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Wine Reviews

June 2014 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

88 Malivoire Wine Company Musqué Spritz 2013, Beamsville Bench ($19.95)

Modelled after a Moscato d’Asti, this slightly effervescent wine beguiles with peach, honey, apples and fresh cut flowers.  Lengthy, slightly sweet and a sumptuous pour for patio sipping or cheese boards. (ES)

88 Trius WineryShowcase Riesling Ghost Creek Vineyard 2012, Four Mile Creek ($25)

This single vineyard Riesling serves up peach, pear, petrol, crushed sea shells, lime and spice. Mid weight, there is a fine spine of acidity, giving 5 to 7 years of cellaring potential. (ES)

88 Burning Kiln Winery Sweet Leaf Riesling 2012, Ontario ($24.95)

This soft Riesling doles out peach, lime, honeydew melon and white flowers. The alcohol is low, with a rich mid palate, some sweetness and considerable length.  Chill well and enjoy over the short term. (ES)

87 Burnt Ship Bay Pinot Grigio 2013, Niagara ($14.95)

I will preface this rating by saying that, as a general rule, I am not a fan of Pinot Grigio. That said, this PG is an absolute joy to drink! The pretty bouquet of banana, peach, honey and flowers give way to fresh apple, mineral and spice on the refreshing palate. Put a good chill to it and enjoy this summer/autumn on the patio or with grilled fish drizzled topped with lemon. (ES)

87 Pondview Estate Winery GR Gewürztraminer Riesling 2013, Niagara ($13.95)

Peach, honey, rose, red delicious apple, spice and tropical fruit are all in play in this off dry wine. There is  moderate acidity and decent length. Drink now with coconut curry shrimp or fish tacos topped with pineapple/jalapeno salsa. (ES)

Red

92 Angels Gate Winery Mountainview Pinot Noir 2010, Beamsville Bench ($24)

For this price, this wine immensely over delivers. Concentrated and ripe, there is loads of plum, cassis, cherry, black tea, spice and vanilla which carry onto the long finale. Suave tannins allow another 4 years of aging. Mushroom risotto and lighter game fair will be a marvelous pairing with this beauty. (ES)

91 Rennie Estate Winery ‘G’ Assemblage 2011, Niagara ($55)

This Amarone inspired red clocks in with an alcohol level of 16.5%. This was accomplished via the Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and Cabernet Franc (25%) grapes being dried for 70 days in specially climate controlled rooms, which caused a loss of 35% volume and a brix level close to 29. Aging then transpired in new and used oak barrels for 18 months. Full bodied and thick, there is a flattering profile of jam: plum, blackberry and cherry, as well as cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, tobacco, herbs and raisins. Concentrated, succulent and a long finish ensure this wine will age for another 8 years. (ES)

90 Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Niagara ($55)

A personality of sweet fruits: plum, cassis and raspberry melds with savoury elements à la herbs and tobacco. New oak adds cocoa, vanilla and spice to the mix, creating a complex wine. Medium to full body, the tannins will allow cellaring until 2020 and possibly beyond.  Pick your favorite cut of steak to enjoy with this impressive homegrown Cab! (ES)

88 Burning Kiln Winery Kiln Hanger-The Sequel 2010, Ontario ($59.95)

Made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes that were dried for 8 days in old tobacco kilns. Raspberry, cassis, cherry, plum, herbs and vanilla are layered on a rather full bodied frame. The tannins are firm, so cellar it for a couple of years and then serve with lamb kabobs or pepper crusted bison steaks. (ES)

87 Pondview Estate Winery Cabernet Merlot 2011, Niagara ($18.95)

Although 2011 was not a great one for red wines in Niagara, Pondview has turned in a solid offering with this wine. Clocking in with a natural alcohol level of 14.3%, this mid weight blend churns out plum, raspberry, cherry, violets, smokey tobacco, roasted herbs and vanilla. The finish is grippy, so best grill up some steak or serve with braised lamb shank. (ES)

France

White

93 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2012, Burgundy ($260)

This beauty was slightly closed at the time of tasting, but its stature was undeniable. Full bodied and powerful, it offers up a mélange of apple, mineral, spice, white flowers and minerals. The texture is a combination of creamy and crisp, with an oh-so long finale. Drink over the next decade. (ES)

92 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru 2012, Burgundy ($119)

Great white Burgundy, without a doubt. The oak and fruit come together to create a personality of apple, pear, yellow plum, spice, vanilla, hay and boat loads of minerals. Fullish, there is fresh acidity, providing structure and longevity. Drink until 2020 with sautéed prawns or cracked crab in a butter/lemon sauce. (ES)

Red

93 Bouchard Père et Fils Chambertin Clos-De-Bèze Grand Cu 2012, Burgundy ($406)

Yes, the price is stratospheric for mere mortals. That said, if you have the means, this is a perfumed and elegant Grand Cru full of cherry, rose, animal, barnyard, herbal and iodine qualities. The lengthy aftertaste is supported by fresh acidity and ripe tannins. This is not built for the long haul, rather, I would opt to drink over the next 5 to 7 years, so as to enjoy its soothing personality. (ES)

90 Bouchard Père et Fils Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles Premier Cru 2012, Burgundy ($146)

This Pinot leans to the dark fruit end of the spectrum: plum and dark cherry. Spice, cocoa, earth and iron play into the mix as well. Mid weight, it is airy, yet long on the palate. Tannins are ripe and polished. Now until 2018. (ES)

Greece

White

89 Domaine Tselepos Moschofilero 2013, Mantinia ($19)

A youthful bouquet of peach, tangerine, banana, white flowers and honey also reveal themselves on the palate, along with lime, stoney minerals and crisp acidity. Although lithe, there is ample length. Pair with fried shrimp topped with lemon or a spiced ceviche infused with tropical fruit.

89 Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2012, Macedonia ($29.95)

Evangelos Gerovassiliou is the man who rescued the aromatic Malagousia grape from extinction back in the 70s. Personally, I describe the varietal as being Greece’s answer to Gewurz. Peach, honey, banana, citrus, flowers and spice flatter the senses. The crisp personality makes this a perfect pairing with grilled octopus topped with a Moroccan harissa sauce.

USA

White

92 Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Chardonnay 2012, Napa Valley ($45)

I have become a big fan of this wine since winemaker, Laurie Hook, has toned down the oak level. Still full-bodied and full of flavour, the peach, pineapple, honey, apple and toast on the nose meet up with banana cream pie and spice on the long finale. Drink over the next 5 years, preferably with a salt and pepper grilled salmon filet or a chicken breast topped with a jalapeno/tropical fruit salsa. (ES)

90 Stags’ Leap Winery Viognier 2011, Napa Valley ($36.95)

Not flamboyant like some V-wines, but it is varietally correct with its peach, apricot, nectarine, banana, honey, spice and white flower character. There is even fresh acidity and a mineral undercurrent, which perks things up and adds sophistication. Ready to drink. (ES)

90 Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc 2012, Napa Valley ($22.95)

As the label denotes, this is a dry Sauvignon Blanc (with the addition of 13% Semillon). Furthermore, it is an aromatic beauty with nectarine, verbena, gooseberry, lime, fresh herbs and minerals. Lengthy on the finish with refreshing acidity. Ceviche and fresh water fish were made for this food friendly bottling. (ES)

89 Beringer Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, Napa Valley ($19.95)

This quality of this Chardonnay continues to impress, especially for the price. Bosc pear, sweet apple peach, honey, anise, cream, vanilla and minerals are framed on a medium body. There is fresh acidity and superb length. Just make sure to put a good chill to it, so as to subdue the 14.5% alcohol. (ES)

Red

94 Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Napa Valley ($139.95)

I tried this wine 5 times over the period of one month, and every time the wine scored the same. Powerful, concentrated, intense, rich and layered were but some of the descriptors I used. Full bodied, the dark fruit comes at you from every direction, followed by mint, violets, cinnamon, cocoa and vanilla. Needless to say, the finale is super long, and there is a boat load of tannins which will ensure 3 decades of aging. (ES)

93 Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley ($150)

This iconic, black/purple Napa Cab is starting to sing at the top of its lungs. Blackberry jam, cassis, dark cherry, vanilla, cinnamon and earth just flatter the senses. Full-bodied and concentrated, the textured mid palate and firm, yet unobtrusive tannins will ensure another 15 years of life ahead, at least. Impressive juice indeed. (ES)

92 Stags’ Leap Winery Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah 2010, Napa Valley ($89.95)

Not for the faint of heart, this purple/black coloured monster reveals layers of black fruit, violets and spice. Powerful and extracted, there is a rich personality with loads of tannins and a long finish. Drink until 2030. (ES)

90 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Napa Valley ($49.95)

This combination of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot and 3% Franc is a medium bodied offering with a personality of plum, cherry, raspberry, savoury herbs, smoke and spice. Excellent length and supple tannins make for immediate drinkability. Rack of lamb was made for this wine. (ES)

89 Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah 2011, Napa Valley ($40)

From a cooler vintage, this Petite Sirah reveals lots of hickory on top of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, violets and vanilla. There is depth, but the finish is on the dry and hard side. Protein is required here, so grab a rib steak, crust it with salt and pepper and cook it to medium rare. (ES)

89 Ca’Momi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley ($19.95)

This Nap Cab represents excellent value! On the full side, this fruit driven wine shows a seductive nature of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, toast, cocoa and herbs. The palate shows ripe, almost sweet fruit, medium tannins and very good length. It should age well over the next 5 years. Make sure to pick up a couple of bottles for the wine rack. (ES)

 

May 2014 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

92 Exultet Estates The Blessed Chardonnay 2012, Prince Edward County ($40)

It is safe to say that owner/winemaker Gerard Spinosa is making the best Chardonnay in Ontario as this is the 4th consecutive vintage of this wine to capture a gold medal at the Ontario Wine Awards. Luxurious, it pumps out loads of buttered popcorn, hazelnut, cream, mineral, banana, pineapple, red apple and spice. There is excellent length, medium acidity and enough stuffing to evolve over the next five years. (ES)

90 Rosehall Run Estate Chardonnay 2012, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

This full bodied and concentrated Chard spent 16 months in oak, of which 25% was new. The result is a combination of peach, pineapple, red apple, honey and smoke with a long mineral/spice driven aftertaste. Drink until 2020. (ES)

90 Closson Chase Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2012, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

The CCVC is a luscious Chardonnay which shows a heavy oak influence in the form of hazelnut, toast and spice. Combined with the sweet peach, pineapple, red apples and minerals, it makes for a wine that will appeal to both new and old world wine lovers.

89 The Grange of Prince Edward Riesling 2012, Prince Edward County ($15.95)

Superb value without a doubt! The petrol, lime, honey, lilac, smoky minerals, white pepper and grapefruit are supported by an intense mid palate. The finale is long, and the balance between acid and residual sugar is beautifully achieved. Drink over the next 3 years.

88 Keint-He Winery Portage Chardonnay 2012, Prince Edward County ($20)

Fresh baked apple cinnamon pie gives way to orange, lemon, honey and white flowers. There is substance, verve and a rich finish which carries. Quintessential lobster wine, indeed. Drink now to 2018. (ES)

88 Rosehall Run Cuvée County Chardonnay 2012, Prince Edward County ($21.95)

This well-priced Chardonnay delivers up a Burgundian fragrance of hazelnut, toast, mineral, honey, apple and spice. A yin-yang of cream and acid carry the finale. Drink over the next 4 years. (ES)

88 Norman Hardie Unfiltered County Chardonnay 2012, Prince Edward County ($39)

This rendition of this wine is a departure from the reductive style of previous vintages. Read open, oaky and overt.  The hazelnut, buttered popcorn and spice mesh with the apple, floral and mineral qualities of the grape. A creamy texture and a lengthy finish make for a delicious drop of juice. (ES)

88 Lacey Estates Riesling 2012, Prince Edward County ($25)

Bergamot, peach, lime and mineral come together in this wine. Even though there is close to 30 grams of residual sugar, the perception is that of an off dry wine. There is ample length to round everything out. (ES)

87 The Grange of Prince Edward Winery Pinot Gris 2012, Prince Edward County ($14.95)

If you are looking for a great Chardonnay alternative, here you go! For this price, it a solid Gris with a light to medium body and a pleasing profile of peach, honey, citrus, spice and mineral. The silky mouth feel, moderate acid and lengthy flavours make for immediate drinking. Pair with a cheese platter or grilled chicken. (ES)

87 The Grange of Prince Edward Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 ($16)

Medium yellow, this is alluring Chardonnay exudes aromas of apple, peach, pear and smokey minerals. The palate adds citrus, toast, caramel.  It is soft and accessible right now. (ES)

87 Chadsey’s Cairns Winery and Vineyard Riesling 2012, Prince Edward County ($23)

A charming little Riesling with punchy personality of peach, white flower, honey and lime. This flows into candied fruit, mineral and spice on the tangy aftertaste. (ES)

87 Chadsey’s Cairns Winery Gewürztraminer 2012, Prince Edward County ($23)

This lithe yet accurate Gewürz doles out a combination lychee, rose, apple, honey. It is dry with a spice tinged finish. Drink now. (ES)

Red

90 Rosehall Run Cuvee County ‘The Swinger’ Syrah 2012, Prince Edward County ($30)

This is a worthy successor to the equally fabulous 2010. Unfortunately, it is also the last vintage of this wine because the vineyard lease has been assumed by another winery.  Ruby/purple colour with a powerful Syrah nose of black pepper, blueberry, cassis, vanilla, mocha, hickory and rosemary. Concentrated, the palate shows great persistency and tannic structure to carry it until 2020. In a blind tasting of Northern Rhone wines, you would be hard pressed to pick this out as Canadian, let alone PEC. (ES)

88 Huff Estates Pinot Noir 2012, Prince Edward Couty ($30)

The explosive bouquet of cherry, raspberry, plum, smoke and cocoa leads into a ripe palate with mild acid and a slightly creamy texture. Very good length and ready to drink, preferably with porcini crusted pork tenderloin. (ES)

88 Huff Estates Winery Cuvee Janine Rose 2012, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

This 100% Pinot Noir traditional method rose bubbly spent 18 months on the lees, imbuing the wine with a toasty/nutty quality which melds together with cherry, cranberry, crabapple and citrus. The small creamy bubbles caress the palate on the lengthy finale.(ES)

88 Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir, Prince Edward County ($39)

A cherry explosion encapsulates the plum, earth, rose and clove flavours in this medium bodied Pinot. There is admirable density and persistency as well as a soft texture. Drink over the next 3 years. As a side note, I had a chance to try a barrel sample of Norm’s premium ‘L’ Pinot Noir. It is a truly magnificent wine which will easily score in the low 90s when released later this year. (ES)

88 Rosehall Run Cuvée County Pinot Noir, Prince Edward County ($22.95)

A delicate Pinot Noir with a pale ruby colour. The perfume of cherry, strawberry, violets and earth carry onto the taste buds.  The lengthy finish and supple tannins make for a wine that will drink well until 2018. (ES)

88 Devil’s Wishbone Pinot Noir Lake on The Mountain 2102, Prince Edward County ($29)

This ready to drink Pinot reveals chalk, cherry, spice, plum and hints of blackberry. Soft in the mouth, there is ripe fruit and soft tannins which round out the drinking pleasure. (ES)

87 Rosehall Run Cuvée County Gamay Noir, Prince Edward County ($19.95)

Here is a straightforward, no nonsense Gamay, that is made for charcuterie boards and/or terrines.  Strawberry, cherry, spice, black pepper and oregano are buttressed by lively acidity and soft tannins. (ES)

86 Waupoos Estates Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

Made from 3 year old vines, this Franc shows admirable cassis, plum, raspberry, earth spice and herb qualities. As for weight, it is on the lighter side, with a medium finish and supple tannins. Drink now. (ES)

 

March 2014 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

88 Konzelmann Estate Winery Gewürztraminer Late Harvest 2012, Niagara ($14.75)

Superb value here! It is the spice factor which dominates at first sip, but then the peach, honey, mango and rose which reveal themselves. There is a light sweetness, so chill well and then serve with spicy Thai or Szechuan cuisine. (ES)

87 Ridge Road Estate Pinot Gris 2013, Niagara ($15.95)

No thin, acidic Pinot Grigio here; rather, this a flavorful, ripe style, made in the Alsatian model, featuring peach, white flowers, spice, cream and apple. The medium body, density and finish make for a delicious drop of Gris. (ES)

Red

89 Reif Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012, Niagara River ($21.95)

This tasty Franc is a terrific follow up the equally delicious 2010. Full bodied, there is red currant, cassis, raspberry, anise, cocoa, herbs, tobacco, cola and graphite. The medium acidity, ripe tannins, round texture and long finish will ensure 5 to 6 years of cellaring. That said, you can also pop it open tonight and serve with a grilled veal chop topped with a herb infused demi-glace. Excellent value! (ES)

89 Cave Springs Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled 2011, Beamsville Bench ($24.95)

Elegant, this Cabernet Franc reveals a complex bouquet of cassis, cherry, mocha, vanilla, black olive, roasted red pepper, herbs and spice. The plate is linear, with impressive length and a tannic structure which bodes well for 4 to 5 years of aging. (ES)

89 Domaine Quelyus Pinot Noir Réserve du Domaine 2011, Niagara ($45)

This new winery project is a partnership of 12 Quebec businessmen. Smartly, they have hired the ever talented Thomas Bachelder, who also produces top Pinot, under his own label, from Burgundy, Oregon and Canada.  Mid weight, this refined Pinot exudes cherry, raspberry, plum, spice and earth. The tannins are soft and the acid fresh, making for a food friendly match with duck magret or a pork terrine. (ES)

89 Pillitteri Estates Exclamation Cellar Series Reserve Winemaker’s Red 2010, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($40)

This full bodied blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon spent 24 months in barrel before hitting the shelves. The final product reveals violets, cassis, vanilla, dark cherry, tobacco, anise and cocoa. The tannins are firm and based on the concentration and length, I would opt to drink over the next 6 years. (ES)

87 Cave Springs Pinot Noir Dolomite 2011, Niagara Escarpment ($17.95)

This general list LCBO Pinot is aromatic and flatters with plum, cherry, earth, spice and floral qualities. There is very good length and soft tannins. Drink now with grilled pork tenderloin or tuna steaks.

87 Cave Springs Cabernet Merlot 2011, Niagara Escarpment ($15.95)

For the price, this is quite a tasty drop! Plum, spice, cherry jam, vanilla and cocoa meld with a pleasing green edge on the palate. Mid weight, supple tannins and a flavorful finish make for enjoyable drinking. (ES)

87 Cave Springs Gamay Noir 2012, Beamsville Bench ($15.95)

Cave has always been a strong proponent of this varietal. The pepper, strawberry, cherry and earth combine with the fresh acidity and mild tannins, making for a lovely patio sipping/grilling this summer. Put a slight chill to it and match up with grilled sausage or pulled pork. (ES)

France

White

93 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal 2011, Rhone ($296.35)

Chapoutier’s top Marsanne is full bodied, like its little brother, Chante-Alouette, but offers more acidity and elegance. Made from 50 year old vines, the peach, white flowers, honey, Turkish delight, cream, tobacco and spice are a whirlwind on the senses. Loads of minerals explode on the fabulous finale. (ES)

92 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Chante-Alouette 2011, Rhone ($79.95)

This 100% Marsanne is a full bodied, biodynamic offering. Honeysuckle, caramel, truffle, wet earth, banana, almonds, cream and spice makes for a thrilling tasting experience. The acidity is on the low end, and there is superb length. If you have yet to experience a thrilling white Rhone, this wine should certainly be at the top of your list. (ES)

Red

93 M. Chapoutier Monier de La Sizeranne Hermitage 2011, Rhone ($105.50)

Not cheap, but the quality is undeniable. It took some time to coax all the aromas, but when all said and done, this beauty has a beguiling personality of crème de cassis, raspberry, pepper, smoke, graphite, violets, cocoa, oregano and scorched earth. Dense on the palate, there is fabulous length and enough tannins to take into the next decade. Drink from 2015 to 2026. (ES)

92 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Côte-du-Rousillion Villages, Languedoc Rousillion ($25.45)

Chapoutier’s Midi red over delivers for the price! This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan exudes plum, spice, cherry jam, cassis, garrigue, anise and sweet cream. Fleshy, there is a long aftertaste and enough structure to allow 6 to 8 years of cellaring. (ES)

Italy

92 La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2008, Tuscany ($75)

La Fiorita crafts modern style Brunellos. Their superb 08 is a dark offering with lots of concentration and depth. Plum, sweet cherry, spice, raisins and earth work long on the finish, where the tannins will ensure a decade of aging. (ES)

91 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2009, Tuscany ($60)

There is some obvious new oak on the nose. These attributes merge with the sweet cherry, tobacco, leather, licorice, dried flowers and humus qualities of the Sangiovese grape. The tannins are forward, so hold until 2015 and then drink until 2022. (ES)

91 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino 2009, Tuscany ($59.95)

One of the highlight’s at this year’s Brunello tasting in Toronto was this producer. I tried all their current offerings, and there was not a bad drop to be found. The 09 reveals cherry, flowers, humus, spice and tobacco both on the nose and palate. The acidity and tannins will allow cellaring until 2022.  (ES)

91 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2009, Tuscany ($62.50)

A refined Brunello.  Plum, cherries, spice, cocoa, cassis and tobacco create an alluring perfume. It is mid weight, as Brunellos go, with excellent length and structure to cellar for another 5 years. Grill up a nice T-bone and enjoy the moment. (ES)

 


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Wine Facts

The lip of a red wine glass is sloped inward to capture the aromas of the wine and deliver them to your nose.