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July 2004 Wine Ratings

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95 Allegrini Amarone 2000 ($100)
Without a doubt Allegrini is one of the superstars of Amarone. The wines from 97 of to 00 are some of the most powerful and concentrated that I have ever tasted out of the north east corner of Italy. It is more like dry port than wine, with enough tannin to warrant taking out extra dental insurance. Hold off for a few years to let everything come together. From 2008 to 2025. (ES)

92 Maculan Fratta 2000, Veneto ($68)
Made in a new world/Aussie style, focusing on intense fruit. The blend is 54% Cab Sauv and 46% Merlot. The attack is jammy and delivers loads of black cherries, blackberries, plums, tobacco and roasted herbs. Long finish with some heat. Drink over the next decade.

95 Arnaldo Capri 25 Anni Sagrantino di Montefalco 2001, Umbria ($100)
To enjoy young Sagrantino, you have to be in a Masochistic frame of mind. To be honest, I was scared to death after this opaque wine was poured into my glass, knowing what was in store. Simply put, it is a monster! Huge depth and even huger tannins. Aromas of plums, spice and vanilla are discernable at this young age. Hold of until 2010 and drink until 2030. (ES)

92 Maculan Fratta 2000, Veneto ($68)
Made in a new world/Aussie style, focusing on intense fruit. The blend is 54% Cab Sauv and 46% Merlot. The attack is jammy and delivers loads of black cherries, blackberries, plums, tobacco and roasted herbs. Long finish with some heat. Drink over the next decade.

92 Arnaldo Capri Collepiano Sagrantino di Montefalco 2001, Umbria ($40)
Here is one for you wine trivia buffs- what is the most tannic grape in the world? Answer-Sagrantino. Gentle is the not an adjective I would use for this wine, as it is fiercely tannic yet beautifully concentrated, with superb length. Drink over the next 15 years with meat, preferably rare to still mooing. (ES)

90 Fattoria di Felsina Chainti Classico Berardenga Rancia 2001, Tuscany ($60)
The nose is cherries, plums, spice and fresh bread, while the mouth is laced with humus and menthol notes. Nicely concentrated with firm tannins and excellent length. Now to 2014. (ES)

90 Zenato Amarone 2000, Veneto ($48.95)
The combination of grapes being dried for 4 months and aging in new barrels has produced a bouquet of plums, vanilla, black cherries, blackberries, chocolate and allspice. Excellent quality, the wine is ripe and long in the month with some alcohol on the backend. Now to 2016. (ES)

89 Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Berardenga 2001, Tuscany ($34.36)
A touch lighter than the “Rancia.” Black fruits, spice, vanilla and toasted bread are present in this medium to full bodied wine. Drink now to 2011. (ES)

89 Fontodi Flaccianello 2000, Tuscany ($70)
This 100% Sangiovese bottling delivers cherries, buttered popcorn, cassis and earthy flavours. Medium to full bodied with excellent length. Now to 2011. (ES)

89 Antinori Tiganello 2001, Tuscany ($90)
Rather disappointing when tasted recently in Italy. Medium bodied with cherry, hummus and charred oak aromas. There is lots of tannin, but the finish is airy, so I would prefer to drink it over the next 5 years. Maybe it is just in a dumb phase, but my gut tells me otherwise. Not worth the money. (ES)

88 Fontodi Chianti Classico 2001, Tuscany ($32.47)
Medium ruby with a pink rim. Cherry, earth and vanilla on the nose with sweet cherries on the palate. Dry with nice length. Now to 2010. (ES)



90 Thirty Bench Riesling Limited Yield 2003, Niagara (winery, $19.95)

"Limited Yield" refers to a certain amount of grapes clusters removed from the vine during the growth cycle so as to concentrate the flavour in the remaining bunches. Moderately aromatic with an Auslese level of sweetness. There is a concentrated mouthful of peaches, honey, lemon, lime, minerals and green apples which envelops the crisp acid. Now to 2011. (ES)

89 Lakeview Cellars Chardonnay Reserve 2002, Niagara ($25)

The heat of the 2002 vintage, coupled with 18 months aging in new french oak has produced a full bodied Chard with a bouquet of caramel, banana, figs, citrus and green apple. The texture is creamy with spice, apples and nuts appearing on the finish. Drink over the next 4 years as the acid is low and the wine is a already enjoyable .(ES)

86 Birchwood Estates Auxerrois 2002, Niagara (winery, $12.95)

One of the most aromatic Auxerrois out of Ontario. Peaches, cream, tutti frutti and honey served up. Light bodied, but perfectly ideal as an aperitif or with a poached fish dish. Drink now. (ES)

85 Pelee Island Late Harvest Scheurebe 2002, Pelee Island ($9.00)

A nose of peaches, white pepper and honey. Sweet with good length and easy drinking. (ES)


88 Lakeview Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve Butlers Grant Vineyard 2002 ($24.95)

A fruit driven style of Pinot with a nose of cherries, raspberries, blackfruits and rich vanilla. The palate is chock full of berry fruits which are interwoven with vanilla. Now to 2009. (ES)


87 Pelee Island Winery Pinot Noir Reserve 2002, Pelee Island ($14.04)

The wine displays a deep ruby colour and a nose of black cherries, black raspberries and vanilla bean. The same is reciprocated on the palate. Dry with very good length and a somewhat firm finish. Now to 2008.

86 Birchwood Estates Baco Noir 2002, Niagara (winery, $10.95)

A good value Baco with aromas of plums, vanilla and spice. Dry with medium length and a roasted nut finish. Drink over the next 2 years.


June 2004 Wine Ratings

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89 Vineland Estates Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2002 (winery, $40, ON)

Deep ruby with a fuchsia rim. Full bodied with rich flavours of raspberry, chocolate, blackfruits, and tobacco. Hold for a couple of years as the alcohol is a bit dominant at this time. Drink until 2011. (ES)

89 Reif Estate Pinot Noir First Growth (winery, $50, ON)

A strong offering which reveals coffee, chocolate, plum, raspberry and earthy/toasty aromas. Cherry jam as well as blackberry flavours are on the palate. Tannins do appear on the back end, and as of this moment, the wine still is a bit tight, so hold off until 2005 and drink until 2011. Harvested at 2.5 tons per acre. (ES)

89 Reif Estate First Growth Merlot 2001, Niagara (winery, $50, ON)

Black fruits, earth, spice, green peas and oak dominate the nose. Length is very good with lots of fruit on the palate, namely blackberry and plums, which coalesce with a spicy finish. Drink until 2009. (ES)

87 Reif Estate Shiraz 2002, Niagara (winery, $23.95, ON)

A black purple colour wine with ripe loganberry and blackberry flavours. Acid is fresh and tannins are easy. Drink now (ES)


85 Vineland estates Pinot Noir Reserve 2001, Niagara (winery, $27, ON)

The nose and palate were dominated by alcohol. Beyond that, plums, cherries, vanilla and spice were discernable. Medium bodied. Drink now.

85 Vineland Estates Chardonnay Musque 2002, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)

White gold colour with a nose of peaches, flowers, honey and minerals. Light to medium bodied with medium length.



94 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Maipo (726919, $44.25, PQ)

One hell of a great Chilean red, and at under $50, it is a pleasant surprise considering the skyrocketing prices of many wines from this country. Concentrated raspberry, blackberry, anise and tobacco flavours. After swallowing, it just lingers and lingers. From 2005 to 2020. (ES)



88 Chateau Pajzos Harslevelu 2000, Tokaji ($22.25, PQ)

A fresh, cleaner style than your typical Tokaji. The wine is made solely from botrytis affected Harslevelu grapes which were cold fermented to produce a fruit driven style. Spiced apples, honey, flowers and bergamot tea flavours are present. Sweet, with very good length and high acid which provides balance. Drink now. (ES)


95 Santa Duc Cuvee Prestige des Hautes Garrigues 2000, Gigondas ($48.25, PQ)

Superb, incredible, fabulous, delicious and "must have" were some of the adjectives that came to mind after tasting this singular win. Full bodied and dense, with 20 years of life ahead. Simply put-buy this, especially if you are a Southern Rhone lover! (ES)

93 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape 2000, Rhone ($48.75, PQ)

Ahhhh-the joys of great CNP! Ripe cherries, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, pepper and garrigue aromas. Layered and dense, this wine will last 15 years, sans problème Game meats anyone!

92 Chateau Clinet 2000, Pomerol (736124, $257, PQ)

Not cheap, but then again we are talking about Pomerol from a great vintage. Cassis, cherry, earthy, blackberry and animal scents work together. Full bodied with a long, succulent finish and a minty note which I attribute to the 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. From 2005 to 2020. (ES)

90 Chateau Montrose 2001, St-Estephe (979880, $94.95, ON)

The 01 is a powerful wine for the vintage. It serves up a mixture of toasty oak, cassis, vanilla, animal scents and spice. Tannins are present and cellaring is suggested. Hold off until 2008 and drink to 2020. (ES)

87 Perrin Gigondas 2000, Rhone ($29.90, PQ)

If you like back pepper, black pepper and more black pepper this wine is definitely for you. Besides the black pepper (did I forget to mention that before?), the wine does offer blackcurrants and provencal herbs. Medium body and length. (ES)


New Zealand

90 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2003, Marlborough ($31.95, ON)

The most famous name is N.Z. Sauv Blanc has produced a medium to full bodied wine with a bouquet of passion fruit, citrus, tomato vine, grapefruit, lime zest white pepper and minerals. Lively acid, as usual is found in the mouth with excellent length. Uncork and serve with goat cheese and scallop stuffed phyllo purses. (ES)


92 Viader 1999, Napa Valley (904367, $141, ON)

The 99 Viader is a blend of the 2 Cabs-61% Sauvignon and 39% Franc. Deeply coloured, this concentrated wine seduces with a bouquet of blackberry, black cherries, raspberries, anise, chocolate and smoke. Rich with a long finish and a tannic frame which gives longevity. Now to 2020.


May 2004 Wine Ratings

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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)



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)


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)


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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.