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Wine Reviews

September 2014 Wine Ratings

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91 Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2012, Mendoza ($19.95)

This is the best Ultra Malbec to date! The saturated black/purple colour heralds a full bodied wine which is racked, backed and stacked with plum, blackberry, fig, cocoa, smoke, violets, vanilla, earth and anise. The texture is lush with excellent length and well integrated tannins. For the price, a multiple bottle purchase is mandatory. (ES)



90 Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013, Adelaide Hills ($24.95)

This is a superb follow up to the delicious 2012. Refined and complex, this Chardonnay exudes peach, pineapple, banana, red apple, honey, toast, cream, white flowers and minerals. The finish is long and the fresh acidity provides balance and definition. Lobster and crab with drawn butter were made for this beauty. (ES)


91 Nugan Estate Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012 ($26.95)

Here is something different: an Amarone inspired wine from Australia. Full-bodied and fruit driven, the plum, blackberry, black cherry, raisins, cocoa, vanilla, anise  and eucalyptus carry from the nose over to the palate, where fresh acidity,  firm tannins and a long finish join the mix. The price is right, especially considering that Italian versions of comparable quality are close to double. Drink over the next decade. (ES)

87 Nugan Estate Alfredo Second Press Shiraz ($15.95)

This Rispasso-styled wine is the little brother to the Alfredo “Amarone.” It is soft and crowd pleasing with blackberry, black cherry, prune, vanilla and dark cocoa flavours. Very good length, supple tannins, fresh acidity and a slightly sweet edge round everything out. (ES)


88 Vallone Vereto Salice Salentino Rosso 2010, Apulia ($17.95)

This 100% Negroamaro grape is a medium bodied offering which reveals plum, dried cherries, raisins, leather, violets, earth and cocoa. On the palate it is ripe, but not heavy, with some juiciness giving lift. The tannins show a dusty edge, so pair with braised veal or confit de canard. (ES)

88 D’Alfonso del Sordo Guado San Leo Uva di Troia, Apulia ($17.95)

Here is a great value aged red! Uva di Troia (the grape of Troy) is an under the radar varietal from the province of Apulia, in Southern Italy. Dark cherry, plum, vanilla, raisins, dried tomato, herbs and cinnamon make for a complex, medium bodied red. There is very good length, a tannic background and fresh acid. (ES)



89 Ravine Vineyard Riesling 2013, Niagara ($30)

Resembles a fine Mosel Kabinett. It is off-dry, with tangy acidity and a personality of lime zest, bergamot, apple, mineral, honey and peach. Very good length and 8% alcohol make for an enjoyable and easy drinking experience. (ES)

89 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2013, Niagara ($17.95)

Tawse’s entry level Riesling once again delivers above its price point. Crisp and off-dry, it dazzles with apple, bergamot, lime and mineral. A lengthy aftertaste makes for an ideal partner with oysters on the half shell or spicy tuna sushi. (ES)

88 Ravine Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Niagara ($28)

Lime, gooseberry, nectarine, white grapefruit, herbs and minerals weave around a medium body and crisp personality. It is linear with very good length and is a perfect pairing for a grilled vegetable salad topped with goat cheese or chilled shellfish. (ES)


91 Pondview Winery Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 2012, Four Mile Creek ($34.95)

Being a big fan of the 2010 version of this wine, I was hoping that the 2012 rendition would be just as glorious; well, it is! Full-bodied, yet elegant, this 14.3% alcohol wine doles out the blackberry, cassis, violets, raspberry, mocha, mint, roasted herbs and graphite qualities. The tannins are still forceful, so hold for two years and then drink until 2022. (ES)

91 Pondview Winery Bella Terra Cabernet Franc Unfiltered 2012, Four Mile Creek ($34.95)

Of all of Pondview’s top tier reds, this is the one that is the most approachable. Cassis, tobacco, cocoa, vanilla, violets, green olive, coconut and spice all come to play in this impressive Franc. It is ripe, concentrated and with enough grip to allow it age for another six to seven years.  (ES)

89 Coyote’s Run Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012, Four Mile Creek ($29.95)

This is a seriously structured Pinot which requires a couple of years of bottle age so as to bring harmony. Dark cherry, raspberry, plum, humus, potpourri, vanilla and chocolate make for a thoroughly complex wine. From 2016 to 2020.  (ES)

88 Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Syrah 2012, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

Plum, violets, clove, root beer, pepper and vanilla waft out the glass and onto the taste buds. Supple tannins, fresh acidity and very good length make this a fine choice for rack of lamb or roasts. (ES)

88 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($22.95)

Cassis, raspberry, herbs, cocoa, vanilla, spice are on full display in this biodymanic wine. There is some residual sugar, and a few might find it too sweet, but for me, it combines with the tannins, acidity and moderate alcohol to produce a well-balanced wine. It  should age well over the next 4 to 5 years. (ES)


90 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Puente Alto ($19.95)

From the Maipo valley comes this polished Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe cassis, dark cherry, cocoa, menthol, spice, vanilla and dark olive qualities. Full bodied, there are lots of velvety tannins which makes me want to lay this wine down until the middle of 2015 and then drink until 2020. (ES)

United States

89 Ca’Momi Zinfandel 2012, Napa Valley ($19.95)

The 2012 vintage of this wine is a well-priced, textbook example, loaded with jam: raspberry, blackberry, cherry and blueberry. Raisins, pepper, earth and vanilla add complexity to the mix. Very good length and soft tannins assure immediate accessibility. Pair with braised meats or dry-rubbed ribs. (ES)


August 2014 Wine Ratings

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89 Peter Lehmann H&V Chardonnay 2012, Eden Valley ($20)

This is not your parents’ Aussie Chardonnay! Planted on rock soils, in the cool Eden Valley, this wine is all about restraint and elegance. Huge citrus, apple, honey and minerals are supported by cinnamon and vanilla notes from partial barrel aging. The crisp personality, 12% alcohol and long finish make this well suited for grilled salmon or roasted chicken.  (ES)


89 Peter Lehmann Layers Red 2011, Barossa ($17.95)

A definite crowd pleaser! From a cool vintage comes this GSM plus Tempranillo blend. Dark plum, sweet cherry, strawberry and raspberry mesh with the oak flavours of vanilla, cocoa and spice. Rather full bodied, the texture is soft, and there is very good length. Ready to drink, preferably with boeuf bourguignon or lamb chops. (ES)



91 Hillebrand Showcase Series Wild Ferment Oliveira Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, Lincoln Lakeshore ($36)

This impressive Chardonnay doles out toast, honey, apple, fig, citrus, honey and caramel qualities. It is full bodied with excellent length and a fine spine of acid. Pair with butter poached lobster. (ES)

88 Rosehall Run The Finisher Liquoreux 2013, Prince Edward County ($17.95/375ml)

This playfully named dessert wine is a blend of 85% Ehrenfelser and 15% Muscat. With 70g/l of sugar (think Auslese), fresh acid, and a profile of peach, honey, white flowers and spice, this dessert wine is a perfect foil for foie gras or fresh fruit custard desserts topped with an apricot glaze. (ES)

88 Peller Estates Private Reserve Chardonnay 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($18.95)

Apple, citrus, white flowers, honey and hints of tropical fruit are all in play in this medium bodied, refined wine. There was no malolactic, so there is fresh acid as well as very good length. (ES)

88 Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2012, Beamsville Bench ($28.75)

Yes, there is oak, but it is kept in check by the fruit, producing a mix of caramel, honey, vanilla, peach, pineapple, citrus and sweet apple. Medium to full body, there is sound acid and a lengthy aftertaste. (ES)

88 Soutbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($22.95)

The ripe and round Chardonnay has seen 50% oak. That said, it is not overt, rather the fruit and wood are in balance, producing a lifted nose of pear, pineapple, grilled peach, apple, vanilla and caramel. It is mid-weight with a lengthy aftertaste and good acidity.  Ready to drink. (ES)

86 Coyote’s Run Gewürztraminer 2013, Niagara ($14.95)

Coyote’s first ever Gewürz is a textbook sample. Peach, rose water, orange blossom, honey, cinnamon and pineapple find themselves on a medium bodied frame. Dry, there is moderate length and uplifting acidity. (ES)


90 Rosehall Run The Certain Ratio 2012, Ontario ($29.95)

The grapes for this Meritage were sourced from PEC and Niagara. The ratio is 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc. Full-bodied, concentrated and layered; the tobacco, dark cherry, plum, olive, spice, mocha and vanilla flavours are underpinned by loads of ripe, yet unobtrusive tannins. It should age well for the next eight years. (ES)

90 Coyote’s Run David Sheppard Vintage 30 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($36.95)

This one-shot release was created to commemorate winemaker David Sheppard’s 30th harvest in the Niagara wine business. It is full bodied and backwards, and at this early stage, plum, vanilla, spice, and cassis are present. The tannins are elevated, so two options exist. The first, if you wish to drink now, is to pair with an extremely rare cut of beef.  The second, as well as my personal preference, is to cellar for three years and then drink until 2025. (ES)

89 Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Merlot 2012, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

A huge bouquet of damson plum, sweet cherry, mocha, vanilla are all present in this 14.5% alcohol wine. It is ripe and concentrated with the sweet fruit on the palate meshing with a light herbal note. There is a long finish and firm tannins, so hold for two years and then drink until 2020. (ES)



91 Ktima Biblia Chora Assyrtiko/Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Pangeon IGP ($22.95)

This 40/60 blend starts off with a pale straw colour and then leads into a perfume of fresh cut grass, bergamot, passion fruit, white pepper, mango, green apple and honey. Once on the taste buds, the minerals and citrus kick-in, creating a long finale.  Great juice and the price is right! (ES)

90 Ktima Tselepos Amalia Brut, Arkadia IGP ($25.95)

This 100% Moschofilero, traditional method sparkling wine is my favorite Greek bubbly. It totally flatters with peach, honey, white flowers and spice qualities which become enveloped by the small pinpoint bubbles.  It is dry with a long finish and is an absolute delight with any appetizer course or celebration. (ES)

90 Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos 2013, Pangeon IGP ($29.25)

Many believe that Greece’s finest wines are those that are blends between indigenous and French grapes. Here, you will find a marriage of Sémillon and Assyrtiko. The prior provides the weight and aroma and the later balances with freshness and minerality. Peach, red apple, mineral, honey, wax, evergreen and pineapple on the nose meshes with lanolin, spice and cream on the palate. Long aftertaste. It will age well, especially if you find the mature qualities of Sémillon enticing. (ES)

89 Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2013, Epanomi ($29.95)

Depending on your point of view, Malagousia is Greece’ answer to Gewürz or Muscat. One of the main difference between it and the aforementioned grapes is the fact that it retains acidity. Gerovassiliou’s version serves up honey, peach, spice, orange blossom, bergamot, citrus and spice qualities. Superb length makes this wine a natural partner for sushi or deep fried appetizers. (ES)

89 Domaine Gerovassiliou White 2013, Epanomi ($22.95)

This is a 50/50 blend of Malagousia and Assyrtiko, the famous white grape of Santorini, which has now been transplanted all over Greece. By blending the two, the exotic aromas of Malagousia find a home with Assyrtiko’s mineral driven, crisp personality. Peach, honey, white flowers, crushed rock and spice are all in play. Splendid length and ready to drink. (ES)


91 Domaine Gerovassiliou Avaton 2011, Epanomi ($44.95)

This intriguing, indigenous blend of Limnio, Mavroudi and Mavrotragano is a big wine full of plum, smoke, violets, cherry jam, earth and mocha aromas. The palate is quite punchy with lots of tannin enveloping the raisin, red and dark fruit flavours. Excellent length and a decade of life ahead. (ES)


July 2014 Wine Ratings

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87 Winzer Krems Sandgrube 13 Grüner Veltliner 2013 ($12.80)

For under $13, this wine is a rock solid value as well as a great primer for those who haven’t experienced the joys of Grüner.  Spice, apple, grapefruit, white peach, white flower and bell pepper are built on a crisp, food friendly frame. Try with sauteed shrimps with lemon or grilled vegetables drizzled with balsamic/olive oil and topped with chèvre. (ES)



89 Redstone Riesling Limestone Vineyard South 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($19)

Redstone is Moray Tawse’s new winery. Made from 14 year old vines, this wine is reminiscent of a ripe Mosel Kabinett. The fragrance reveals honey, lime, grapefruit and white flowers. The palate carries more citrus and mineral as well as solid acidity and some residual sugar. Fine length. (ES)

87 Southbrook White Organic Connect 2013, Ontario ($14.95)

This fun and easy drinking white, made primarily from Vidal, is off-dry, with peach, melon, citrus and apple flavours.  At under 10% alcohol, it is meant for casual sipping, appetizers or cheese platters. (ES)

86 Union Gold 2011, Niagara ($13.95)

A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauv Blanc and Gewurz. Mid weight, there is oak aging here, which adds vanilla and cinnamon to the peach, pear and apple qualities. The palate is slightly creamy at first, then the refreshing acidity weighs in on the finish, culminating on a caramel note. Well made, well priced and ready to drink. Pair with roast chicken or halibut. (ES)


90 Redstone Syrah Redstone Vineyard 2010, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

The Syrah grapes for this wine were planted back in 1999, as part of the Thomas and Vaughn winery, and where the Redstone winery is being built. An explosive perfume of pepper, raspberry, cassis, plum, cherry, tobacco and oregano leads into a weighty palate stuffed with red and dark fruits coated with cracked black pepper. (ES)

89 Soutbrook Vineyards Triomphe Cabernet Franc 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($21.95)

This biodynamic Cab Franc includes 12% Merlot. There is a deep ruby colour and a complex combination of raspberry, cassis, plum, violets, cinnamon, roasted herbs and tobacco. Balance is the mantra on the palate, with moderate alcohol, good body, considerable length and ripe tannins. Enjoy this lovely wine over the next 5 years. (ES)

87 Southbrook Connect Organic Red 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($15.95)

This mid weight, Bordeaux inspired red wine, features pretty aromas of raspberry, red currant, tobacco, vanilla and cocoa.  Very respectable length and supple tannins make for short term aging potential. Drink until 2018.

87 Union Squared Red 2012, Niagara ($17.95)

This singular blend of Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundian varietals spent 12 months in French oak.  Mid weight, it doles out raspberry, cassis, cherry, herbs, pepper, vanilla and cocoa flavours. The palate is soft with the oak flavours echoing on the lengthy finale. The price is right for this wine as well as being a perfect match with steaks and roasts. (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