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Wine Reviews

May 2004 Wine Ratings

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Australia

87 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2003, Marlborough (991950, $18.95, ON)

An invigorating change from all those wall to wall, oaky Chardonnays. A shiny pale gold colour with peach, white flower, passion fruit and nectarine aromatics. Very crisp with a lingering, clean finish. Fresh water fish in butter and lemon sounds great. (ES)

 

Canada
White

92 Cave Springs CSV Riesling 2003, Niagara (529941, $30, ON)

Last year I stated that the 2002 was the best CSV Riesling Cave had ever produced. I now amend that statement- the 03 is the top dog. Full bodied with so much going on the nose and the palate-the wine was constantly changing from honey to peaches, to pink grapefruit to white flowers to lime-need I say more! High acid ensures a long life ahead, 10 years plus. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling 2002, Niagara (winery, $30, ON)

The wine screams “Mosel” in the glass. Made from 20 year old vines, this “dead ringer” exudes peaches, honey, candied fruit, lime, minerals and petrol. The mouth is mineral dominated with lime and citrus weaving around the pronounced acidity. Now to 2012. (ES)

89 Cave Springs Riesling Reserve 2003, Niagara (286377, $16.95, ON)

This is a nicely concentrated wine which offers peach, citrus, mineral and lime. Medium bodied with almost excellent length and a purity of fruit which sings on the finish. Great price. (ES)

88 Niagara College Late Harvest Vidal 2002, Niagara (winery, $14.95, ON)

Made from the 2nd pressing of the grapes which produced the 2002 Icewine-a wine which I rated 92 points earlier this year. Medium bodied with peach, apricot and floral aromas. Elegant and ready to drink. (ES)

88 Cave Springs Chardonnay Reserve, Niagara (256552, $19.95, ON)

Medium yellow colour with a bouquet of vanilla, cream, green apples and honey. Dry, medium plus bodied with a creamy texture and notes of spice, cream, fig and vanilla. Now to 2008. (ES)

87 Inniskillin Old Vines Riesling, Niagara (winery $16.95 approx., ON)

Made from 30 year vines this dry wine is surprisingly soft, due to low acid and displays a nose of peach, baby powder, lime and hints of honey. Dry, medium bodied and ready to drink. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2003, Niagara (430546, $15.95, ON)

Henry of Pelham’s best Sauv Blanc to date. Crystalline and defined on the nose with aromas of candied passion fruit, citrus, asparagus and minerals. Crisp, refreshing and delicate on the finish. (ES)

87 Cave Springs Riesling Off Dry 2003, Niagara (234583, $11.95, ON)

I like this wine…especially for under 12 bucks! An intense nose of flint, passion fruit, lime and lemon. There is almost 20 grams of sugar to this wine but the high acidity gives the impression of a dry wine. Very good length and a joy to drink. Buy it by the case. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Reserve 2002, Niagara (252833, $13.95, ON)

Peaches, vanilla, oak and caramel on the nose with hints of honey underneath. Refined and elegant with a soft mouthfeel and a distinct minerality with undercurrents of oak and apples. Clean finish and solid value. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)

86 Cave Springs Dry Riesling 2002, Niagara (233635, $11.95, ON)

Lime, grapefruit and slate on the nose. Dry and lemony on the finish. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

 

85 Cave Spring Gewurztraminer 2002, Niagara (302059, $14.95, On)

Pale yellow and moderately aromatic with flowers, spice, tropical fruit and cold cream. Dry and clean with hints of bitter grapefruit on the end. Age it for a year, as it should open up some more. From 2005 to 2007. (ES)


Red

88 Niagara College Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Fermented 2002, Niagara (winery, $16.95, ON)

A great lil value in Canadian wine and one that should be stocked up in the cellar. Purple/ruby with a bouquet of sweet raspberries, blackberries, vanilla and spice. Medium to full bodied with a lingering finish. Quantities are limited so get it while you can. Now to 2009. (ES)

88 Niagara College Meritage Barrel Fermented 2002, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)

The purple/ruby coloured Meritage is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot. Plums, cherries, blackberry, vanilla and chocolate are found on the nose while the palate offers much of the same. Very good length and structure to take it 5 years. (ES)

88 Lailey Vineyard Merlot 2002, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)

The 02 reveals a nose of plums, cherries, smoke, tobacco and pain grille. Medium to full bodied, the palate is concentrated with more raspberry, tobacco and smokiness with some cranberry nuances. Very good length with finely integrated tannins. Now to 2010. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Merlot Unfiltered 2000, Niagara (395855, $24.95, ON)

Medium ruby colour with a nose of smoke, tobacco, black fruit, raspberry and hints of bell pepper underneath. Fresh raspberries and chocolate unfurl in the mouth with the tannins making an appearance at the end. Medium plus length. Now to 2008. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Reserve 2002, Niagara (268391, $18.95, ON)

Henry of Pelham has made a sexy Pinot with a nose of raspberry, plums, vanilla and earth and cinnamon. Medium bodied with a solid finish and some firmness which requires a year of aging before drinking. From 2005 to 2009. (ES)

86 Henry of Pelham Meritage Cabernet Merlot 2002, Niagara (504241, $14.95, ON)

Tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, smoke, violets. Medium bodied albeit a tad lean in the mid palate, with very good length and supple tannins. (ES)

 

March 2004 Wine Ratings

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France

95 Chateau de Beaucastel 2001, Chateauneuf du Pape (520189,$78, PQ)

After three sub-par wines in 98, 99 and 00, Beaucastel has returned to form in 2001. This is a fat, in your face wine, with loads of spice, pepper, chocolate, herbs, kirsch and black fruit jam. There are abundant tannins, but they are paved over by the concentration. Drinking now, but will continue to improve with time- until to 2025. Tasted at last year's Vinexpo in France.

 

Canada

93 Malivoire Moira Vineyard Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (573154, $36, ON)
Aged in French oak of which 20% was new. Pear, spice, vanilla, honeyed white flowers and cream on the nose. Full bodied, yet oh so Ann Sperling elegant with cream, spice, olive, and vanilla on the long finish, which also shows palate cleansing acid. Balanced, refined and a class act! (ES)

92 Malivoire Riesling Icewine 2002, Niagara (591321, $36, ON)
With over 275 grams/liter of sugar this is a super rich and intense Icewine- yet is light in the mouth due to the cleansing acidity. Honey macerated peaches, flowers, apricots and spice are in the mix with a long finish. (ES)

90 Stoney Ridge Charlotte's Chardonnay 2003, Niagara (winery, $24.95, ON)
The "Best White of Show" at this year's Cuvee awards and a worthy successor to the 02. This unoaked Chardonnay definitely contains a good proportion of the Chardonnay Musque clone as witnessed by the peachy/orange blossom/ floral nose. In the mouth it fills out with green apples and citrus flavours. Very good, almost excellent length. (ES)

87 Malivoire Chardonnay Musque "Spritz", Niagara (winery, $18, ON)
With 5% residual sugar and slight effervescence, this is Canada's answer to an Italian Molscato d'Asti. Orange blossom and flowers leap out of the glass and into the mouth. Very refreshing with a clean finish. (ES)

85 Malivoire Traminer 2002, Niagara (699967, $14.95, ON)
This pale, almost water coloured wine is a blend of 95% Gewurz and 5% Riesling. Lite aromas of peach, citrus, lime and mineral. Clean in the mouth with good length and a dab of sweetness on the end, but the wine is considered dry. (ES)

91 Kacaba Syrah 2002, Niagara (winery, $50 approx., ON)
By far this is Ontario's best Syrah to date! Cropped at 3/4 tons/acre and harvested at 25 Brix, the wine is black coloured, super ripe, dense, firmly tannic and full bodied. Tastes of plums, spice, raspberry, chocolate and vanilla. Having no point of reference for this type of Syrah, I can't clearly predict its lifespan, but 10 years of aging seems reasonable, possibly even more. (ES)

 

90 Reif Estate Cabernet Sauvignon First Growth 2001, Niagara (winery, $50, ON)
Blackcurrant, black cherry, chocolate, smoke and spice are found in this, the winner of Cuvee's best Cabernet Sauvignon. Long finish with good depth of fruit and good tannins. Drink over the next 7 to 8 years. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2002, Niagara (winery, $50, ON)
The first ever Speck Family Pinot Noir is a concentrated offering with a perfumed nose of black cherries, vanilla and earth. Length is excellent with blueberries, blackberries and plums developing in the mouth and on the finish. Tannic structure will allow the wine to age gracefully. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2002, Niagara (461699, $24.95, ON)

The extra hang time afforded by the long, hot growing season of 2002 has reduced acid levels to the point where this is the softest, least sauvage Henry Baco I have ever tasted. Black fruits, spice, vanilla and light game cross the nose and the mouth. Elegant with a lasting finish. (ES)

90 Pillitteri Estate Cabernet Franc Family Reserve 2002, Niagara (winery, $43, ON)
Winemaker Sue Ann Staf has produced a wine to rival her 1998 Gold Medal winner. Full bodied with serious structure and flavours of black raspberries, cassis, tobacco, smoke, chocolate and coffee. Sturdy tannins make for a wine that will age well. From 2006 to 2015. (ES)

89 Malivoire Single Block Gamay 2002, Niagara (winery, $25, ON)
Malivoire is the newest entrant into the Ontario world of low yield Gamay. Harvested at 22 hl/ha, only 70 cases were made of this wine. Medium ruby/purple colour with a intense nose of blackberry, raspberry, spice , vanilla and violets. Ripe and juicy in the mouth with lots of dark and red fruits, excellent length and supple tannins. If you can procure any, do so! (ES)

88 Inniskillin Pinot Noir Montague Vineyard, Niagara (633819, $24.95, ON)
At a recent tasting of Canadian Pinot vs. Burgundy, this wine stood out as a favorite by many of the tasters. Light ruby with a pink rim and a perfumed nose of black cherries, blackfruits, violets, orange peel and vanilla. Medium bodied with raspberry and cherry flavours. (ES)

88 Niagara College Merlot Barrel Fermented 2002, Niagara (winery, $16.95, ON)
The students of Niagara College and their guru Jim Warren have done it again in 2002. An overlay of oak provides chocolate covered coffee bean aromas, which weaves nicely with the plums and cherries. Lots of up front richness with a smooth finish. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

89 Lailey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Canadian Oak 2002 (winery, $45, ON)
Watch out Bordeaux, you have some serious competition at half the price. Blackberries, black cherries, mint and vanilla swirl out of the glass. The wine is ripe with a sweet attack in the mouth with good amounts of fine grained tannins and great length. From 2005 to 2012. (ES)

88 Lailey Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2002 (winery, $29, ON)
Dark cherry colour with a nose of pain grille, tobacco, blackcurrant, raspberries, coffee and herbs. Medium to full bodied with liquorice, vanilla and weedy notes on the palate adding complexity. Now to 2011. (ES)

87 Cave Springs Pinot Noir Reserve 2002, Niagara (winery, $17.95, ON)
Medium ruby colour with a nose of vanilla, cherries, earth, liquorice and uniquely enough-buckwheat honey. Supple with very good length and present tannins. Now to 2009. (ES)

87 Lakeview Cellars Butlers Grant Pinot Noir 2002 (winery, $11.95, ON)
A surreal value in Pinot Noir and one which mandates a case purchase for your home. Although pale in colour, it is very much new world with a jammy texture and a nose of sweet cherries and blackberries. Very good length. Drink now. (ES)

86 Featherstone Gamay Noir Unfiltered 2002, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)
A raspberry, plummy, black pepper and yeasty offering with medium length and some heat on the finish. (ES)

 

January 2004 Wine Reviews

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France

90 Chateau Haut Marbuzet 2000, St Estephe (929075, $49 Futures, PQ)

Black/ruby colour with a bouquet of cassis, smoke and minerals. Full bodied with some rather hurtful tannin at this point in its very young life. Hold off until 2008 and drink until 2018. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Niagara College Vidal Icewine 2002, Niagara (winery, $34.95, ON)

The best "sweetie" I tasted at this year's Icewine gala. Lots of intensity on the nose with loads of peach jam, apricots, citrus and apple. Viscous with huge length and great depth. (ES)

91 Vineland Estates Vidal Icewine 2002, Niagara (370031, $42, ON)

Where many Vidal Icewines are over the top, this one stands on a pedestal of distinctiveness. Medium yellow colour with a lifted nose of vanilla bean, white flowers, citrus and peach. The mouth serves up much of the same, with a lingering finish and solid acidity to iron out the sweetness. (ES)

90 Cave Springs Riesling Icewine 2002, Niagara (447441, $59.95, ON)

Crystalline clarity and definition. Peach, flowers, petrol and lime aromas. Long finish with lots of acid sweeping up the sugar on the palate. Very classy stuff! (ES)

90 Chateau des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Riesling Icewine 2000, Niagara (713724, $59.95, ON)

White flowers, honey, peach, pine nettles and lime aromas waft out of the glass. Not as powerful as the 97 or 99, as the cooler year of 2000 has produced a more elegant offering with higher acid, which in turn has provided symmetry to the sweetness. Excellent length and delicious. (ES)

90 Pillitteri Estate Riesling Icewine 2002, Niagara (435727, $25/200ml, ON)

A medium yellow colour precedes a bouquet of honey, pear, tangerine and peaches. It is all elegance in the mouth with wall to wall citrus flavours and loads of vibrant acidity which provides release from any heaviness. Excellent length and best paired seared foie gras. (ES)

88 Pillitteri Estate Gewürztraminer Icewine 2002, Niagara (729954, $30/200ml, ON)

One of the few Gewurz icewines that actually smells like Gewurz, not a jumble of jam. A dense nose of honey, pineapple, mango, spice and smoky notes. Thick and viscous with some acid offering relief from excess. Lingering with a clean finish. (ES)

88 Niagara College Winery Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (winery, $24.95, ON)

This wine has Jim Warren's signature all over it-big bold oak, tropical fruit and tweaked for maximum output. Medium yellow colour with caramel, citrus, honey, pineapple, fig and fresh flowers on the nose. Creamy texture with very good length and some peach and citrus on the finish. (ES)

 

87 Jackson Triggs Chardonnay Delaine Vineyard 2002, Niagara (623454, $16.95, ON)

This, the 2nd release from JT's new upscale vineyard is a step up from last year's offering. Definitely an "oak lovers" Chard, with good amounts of caramel and citrus backed up by figs, green apple and citrus flavors. Medium bodied, with admirable length. The mid palate does dip a bit but the finish returns with vanilla, spice and caramel. Drink now. (ES)

85 Pillitteri Estate Pinot Grigio 2003, Niagara (349183, $10, ON)

Classic Grigio aromas of flowers, citrus, banana and nuts. Light bodied, crisp and refreshing palate and good length. (ES)

 

85 Jackson Triggs Dry Riesling 2002, Niagara (526277, $10.45, ON)

Citrus driven with flower and peach aromas adding complexity. As stated on the label it is dry with a solid acidic backbone and banana notes on the finish. (ES)

 

85 Jackson Triggs Riesling 2002, Niagara (526244, $9.95, ON)

More weighty in the mouth than the Dry Riesling due to some residual sugar. The same sweetness also provides a nice counterpoint to the acid. Drink now. (ES)

 

85 Jackson Triggs Gewürztraminer 2002, Niagara (526269, $10.45, ON)

For a lil Gewurz, it packs some punch-flowers, mango, peaches and light tropical fruit scents are found on the nose. Medium length with a clean finish and a dab of sugar at the end. (ES)

 

Red

90 Pillitteri Estate Cabernet Franc Icewine 2002, Niagara (winery, $35/ 200ml, ON)

In my mind it is Pillitteri and Jackson Triggs who constantly produce the best Cab Franc Icewines in Ontario. A pink, cotton candy colour with a nose of strawberry rhubarb pie, watermelon, carnations, and chocolate. Nice depth of fruit on the palate, great length and fresh acid provide harmony. (ES)

 

88 Pillitteri Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2002, Niagara (589093, $35/200ml, ON)

Black cherries, raspberries and caramel aromas are present in this medium to full bodied icewine. The palate offers much the same, with some tannins on the finish. (ES)

 

88 Thomas and Vaughn Old Vines Foch 2002, Niagara (winery, $14.95, ON)

Deeply colored with a nose of plums, chocolate, black raspberries, spice, smoke, vanilla and "Foch" gaminess. Medium bodied and ripe, with more plums, spice and vanilla carrying the lingering finish. Gains marks for complexity. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)

 

87 Niagara College Pinot Noir 2002, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)

All the wines produced at Niagara College are made by the students, under the tutelage of winemaker/guru Jim Warren. And if this is a sign of what our young winemakers are able to produce in the future, the "heartbreak grape" does indeed have a bright future in Ontario. Refined with flowers, black fruits, cherries and mushrooms. Medium plus length with supple tannins. (ES)

 


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Wine Facts

The lip of a red wine glass is sloped inward to capture the aromas of the wine and deliver them to your nose.