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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)

 

 

October 2003 Wine Ratings

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Canada

90 13th Street Wine Corp. Sandstone Gamay Reserve 2001, Niagara (winery, $25, ON)

The top billing for Ontario’s best Gamay continues to belong to 13th Street. Full bodied with lots of earthy, dark fruits, spice, vanilla and animal qualities on the nose. The palate is the same with raspberry and hazelnuts thrown in for good measure. Excellent length, drink from 2004 to 2011. (ES)

 

88 Chateau des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot Estate Bottled 1999, Niagara (222372, $18.95, ON)

The wine enters the palate with a good burst of cassis, raspberry, tobacco leaf, spice and vanilla flavors, eventually turning slim on the lengthy finish. Built on a solid backbone of tannin, my preference would be to drink it over the next 5 years to take full advantage of the fruit. (ES)

 

86 13th Street Wine Corp. Erv’s Burger Blend 2001, Niagara (winery, $15, ON)

Always looking to have fun with labeling, the good ol’ boys at 13th Street have created this easy drinking red blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Gamay and 10% Syrah. Medium bodied with a fruity core of raspberry surrounded by chocolate and pepper. Drink over the next year or two. (ES)

 

86 Lakeview Gamay Noir 2002, Niagara (433672, $11.95, ON)

Vanilla infused cherries, plums and spice greet you as you swirl your glass. Sweet red fruits on the tongue with fresh acidity and a suprisngly nutty finish. Very interesting stuff! Ready to drink

White

91 Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine 2002, Niagara (593970, $62.95, ON)

Honey drenched white flowers, super ripe peaches, apricots and vanilla poached pears all vie for dominance in this wine. Full bodied, with lots of flavor, power and sweetness to spare. Long finish with great acid balance, which provides release from any heaviness.

 

91 Crown Bench Vintners Select Vidal Icewine 2000, Niagara (winery, $79.95, ON)

This is a super duper icewine, with a hefty price tag to go along with it. The nose is that of dried apricot, honeycomb, raisins and pear. The taste buds entice you with much of the same. Fresh acidity offsets the richness of the wine. Full bodied with a long finish-a definite winner! (ES)

 

90 Crown Bench Barrel Fermented Vidal Icewine 2000, Niagara (winery, $79.95, ON)

This the same wine as the Vintners Select except that it has spent time in oak. By doing so the wine’s acidity has softened and it has become thick textured, with hints of oxidized fruit. Full bodied with honey, peach, figs, and caramel. Excellent length, but I prefer the VS as it has better balance. (ES)

 

88 Crown Bench Livia’s Gold 2000 (winery, $24.95/ 375 ml, ON)

This stickie is made from Chardonnay, which has been affected by botrytis. A rarity on two fronts-first that Chardonnay does not take easily to botrytis and second it is Canadian! Mid weight with flowers, pear, citus, spicy/ noble rot flavors and hints of oxidation. A discovery which is ready to drink.(ES)

 

89 Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2002 (winery, $17.95, ON)

Medium yellow colour, with a nose of caramel cream, banana, green apple and roasted nuts. Medium to full bodied, elegant, with fresh acid and lots of caramel, citrus and green apple flavors rounding out the finish. (ES)

 

87 Birchwood Select Late Harvest Vidal 2001, Niagara (winery, $11.95, ON)

At under $12 , this bottle represents one of Niagara’s best deals in Late Harvest. Medium bodied with aromas of peach, honey and flowers. The 120 g/l of sugar is nicely offset by fresh acidity, while the finish lingers, with a hint of bitterness at the end. (ES)

 

87 Chateau des Charmes Gewürztraminer St David’s Bench 2002, Niagara (453472, $14.95, ON)

Very Alsatian in style with a bouquet of lychee, spice, orange peel and tropical undertones. Medium bodied and dry with a good core of fruit, very good length and fresh acidity, which rounds out the mouthfeel. (ES)

 

87 Konzelmann Gewürztraminer Late Harvest 2002 , Niagara (200550, $13.95, ON)

Crack the bottle and the first thing you will smell is rose water, followed by aromas of honey, peach and clove. Medium bodied with very good length with some sweetness on the finish.

 

86 Konzelmann Riesling Traminer Late Harvest 2002, Niagara (605360, $22.50, ON)

Moderate aromas of flowers, peach, citrus, peach and honey show themselves on the nose. The palate is dry with lots of lime, citrus and minerals. Very refreshing. (ES)

 

85 Jackson-Triggs Gewurztraminer Delaine Vineyard 2002, Niagara (winery, $22.95, ON)

JT’s first kick at the Gewurz can from the Delaine Vineyard. Made from 3 year old vines the wine has moderate aromatics of lychee, flowers, peach and honey. Medium length with a hint of bitterness on the finish and fresh acidity. Solid potential as the vines mature.

 

85 Lakeview Cellars Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (307165, $9.95, ON)

A flavorful little wine for under a purple banknote. With a good dash oak, this bottling offers cream, straw, banana, green apple and tutti frutti. Light bodied with a fresh center and a creamy textured finish, with some alcohol showing through. (ES)

 

86 Chateau des Charmes Aligoté 2001, Niagara (028495, $10.95, ON)

After an absence from the LCBO’s general list, CDC’s Aligoté is back. This is a great aperitif wine or as a match with fresh water fish cooked with fresh lemon and herbs. Light bodied with a nose of citrus and green apple. Easy drinking, unpretentious and priced cheaper than the French competition. (ES)

 

France

94 Chateau Gruaud Larose 2000, St Julien (951178, $109, ON)

Majestic stuff! Big yet refined with a multi layered nose of smoke, cassis, chocolate, vanilla, black cherries and animal scents. Fills the mouth with loads of fruit, extract and tannins. Hold of until 2008 and drink until 2028.

 

91 Chateau Charmail 2000, Haut Medoc (981886, $43, ON)

One of the values in the insanely priced world of 2000 Bordeaux. Full bodied with cherry, black fruits, green tobacco and Indian spice. Sweet core of ripe fruit lives long on the palate. Wait until 2004 and drink over a decade.

 

88 Chateau Figeac 2000, St Emilion (942631, $169, ON)

Smells and tastes like an Ontario Cabernet Franc, and for 1/5 the price you are better off buying a well made OCF, as it will not cause ruination to your bank account.

 

 

 

September 2003 Wine Ratings

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Chile

90 Errazuriz Syrah Max Reserva 2000, (976407, $20 approx., ON)

Shakes your hand more like and Aussie than a South American. Lots of blackberries, plums, spice, licorice and smoke on the nose with equal amounts of blackberries, vanilla and leather on the palate. Full bodied with a thick texture and firmish tannins on the finish. Drink over the next 5 to 7 years. Great Value. (ES)



France

92 Clos Bagatelle La Gloire de Mon Père 2000, Saint Chinian (912402, $36.75, PQ)

An amazing wine from the Languedoc laced with tons of fruit, vanilla, black pepper and spice. Left open for a full day, the wine improved. Full bodied with excellent length and enough tannins to take the enamel of your teeth at this point. From 2006 to 2018. A definite food wine. (ES)


89 Chateau Lynch-Moussas 2000, Pauillac (963256, $49.95, ON)

Let’s get this out of the way first-2000 Bordeaux is indeed a great vintage! Even the underachievers have turned in solid performances-take for example this wine. Dark ruby with a bouquet of crème de cassis, dark chocolate, vanilla, espresso grinds, mint and spice. Medium to full bodied with silky tannins and almost excellent length. From 2004 to 2014. (ES)



Greece

White

90 Kalliste 2001, Santorini (Whitehall Agencies, $20, ON)

Produced from grapes grown on the volcanic soils of Santorini, the wine tastes like something between a Riesling and a Chard. Rubber, minerals, vanilla, cream, light oxidative notes, fig and lots of citrus aromas are present on the nose. Nice concentration and persistency. Serve this up with “Greek style” grilled red snapper, topped with olive oil and lemon. (ES)


Red


89 Boutari Naoussa Grande Reserve 1997, Naoussa (Whitehall Agencies, $15.95, ON)

Made from the indigenous Xynomavro grape, it resembles a well made Syrah. A bouquet of violets, smokey bacon fat, raspberry, cassis, earth and herbs winds its way up the glass. The mouth is dense with chocolate, cherry, and vanilla flavors appearing. Medium bodied with almost excellent length and a touch of heat. Should age well. (ES)



Italy

93 Allegrini Amarone 1998, Veneto (705780, $85, ON)

A great follow up to the exceptional 1997. The grapes for this wine were dried for 4 months prior to fermentation. It displays an opaque purple/black cherry colour with a nose of plums, vanilla, spice and blackberries. The wine is so richly extracted, you barely notice the 15% + alcohol. Almost

outstanding in length with lots of cherry and plum flavors in the mouth. From 2005 to 2018. (ES)


91 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 1997, Tuscany (392076, $79, ON)

Lots of sweet cherry and cassis on the nose with humus, red flowers and some tar thrown in for good measure. The palate is full bodied with lots of ripe fruit flavors, with a long finish and lots of velvety tannins. (ES)

Canada

White

90 13th Street Wine Corp Chardonnay "Naked" Musque 2002, Niagara (winery, $20, ON)
Naked means no oak, no lees stirring, and no malolactic. However Naked dos not mean lack of flavor- au contraire! Medium to full bodied with a nose of peach, flowers, honey and cream. Excellent concentration and length, with just a hint of residual sugar on the finish. Drink over next 3 to 4 years. (ES)

89 13th Street Wine Corp Riesling Funk Vineyard 2002, Niagara (winery, $15, ON)
A youthful white gold colour displaying aromas of peach, lemon, lime and minerals. Slim in the mouth, yet lots of citrus, mineral, peach, apricot flavors join the party. Great price and refreshing. Now to 2009. (ES)

86 Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Niagara (430546, $14.95, ON)
Pale yellow colour with a nose of citrus/gooseberry, fresh grass and mild passion fruit. Light to medium bodied with a lemony palate, finishing on a tangerine note. Try with goat's cheese and mushroom stuffed pyhllo purses. (ES)

86 Henry of Pelham Off Dry Riesling 2002, Niagara (557165, $14.95, ON)
Pale, almost white gold in colour with aromas of citrus, light minerals and pear. The wine is light bodied with medium length and a very tangy finish, which balances the sweetness nicely. Now to 2007. (ES)

86 Willow Heights Riesling 2002, Niagara (winery, $10.95, ON)
Katharine has taken over the winemaking duties at WH. And in my esteem has turned out their best Riesling to date. Peach, citrus, floral and some honey tones are on the nose. The palate is extremely crisp, with nice weight and medium length. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)

86 Strewn Gewurztraminer 2000, Niagara (winery, $17.95, ON)
A very explosive Alsatian nose of peach, flowers, tropical fruits, spice and honey- a la Zind Humbrecht. On the palate the wine turns slim, becoming light bodied with more of the spicy, honey flavors. Ready to drink. (ES)

86 Angels Gate Riesling Sussreserve 2002, Niagara (winery, $12. 95, ON)
Sussreserve is a technique, where by fresh grape juice is added to a dry wine, to help balance the acid. An interesting nose of fresh flowers, bubble gum, pear and citrus. The palate is all citrus with a soft finish and good length. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)

85 Henry of Pelham Dry Riesling 2002, Niagara (268375, $10.95, ON)
A crisp, light bodied wine with citrus and minerals, both on the nose and on the taste buds. Ready to drink. (ES)

Red

90 13th Street Wine Corp Meritage Sandstone 2001, Niagara (winery, $27 approx., ON)
13th Street, Ontario's foremost boutique winery continues to churn out impressive reds. Full bodied with a bouquet of mocha, herbs, cherry, vanilla, and black fruits and a lingering finish. Tasted from barrel, the wine is still an infant will put on more weight in the bottle. Requires a year in the cellar, before drinking over a decade. (ES)

88 Pillitteri Family Reserve Gamy Noir 2001, Niagara (winery, $22.95, ON)
Pillitteri has been lucky enough to source grapes from the same cuttings, that produce 13th Street's famous Gamay. This wine displays some of the same characteristics; namely plums, cherry, barnyard, vanilla and charred aromas. Medium bodied with very good length. Made from 5 year old vines and harvested at 1.5 tons/acre. A wine to watch for as the vineyards mature. (ES)

88 13th Street Wine Corp Gamay Noir 2001, Niagara (winery, $20, ON)
Tasted just before bottling. Medium ruby colour, with a nose of smoke, raspberry, strawberry, vanilla and black fruits. Very good length with lots of raspberry and strawberry on the mid palate. A year in the bottle will bring forth the classic barnyard quality, inherent to this wine. Drink from 2004 to 2009. (ES)

87 Willow Heights Meritage 2001, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)
Lots of smoky, chocolate, cherry and herbs greet you when smelling the wine. The palate opens up and delivers raspberry, cherry and vanilla flavors. Medium bodied with solid length and a moderately tannic finish. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

 

 


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Wine Facts

Wine is often called the nectar of the gods, but Sangiovese is the only grape named after a god. Sangiovese means “blood of Jove