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July 2005 Wine Ratings

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Canada
Niagara

90 Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2003, Niagara ($19.95/ 200ml)
Winemaker Tom Green has quietly emerged from Ontario winemaking icon Eddie Gurinskas' shadow, and is now making quality wines right across the board for both Lakeview and Birchwood. Deep yellow colour with a nose of honey, apricot and apple juice. Excellent length. (ES)

90 Fielding Estate Riesling Reserve 2004, Niagara ($19.95)
Made from 27 year old vines, this is a serious wine with serious structure that requires bottle aging. Even though there is 38g/l of residual sugar, the bright acid shines through, giving the impression of an off dry wine. Flavours of mineral, lime zest and peach. From 2008 to 2020. (ES)

89 Fielding Estate Riesling Semi Dry 2004, Niagara ($12.95)
Opened in May of this year, Fielding has positioned itself as a serious producer of quality wines in Ontario. This wine, the gold medal winner at the Ontario Wine Awards demonstrates this fact. Medium bodied with lime, grapefruit, earl grey tea and minerals. Excellent length with lots of lift in the mouth. Oh, by the way-one hell of a great price to boot! Buy it by the case. Now to 2012. (ES)

89 Fielding Estate Chardonnay Musqué 2004, Niagara ($13.45)
Another Gold medal at the Ontario Wine Awards, and for under $15, this is a no brainer purchase. Peach, flowers, bubble gum and spice are all present. Nice density on the palate with a lengthy finish. Drink over the next 2 years to take advantage of the flattering aromatics. (ES)

89 Tawse Vineyard Robyn's Block Chardonnay Reserve 2002, Niagara ($48)
Tawse may be a new winery in Beamsville but winemaker Deborah Paskus has lots of experience when it comes to making superb Chardonnay. Those who have tried her great Temkin-Paskus Chardonnays of the 90s can attest to this fact. Medium yellow colour with a bouquet of caramel, dried apricot, orange peel, flowers and pineapple. The palate launches in with honey and clove, with a lengthy finish. Now to 2009. (ES)

89 Tawse Vineyard Rieling 2003, Niagara ($22)
Almost 30 year old vines were used to make this wine. White gold with a distinctively Mosel nose of mineral, lime, peach and hints of petrol. Off dry with lots of citrus on the tongue. Nice balance and almost excellent length. Now to 2014.

88 Vineland Estates Semi Dry Riesling 2003, Niagara ($11.95)
I have had this wine four times in the past two months and it keeps improving each time. It represents a huge value and is a mandatory case purchase. Light and elegant, with lots of bergamot, lime, citrus and mineral flavours. Longevity is not a problem, so drink until to 2013. (ES)

87 Angel's Gate Riesling Sussreserve 2004, Niagara ($12.95)
The 04 vintage is turning out to be a fabulous one for the Riesling grape. The long cool autumn has given extra depth and complexity to the wines. This is a real charmer with a nose of peach, lime, powdered candy and minerals. The acid and sweetness work in unison, carrying the length. Now to 2011. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Corp Chardonnay 2003, Niagara ($20)
As I have said before, 13th Street has one of the most honourable pricing policies in the business. Depending on the vintage and wine, they will adjust prices, to reflect the quality. For example, this wine has decreased in price since the last vintage, but it is still a solid value. Caramel, peach, citrus and honey with very good length. Drink over the next two years. (ES)

85 Fielding Estate Chardonnay 2004, Niagara ($12.95)
An unoaked Chard with a pale water colour. Light to medium bodied with a bouquet of musk melon, honey and green apple. Medium finish. Drink now. (ES)

88 Maleta VIEW Estate Winery Gamay 2002, Niagara ($24)
This wine garnered a silver medal at this year's Ontario Wine Awards, coming within a hair of winning the gold medal. An aromatic nose of raspberry and strawberry jam, blueberries, plum, black pepper and pain grille. Very good length, nice density and fresh acid. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Willow Heights Meritage Tresette 2002, Niagara ($29.95)
The 02 Tresette is a smoky, black fruit, spicy, vanilla offering with a slight vegetal undertone. Medium bodied and rich, it displays a lengthy finish and ripe tannins. (ES)

88 13th Street Wine Corp Red N/V, (18)
Due to the serious short crop caused by the harsh winter of 03, 13th Street blended their Bordeaux grapes from the Funk vineyard with premium Zinfandel and Syrah juice from California. This is a hearty wine that should be stashed away until this winter and then consumed with hearty fair, such as roasts or stews. Plums, blackberries and raspberry are on the nose while the mouth is jammy with much of the same fruit appearing. There is serious grip but drink it over the next two years to take advantage of the fruit. (ES)

88 13 Street Wine Corp Merlot Rose 2003, Niagara ($16)
This is definitely one of the two best roses (the other is Malivoire's) in Ontario. The wine is wall to wall strawberries and raspberries with a creamy/ milky texture. Serve it up this Thanksgiving, with the traditional "gobble" fare. (ES

 

May 2005 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

91 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2003, Niagara ($54.95)
A shinning yellow colour paves the way to a bouquet of honey, peaches, citrus fruit and a touch of hickory. It is full bodied with excellent concentration and length. The finish reverberates with the taste of lychee nut, while fresh acid diminishes any heaviness. (ES)

89 Stratus White 2002, Niagara ($36)
Stratus White, like the Red, is a blend of numerous grapes, but the proportions are of course a secret, à la DiVinci Code. To my taste, it is the Gewurz component which dominates on the nose. Superb aromatics of honey, peach, spice, lanolin and bubble gum are present. It is dry with a dense mid palate of spice and caramel and a touch of heat on the finish. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Chateau des Charmes St Davids Bench Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Niagara ($14.95)
Gold medal winner for best Sauvignon Blanc at this year's Ontario Wine Awards. Pale yellow with a nose of citrus, fresh cut grass, mineral, passion fruit and a touch of honey. Medium bodied with a citrus and mineral laden finish. Refreshing and ideal for those lazy hazy summer patio days. (ES)

88 Vineland Estates Dry Riesling 2004, Niagara ($10.95)
Winemaker Brian Schmidt feels that the 2004 Rieslings are his best ever. I would have to agree! The wine is still very young, so give it 6 months in the bottle. Delicate with aromas of bergamot (think Earl Grey tea), peach jam, lime and minerals. Length is very good with bergamot, citrus, peach and minerals resonating in the mouth. Having tasted all of Vineland Rieslings since 1989, I can definitely say that this wine will age for 8 years at least. (ES)



Red

91 Stratus Red 2001, Niagara ($38)
The 01 Stratus is a blend of 7 grapes, including such notables as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Gamay. It is a beguiling combination of smoke, pain grille, blackberries, plums, and vanilla. Open knit with a soft mouthfeel, the wine is beautifully concentrated on the palate with excellent length. Offers so much right now that there is no need to cellar, but the wine has the stuffing to age. Drink until 2011. (ES)

89 Stratus Red 2002, Niagara ($38)
More linear than the 01, displaying black fruit, Indian spice, bell pepper and smoke. The palate is rich with very good length and firm tannins. Now to 2012. (ES)

88 Creekside Estate Signature Merlot 2001, Niagara ($29.95)
Introduces itself with smoke, chocolate covered coffee bean, cherries and plums. The palate jumps in with chocolate, smoke, plums and spice. It has very good length, fresh acid and enough tannin to take it 4 years. Now to 2009. (ES)

88 Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Merlot 2001, Niagara ($19.95)
The 01 takes over for the 99, which I also rated 88 points. Built on a medium bodied frame, it delivers blackberries, vanilla, plums, raspberry, spice, violets and green notes on the nose. Very good length , a dark chocolate finish and a tannic bite. Drink over the next 5 years and. It is well worth the price. (ES)

87 Creekside Estate Laura's Blend Meritage 2001, Niagara ($17.95)
A good dose of oak reveals itself in the form of smoke and chocolate, while raspberry, violets and plums add to the mix. Medium bodied and elegant, with spice, raspberry, cherries and flowers on the taste buds. Supple tannins. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

86 Chateau des Charmes St Davids Bench Gamay Noir Droit 2003, Niagara ($15.95)
"Droit", a clone of Gamay which Paul Bosc Sr. discovered in the early 80s produces wines with more power than your typical Beaujolais. Deep ruby in colour, it blossoms with a bouquet of strawberry, raspberry, black pepper, plums and roasted herbs. Dry with medium length and supple tannins. Pair with grilled herb and red wine marinated quail. (ES)

86 Creekside Estate Cabernets 2002, Niagara ($11.95)
This is one of those under $12 best buys. Pale to medium ruby, it has a nose of chocolate, green tobacco, tandori spice and plums. Light to medium body with raspberry and smoke on the palate. Gains marks for the nose. Drink over the next 2 years. (ES)

 

Greece

White

88 Domaine Gerovassiliou White, Epanomi ($20.70)
This wine, made from a blend of Assyrtiko and Malagousia exemplifies the fruit forward, food friendly style of Greek white wines. It offers a nose of pink grapefruit, pear, celery and flowers. Ideal with grilled whole fish, drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh oregano. Otherwise try with kalamari and grilled zucchini topped with tzatziki. (ES)

Red

89 Ianos Oenoforos 2000, Naoussa ($28, Dinos Vinos)
Ianos, a blend of Xinomavro and Cab Sauv clearly demonstrates the renaissance of Greek wines. Full bodied, it is a cherry, black fruit, earthy, leather and chocolate laced wine. Excellent length with ever present tannins which will allow it to age for a decade. A great wine for the Greek stew Taskabob or Moussaka. (ES)


87 Ampelou Gis Tsolis Winery 1999, Messinia ($15 approx)
A perfect example of the E.U. at work-Tempranillo, the Spanish grape and Cabernet Sauvignon, the French grape are grown in Greek soil to produce this wine. It offers an interesting nose of leather, black olives, spice, plums and blackberries. Medium bodied with very good length, the wine offers great value at this price. Buy it by the case as it has the stuffing to age a few years and is a great value at this price. (ES)

86 Rapsani Reserve Tsantali 2000, Rapsani ($15.95, Dinos Vinos)
Plums, overripe fruit, leather and spice reveal themselves in this well priced Greek wine. It is medium bodied with a smooth finish and will be wonderful with roast lamb. (ES)


New Zealand

92 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Marlborough ($33.95)
Yup, Cloudy Bay does it again. The 04 is an intensely aromatic wine with nectarine, citrus, peach, honey and vegetal aromas. The mouth is rich and intense with flavours emulating those on the nose. Full bodied, great length and refreshing. (ES)

 

 

March 2005 Wine Ratings

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White

93 Stratus Chardonnay 2002, Niagara ($55)
Stratus, Ontario's newest high end winery has delivered the goods with its first vintage. This is world class caliber Chardonnay with melon, honey, apple and vanilla on the nose. The palate is dense with a wonderful mid palate and a long finish, endowed with caramel, citrus and honey. It is not cheap, but then again the same can be said of 1re Cru Burgundy. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

88 Niagara Training College Chardonnay Warren Classic 2003, Niagara ($27.95)
Of the two Chardonnay's produced by NTC, this is my favorite. The wine displays caramel, nuts, buttered popcorn and hints of tropical fruit on the nose. The palate delivers pineapple, citrus and nuts with very good length. Drink now. (ES)

87 Chateau des Charmes Riesling Estate 2003, Niagara ($15.95)
This is the inaugural vintage of this wine, as CDC has decided to enter the higher end Riesling market. Mineral and lime all the way with a touch of powdered candy on the finish. Drink over the next 2 years. (ES)

87 Chateau des Charmes Sec NV, Niagara ($16.95)
Here is a buy for those whole like a mature side to their sparklers. Three years on the lees (yeast cells) has produced a yeasty/caramel nose, while the palate displays much of the same, with a crisp green apple flavour thrown in for good measure. (ES)

87 Creekside Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Niagara ($15.95)
Young and crisp with a nose of gooseberry, fresh figs, citrus, mineral and grass. Nectarine flavours appear in the mouth. Try with asparagus and goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto

85 Pelee Island Pinot Blanc 2003, ($11.95).
Pelee's first shot with Pinot Blanc. Moderately aromatic with melon and citrus on the nose. Light and crisp with a touch of heat on the finish. Drink now with fresh water fish in a lemon sauce. (ES)

Red

91 Stratus Cabernet Franc 2002, Niagara ($32)
Of all of Stratus' reds, my preference right now is for their Cabernet Franc, as it is the most open and complete. Aromatic, with a superb nose of cassis, bell pepper, red currant, smoke, chocolate and pain grille. Balanced, elegant, well integrated tannins and a long finish. Now to 2013. (ES)

90 Stratus Merlot 2002, Niagara ($55)
I feel like I am doing an advertisement for Stratus in this issue, but I can't impress upon you enough the quality of these wines. Backwards, the Merlot was still somewhat compressed when tasted. Like all of Stratus' wines, it was aged 24 months in new French barrels. An ensemble of plum, vanilla, chocolate and pain grille with solid tannins on the finish. Hold for a year and drink until 2015. (ES)

89 Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 2002, Niagara ($50)
A firmly tannic wine with pain grille, blackberries, cured olives and plum on the nose. The palate shows green tobacco, spice, vanilla and blackberries. Still young, so hold until 2006 and drink until 2014. (ES)

88 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Merlot Unfiltered 2002, Niagara ($29.95)
If I were too use one word to describe the quality of Henry's wines, it would be "consistency". Year in, year out the quality is solid. This coupled with the great 02 vintage, has produced reds which are money in the bank. The wine possesses a deep cherry colour with a nose of green tobacco, smoke, cassis, cherries and chocolate. The palate echoes vanilla and spice on the finish. Great length with some serious tannins. Hold until 2006 and drink until 2013. (ES)

88 Creekside Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Reserve, Niagara ($29.95)
Creekside has leaped back into the spotlight after a few years in the doldrums- this, the winner of the best Cabernet Sauvignon at this year's Cuvee demonstrates why. Blackberry, tobacco, spice and cassis aromas work in tandem with the smoke, cherry and blackberry on the palate. Medium plus bodied, with a ripe mid palate and a lengthy finish. Now to 2009. (ES)

88 Creekside Estate Pinot Noir Reserve 2001, Niagara ($24.95)
Another winner for Creekside at this year's Cuvee, this time for best Pinot Noir. Medium cherry colour with a touch of evolution on the rim. Cherries, vanilla, black fruit and earth are both on the nose and the ripe palate. Nice length, drink now. (ES)

87 Niagara Training College Meritage 2003, Niagara ($21.95)
This vintage of Meritage contains 75% Cabernet Franc, as the vintage was conducive to growing this grape. Tell tale aromas of tobacco, herbs, cherries and cassis. In the mouth there is smoke, vanilla, cassis and red currant that are built on a medium bodied frame and a soft finish. Now to 2007. (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.