Argentina

White

88 Catena Chardonnay High Mountain Vines 2016, Mendoza ($19.95)
Here you will find an obvious, oaky and upfront Chardonnay with loads of pineapple, mango, lemon, yellow apple and honey. The palate is creamy and buttery, with a strike of acidity which provides lift. Fine length. Halibut or salmon. (ES)

Red

89 Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza ($19.95)
A full-bodied Malbec with loads of blackberry, plum, dark cherry, raspberry, spice, cocoa and vanilla. Tannins are firm, so hold for a year or two then drink over the next six years. (ES)

89 Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2015, Mendoza ($19.95)
Packs good power for a $20 red. Medium plus body, there is purple/red colour and loads of plum, blackberry, raspberry, violets, herbs, spice and vanilla. Excellent length and some fine tannins round out the package. Lamb burgers or ratatouille would be delicious with this wine. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
Top notch stuff! Baked apple, pear, white peach, honey, cream, spice, vanilla and citrus leap from the glass and on to the palate. Sexy mouthfeel with refreshing acidity and a finish which carries long. Lobster or crab poached in butter all the way with this beauty! (ES)

92 Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2016, Niagara ($49.95/375ml)
A flattering Icewine with a mouth-coating texture and flavours of bergamot jam, peach, honey, pineapple, sweet apple, spice and minerals. There is acidity which frames everything nicely and brilliant length. Who needs dessert with this beauty -  just chill and serve! (ES)

90 Reif Estate Winery The Stars Sparkling Riesling, Ontario ($21.95)
Made in the Charmat Method, there is a lifted bouquet of white flowers, tangerine, banana,  peach and honey. This leads into a mouthful of sweet apple flavours accented by cinnamon and lime. It is off-dry with crisp acidity and bubbles providing symmetry. Excellent length and ready to drink. (ES)

89 Two Sisters Riesling 2016, Niagara ($35)         

Off-dry with a lot of acidic tension, this crisp white doles out the pear, apple, lemon zest, nectarine and mineral. Excellent length and ready to be paired with arancini or oysters on the half shell. (ES)

 


Red

92 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Speck Family Reserve 2016, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
This is HOP’s finest Baco Noir to date! Full-bodied, it exudes loads of blackberry, plum, dark cherry, chocolate, vanilla, hickory and baking spice. There is great concentration and density as well as excellent length. Drink until 2023, preferably with braised dishes. (ES)

91 Two Sisters Cabernet Franc Reserve 2013, Niagara River ($37)

Without a doubt, one of the best reds from the 2013 Vintage, as the combination of low yields and late picking has produced a full-bodied red which pushes 15% alcohol, with a concentrated mid-palate and fabulous length. Quintessential Franc with roasted red pepper, cassis, black raspberry, violets, smoke, black olives and graphite. Drink until 2022. (ES)

91 Two Sisters Estate Red Reserve 2012, Niagara River ($37)

Another stunning 2012 red from Two Sisters, this one based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a lifted personality of cassis, dark plum, raspberry, vanilla, anise and tobacco smoke. Elegant, with a sweet mid-palate and fine tannins. Drink over the next six years. Fans of Bordeaux will find gravitate to this wine. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Niagara River ($64)

Cassis, fraises du bois, black raspberry, violets and vanilla work as one in this refined red. Nice weight and density as well as a long aftertaste. Drink or hold, but make sure to serve alongside a rack of lamb accented with garlic and rosemary. (ES)

 

89 Two Sisters Merlot 2013, Niagara River ($49)

A cool climate Merlot with plum, dark cherry, raspberry, roasted herbs, vanilla and smoke. There is fine length, some grippy tannins and a touch of heat. Duck breast with a red wine reduction would be divine with this wine. (ES)


87 Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2016, Niagara ($14.95)
A versatile, well-priced Bordeaux Blend, which features cassis, plum, raspberry, herbs, smoke and spice. Medium body and perfect for those pasta and pizza evenings. (ES)

Chile

87 Miguel Torres Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016, Central Valley ($14.95)
A punchy Sauv Blanc which leans towards the grassy/jalapeno end of the spectrum. You will also find grapefruit, lime, passion fruit and fruit salad. Popping acidity and fine length round out the package. (ES)

France

White

88 Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer 2015, Alsace ($18.95)
A powerful nose of honey, ripe peach, rose, mango, lychee, cold cream and spice spill over onto an off-dry palate. There is sound acidity, a touch of heat and great length. Serve alongside Thai spring rolls or Chicken Tikka Masala. (ES)

Red

88 Gérard Bertrand Saint Chinian 2015, Languedoc ($17.95)
A warm red with cassis, raspberry, violets, black pepper, rosemary, mint and hints of leather. Med plus body with very good length and grippy tannins. Nice a nice steak to tam (ES)

87 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2016, Loire Valley ($22.95)
A mild Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of fruit salad, lime, apple, melon,  grapefruit, lilac, grass and white pepper. Dry, with a mineral core and hints of passion fruit and herbs on the finale. (ES)

Spain

White

94 Bodegas Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Anada 2014, Andalucia ($24.95)
If you are a fan of super rich stickies with low acidity, then this wine falls right into your wheelhouse. Unctuous, there is masses of toffee, burnt sugar, Amaretto, maple syrup, dried figs and dates. There is a brilliant finale with over 400 g/l of sugar. Needs a good chill before being served. (ES)

88 Torres Habitat Garnacha-Syrah 2015, Catalyuna ($19.95)
Organically grown, there is perfumed red pumps out blackberry/cherry jam alongside clove, smoke, rosemary, flowers and cocoa. Already drinking beautifully so pair alongside paella or lamb chops. (ES)

Italy

92 Fontanafredda Vigna La Rosa Barolo 2013, PIedmont ($74.95)
This single vineyard Barolo is hugely aromatic with plum, cherry, licorice, cedar and tar beguiling the senses. Full bodied, it is firmly structured, so hold until 2019 then drink until 2030. (ES)

90 Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2015, Toscana IGT ($21.95)
This red always delivers the goods at a fair price! A blend of 50% Cab sauv, 30% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc and 10% Sangiovese serves up cassis, raspberry, dark cherry, mint, vanilla and spice. Drink now or cellar for another 5 years, the choice is yours. (ES)

90 Fontanafredda Serralunga d’Alba Barolo, Piedmont ($44.95)
Plum, spice, tobacco, red flower and tar on the nose meet wup with cherry, earth, vanilla and spice on the palate. Full-bodied with elevated tannins, brisk acid and a lingering aftertaste. (ES)

90 San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2015, Tuscany ($24)
I was blown away after tasting the portfolio of this biodynamic producer at this year’s Italian Wine Show in Toronto. Plum, cherry, humus, spice, herbs are built on a concentrated frame. Excellent length, and perfectly suited for a porterhouse steak! (ES)

88 Masi Campofiorin 2014, Veneto ($21.95)
This wine, the original Ripasso, celebrates its 50th birthday with this vintage. It is ripe with plum, raspberry, cherry, violets, tobacco, cocoa, herbs and spice. Fresh acidity and fine grains tannins round out the package. Ready to drink. Try with a sausage ragu! (ES)

88 Fontanafredda Barolo 2013, Piedmont ($29.95)
Always solid value for Barolo! Cherry, plum, spice, vanilla, earth, dried flowers and tar work their way out of the glass and onto the palate. Very good length with dry tannins. (ES)

USA

92 Fess Parker Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Santa Maria Valley ($64.95)
From California’s Central Coast comes this rich and textured Pinot Noir. Black and red fruit snuggle up with rose, anise, earth. Tannins are firm, acidity brims and there is excellent length. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

92 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2014, Dundee Hills ($52.95)
Here is a vibrant and flavorful Oregon Pinot Noir. Full-bodied, there is a plethora of red berry fruit, alongside plum, beetroot, rose, spice, mushroom and smoke. Juicy acidity, fine tannins and a velvety complete and seductive package. Drink until 2022. (ES)
 

September 2017 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

88 La Linda Private Selection Old Vines Malbec 2014, Mendoza ($15.95)
From the venerable house of Luigi Bosca comes this intensely coloured and perfumed Malbec full of blackberry, plum, blueberry, violets and anise. Full bodied with good density and a lingering blue fruit aftertaste. (ES)

Austria

89 Domaine Wachau Terrassen Federspiel 2015, Wachau ($21.95)
Dry, this mineral driven Riesling also flaunts bergamot, citrus, orange peel and notes of honey. There is loads of freshness which helps carry the finale. Pork schnitzel please! (ES)

Canada

White

88 Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2016, Vinemount Ridge ($24.95)
Peach, cream, honey, white pepper, flowers and citrus are all in play. Off-dry and ready to serve. Try with Munster cheese or tarte flambée. (ES)

88 Redstone Gewürztraminer 2016, Niagara ($21.95)
For a wine that is only 11.5% alcohol, this wine packs quite a punch. There is a slight peach colour which denotes some skin contact. Honey, rose water, anise, cold cream, pink grapefruit are all in play. Off-dry with an extended finale. Serve alongside your favorite spicy cuisine, from Indian to Asian to Mexican. (ES)

88 Pondview Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($17.95)
This Sauvignon Blanc delivers above its pay grade. A huge bouquet of nectarine, guava, passion fruit, poached pear and grapefruit. On the palate, it is dry with fresh acidity and very good length as well as added nuances of lemon balm and minerals. Oyster time! (ES)

87 Redstone Viognier Redfoot Vineyard 2015, Lincoln Lakeshore ($24.95)
This wine features classic Viognier aromas of banana, apricot, fresh flowers, honey, cream and anise. Medium body, crisp acidity and great length. Drink now. (ES)

87 Pondview Estate Winery Riesling 2016, Niagara ($17.95)
Made in an off-dry style, this is a crisp Riesling which features lime, green apple, white peach, powdered candies and minerals. Fine length and well suited with pork dishes. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Fumé Sauvignon Blanc Estate 2016, Short Hills Bench ($19.95)
Pale yellow, there is a bouquet of fresh cut grass, lemon balm, grapefruit, spice, honey, vanilla and white flowers. Dry, there is very good length and a soft finale. (ES)

86 Pondview Estate Winery Viognier 2016, Niagara ($17.95)
A lighter style of Viognier with aromas of peach, honey, banana, flowers, spice and cream. Crisp and ready to drink. (ES)

Red

89 Tawse Unfiltered Redfoot Vineyard Gamay 2016, Lincoln Lakeshore ($28.95)
A delightful Gamay with a profile of plum, strawberry, black pepper, dry earth and flowers. A lifted palate and easy tannins make for an excellent match with charcuterie and terrines. (ES)

89 Redstone Cabernet Franc Redstone Vineyard 2013, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)
A deep ruby colour leads into a bouquet of cassis, plum, tobacco, licorice, herbs, violets and dark cocoa. Fullish, it is concentrated, and the aftertaste lingers. A job well done from a difficult red wine vintage. (ES)

88 Tawse Quarry Road Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2016, Vinemount Ridge ($34.95)
An elegant frame supports Cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, beet root, iron, vanilla and spice. Fresh acidity and suave tannins add support. Magret de canard would be bliss! (ES)

88 Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2013, Lincoln Lakeshore ($32.15)
Typical cool-climate Franc notes of cassis, raspberry, tobacco, graphite, violets, cocoa and green notes. Elegant, there are fine grained tannins and freshness. Ready to drink, with braised meats and stews. (ES)

87 Pondview Estate Winery Merlot Reserve 2015, Niagara ($22.95)
Plum, dark cherry, herbs, cocoa and baking space appear in this easy drinking Merlot. The tannins are supple and there is a dash a mint on the finale. (ES)

France

91 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Nicolas Vieilles Vignes Grenache Noir 2015, IGP Cotes Catalanes ($17)
This 100% Grenache comes from the Roussillon area of Southern France. Full bodied and rich, it is a sexy red with kirsch, blackberries, licorice, garrigue and olive.  Perfect with roasts. Drink until 2020. (ES)

88 Manoir de Mercy Mercurey 2014, Burgundy ($29.95)
Plum, raspberry, sweet cherry, beet root, button mushroom, licorice and red flowers waft out of the glass and onto the palate, where brisk acidity and supple tannins round out the experience. Needs some duck to make it work perfectly. (ES)

Italy

93 Ornellaia 2013, Bolgheri Superiore ($199.95)
A polished Ornellaia with a creamy texture and flavour of cassis, plum, raspberry, anise, herbs and vanilla. Full bodied, the tannins are ripe, but dusty, with an impressive finale. Cellar for a couple of years so everything folds together and then drink for another 15 afterward. (ES)

90 Planeta Frappato Vittoria 2015, Sicily ($24.95)
This Sicilian red is a supple offering with wall to wall raspberry, cherry, rose, violets, clove and minerals. There is sound acidity and velvety tannins alongside a long floral, saline aftertaste. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)

89 Brancaia Chianti Classico 2015, Tuscany ($24.95)
A light and elegant Chianti made from 100% Sangiovese. Cherry, dried leaves, tobacco, and spice play nicely together. Lengthy with five years of life ahead. (ES)

89 Passo del Cardinale Primitivo di Manduria 2014, Puglia ($18.95)
This Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) features lots raisins, plum, raspberry, black tea, cola, cocoa, purple flowers and dried earth. Full bodied, there is a long finish and present tannins. BBQ all the way. (ES)

Spain

91 Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro 500ml ($16.95)
Torres has been making this fortified Muscat since 1946. Heady aromas of orange marmalade, citrus peel, honey drenched flowers and spice inundate the senses. Sweet, rich and soothing. Excellent value! (ES)

90 El Gorú Monastrell/Syrah/Petit Verdot 2015, Jumilla ($13.95)
This wine is a stellar value, especially if you like modern and hefty reds. An opaque purple tinged colour leads into a bouquet of blackberry, crème de cassis, spice and cocoa. Excellent length with tannins to either drink or age. Grill up some steak and go to town. (ES)

88 Señorío De P. Peciña Crianza 2012, Rioja ($21.95)
Old -School Rioja all the way with dried fruit, leather, tomato paste, herbs, cedar and cured meats. Mid-weight, fresh acid and easy-going tannins complete the package. Lamb skewers would be perfect! (ES)
 

August 2017 Wine Ratings

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Austria

88 Esterházy Weingut Leithaberg DAC Chardonnay 2015, Burgenland ($19.95)
Honey, sweet apple, spice, mineral, white flowers and cream are present on a medium body frame. Very good length and nice little discovery from Austria.  (ES)

Canada

White

92 Château des Charmes Blanc de Blancs 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($32.95)
Wow! Just wow! Made from low yields and fermented in old barrels,  this wine is an absolute beauty with toast, honey, flowers, yeast, white peach, apple and cream. Full in the mouth there is good mousse and a superb finale. Perfect for celebrating the upcoming holiday season. (ES)

92 Wescott Vineyards Lenko Old Vine Chardonnay 2014, Beamsville Bench ($32.95)
Made from Ontario’s oldest Chardonnay vines which planted back in the 1950s! Golden colour with impressive richness and a good amount of oak as support. Vanilla, toast, pineapple, honey, baking spice, golden apple and cream are in play. Excellent length with bright acidity and long aftertaste.

91 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($35.80)
Another excellent Robyn's Block Chardonnay! Only 12% alcohol, but there is depth and elegance combined. Vanilla, sweet apple, cream, fig, banana, white flower, earth and mineral are all wrapped together. Fine length. (ES)

90 Reif Estate Winery Gewürztraminer 2015, Niagara River ($19.95)
Alsace meets Canada. The juice spent 24 hours in contact with its skins to give more flavour and aroma. Turkish Delight is the driving force here with honey, peach, spice, mango and cream weaving in. Long finale and off-dry, so serve with Peking Duck or chili chicken. (ES)

89 Reif Estate Winery Kerner Reserve 2016, Niagara River ($18.95)
Kerner is an aromatic white grape that is a crossing between Riesling and a red grape called Trollinger. Huge peach, honeysuckle, lime, sweet apple and spice. Off-dry and ideally suited for sushi. (ES)

88 Château des Charmes Riesling Old Vines 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($17.95)
Mineral, lime, apple, white peach, honey, flowers are all present in this taut Riesling. There is a dash of residual sugar, but with all the brisk acidity, it comes across as a dry wine. Pair with Choucroute Garnie or fresh water fish. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Burger Blend Riesling/Pinot Grigio 2016, Niagara ($13.95)
Aromatic, there is peach, fresh flowers, honey, lime and citrus on the nose; this meets up with notes of nectarine and orange on the palate. Very good length, off-dry and 11.5% alcohol. (ES)

86 Huff Estates Riesling Off-Dry 2016, Ontario ($20)
Soft and smooth with mineral, citrus, white peach and honey. Even though there is 17 g/l of residual sugar, it comes across as dry due to the elevated acidity. Drink now. (ES)

86 Sprucewood Shores Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Ontario ($18.95)
A refreshing and easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry, grapefruit, honey, fresh herbs and line. Light with medium length. Drink up. (ES)

85 Sprucewood Shores Riesling 2016, Ontario ($13.95)
Smokey minerals, peach, ginger, lime and hints of honey are featured in this off-dry wine. Crisp acidity rounds it all out. Pair with BBQ Chinese pork or spicy fish tacos. (ES)

85 Château des Charmes Aligoté 2016, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($15.95)
A soft and easy drinking Aligoté with apple, pear, banana and citrus. Good length. Chill well and serve with shellfish. (ES)

Red

91 Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2016, Beamsville Bench ($19.95)
Besides being Winemaker of The Year at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards,  Shiraz Mottiar, is without a doubt making Ontario’s best Gamays-period! This vintage features strawberry, raspberry, plum, black pepper and purple flower. There is a sense of sweet fruit on the lips, this before Gamay’s lovely acidity sweeps everything up. Great stuff! (ES)

91 Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2014, Four Mile Creek ($45)
Another impressive rendition of this wine! Full bodied and complex, there is cassis, raspberry, smoke, roasted pepper, violets, pencil shavings, dried earth, tobacco and chocolate. Concentrated and ripe, there are good tannins, which make me want to pair with rack of lamb. (ES)

90 Ravine Vineyard Cabernet Franc Nancy’s Block. St. Davids Bench ($55)
A beautiful Cabernet Franc with cassis, raspberry, cherry,m tobacco, baking spice, graphite and violets. Tannins are ripe, but non-obtrusive and support the medium body. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir, Ontario ($19.95)
HOP continues to prove they are the Baco-masters! The heat of the 2016 vintage has produced an elegant Baco with blackberry, raspberry, smoke, chocolate, anise and scorched earth. Medium to full body with splendid length and enough tannins to allow five plus years of aging, if so desired, but it is ready to drink also. (ES)

88 Red House Wine Co. Cabernet Shiraz, Niagara ($13.95)
This wine delivers well above its pay-grade. Medium plus body, it provides a rich mouthful of plum, blackberry, raspberry, violets, tar, spice, and chocolate. There is fine length with ripe tannins and just a hint of residual sugar. Steak time! (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Burger Blend Gamay Noir/Pinot Noir 2016, Niagara ($14.95)
This wine is aptly named as BBQ fair (as well as pasta/pizza) would be brilliant with this juicy red. Black pepper, raspberry, carnation and herbs are supported by soft tannins and fresh acidity. (ES)

87 Huff Estates Merlot 2016, Ontario ($20)
Vinified in stainless steel, this Merlot delivers plum, raspberry, Bing cherry, smoke, leather and spice. Medium body, medium tannins and fresh acidity round out the package. Drink up. (ES)

86 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2016, Ontario ($14.95)
HOPs entry level Baco features raspberry, blackberry, cinnamon, violets, chocolate, spice and herbs which flow out of the glass and onto the taste buds. Nice depth and freshness. Drink now with grilled sausages. (ES)

France

89 Drappier Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne ($60)
A fine Champers with honey, mushroom, toast, chalk, minerals and green apple built on a crisp frame with small pinpoint bubbles carrying the finale. (ES)

87 Domaine Laroche Saint Martin Chablis, Burgundy ($25.25)
From one of the most famous names in Chablis comes this lean and crisp white, delivering loads of minerals, green apple and citrus. Oysters please!

Italy

87 Mont’Albano Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Delle Venezie 2015, Veneto ($16.95)
Refosco is ancient red varietal found primarily in North Eastern Italy. Raspberry, plum, vanilla, cocoa, spice, purple flower are built on a medium body frame. Medium length and a quintessential pasta/pizza wine. (ES)
 
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Wine Facts

To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.