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October 2003 Wine Ratings

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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


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)



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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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)


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)



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)


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)


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)



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)


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)



August 2003 Wine Ratings

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90 Stoney Ridge Founder’s Signature Charlotte’s Chardonnay 2002, Niagara (winery, $24.95, ON )

After a couple years in limbo, SR has returned to form-and what form it is! This unoaked Chardonnay displays ripe flavors of banana, melon, pineapple and mango undertones. There is good acid and a hint of residual sugar on the long finish. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. Try with asian grilled salmon. (ES)

87 Stoney Ridge Pinot Grigio 2002, Niagara (winery, $11.95, ON)

A delectable little Grigio with moderate aromas of peach, flowers, candied white fruit and citrus. Light to medium body with very good length and a citrus finish. Drink now. (ES)

86 Hillebrand Chardonnay Showcase Sur Lie Unfiltered 2000, Niagara (981043, $35, ON)

Some might knock this wine for having had its lees bottled within. None the less these same lees gives the wine a distinctive yeasty aroma with added scents of butter, pear, fig and tropical notes. Medium bodied with medium plus length. Not as good as the 99 version. (ES)

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

Moderatley aromatic with a spritzy nose of flowers, spice, pear, citrus and green apple. Medium bodied with fresh acidity a lengthy finish, ending on a spicy note. Now to 2005. (ES)

85 Vineland Estates Meritage 2001, Niagara (winery, $49, ON)

The inaugural white Meritage from Vineland displays a pale yellow colour and a bouquet of citrus, melon apple, nectarine and white flowers. On the taste buds there is some herbal and spice notes which make an appearance. Medium bodied and length and ready to drink. (ES)


90 Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc Reserve Fox Vineyard 2002, Niagara (winery, $22.95, ON)

This Cab Franc really impresses with its extract and concentration, all the more so that it was produced from 6 year old vines. Medium to full bodied with aromas of bell pepper, raspberry, tobacco leaf and vanilla. The palate adds spicy cigar and chocolate tones, with supple tannins and fresh acidity. Drink over the next 4 to 6 years. (ES)

87 Magnotta Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition 2001, Niagara (winery, $18.95, ON)

Deep ruby in colour with a nose of cassis, mint, black cherry and some tobacco/weediness. Medium bodied with very good length. Hold of until 2004 so as to subdue some of the youthful puckery tannins and drink until 2008. (ES)

86 Birchwood Cabernet Merlot 2001, Niagara (winery, $14.95, ON)

This little winery off the highway in Beamsville continues to produce an array of well made/well priced wines. Medium ruby colour with a bouquet of black fruits, BBQ spice, flowers and vanilla. Light to medium bodied with medium length and supple tannins. Ready to go

85 Stoney Ridge Pinot Noir 2002, Niagara (240903, $12.95, ON)

Thirteen dollars for this bottle or $20 for an over-cropped, thin generic red burgundy-the choice is yours. Pale to medium garnet with a nose of earth, cherry, vanilla, plum and some blackfruits. Medium length and ready to please. Try with wild mushroom risotto. (ES)

84 Birchwood Cabernet Franc 2001 Niagara (winery, $11.95, ON)

On the nose, bell pepper, vanilla and spice are apparent, while the palate gives more in the way of blackberries and smoke. Flavorful with good length and a smooth finish. Drink now.

82 Magnotta Merlot Merritt Road Vineyard 2002, Niagara (winery, $9.95, ON)

A no non sense, easy drinking Merlot with flavors of dark cherry, spice, raspberry and plum. Light bodied with good length and ready to drink this summer BBQ season. (ES)


93 Gourt de Mautens 2000, Rasteau (862771, $46.25, PQ)

Lovers of Southern Rhone wines should hunt high and low for this star on the rise! Made from low yields, on average 1.25 tons per acre, this 100% Grenache is super concentrated with flavors of black and red fruits, spice, licorice and herb de provence. Easily bests most Chateauneufs and has at least 10 years ahead of it. (ES)


93 Gunderloch Riesling Auslese Nackenheimer Rothenberg 2001, Rheinhessen (722405, $39.95, ON)

This Auslese was one of my favorites at the German Wine Fair this past April. Packed and stacked with loads of fruit- namely apricot, peach, pink grapefruit and citrus. With 110 grams of residual sugar and vibrant acidity the wines has 10 to 15 years ahead of it, eyes closed. Think peach flan, topped with crème anglaise. (ES)

92 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Ockfener Bockstein Auslese 2001, Mosel (720904, $44.60, ON)

Distinctivley yeasty on the nose with apricot, flowers and slate through in for good measure. Lots of vibrant acidity offsets the 70 g/l of residual sugar in the wine. Excellent length and with a great future ahead. Now to 2015. (ES)

91 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Ockfener Spatlese 2001, Mosel (718791, $22.60, ON)

Very pale yellow colour with a citrusy, floral, peach jam and yeasty nose. The palate adds some tropical nuances. Medium bodied with a lingering finish and loads of zippy acidity. Now to 2012. (ES)

91 Anselmann Siegerrebe Spätlese 2001, Pfalz (722041, $13.75, ON)

An incredible value from Germany. Made from the singular Siegerrebe grape, it is reminiscent of a Gewurz with its fragrance of peach, flowers, honey and cloves. The wine is medium bodied, with some sweetness, which is buttressed nicely by the acidity and has a long fruity finish. Buy it buy the case! (ES)

91 Künstler Riesling Auslese (Gold Cap) Hochheimer Holle 1998, Rheingau (726513, $37.25, ON)

Showing its age, as witnessedby the petrolium overtones, along with apricot, peach, honey and minerals. In the mouth the wine has lots of vibrant acidity with citrus, mineral and creamy flavors. Now to 2015. (ES)

88 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling QbA Ockfener Bockstein, Mosel (945535, $17.55, ON)

Almost water in colour with peach, citrus, flowers apple and minerals flavors. Light bodied yet packs weight and length. Drink until 2007. A refreshing wine for those 30° days in the middle of summer. (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.