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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)

 

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)

 


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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.