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Wine Reviews

March 2016 Wine Ratings

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Australia

White

89 Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2014, Adelaide Hills ($24.90)

Lots of polish to this Chardonnay, which clocks in at 12.5% alcohol. Smoke, hazelnut, peach, sweet apple, pear and anise are all found in the glass. Mid-weight, the palate is restrained, with vibrant acidity, a slight creaminess as well as mineral driven aftertaste. Seared scallops or cracked crab would be perfect with this wine.  (ES)

Red

90 Wolf Blass Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Coonawarra ($23.95)

A powerful Coonawarra Cab with a bouquet of chocolate, cassis, raspberry, cherry, mint, violets and herbs. Medium body with some gritty tannins and great length. Drink until 2021. (ES)

90 Teusner Joshua 2013, Barossa Valley ($29.95)

Full-bodied, this Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend doles out plum, blackberry, sweet black cherry, spice, vanilla, roasted herbs, anise and vanilla. Long finish, lots of ripe tannins and a good amount of acid make for an excellent food wine. (ES)

89 Wolf Blass Gold Label Syrah 2012, Adelaide Hills ($24.90)

Deep ruby with purple highlights. Full bodied, yet elegant, there is masses of plum, blackberry, cassis, raspberry, eucalyptus, anise, tar, and violets. Concentrated, ripe and excellent length. The alcohol is 14.5%, but there is no burn. Nice balance. (ES)

88 19 Crimes Shiraz Durif 2014, Victoria ($18.95)

From the cooler Victoria comes this dark ruby/purple coloured red. Blackberry, black cherry, plum, violets, spice, cocoa, ink, cookie dough and vanilla replay from the nose to the palate. Full bodied with some warmth and fine length. (ES)

Canada

White

90 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 15-183 Riesling 2014, Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95)

Rockway continues to shine under winemaker David Stasiuk. Taught and racy, this wine serves up peach, lime, pink grapefruit, mineral and white flowers. There is some residual sugar, but the brisk acidity gives the impression of a dry wine. Excellent length and a match made in heaven with sushi. (ES)

90 Rockway Vineyards Chardonnay Wild Ferment 2014, Twenty Mile Bench ($22.95)

A medium body Chardonnay, which shows great poise. Peach, green apple, pear, citrus, honey and vanilla are built on a creamy texture and excellent length. Without a doubt, this is a wine that requires lobster or Alaskan king crab with drawn butter. (ES)

90 Château des Charmes Riesling Old Vines 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($16.95)

Pale water colour with a bouquet of bergamot, white peach, lemon, lime, green apple, white flowers and hints of honey. Comes across as dry on the palate because of the refreshing acidity. Splendid mineral aftertaste. (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Estate Bottled 2014, Beamsville Bench ($18.95)

A bouquet of lime, pink grapefruit, peach, white flowers and honey also carry over onto the palate. Splendid length with some residual sugar balancing out the fresh acidity. Well crafted and ready to drink. (ES)

88 Pondview Bella Terra Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2013, Four Mile Creek ($25)

As the name denotes, there is new oak I the form of vanilla, toast and anise. Add in pineapple, banana, apple and orange attributes from the grape itself and you have a sophisticated and delicious drop of juice. Medium to full body, there is a creamy texture and great length. Lobster risotto with this for sure! (ES)

88 Konzelmann Old Vines Riesling 2014, Niagara ($22.95)

Dry, this Riesling features aromas of sweet peach, nectarines, bergamot, marzipan, spice and lemon. The palate, although crisp, features slight creamy notes from barrel fermentation and a lengthy apple/mineral-tinged finish. (ES)

88 Pondview Estate Winery Bella Terra 2013, Four Mile Creek ($19.95)

A heftier Gris thanks to a combination of partial new oak and lees stirring. Peach, honey, cream, apple, citrus, lemon, smoke, spice and yellow flowers. Creamy in the mouth with good acid and very good length. Pickerel in a beurre blanc sauce would be killer with this wine.

87 Fielding Estate Winery Viognier 2014, Niagara ($22.95)

A mid-weight Viognier, which leans more towards a citrus/grapefruit personality rather than the blowsy tropical/ warmer style. There is some spice, peach, apricot and floral undertones. Fine length and ready to drink. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Family Tree White 2012, Niagara ($17.95)

A Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc blend. Tropical dominant on the nose with a good dose of oak afterwards. It is soft and easy drinking with mature elements of caramel chiming on the palate. Ready to drink. (ES)

Rose

86 Fielding Estate Winery Rosé 2015, Niagara ($15.95)

A dry and easy drinking Rose with flavours of strawberry, raspberry, pink grapefruit and hints of pepper. Good length, fresh acid and ready for patio sipping or charcuterie boards. (ES)

Red

92 Fielding Estate The Chosen Few 2012, Niagara ($59.95)

Only made in the best years, this, the second vintage of this wine (the first was in 2007) is truly impressive. The final blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 37% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon was a selection of Fielding’s best barrels and there was no fining and filtering whatsoever. Medium to full body, there is a rich texture and lots smoke, chocolate, dark cherry, cassis, blackberry, black pepper/spice and olive. Great length and structure to allow to age another 7 to 8 years. (ES)

91 Fielding Estate Winery Syrah 2012, Niagara ($39.95)

A warm, ripe and complex Syrah with cassis, plum, black pepper, oregano, violets, chocolate, and toast. Medium plus body, ripe tannins, concentrated mid palate and superb length will allow this wine to age over the next five years. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Estate 2012, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)

Cassis, raspberry, mint, spice, vanilla and herbs are present in this stylish Bordeaux-inspired red. On the fuller side, the tannins are present and the finale long. Grilled lamb chops and vegetables would be sublime. Drink until 2021. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2013, Ontario ($18.95)

A five-grape blend where Syrah and Merlot and dominate, the Cabernets act as backstop and Baco Noir chimes in at 5%.   Blackcurrant, black pepper, raspberry, tobacco, herbs and a slight gamey feature. Mid-weight, fresh acid and very good length. (ES)

Chile

White

87 Root: 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Casablanca Valley ($12.95)

This is the new white companion to the Root: 1 Carmenere. Starts off with lime, grapefruit and nectarine qualities and then shifts into more herbal and mineral elements. Light-weight, crisp and dry. Perfect for the summer months of patio sipping. (ES)

Red

91 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Maipo ($21.95)

A superb Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon with textbook aromas of blackberry, cassis, cherry, mint, vanilla, cocoa, tar and smoke. Concentrated, the tannins are plush and the finale long with just the right amount of warmth.  Drink over the next five years. Steak all the way with wine! (ES)

France

90 Château Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011 ($46.95)

A serious CNP, which clocks in at 14.5% alcohol. Cherry, plum, cassis, anise black pepper, smoke and vague oregano qualities waft out of the glass. Tannins are dry and there is great length. A midterm cellar candidate - drink until 2020. (ES)

Germany

88 Thörle Riesling Feinherb 2014, Rheinhessen ($20)

The term Feinherb denotes a wine which is off-dry. This is a light Riesling which packs lots of flavour. Lime, peach, powdered candies, yeast and minerals. Very good length and ready to drink. Pair with sushi or schnitzel. (ES)

Greece

92 Santo Wines Assyrtiko Grand Reserve 2013, Santorini ($29.95)

This wine is a worthy successor to the fabulous 2012! Full bodied, this oak aged Assyrtiko exudes toast, peach, pineapple, citrus, red apple, honey, anise and bay leaf. The palate is a combination of cream and acidity with a brilliant finale. Singular superb Santorini! (ES)

90 Santo Wines Vinsanto 2008, Santorini ($33/500ml)

This dessert wine is a blend of 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani that was sun-dried for ten days. Syrupy and concentrated, it possesses 280 grams of residual sugar and a personality of raisins, dried figs, prunes, molasses, maple syrup and buckwheat honey. There is a long finale with just enough acidity to provide symmetry. (ES)

90 Santo Wines Santorini Assyrtiko 2015, Santorini ($14.95)

This wine, soon to be released to the LCBO general list is an incredible value! Grown at the highest elevations of the island, it delivers nectarine, citrus, green apple, hints of honey and salty minerals. Dry, Assyrtiko’s crystalline acidity helps carry the long finish. There is enough power here to pair with fish, poultry and even pork. For this price, make sure to pick up a few bottles. (ES)

89 Santo Wines Sparkling Brut 2013, Santorini ($33)

This is the only sparkling wine produced on the island of Santorini.  Made from 100% Assyrtiko and vinified via the traditional method, there are pinpoint creamy bubbles and aromas of mineral, apple, citrus and yeast. The palate possesses crisp acidity and excellent length. (ES)

New Zealand

90 Lagoon Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Martinborough ($18.95)

From the Martinborough region located on NZ’s North Island comes this expressive single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc which was organically farmed. The mango, guava, orange, passion fruit, lime, pink grapefruit and herbs jump out of the glass and onto the tastebuds where spice and lively acidity frame everything quite nicely. Ready to drink. (ES)

South Africa

White

86 Goats do Roam White 2015, Western Cape ($11.95)

Moderate aromas of peach, honey, spice, peanuts, white flowers and honey. Mid-weight, there is some creaminess on the palate as well as a brisk finale. A singular blend of 61% Viognier, 20% Roussanne and 19% Grenache Blanc. (ES)

Red

88 The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvèdre and Viognier 2014, Western Cape ($13.95)

This Rhone inspired delivers the goods at an affordable price. Cassis, plum, dark cherry, smoke, leather, spice and vanilla are supported by soft tannins and an easy drinking nature. BBQ all the way! (ES)

USA

89 La Crema Pinot Noir 2013, Sonoma Coast ($31.95)

Sweet cherry, raspberry, strawberry, plum, herbs and baking spice are all present in the silky offering. Elegant, the tannins are on the lighter side and there is a touch of warmth on the finale. An appealing Pinot this is ready to drink. (ES)

87 Sledgehammer Zinfandel 2013, California ($16.95)

A wine which will appeal to those who loves soft and succulent reds. Bramble fruit, spice, raisins, black tea and tobacco are layered on soft tannins. There is a slight sweetness, but this is Zin, so not a problem at all. Great length and ready to drink. (ES)

 

February 2016 Wine Ratings

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Australia

94 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra ($99.95)

Exciting stuff! Made only in the best years, this icon wine is without a doubt one of the top Cabs in all of Coonawarra. Concentrated, elegant and layered, there is wall to wall plum, blackberry, dark cherry, eucalyptus, vanilla, anise, violets, black olive, herbs and chocolate. With all of the tannin, I suggest holding until 2018 and then drink until 2032. (ES)

91 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Coonawarra ($27.95)

This perennial 90+ point wine does it again in the 2013 vintage. Full bodied, polished and elegant, it serves up a soaring bouquet of blackberry, plum, mint and violets. The palate adds eucalyptus, vanilla, spice and a chocolate-tinged finish. It should age well over the next 8 to 10 years. For the price, make sure to pick up a few bottles for the cellar. (ES)

Bulgaria

86 Domaine Boyar Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($8.90)

If you are looking for a bang for the buck, everyday sipper, this is your wine! It is smooth and easy drinking with plum, dark cherry, mint, spice and violet flavours. Medium body and length. Ready to drink with pasta, pizza or burgers. For this price, a case purchase is mandated. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Sue-Ann Staff Winery Vidal Icewine 2012 ($24.95/200ml)

This double gold medal winning Icewine possesses a brilliant golden colour an intense perfume of honey soaked peaches, golden raisins, dried apricots and spice. Rich, but not heavy thanks to the fresh acidity. Lingers long. (ES)

91 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2014, Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95)

The combination of aromatic purity, power and balance are truly impressive. Huge lime, bergamot, white peach and crystalline minerality soar across the senses. The palate achieves the status of a lovely Kabinett with a long aftertaste. Still an infant, it will be interesting revisit this wine as it evolves over the next decade, at least.  (ES)

91 Rockway Vineyards Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($29.95/375ml)

Huge peach, honey, sponge toffee, toast, candied pear, bergamot and candied lemon are present on a concentrated frame. Vibrant acidity tidies up any heaviness and the final carries long. (ES)

91 Pillitteri Reserve Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($35/200ml)

Pillitteri’s 2013 Vidal Icewine churns out enormous peach, honey, lychee, pineapple, candied citrus and spice flavours. Excellent extraction and weight with a crisp edge giving definition. Great length. (ES)

91 Mike Weir Winery Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($49/375ml)

Honey, candied peach, apple concentrate and sponge toffee are all present in this stickie. Excellent length with solid acidity. Pair with an apricot and almond custard tart. (ES)

90 Between The Lines Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($39.95)

A dark golden/orange colour introduce the apple concentrate, candied pear, peaches in honey and spice. Long finish, focused with just the right amount of acidic lift. (ES)

90 Château des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2014, St. David’s Bench ($65)

A lighter style compared to previous vintages but one which still of high quality. Riesling’s natural acidity frames the sweetness quite nicely and the flavours of peach, pear, apple compote, mineral and lime carry long. (ES)

90 Redstone Chardonnay 2011, Beamsville Bench ($31.95)

Toast, caramel, apple, white flower, honey and smoke on the nose meet up spice and cream on the palate. Fine length, solid acid and a round mouthfeel make for a perfect pairing with grilled salmon. (ES)

90 Peninsula Ridge Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2013, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

An impressive Chardonnay for Peninsula Ridge, which features peach, banana, pineapple, toast, white flowers, sweet apple, vanilla and honey qualities. Medium plus body, concentrated and long on the finish. (ES)

90 Trius Showcase Sparkling 5 Blanc de Noir 2009, Niagara ($55)

The five denotes that the wine spent that amount of time aging on its yeast cells before being disgorged. This has created a bubbly with lots of toasty/yeasty qualities which marry with strawberry, peach, cherry and earth qualities. Bright acidity, long finish and a certain austerity hallmark this wine. (ES)

89 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Niagara ($19.95)

A lively Sauv Blanc with a lifted personality of nectarine, passion fruit, fruit salad, lemongrass, and flowers. Mid-weight, with great length. Pair with sole topped with lemon dill sauce. (ES)

89 Mike Weir Winery Limited Edition Riesling 2014, Beamsville Bench ($22.95)

A fabulous Riesling from Weir, which has a soaring bouquet of bergamot, lime, honey, smokey minerals, while flowers on the nose. The palate is decidedly mineral with a long citrus aftertaste and just a hint of residual to round everything out. (ES)

88 Ravine Vineyard Small Batch Riesling 2014, St. David’s Bench ($28)

Bergamot, honey, lime, white flower, green apple and minerals carry from the nose to the taste buds. A hint of residual sugar and vibrant acidity make for a fine match up with Thai or sushi. (ES)

88 Konzelmann Riesling 2013, Niagara ($13.65)

Konzelmann continues to churn out great bang for the back whites at a sub $15 price point. Peach, lime, citrus and apple are all wrapped up nicely by some sweetness and fresh acidity. Very good length. (ES)

88 Peninsula Ridge Barrel Aged 2014, Beamsville Bench 2014 ($15.95)

A lot of stuffing here for the price. Medium-bodied, there is green apple, citrus, spice and hints of stone fruit. The crisp acidity makes for a very food friendly wine. Ready to drink. (ES)

87 Kacaba Oak Aged Chardonnay 2014, Niagara Escarpment ($24.95)

Vanilla bean, pear, red apple, cinnamon and honey and citrus flavours fold into a creamy texture with a good amount of acidity. Elegant with very good length and lifted acidity.  Pair with crab cakes or grilled kalamari topped with a garlic aioli. (ES)

86 Château des Charmes Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($13.95)

This nicely balanced Chardonnay has just the right amount of fruit to oak ratio. Flavorful with peach, red apple, toast, spice and notes of honey. Medium length and ready to drink. (ES)

86 Small Talk Vineyards Burning Ambition 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($14.95)

A blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Peach, pineapple, spice, flowers and honey are all in play. Needs something spicy such as Pad Thai or a green curry dish to act as a counterpoint to the sweetness. (ES)

Rose

89 Fielding Estate Sparkling Rose NV, Niagara ($30)

A blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay. Strawberry, cherry, earth, yeast and toast are all present on a creamy texture. Combined with great length and fresh acid, it makes for a splendid pairing with duck rillettes or charcuterie. (ES)

Red

90 Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Niagara ($29.95)

Deep ruby colour, there is evident oak in the form of chocolate, coffee and spice which folds into the dark cherry and blackberry fruit. Ripe tannins and great length mean it should be consumed over the next 5 to 7 years. (ES)

89 Kacaba Merlot 2013, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

To ensure that the Merlot was fully ripe in the cool 2013 vintage, Kacaba left the grapes to hang until mid-October. The result is a rather fullish red with plum, dark cherry, toast, chocolate, spice and green olive qualities. Cuban ropa vieja or a skirt steak with chimichurri would be stellar pairings. (ES)

88 Kacaba Silver Bridge Vineyard Syrah 2013, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

Made from 25-year-old vines, this Syrah is still a tad closed but features plum, raspberry and cranberry flavours which encapsulate black pepper, cocoa, incense, oregano and vanilla notes. Very good length, fine acid and approachable.  (ES)

87 Kacaba Terraced Vineyard Syrah 2013, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

Compared to the Silver Bridge Syrah, this is a more open rendition which sings black pepper, dark cocoa, plum, raspberry, oregano and violets. Ready to drink with pot roast. (ES)

87 Rockway Vineyards Red Assemblage 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($17.95)

Rockway continues their qualitative ascension. This blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon reveals cassis, raspberry, mint, herbs, tobacco and violets. Splendid length, good acid and suave tannins. (ES)

Italy

89 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2012, Tuscany ($22.95)

Always great value from the realm of CCR! Ripe cherry, tomato, plum, raspberry, tobacco and some oak spice are built on a medium to full body. Nice concentration, great length and some dry tannins make for a top partner with classic Italian fare. A blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot. (ES)

87 Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2013, Tuscany ($16.95)

A touch jammy, the cherry, cocoa, tobacco, herbs, red flowers and forest floor aromas meet up with fresh acid and sound tannins. Very good length. Pair with lasagna or grilled sausages. (ES)

 

January 2016 Wine Ratings

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Australia

87 The Entertainer Red Blend 2014 ($15.95)

From Wolf Blass comes these easy drinking blend of Grenache and Syrah. Cherry, plum, rhubarb, pepper, herbs and hints of cocoa/vanilla mesh together with a medium plus body and 14% alcohol. Very good length and ready to drink. Try with bbq ribs or grilled sausage. (ES)

Canada

White

91 Stratus Sémillon 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($32)

This full-bodied, some would say massive Sémillon exudes honey, wax, apricot, pineapple, binned apple, toast, smoke, vanilla, cream and spice. Ripe and concentrated, there is a thick/creamy texture, low acid and a long finale. Pushes 15% alcohol, so chill slightly and serve on its own. (ES)

91 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($45.95)

Made from 30-year-old vines, this Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in partially new French oak for twelve months. Peach, toast, anise, green apple, honey, white flower and vanilla are built on a medium to full-bodied frame. Excellent length with a long mineral and citrus aftertaste. Pair with a pork roast or chicken in a cream sauce. (ES)

91 Tawse South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Prince Edward County ($45)

Tawse sourced the Chardonnay grapes for this wine via a fruit exchange with Huff Estates. The later received Pinot Noir from Niagara in return. Deeply mineral, there is sweet vanilla, anise, nectarine, tangerine, spiced apple and pear rounding out the package. Great length and a crisp personality make for a perfect pairing with pickerel topped with a beurre blanc sauce.

90 Tawse Estate Chardonnay 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($37.95)

Citrus, mineral, white peach, toast, anise and lime are all in play in this medium-bodied white. Refreshingly crisp with a long mineral aftertaste. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)

88 Château des Charmes Brut NV, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($22.95)

CDC’s Brut is one of Ontario’s original traditional method sparklers. This blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir delivers pinpoint bubbles and a profile of green apple, citrus, pear, lemon and subtle toasty notes. Fine length and ready to drink with oysters or smoked salmon. (ES)

88 Redstone Brickstone Riesling 2014, Niagara ($14)

A solid value Riesling with a profile of bergamot, lime, peach, grapefruit, white flower and mineral. Light bodied, yet lengthy with crisp acidity and a touch of sweetness rounding out the edges. (ES)

Rose

91 Château des Charmes Rose Sparkling 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($28.95)

Done in the Sec (22g/l of sugar) style, this blend of 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir obtained its colour via the Pinot grapes being left in contact with their skins for a short period of time. It spent three years on the lees so you can expect a creamy texture and flavours that lean to the red fruit spectrum as well as apple, citrus and earth qualities. Ready to drink with spicy sushi. (ES)

Red

91 Pondview Cabernet Appassimento 2013, Four Mile Creek ($70)

Pondview’s first Appassimento wine is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The drying period of 120 days has produced a dark ruby colour and a huge bouquet of plum, cherry jam, anise, vanilla, After Eight chocolate and herbs. This carries over to the palate where additional where raspberry, blackberry and raisins join the mix. Excellent length with a glycerin laden sweet texture and enough underlying structure to age for five to six years. (ES)

91 Creekside Estate Winery Unbroken Press Syrah 2012, St. David’s Bench ($42.95)

This powerful 100% Syrah serves up a sophisticated bouquet of cassis, violets, tobacco smoke, black pepper, bay leaf, raspberry and cocoa. Still grippy, I would suggest holding it until 2017 and then drink until 2022, preferably with a peppercorn crusted NY strip. (ES)

90 Creekside Estate Winery Broken Press Syrah, St. David’s Bench ($42.95)

Modelled after a Côte-Rôtie, this wine contains 4% Viognier.  A dark ruby colour with purple highlights, one can expect to find cassis, raspberry, vanilla, oregano, black olive, black tea and pepper. This wine was made for roast leg of lamb. Drink until 2022. (ES)

90 Tawse Grower’s Blend Cabernet Franc 2012, Niagara ($26.95)

Still tannic, this punchy red needs a few years to resolve itself. Cassis, blueberry, raspberry, roasted herbs, smoke, anise, vanilla and graphite are built on a medium plus body.  Excellent length. Hold until the end of 2016 and drink until 2021. (ES)

90 Redstone Syrah 2012, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

A cool climate Syrah with a perfume of black pepper, cassis, grilled meat, oregano, violets, vanilla and smoke. Full-bodied and elegant, the finish carries long. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

90 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013, Niagara ($30/200ml)

Sweet cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam meld with hints of blue fruits, cocoa and herbs. Vibrant acidity buttresses a rich texture. Long finale. A flourless chocolate cake would be gorgeous with this stickie. (ES)

89 Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Queenston Road Vineyard 2011, St. David’s Bench ($34.95)

An impressive Cab Sauv from a cool vintage. An enormous nose of After Eight Chocolate, smoke, violets, graphite, cassis, dark cherry, beef bouillon, smoke and spice. Medium plus body with great length. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)

89 Creekside Estate Winery Laura’s Blend 2012, Niagara ($19.95)

The 2012 Laura is the best rendition of this bottling to date. Ripe, it exudes plum, raspberry, vanilla, blue corn, green olive, cocoa and spice. Splendid length, medium body and dusty tannins. A fine wine that won’t break the bank for weeknight meals.  A blend of all five Bordeaux grapes with a dash of Syrah. (ES)

89 Tawse Gamay 2014, Niagara ($18.95)

A powerful nose of red cherry, strawberry, dark plum, rose, herbs and black pepper. There is a light oaking that comes through on the palate in the form of cocoa and vanilla. Supple tannins, fresh acid and a juicy finale make for a beautiful partner with seared duck breast or a chorizo and seafood paella. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2013, Ontario ($24.95)

HOP’s 203 Reserve Baco continues to be the benchmark by which all other Bacos are judged. Full- bodied, there is an explosive bouquet of dark and red fruit, coffee, chocolate, smoke and spice. Vivid hybrid acidity leads the palate before some residual sugar kicks in to act as a counterpoint. Drink or hold. Pair with some Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs. (ES)

88 Pondview Bella Terra Pinot Noir 2013, Four Mile Creek ($50)

Pondview’s first Pinot Noir succeeds in capturing plum, sweet cherry, earth, vanilla, cocoa aromas and flavours. With a natural alcohol of 14.5%, there is very good length, lifted acid and supple tannins. Accessible right now. Pair with mushroom risotto topped with duck breast. (ES)

88 Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($24.95)

Fresh cracked pepper, smoke, cocoa, raspberry, blackcurrant, thyme, earth and leather are supported by acid, supple tannins and a lengthy aftertaste. All in all a textbook example of Ontario Syrah, which should be served with braised meats. (ES)

87 Creekside Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Serluca Vineyard 2013, Four Mile Creek ($26.95)

A mid-weight Franc with raspberry, dark cherry, tobacco, violets, graphite and coffee. Medium length, fresh acid and solid tannins. Now to 2020. (ES)

France

White

92 Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2008, Champagne ($97.95)

Made from equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Delicate yet lengthy, it explodes with chalk, green apple, pear, lemon, toast and honey. A fine mousse, excellent length and elevated acidity on the palate bode well for aging if ones enjoys a more mature style of bubbly. (ES)

90 Gérard Bertrand Cuvée Thomas Jefferson Crémant de Limoux 2013, Limoux ($19.95)

Limoux is the birthplace of sparkling wine, some 150 plus years before Dom Pérignon even touched a grape in the Champagne region. Made in the traditional method, this blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac possesses pinpoint bubbles and a personality of apple, citrus, pear, white peach, wax, anise and yeast. Long finish. Superb value and one that easily shames many champagnes at double or triple the price. (ES)

88 Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2014, IGP Pays d’Oc  ($15.95)

A great value Viognier from Southern France. Peach, apricot, orange, banana, spice and white flowers waft over the senses. The fresh acidity gives lift and focus, carrying the finish. Pair with halibut filet topped with a jalapeno and fruit salsa. (ES)

Rose

87 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé 2014, Languedoc-Rousillion ($18.95)

An eye-catching salmon colour!  Produced from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this serious and dry Rose reveals cherry, strawberry, blackcurrant, rose, grapefruit and spice qualities. Pour alongside a pork tenderloin with a mushroom sauce. (ES)

Spain

86 Jean Leon 3055 Merlot Petit Verdot 2014, Penedès ($18.95)

A singular blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot, which is easy drinking and chock full of blackberry, plum, cherry, anise flavours. Medium length. Sausage and peppers or hamburgers are solid pairings. (ES)

United States

87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, California ($16.95)

Dry with citrus, lime, grapefruit, white flower and hints of honey and herbs. Crisp, refreshing with a long citrus aftertaste. (ES)

87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Chardonnay 2013, California ($16.95)

An upfront Chardonnay, which will thrill those who like oak and tropical fruit in their wine. Peach, pineapple, mango, sweet apple, honey, vanilla, butterscotch and spice pack a solid punch. Very good length and ready to drink. (ES)

Red

88 Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, California ($17.95)

A solid value from Beringer’s bang-for-the-buck tier. Mid-weight, there is sweet plum and blackberry fruit encapsulating the spice, vanilla, cocoa, mint and tobacco. Suave tannins make this wine ready to drink. Enjoy your favorite cut of steak with this bottle. (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.