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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)

 

December 2003 Wine Ratings

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Australia

92 d'Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings 2001, McLaren Vale (974816. $49.95 approx, ON)

This Chateauneuf "take off" requires some serious food-preferably osso bucco or venison stew. Full bodied, low acid and thick as aged balsamic. The wine is all kirsch, plums, vanilla and spice. LOOOONGGGG finish! Drink over the next 15 to 20 years. (ES)

88 d'Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2001, McLaren Vale (984021, $18.95, ON)

A mid weight Shiraz with plum, cherry, vanilla, licorice and spice aromas. The palate is much off the same. Drink over the next decade. (ES)


Italy

92 Cesari Tauleto 1999, Emilia-Romagna (Lifford Wine Agency, $47.95, ON)

Tauleto is a premium bottling of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Longanesi (local dialect for Brunello). Full bodied and black as night the wine is tightly wound. If you wish to drink it now, decant for an hour to let the black fruits, vanilla, plum, animal and chocolate scents unfurl. If you can wait, cellar for 2 years and drink until 2015. (ES)

90 Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2000, Tuscany (948984, $57, ON)

Always one of the most consistent producers, Fonterutoli has produced an excellent product in Tuscany's rough year of 2000. Medium to full bodied with a complex nose of black cherries, spice, chocolate, plums, and blackberries. Nice weight turning fresh on the finish. Can hold 5 to 8 years, but why wait. (ES)

89 Cesari Liano 2000, Emilia-Romagna (Lifford Wine Agency, $27.95, ON)

I have been extolling the virtues of this wine for the past 2 years- great producer, great price and a great alternative to Chianti. Made up of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cab Sauv the wine offers a bouquet of plums, spice, chocolate, leather, tobacco and ripe cherries. Somewhat jammy, the wine delivers the goods with a lingering finish. (ES)

 

 

Canada

89 Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (winery, $23.95, ON)

Barrel aged for 6 months in new French oak, the 2002 Old Vines displays a nose of caramel, citrus, lemon and fig. The palate adds melon nuances to the mix, while the fresh acid provides a lemony/tangy finish. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Thirty Bench Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2002, Niagara (winery, $19.95, ON)

Believe it or not-16% alcohol. Moderately aromatic with peaches, honey, white flowers and spice. Concentrated and off dry, the mouthfeel is somewhat oily with loads of spice, some nuttiness and creaminess, with traces of heat on the finish. Unique and worth trying. (ES)

87 Angels Gate Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (winery, $16.95, ON)

An easy drinking Chardonnay with a bouquet of tropical fruits, honey, flowers, green apple and citrus. Very good length. Drink now. (ES)

92 Kacaba Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2002, Canada (winery, $35 approx., ON)

This is Ontario's answer to a St Emilion Garage Wine. It required 2 days to show its pedigree. Cropped at 2 tons/acre the wine displays a black/purple colour with a bouquet of vanilla, blackberries, fudge and violets. The wine is concentrated and dense with raspberry, smoke, violets and vanilla thrown in on the palate for good measure. From 2006 to 2018. (ES)

92 Kacaba Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Niagara (winery, $35 approx., ON)

Coffee, mocha fudge, blackberries, plums, cinnamon and vanilla are found in the glass. The wine is still an infant and very much backwards, needing 48 hours to start strutting its stuff. Huge, enamel removing tannins necessitate 5 years of aging. Hold off until 2008 and drink well into the next decade. Harvested at 1.8 tons/acre. (ES)


91 Kacaba Vineyards Merlot 2002, Niagara (winery $25 approx., ON)

Kacaba has positioned themselves as serious red wine producers. Their wines are reference points for the vintage. The Merlot, like its siblings is black/purple, but more open knit. Plum, mint, black cherry, black raspberries, peppermint and chocolate are all present. Rich on the palate with excellent length. From 2006 to 2016. (ES)


91 Kacaba Meritage 2002, Niagara (winery, $35 approx, ON)

The most closed and undeveloped of Kacaba's reds. Black/purple with spice, vanilla, raspberry and mint discernable at this early stage. Full bodied with good richness and excellent length. Tannins are high, so aging is mandatory. From 2008 to 2016. Hats off to winemaker Rob Warren for one hell of a job with his 02 reds! (ES)


89 Angels Gate Angels III 2002, Niagara (winery, $35, ON)

I'll be back"and like any good sequel, A3 is a worthy succesor to last year's inaugural vintage. This Meritage style wine is medium bodied with a bouquet of vanilla, plums, raspberry, cinnamon, earth and black fruits. Adds some spice and chocolate on the palate along with fresh acid and solid tannin and you have an award winner. Drink over the next 5 to 8 years.


88 Angels Gate Cabernet Sauvignon, Niagara (winery, $24.95, ON)

Coffee, smoke, Indian spice and blackberry flavors are present on the nose of this medium to full bodied wine. More approachable than the A3 with a hint of jamminess on the mid palate and a lingering finish. Drink over the next 5 to 7 years.


88 Angels Gate Cabernet Franc Icewine 2002, Niagara (winery, $39.95, ON)

Pale pink/orange colour and a bouquet of Jolly Rancher red candies and herbaceous notes. Full bodied with fresh acid and a lingering finish.

 

88 13th Street Wine Corp. Pinot Noir Reserve Funk Vineyard 2002, Niagara (winery, $32, ON)

This wine is decidedly elegant with a nose of cherries, black fruits, earth and vanilla. Medium bodied with very good length, supple texture and a good vertebra of tannin. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)


France

89 Chateau Bouscasse 2000, Madiran (743385, $19.95, ON)

Madiran like Bordeaux experienced a fabulous vintage in 2000. Purple in colour with a nose of cassis, plums, earth, yeast and spice. Fullish body with very good length and typical Tannat tannic structure. At this price stock the cellar. From 2007 to 2018. (ES)

 

November 2003 Wine Ratings

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Australia

98 d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2001, McLaren Vale (981183, $42.50 approx., ON)

Tasted with owner Chester Osborne at this year's Vinexpo. My comment to him was that this is the best Dead Arm ever produced-his responded by smiling and saying "I believe so." Full bodied and massively concentrated, the wine is crammed full of plum, blackberry, licorice vanilla, black cherry and spice. Incredible length with substantial tannins that will take it 25 years. (ES)

91 d'Arenberg The Galvo Garge 2001 (907584, $25.55 approx., ON)

The Osborne's version of a Bordelaise "Garage Wine". Even though the wine is predominately Cab Sauv based, the Merlot component dominates at this time. Plums, dark cherries, chocolate, vanilla, licorice and mint are present. Fine grained tannins and fresh acid give the wine solid structure and ageability-10 years. (ES)

92 d'Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings 2001, McLaren Vale (974816, $42.65 approx., ON)

D'Arenberg's take on a Chateauneuf du Pape. An opaque purple colour with aromas of kirsch, plums, vanilla and spice. It is somewhat chunky with 14.5% alcohol but has loads of fruit on the palate with hoards of tannin to go along with it. Drink over the next 15 years. (ES)

90 d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz 2001, McLaren Vale (984021, $18.95 approx., ON)

A mid weight Shiraz with a plump mid palate and flavors of plums, cherries, vanilla, licorice. Nice length and already enjoyable. (ES)


Canada

91 Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay St Davids Bench 2000, Niagara (430991, $19.95, ON)

This wine stands somewhere between the new world with all the oak, and the old world with all the earthy, mineral qualities. Add tropical fruit tones, peaches and cream corn, honey and pear puree, and you have a very complex wine. Full bodied with excellent length. Winner of the gold medal at the Ontario Wine Awards. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (268342, $18.95, ON)

HOP continues to be one of Ontario's most elegant Chardonnay. The 02 offering is medium plus bodied with aromas of caramel, figs, butter, pear puree and hazelnuts. The palate is fine with lots of citrusy, mineral flavors and a crisp finish. Drink until 2007. (ES)

90 Peninsula Ridge Equinox 2002, Niagara (winery, $39.95, ON)

This is the first vintage where PR has added 20% Viognier to Equinox's traditional blend of Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay. Although the Viognier portion is small, it is what dominates on the nose as witnessed by the peach, apricot, white flowers and spice, which work along side the green apple, citrus and mineral aromas. Dry with a crisp finish. It will be interesting to see how this wine develops. As a side note, PR is now producing a limited quantity of Viognier, which I scored 88 and is only available through the winery. (ES) *****

88 Peninsula Ridge Inox 2002, Niagara (winery, $24.95, ON)

Jean Pierre Colas' Inox continues to be PR and Canada's answer to Chablis. Lots of citrus, mineral, smoky/ flinty, green apple and pear aromas. Very elegant, with a crisp mouthfeel and a clean finish.

88 Kacaba Vineyard Riesling 2002, Niagara (winery, $18, ON)

A beauty of a Riesling from this relatively new winery in Vineland. Very Rheingau like, with peach, flowers, citrus and petrol on the nose. Very good length and a tangy green apple finish. Drinking now but can go 5 plus years. (ES)

87 Malivoire Chardonnay Estate 2002, Niagara (573147, $22, ON)

This Chard offers up aromas of white flowers, honey, banana and minerals. Medium bodied and classy with notes of caramel on the palate and a citrus finish. Time for oysters on the half shell. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)

86 Vineland Estates Riesling Semi Dry 2002, Niagara (232033, $9.95, ON)

Fruitier than the 00 and 01. Citrus, flowers, peach are on the nose while the palate serves up gooseberry and green apple. There is some sweetness which is balanced nicely by Vineland's classic acidity (ES)

85 Reif Pinot Grigio 2002, Niagara (winery, $14.95, ON)

A pretty Grigio with aromas of flowers, peach and citrus. The wine is dry with banana, citrus and nutty flavors with good lemony acidity. (ES)

90 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2001, Niagara (winery, $24.95, ON)

As in the usual style of Lakeview, this is a big, take no prisoners style of red. Full bodied with chocolate, cassis, black cherries, raspberries and some vegetal tones from drought stress. Rich and ripe on the palate with spice and vanilla flavors. Good structure with somewhat dry tannins. Can age 5 to 7 years. (ES)

90 Lakeview Cellars Baco Noir Reserve 2001, Niagara (winery, $19.95, ON)

A refined Baco (if I may use that term for the grape) which is oak driven with aromas of licorice, chocolate, spice, vanilla, raspberry and leather. The "Baco" acidity kicks in on the palate and the wine finishes long with some heat at the end. (ES)

88 Cave Springs Gamay Reserve 2002, Niagara (289082, $17.95, ON)

Always a great Gamay. Medium ruby colour and a little bit closed at this time with cherry, spice and animal scents showing right now. Ripe core of fruit chimes in with strawberry fruit and black pepper adding dimension. Good persistency. (ES)

87 Malivoire Pinot Noir Estate 2002, Niagara (winery, $26, ON)

All the grapes from the premium Moira vineyard bottling have been included in this wine, which in turn has kicked the quality up a notch. Aromatic with earthy, floral, red and black fruits, vanilla and smoke on the nose. Very good length with soft tannins and an easy finish. (ES)

87 Hillebrand Trius Grand Red 2000, Niagara (981050, $52, ON)

One of Ontario's finest reds from the difficult 2000 vintage. Medium to full bodied with chocolate, cassis starting on the nose and leading into the mouth. Somewhat thick textured with good ripeness and fresh acid at the end. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Vineland Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)

Very chocolatey with plums, black fruits, vanilla, vegetal tones and animal notes. Medium plus bodied with a ripe core of fruit, namely blackcurrant and black cherries, firmish tannins and very good length. From late 2004 to 2009.

87 Peninsula Ridge Merlot 2002, Niagara (592261, $19.95, ON)

A purple/ruby colour wine with a bouquet of raspberry, black cherry, chocolate and red flowers. Medium body with vanilla/minty notes coming through in the mouth. Already accessible, but solid tannins will allow the wine to age gracefully, if you so choose.

86 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc 2002, Niagara (winery, $12.95, ON)

At this price this is a definite purchase by the case! Ruby colour with a nose of chocolate, bell pepper, dark cherries and black fruits. Medium bodied with admirable length and enough tannins to take it a few years. (ES)

85 Malivoire Gamay Estate 2002, Niagara (winery, $16, ON)

Crack open a jar of mixed berry jam and you essentially have the nose of this wine. Light bodied with a tangy personality a good length. (ES)

 

 


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Wine Facts

Although “château” means castle, it may also be a mansion or a little house next to a vineyard that meets the requirements for winemaking with storage facilities on its property.