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September 2018 Wine Ratings

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87 Luigi Bosca Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza ($19.95)

A weighty Chardonnay which sees fruit and oak come together, creating a melange of peach, pineapple, melon, apple, vanilla, cream and spice. Very good length with minerality and acidity carrying the finale. (ES)


91 Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2016, Twenty Mile Bench ($26.95)

An overt, rich and fruit forward Chardonnay, full of banana, pineapple, honey, sweet peach, fig, honey, vanilla and spice. Rich, flavorful and ripe, the essence of this wine carries long on the palate. (ES)

91 Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

This is a ripe and creamy Chardonnay with moderate aromas of peach, pineapple, vanilla, spice, butterscotch and a slight minerality. Leans to the full end of the spectrum and has lovely density as well as persistency. (ES)

90 Bachelder Saunders Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Beamsville Bench ($44.95)

From a small 2.5 acre vineyard comes this Chardonnay which is chock full of honey, apple, peach, yeast, white flowers and minerals. There is a touch of volatility which adds an extra layer of complexity. Cream and caramel bring the curtain down. A solid bottling, but there have been better renditions. (ES)

90 Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2016, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

Hidden Bench has hit a home run with their entry-level Chardonnay. The wine displays honey, peach, pear, apple, citrus, yeast, cream, spice and vanilla qualities. Excellent length, lovely acidity and a brilliant match for lobster or crab. (ES)

89 Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2016, Niagara ($24.95)

Bachelder’s workhorse Chardonnay is a natural ferment offering which features apple, honey, citrus, lemon and yeast. Medium body with an elegant personality, featuring a spice, mineral and earth finale. (ES)

89 Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2016, Vinemount Ridge 2016 ($27.95)

An absolute delight to drink. Sweet apple, yellow peach, honey, cream, vanilla and spice flood the senses. There is a round/creamy texture with a protracted finale. (ES)

88 Palatine Hills Chardonnay Neufeld Vineyard 2016, Niagara Lakeshore ($24.95)

An overt Chardonnay which hits 14.5% alcohol. Wall to wall peach, cream, honey, banana, fig, yellow apple, spice and vanilla. The palate is creamy with very good length and some heat creeping in at the end. (ES)


90 Arterra Pinot Noir 2016, Niagara ($29.95)

Made in an open, friendly style which will appeal to many. Concentrated and ripe, there is a fantastic nose of rose, dark cherry, plum, raspberry, vanilla and spice. Still needs another year to settle down and come together. (ES)

90 Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2016, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($38)

The warmth of 2016 has created a Franc with cassis, violets, herbs/ mint, cocoa and vanilla. Medium plus body, ripe tannins and excellent length. I think that a tomahawk steak with a rosemary butter sauce would be a phenomenal pairing. Drink over the next 6 to 7 years. (ES)

90 Stratus Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($38)

Yes, another winner Franc from Stratus! Deep ruby with a beguiling nose of crème de cassis, raspberry, damson plum, vanilla, mint, chocolate and spice. The sweet fruit palate adds nuances of vanilla and grilled herbs. Weighty and long. Now until 2024. (ES)

90 Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2016, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

Huff’s first ever Franc from the South Bay Vineyards is a real winner! It is stacked with fruit: blackberry, cassis, plum and raspberry. New oak adds vanilla, smoke and spice, helping to create a beautifully complex wine. Fresh acidity and fine-grained tannins will ensure mid-term cellaring. (ES)


89 Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Syrah 2016, Maipo ($21.95)

Lots of licorice, pepper, blackberry, raspberry and herbs are all in play in this full-ish Syrah! Great for those heavier/richer autumn meals. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)



90 Gérard Bertrand Cuvée Thomas Jefferson Crémant de Limoux Brut 2015, Limoux ($19.95)

One of the best value traditional method sparkling wines you will find from France! Toast, peach, pear, binned apple, lemon, mushroom and spiciness are all present. The rich texture, lively acidity and protracted finale make for one fine bubbly! A blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Mauzac. (ES)


89 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape 2015, Languedoc ($18.95)

A blend of Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre. Full-bodied and structured, this red serves up cassis, blueberry, plum, cherry, spice, black pepper and red flowers. There is great length with a tannic edge which will do well when paired alongside a rack of lamb. (ES)

88 Ferraton Père et Fils La Tournée Rouge 2016, Vin de France ($13.95)

A superb value red from Southern France. This blend of Syrah and Grenache features cherry, plum, spices, violets and herbs. Smooth and drinking beautifully now. It is a wine made for weeknight dinners, alongside pasta and pizza. (ES)

87 Gérard Bertrand Fitou 2015, Languedoc ($16.95)

Fitou wines are known for their easy drinking personality and this wine exemplifies this. Cherry, pepper, red flowers and garrigue are all in play. A little chill will go a long way. (ES)


88 Bellissima Prosecco Brut NV, Veneto ($24.95)

This organic bubbly is aptly named as it belongs to Christie Brinkley. The beauty continues in the glass with a bouquet of peach, pear, apple, toast and white flowers.  Light bodied and elegant, the wine possesses great length. Pair with oysters on the half shell or sushi. (ES)

South Africa

90 Waterkloof Seriously Cool Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenbosch ($17.95)

Made from old bush vines, which produce naturally low yields. This is a juicy Chenin which flaunts honey, melon, yellow apple, lemon, and white flowers.  Great length, and a wine that calls out for shrimp or scallops. (ES)


92 Torres Mas La Plana 2013, Penedès ($64.95)

Torres’ flagship Cabernet is a polished offering with waves of cassis, plum, olive, mint, smoky herbs and vanilla. There is depth, refined tannins and a long lasting impression. Roast leg of lamb is a sublime pairing with this beauty! (ES)

92 Torres Perpetual 2015, Priorat ($49.95)

Torres’ top-end Priorat is a structured red, made from 80 to 100-year-old vines. Plum, cherry, raspberry, thyme, cinnamon and chocolate hits the palate like a long-distance runner, with flavour, tannic strength and stamina building over time. It should age well for 15 years. A blend of 95% Carignan and 5% Grenache. (ES)

91 Torres Salmos 2015, Priorat ($39.95)

Salmos is one of two Priorats produced by Torres and the one that is made for ‘early drinking’. It is also noteworthy to mention that is one of the values of the appellation.  Hearty, this blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah is redolent with kirsch, plum, raisins, chocolate, vanilla and anise. On the palate, red flowers and scorched earth carry the protracted finale. (ES)


August 2018 Wine Ratings

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88 13th Street Cuvee Rosé NV, Niagara ($27.95)

Aged two years on the lees, it is the yeast and strawberry which first greets the taster, followed by cherry, earth and spice. Pinpoint bubbles caress the palate and there is fine length. (ES)

87 Fielding Estate Winery Sparkling Rose NV, Niagara ($29.95)

A blend of 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay. Mild aromas of strawberry, vanilla cream and toast. Pale salmon colour, delicate with a fresh finale and ready to drink. (ES)


91 Rosehall Run Vineyards JCR Rosehall Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Prince Edward County  ($34.95)

A sublime Chardonnay with a perfume of pineapple, yellow apple, honey, banana, cream, smoke, vanilla and clove. Elegant with fresh acidity and quintessential PEC minerality wrapping up the package. Try with roasted chicken or grilled salmon. (ES)

88 Malivoire Chardonnay 2016, Beamsville Bench ($19.95)

Medium body with cream, pineapple, apple, pear, spice and vanilla. Easy drinking and food friendly, especially with prawns or lobster with drawn butter. (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Pinot Gris 2017, Lincoln Lakeshore ($21.95)

Contains wine from vines that are 30 years old. Huge peach and banana on the nose followed by spice and cream on the palate. Good lift and fine length. Drink with a coquille St-Jacques or mahi-mahi with a jalapeno/fruit salsa. (ES)

88 Malivoire Brut NV, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

Aged for 52% months on the lees, this 80% Chardonnay bubbly features toast, apple, almond, white flower, green apple and citrus. Very good length with a creamy texture featuring small pinpoint bubbles. (ES)

88 13th Street Winery White Palette 2017, Niagara ($15.95)

A real crowd pleaser for sure! Off-dry with a delightful perfume of nectarine, peach, cantaloupe, wisteria and honey. Mostly Riesling and Pinot Gris with Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer acting as a backstop. Chill and serve alongside sushi.  (ES)

87 Pondview Winery Riesling 2016, Niagara ($17.95)

Bone-dry, with zippy acidity and profile of lime, mineral, white peach, grapefruit, apple and button mushroom. This is a wine which is made for food, especially oysters, so chill it down and shuck to your hearts content!

87 Malivoire Pinot Gris 2017, Beamsville Bench ($21.95)

Dry with a personality of white peach, pear, apple, almond and a touch of honey. Medium body with great length, hitting mineral and spicy notes on the finish. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery June’s Vineyards Chardonnay 2017, Creek Shores ($21.95)

The nose completely flatters in this non-oaked chardonnay: banana, jasmine, yellow apple and cream. Medium body, round texture and ready to drink. (ES)

87 13th Street Burger Blend White 2017, Niagara ($14.95)

A 60/40 blend of Riesling and Pinot Grigio. It is easy drinking with a cantaloupe, honey, lime and apple personality. There is a touch of residual and it is ready to go with cheese boards and fish tacos. (ES)

87 Malivoire Musqué Spritz 2017, Beamsville Bench ($21.95)

Made from the aromatic clone of Chardonnay (Musqué), this off-dry white has a slight spritz as the name dictates alongside peach, honey, yellow apple and white flowers. Fine length. (ES)


91 Rosehall Run Vineyards JCR Rosehall Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016,  Prince Edward County ($39.95)

From my favorite PEC producer comes this terroir driven Pinot redolent with strawberry, cranberry, cherry, floral, vanilla, earth and mineral notes. There is sweet fruit on the palate with fresh acidity and suave tannins which will ensure five years of aging, at least.  Very pretty indeed! (ES)

91 Malivoire Courtney Gamay 2016, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

Malivoire’s top Gamay is a stunning rendition in 2016, having benefited from the heat of the vintage. Dark cherry, strawberry, vanilla, cocoa, earth, tar and spice explode on the senses. Full-bodied with a concentrated mid-palate and protracted finale. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

90 13th Street Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Creek Shores ($29.95)

Kudos to winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas for turning in this top-notch Cab Sauv! Mint, cassis, cinnamon, violets, earth and vanilla are all in play in this full-bodied red. Still youthful and tannic , it requires some cellaring to let it express its full potential. Drink from 2020 to 2028. (ES)

90 Malivoire Wismer Cabernet Franc 2016, Twenty Mile Bench ($27.95)

Strawberry, vanilla, cassis, green olive, violets and herbs are layered in this full-bodied red. It is concentrated with lots of tannins, mandating two to thre years of cellaring before been broached. A medium rare rib eye steak is the way to go. (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Cabernet Franc 2016, Niagara ($24.95)

A structured Cab Franc with lots of tannins underpinning the cassis, violets, thyme, graphite and spice and vanilla. Great length but still needs a year or two in the bottle to come together. Require something grilled, preferably along the lines of cow. (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Cabernet-Syrah 2016, Niagara ($29.95)

Even though it is an almost equal blend of Cab Sauv and Syrah, it is the pepper and smoke of the Syrah which first greets the senses. This is then followed by cassis, violets, cocoa and oregano. Medium body and fine length. (ES)

88 Malivoire Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Lincoln Lakeshore ($34.95)

A job well done as Malvoire winemaker, Shiraz Mottiar, has turned in a serious Cabernet Sauvignon from a challenging red wine vintage in Niagara. On the full end of the spectrum, there is a complex mix of cassis, chocolate, green olive, violets, tobacco, spice, cocoa and vanilla. Great length and ready serve alongside a rack of lamb. (ES)

88 Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2017, Niagara ($19.95)

A sexy nose of cherry, strawberry, oregano, black pepper and violets carry to the palate where blue fruits enter the picture. Very good length, lively acidity and a subtle tannins structure. Perfect for  BBQ fare. (ES)

88 Malivoire Gamay 2017, Niagara ($17.95)

Always one of Niagara’s top Gamays. Lovely strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, black pepper, herbs and vanilla. Juicy with soft tannins and ready to drink. A crowd pleaser to be sure! (ES)

87 Fielding Estate Winery Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc 2016, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

Medium ruby with a bouquet of raspberry, rhubarb, cassis, cinnamon and vanilla. The palate chimes in with the same, alongside black pepper and cocoa. Very good length with a juicy edge. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Gamay 2017, Niagara ($19.95)

Strawberry, violets, black pepper, thyme and hints of leather jump out of the glass and onto the taste buds. Smooth, with a mouthwatering personality and suave tannins. Very good length.  Made for those pasta and pizza evenings. (ES)


93 Champagne Collet Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne ($84.95)

A stunning 100% Chardonnay bubbly from the oldest co-operative in all of Champagne. Aged 5 years sur lie,  it will appeal to those who like a more mature/autolytic (yeasty) style as it features baked apple, toast, caramel, yeast, anise and nuttiness. There is lovely freshness, splendid length and loads of pinpoint bubbles. Chapeau! (ES)

South Africa

91 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2017, Hemel-En-Aarde Valley ($44.95)

From one of SA’s best Chardonnay producers comes this lovely rendition. Medium plus body with cream, baked apple, pineapple, spice, vanilla and honey. Long lasting with apple being the dominant echo. (ES)


July 2018 Wine Ratings

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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 Riesling 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)



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!

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 2014, 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)


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)


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)


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 punch. Cherry, raspberry, strawberry, undergrowth, spice and hints of vanilla are in play.  Try with duck rillettes or terrines.  (ES)


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 pasta and pizza will work well with this red. (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.