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Wine Reviews

May 2017 Wine Ratings

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91 Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Mendoza ($19.95)

Solid value! Plum, blackberry, blackberry, raspberry, chocolate, purple flower and menthol are layered on a full body with loads of tannin to back everything up. Excellent length with enough stuffing to age a decade, if so desired. (ES)



87 Coyote’s Run Riesling Lambert Vineyard 2016, Niagara ($19.95)

From the warm 2016 vintage comes this ripe Riesling with a bouquet of powdered candy, lime cordial, sweet apple, honey, white flower and bergamot. Minerality, some sweetness and medium acidity round everything out on the finale. Serve with dim sum. (ES)

87 Coyote’s Run Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($22.95)

Coyote’s first Sauv Blanc is a solid offering with peach, passion fruit, pear, pineapple, floral and herbal aromas which then tag of to minerality and crisp acidity on the taste buds. Very good length and ready to drink. (ES)

87 Coyote’s Run Gewürztraminer 2016, Niagara ($19.95)

No denying this is Gewurz, as the nose features a tell-tale combination of rose water, cold cream, pineapple, cardamom, honey and rose. Dry, the spice punches more on the palate and it finishes with good freshness. (ES)

87 Kacaba Summer Series Jennifer’s Pinot Gris 2016, Niagara ($17.95)

Aromatic, there is pear, white peach, jasmine and lime aromas, which combine with flavours of cream and spice on the palate. Dry, with good acidity and medium plus length. (ES)


91 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Niagara Escarpment ($44.95)

An impressive red with lots of sweet oak in the form of chocolate, coffee bean and vanilla, which meshes with raspberry, plum, cherry, spice, cola, roasted herbs and violets. Concentrated, ripe and full on the palate. Long finish with firm tannins. Drink until 2024. (ES)

88 Kacaba Cabernet/Syrah 2015, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

A unique blend of 66% Cabernet Franc and 34% Syrah. Tobacco, raspberry, cassis, violets, dark cherry, black pepper, herbs and vanilla are built on a medium body. Tannins are present, and there is fine length. Pair with grilled sausage. (ES)

88 Kacaba Meritage 2015, Niagara ($24.95)

Cherry cola, plum, herbs, vanilla, cocoa, liquorice and herbs work together on a medium plus body. There is a lingering personality and firm tannins. Perfect for the summer BBQ season! (ES)

88 Coyote’s Run Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara ($24.95)

This is a pretty, red fruit scented Franc – raspberry and cherry – as well as tobacco leaf, turned earth, leather and violets. Medium body with beautiful freshness, which makes for a perfect pairing with red sauce dishes and grilled vegetables. Reminiscent of a Saumur-Champigny! (ES)



87 Errazuriz Estate Series Cabernet Sauvignon Rosė 2016, Central Valley ($13.95)

Brisk on the palate, this 100% Cab Rosé serves up strawberry, raspberry, watermelon rind, herbs and a slight floral quality. Very good length and ready to drink, especially with BBQ far. (ES)


90 Concha y Toro Winemaker’s Lot 148 Carmenère Las Pataguas Vineyard 2015, Rapel Valley ($17.95)

A superb Carmenère with loads of raspberry, cassis, plum, mint, vanilla, violets and smoke. There is a fruit-driven personality with some warmth and plummy tannins. Full-bodied with lingering flavours. (ES)

89 Aromo Private Reserve Carmenère 2013, Maule Valley ($16.95)

This wine delivers above its pay-grade. Blackberry, plum, cherry, spice, chocolate and mint are layered on a concentrated mid-palate. It is rich, smooth and finishes with excellent fruit. Ready to drink. (ES)

89 Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley ($18.95)

Forward and ripe with dark cherry, blackberry, plum, cocoa and herbs appearing both on the nose and palate. Fullish, with plummy tannins and a lingering aftertaste. Contains 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.



88 Légende Bordeaux Blanc 2015, Bordeaux ($17.95)

A straight up, easy drinking, entry level Bordeaux blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45%. Nectarine, pear, white flowers, citrus, gooseberry, honey and passion fruit are all in play. Chill well and serve with a cheese platter or chilled shellfish. (ES)

87 Dopff & Irion Crustacés 2015, Alsace ($14.95)

Crustacés means shellfish – a clear indication of what she paired with this crisp white wine. A blend of Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc, there is apple, citrus, melon and mineral. Chill well and drink up. (ES)


90 Château Des Landes Cuvée Prestige 2012, Lussac-Saint-Émilion ($24.95)

Made from 50-year-old vines, the textbook right-bank Bordeaux features plum, mocha, dried flowers, liquorice and earthy qualities. There is 14.5% alcohol, a broad palate, and enough tannins to ensure five more years of ageing. Solid Value! (ES)


90 Domaine Karydas Xinomavro 2012, Naoussa ($25.95)

If you tastes align with reds such as Tannat or Sagrantino, then this wine is for you. Opaque black colour, the tannins will melt the cement that holds your filling place. Plum, cherry, spice, earth and dark cocoa carry long on the finish. This wine needs protein, preferably on the medium rare side of the spectrum. (ES)

88 Boutari Naoussa Xinomavro 2014, Naoussa ($13.95)

This baby over-delivers for the price and multiple bottle purchase is mandated! Haunting aromas of dried fruit, potpourri, herbs and elevated tannins are all present!  If you are a Nebbiolo lover, this wine is right in your wheelhouse! BBQ fair all the way. (ES)


93 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2013, Toscana IGT ($79.95)

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Full-bodied and debonair, there is plum, cassis, Fraise de Bois, sweet cherry, tobacco, and chocolate. Long lasting and 15 years of life ahead. (ES)

92 Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella 2012, Veneto ($49.95)

Quintessential Amarone with its plum, raisin, raspberry liqueur, Asian spice, chocolate and earth. Full-throttle, concentrated and a fabulous finish. Drink or hold. (ES)


93 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2009, Rioja ($57.95)

For purists, this old-school Rioja will rock your world. Strawberry, raspberry, cherry, cedar, tomato concentrate, balsamic, dried herbs/flowers coil together to make for one impressive red. Brilliant length, fresh acid and no hard edges make for a divine drop of Tempranillo. (ES)


April 2017 Wine Ratings

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91 Tawse Limestone Ridge North Block Riesling 2015, Twenty Mile Bench ($23.95)

White flowers, lime zest, honey, crushed rock, apple juice, peach and pineapple are all present in this rich and intense Riesling. There is lots of acidic verve on the finale, giving the impression of a dry wine even though there is 29g/l of residual sugar. (ES)

91 Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Riesling 2015, Vinemount Ridge ($24.25)

Peach, lime, bergamot, powdered candies, minerals, flowers and pear are built on a steely core of acidity. More linear than the Limestone North Block. There is electric acidity and 32 g/l of sugar, and like its brother, Limestone Ridge, it comes across as a dry. Long lasting minerality carries the finale. (ES)

91 Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Vinemount Ridge ($35.35)

Oaky, but not over the top, as the aromas of vanilla, hazelnut and spice mesh with green apple, Bosc pear and white peach. Med plus body, there is excellent length with a creamy/acidic interplay making for a delicious pairing with lobster and drawn butter. (ES)

90 Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($24.95)

The Rusty Shed continues to over-deliver for its price point, or in other words, one of the best value Chardonnays to be found in Niagara. Toast, spice, vanilla, white flowers on the nose meet up with honey, cream, citrus, pineapple and banana on the palate. Brilliant persistency with freshness squaring everything up. (ES)

90 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($45.95)

A bouquet of toast, anise, vanilla, green apple and lilac gives way to a mineral driven palate with notes of cream and spice. There is no lack of freshness here, and it carries long on the taste buds. (ES)

90 Trius Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay Oliveira Vineyard 2014, Lincoln Lakeshore ($36)

Banana, cream, peach, golden apple, spice and hints of hazelnut are all present in the wine. There is a rich mouthfeel, with creamy notes intermixing with freshness. Long lasting and a brilliant match with shrimp risotto. (ES)

89 Stratus Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($29)

An oaked Sauv Blanc with honey, peach, white flowers, grapefruit, fig, spice and gooseberry. There is crisp acidity interplaying with creamy notes. Great length. Try with red Snapper Veracruz-style. (ES)

88 Burnt Ship Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($14.95)

This Sauvignon Blanc delivers above its pay grade. A huge bouquet of nectarine, guava, passion fruit, poached pear and grapefruit. On the palate, it is dry with fresh acidity and very good length as well as added nuances of lemon balm and minerals. Ceviche please! (ES)

88 Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2016, Short Hills Bench ($17.95)

Sweet peach, applesauce, lime, minerals, white flowers and honey coalesce around fresh acidity. Very good length. Drink now. (ES)

87 Eastdell Riesling 2016, Niagara ($13.95)

A lovely Ontario Riesling at a friendly price! White peach, lime, honey, bergamot, mineral and green apple flavours are supported by acidity. Off-dry and ready to go with Sushi. (ES)

86 Eastdell Chardonnay 2015, Niagara ($13.95)

A clean, well-made and unoaked Chardonnay with a personality of peach, sweet apple, pineapple and citrus, Dry, with some fleshiness and medium plus length. Summer fun wine! (ES)

87 Reif Estate Winery Pinot Grigio 2016, Niagara ($16.95)

A ripe Grigio, benefiting from the heat of the 2016 vintage. Peach, banana, honey and spice burst on the palate, turning dry and citrusy on the finale. Chill and serve this summer on the patio or with fresh water fish. (ES)


91 Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc Clark Farm 2014, Four Mile Creek ($45)

The best Cabernet Franc I have tasted so far from the 2014 vintage. Concentrated and elegant, there is cassis, raspberry, tobacco, violets, vanilla, spice, turned earth and a hint of olive. On the fuller end of the spectrum, there is excellent length and is ready to drink now or cellar until 2023. (ES)

90 Tawse Chery Ave Vineyard Pinot 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($48.95)

This Pinot packs quite a punch as there is lots of extract as well as elevated, dry tannins. Cherry, raspberry, plum, spice, dried earth and flowers are all in play. Excellent length. This wine needs food, so duck breast will do the trick, quite nicely. (ES)

90 Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, St. David’s Bench ($39.95)

From the fabulous 2012 vintage, this robust red spent 32 months in barrel and 18 months in bottle before being released. Cassis, raspberry, violets, herbs, vanilla, dark cocoa and spice are built on 14% alcohol and masses of tannins. That said, my preference would be to drink it over the next seven years, with some medium rare beef. (ES)

89 Tawse Redfoot Vineyard Gamay Noir 2015, Lincoln Lakeshore ($28.95)

The mid-weight Gamay offers up strawberry, raspberry, plum, fresh earth and black pepper flavours. Nice depth, suave tannins and just the right amount of lift make this is a proper pairing with roast pork or rillettes. (ES)

89 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($29.95)

Lovely and seductive, this Pinot beguiles with red berry fruit: cherry, raspberry and strawberry. Add red flowers, spice and herbal notes, and you have a complex wine ready to paid alongside Boeuf Bourguignon or grilled quail. (ES)

88 Thirty Bench Double Noir 2015, Niagara ($19.95)

This blend of 60% Gamay Noir and 40% Pinot Noir is Thirty Bench’s answer to a Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains – but vastly superior! Cherry, raspberry, pepper, spice, cocoa and earth are built on a soft and easy drinking texture. (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara ($21.95)

Accessible and cheerful, this Franc features raspberry, red flowers, cassis, mint/herbs and chocolate. Medium body and ready to drink. Solid value! (ES)


88 Chateau Vrai Caillou 2014, Bordeaux Supėrieur ($15.95)

This blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon offers punch for its price. Dark cherry, plum, cassis, raspberry, cocoa, anise, purple flower and herbs are present as well as pinpoint tannins. Braised lamb shanks or steak tartare would be brilliant accompaniments. Drink until 2019. (ES)

New Zealand

89 Sacred Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough ($18.95)

No denying that this is Sauvignon Blanc what with its nectarine, passion fruit, fruit salad, line zest and tomato vine. Crisp and dry with a lingering finale. Pair with halibut ceviche or chicken souvlaki. (ES)


89 Pencarow Pinot Noir 2015, Martinborough ($24.95)

Pencarow is Palliser’s soft/easy drinking range of wines. This Pinot Noir, which exemplifies said style, offers up sweet cherry, plum, liquorice, red flowers, vanilla and baking spice notes. Medium body, with good freshness and a good amount of fine-grained tannins. Lengthy with red fruit carrying the finish. (ES)


90 La Crema Chardonnay 2015, Monterey ($26.95)

On the full-side, this is quintessential Cali Chard with its nose of cream, pineapple, vanilla, mango and fig. The palate adds a creamy texture and tropical fruit as well as an interesting black olive note. There is also some heat. Great length. (ES)


March 2017 Wine Ratings

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92 Trius Vidal Icewine 2015, Niagara ($54)

This is the first vintage of this wine not to be aged in old wood, thus imbuing it with a more fruit driven, fresher personality. Honey, sponge toffee, brined olive, peach compote, pink grapefruit and apple juice. Long sweet finale with lovely acidity. (ES)

91 Pondview Vidal Icewine 2014, Niagara ($19.95/200ml)

Superb value alert! This stickie inundates then palate with honey, peach, pineapple, lemon, lime, smoke and pear. Excellent length and perfect by itself or with a vanilla cheesecake. (ES)

90 Strewn Riesling Icewine 2013, Niagara ($63)

Mature elements of petrol, buckwheat honey, spice, cherry pith, lime on the nose mesh with caramel, wax and candied honey on the palate. Excellent length, luscious and ready to be served well chilled. (ES)

90 Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Niagara ($30)

This Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in 20% new oak which has produced a wine of great balance and flavour. Toast, honey, vanilla, honey, peach, fig and yellow apple are all in play. Medium body with great length and ideally suited for lobster or crab dishes. (ES)

88 The Hare Wine Co. Frontier Collection Riesling Icewine 2013, Niagara ($65)

An easy drinking Riesling Icewine with moderate aromas of lime, mineral, peach, apple and sponge toffee. Very good length. Try with foie gras.

88 Strewn Winery Terroir French Oak Chardonnay, Niagara ($27.15)

Fifty percent new oak has added vanilla cream aromas to the green apple, peach, pineapple and fig. The palate shows sweet fruit qualities, fresh acidity and a spice tinged finale. Halibut, please! (ES)

87 The Hare Wine Co. Crown Land White 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($18.50)

An off-dry blend of 55% Gewurztraminer and 45% Riesling. Petrol, peach, smokey minerals, flowers and spice flavours. Ready to drink and I would choose Szechuan cuisine as the perfect foil. (ES)



90 Kacaba Vineyards Winery Terrace Vineyards Syrah 2014, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

This is a powerful, youthful and somewhat backwards Syrah. The colour is inky purple and there is cassis, raspberry, cracked pepper, game, leather, chocolate and oregano. Full-bodied and concentration it should evolve nicely over the next 7 to 8 years. (ES)

89 Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit, St. David’s Bench ($17.95)

This wine always more punch than your typical Gamay thanks to the ‘Droit’ clone that CDC discovered almost 20 years ago. Medium to full body, there is plum, cherry, strawberry, raspberry and black pepper qualities. There is enough stuffing here to pair with a porcini crusted pork loin topped with a mushroom demi-glace. (ES)

88 The Hare Wine Co. Crown Land Red 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($25.50)

This new winery, on Niagara-on-the Lake’s Highway 55, first offerings are a solid lot. This Cabernet Franc (70%) based blend is a mid -weight and serves up cassis, herbs, tobacco, violets and cocoa. Elegant there is depth with fresh acidity and subdued tannins. Drink or hold. (ES)

88 Stoney Ridge Excellence Merlot 2015, Niagara ($24)

Plum, cherry, raspberry, vanilla, spice and cocoa are all present in this mid-weight Merlot. Nice density, fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity will ensure five years in the cellar, but it can be

broached right now, with some duck breast or rib eye steaks. (ES)

88 Mike Weir Limited Edition Cabernet Franc 2013, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

Winemaker, Jeff Hundertmark, has pulled off a minor miracle considering that 2013 was a difficult one for red varietals in Ontario. Plum, cassis, red currant, herbs, violets, tobacco are all present in this fresh and friendly red. Ready to drink with braised meats or charcuterie. (ES)

87 Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($14.95)

This is a straight up, well made and well priced Franc which delivers cassis, raspberry, tobacco, herbs, olive, cocoa and spice. Medium bodied, the tannins make this a go-to wine for the upcoming BBQ season. Fine length. (ES)


90 Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley ($26.95)

An incredible value Napa Cab and a multiple bottle purchase is mandated! Smooth a silk, there is plum, blackberry, raspberry, vanilla, raisins and a touch of smoke in the full-bodied wine. Excellent length and ready to drink with NY strip. (ES)

89 Sextant Zinfandel 2013, Central Coast ($21.95)

For those who like hedonistic, over the top, jammy Zin, this is your ticket. Full bodied with gobs of red and dark fruit, tobacco and raisins. Concentrated with no harsh edges and ready to go with Memphis-style dry rubbed ribs. (ES)

89 Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills ($33.95)

A delightful Pinot Noir with cherry, raspberry, cranberry, porcini mushroom, dried flowers, vanilla, humus and tobacco. Ready to drink with salmon or roasted pork tenderloin with an herb jus. (ES)


92 Primus Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley ($19.95)

From Colchagua, which is prime Carmenere growing land, comes this full-bodied rendition with a distinct mix of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, tar, black olive, spice, herb, cured meats and Tahitian vanilla.  Long lasting and enough tannic backbone to age for another 6 or 7 years. (ES)


92 Jean-Max Roger Cuvée C.M. Sancerre Blanc 2014, Loire Valley ($27.95)

When Sancerre is done right, it is truly a thing of beautiful- case and point, this baby. Gooseberry, honey, nectarines, herbs, honey, white flowers and a boat load of minerals linger into the sunset. The brisk acidity and great depth will allow cellaring, but it is already approachable, especially when served alongside seafood. (ES)

New Zealand


89 Marisco Vineyards The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris 2016, Marlborough ($19.95)

Here you will find a full-bodied Gris which offers a rich mouthfeel, fine acidity and flavours of peach, cream, spice, honey, smoke and citrus. Dry with a gratifying finale. Pair with butternut squash soup or double cream brie. (ES)

88 The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough ($16.60)

Quintessential Kiwi Sauv Blanc with huge aromas of passion fruit, pink grapefruit, nectarine, honey, lime, guava and tomato vine on display. Brisk acidity and fine length round out the experience. (ES)


88 The Ned Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough

An overt Pinot Noir with a bouquet of dark cherry, plum, spice, chocolate, earth and toast. The palate is all fruit and oak-driven with lovely acidity, supple tannins and great length. Pair with grilled quail or duck breast topped with a red fruit infused demi-glace. (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