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May 2018 Wine Ratings

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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)

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)

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)

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)

 

 

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)
 

February 2018 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

91 Coyote’s Run Vidal Icewine 2016, Niagara ($49.95/375ml)
Intense and rich, peach, orange marmalade, mango, pineapple, ginger, and honey are all found in this soft Icewine. Excellent length. (ES)

91 Fielding Estate Riesling Icewine 2016, Niagara ($36.95/200ml)
Peach, apricot, toffee, apple juice, lemon peel and thyme honey leap out of the glass an onto the palate. Fresh acidity provides lift, and it finishes on a mineral note. (ES)

90 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2016, Niagara Escarpment ($19.95)
From a warm vintage comes this intense Riesling featuring peach compote, bergamot, lime, citrus and mineral. The sweetness (35g/l) is more apparent in this vintage when compared to a cooler year such as 2014 (my favorite), where there is an electric acidity.  Drink now. (ES)

88 Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2016, Niagara ($21.95/200ml)
One of the best value Icewine’s on the market. Not overly sweet with apple juice, peach, fresh flowers, honey and citrus working in tandem. Fine length. (ES)

87 Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Frissonesque Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($16.95)
SAS’s first ever Sauvignon blanc is a zesty offering which delivers fresh herbs, green apple, pink grapefruit, papaya, passion fruit and citrus. Serve alongside goat cheese crostini or grilled haddock drizzled with lemon, olive oil and fresh oregano. (ES)

87 Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White 2015, Niagara ($14.95)
This is a 100% Riesling, which is off-dry (29g/l). There is brisk acidity and profile of lime, petrol, honey, mineral and grapefruit. It requires something spicy, so that the sweetness can tame the fire. Try with Thai coconut curry or sushi with a heavy dose of soy sauce and wasabi. (ES)

86 Henry of Pelham Chardonnay 2016, Niagara ($14.95)
A straight-up, non-oaked Chardonnay that has sen some sur-lie aging. Fresh acidity supports apple, pear, white grapefruit, yeast and hints of anise. Medium length. Drink up. (ES)

Red

90 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2016, Short Hills Bench ($34.95)
Produced from HOP’s oldest Pinot Noir vines, this multi-clone offering reveals raspberry, black currant, cherry, red flowers and cinnamon.  Excellent length, and still tight, so hold until 2019 before opening. Roast chicken stuffed with black truffles would be be bliss with this wine. (ES)

89 13th Street Wine Corp Gamay Noir 2016, Niagara ($19.95)
A clean and fruit forward Gamay with candied strawberry and raspberry which meshes with blueberry, black pepper and herbs.  Perfect for Napolitana pizza or pasta and meat sauce. (ES)

89 Family Tree by Henry of Pelham 2016, Ontario ($18.95)
Blend five red grapes and add 17 months of oak aging and you have created a redolent red with smoke, chocolate, dark cherry, cassis, clove, violets and black olive. Lamb burgers or shish kabob, please!

88 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2016, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
This Pinot possesses a pale ruby colour and aromas of cherry, plum, red flowers and hints of cocoa. Medium body and acidity with fine-grained tannins.  Serve alongside a duck breast with a red currant sauce. (ES)

87 Vineland Estates Cabernet Merlot 2016, Niagara ($15)
Approachable, this red packs the flavour for a solid price. Cassis, raspberry, plum, tobacco and violets are all in play. Medium plus length. A blend of Cabernet Franc 64%, Merlot 21% and Cabernet Sauvignon 15%. Grab a few bottles for the BBQ season! (ES)

Chile

White

89 San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Elqui Valley ($19.95)
From Elqui (The Valley of The Stars) comes this super crisp Chardonnay which is grown on chalky soils. Stone fruit, tree fruit and judicious oak create an elegant and food friendly wine. Lobster or seabass in a beurre blanc sauce would be divine. (ES)

Red

91 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2015, Peumo ($19.95)
Delivers classic Carmenère flavours of crème de cassis, plum, bell pepper/mint, spice and violets. Full- bodied, there is a plush texture as well as elevated tannins. Excellent length. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

Italy

91 Tenuta Le Colonne 2015, Bolgheri ($26.95)
A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Shows the warmth of the 2015 vintage via the rich dark fruit: crème de cassis, blackberry, plum and Chambord liqueur. Add some dried herbs, cocoa, vanilla and spice and you have a full-bodied, smooth offering with an extended finale. (ES)

90 Sartori Amarone Della Valpolicella Corte Brà 2010, Veneto ($49.95)
Concentrated, this Amarone offers textbook aromas of raisins, currants, figs, dried herbs, potpourri, chocolate and licorice. Full-bodied with 15.5% alcohol backstopping the entire package. Drink until 2022. (ES)

USA

White

88 Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2015, Russian River Valley ($24.95)
Plush, yet refined, thanks to RRV’s cool climate, this Chardonnay doles out the tropical fruit, sweet apple, spiced pear, vanilla and cream. On the full end of the spectrum, there is great length and it is ready to drink. (ES)

Red

89 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, California ($24.95)
A multi-appellation California Cab with lots of upfront blackberry, plum, dark cherry, vanilla, chocolate and spice.  Tannins are polished, so it is ready to drink alongside a medium rare rib-eye. (ES)

89 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley ($34.95)
Textbook Napa, featuring blackberry, cassis, plum and mint wrapped around spice and vanilla. The palate is smooth, with a juicy edge, which is the hallmark of the 2014 vintage. Drink over the next three years. (ES)

89 Buena Vista The Legendary Badge Petite Sirah 2016 ($17.95)
Black/purple, as any self-respecting Petite Sirah should be! Full-bodied and intense, there are masses of cassis, blackberries, dark cherry, cocoa, vanilla and licorice. Tannins are present but rounded, and the protracted finish augurs well for prime rib. (ES)

87 Buena Vista Winery The Count Founder’s Red Wine 2014, Sonoma ($26.95)
This blend of unidentified red varietals pays homage to ‘Field Blends,’ the signature wine style of Sonoma from the mid-1800s right up until the 1970s. Plum, blackberry, mocha and undercurrent of weedy tobacco/herbs meet up with 14.5% alcohol. Medium plus length. (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.