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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)

 

February 2014 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

92 Konzelmann Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2010, Niagara ($65)

This Icewine has started to reveal mature notes of caramel, alongside the dried apricots, peach compote, spice and honey. Full bodied and super rich, the acidity is on the low side, so chill it well and drink with a terrine of foie gras.  (ES)

91 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($69.95)

An absolute delight to drink! Huge apricot, sponge toffee, mineral, spice and lime on the nose meshes with honey, peach and apple on the palate. It is stylish, with fresh acidity and a long finish.  A sublime pairing with crème brûlée, if ever there was one! (ES)

90 Pondview Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2011, Four Mile Creek ($39.95)

This wine is a worthy successor to the 2010, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Peach, apricot, honey, white flowers, sponge toffee and spice are all in play. Concentrated, there is a long aftertaste and fresh acidity to provide lift. (ES)

90 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($32.95/200ml)

I really appreciate this dessert wine for the elegance factor, especially in lieu of the heat of 2012. Peach, Macintosh apple, honey, marzipan, white flowers, nectarines and citrus weave around a core of fresh acidity. Excellent length and a long finish make for a truly tasty drop. (ES)

90 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-110 Chardonnay Wild Ferment, Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95)

This impressive Chardonnay spent 10 months fermenting au naturel. This has produced an impressive bouquet of cream, pear, apple, spice, coconut, honey and cream. There is density on the palate, a slight sweetness, a creamy texture and a spice driven finale. I should also add that there is a slight high tone of VA, thanks to the natural ferment factor, which adds complexity. Drink over the next 3 years, preferably with lobster or Alaskan king crab with drawn butter. (ES)

88 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Gewürztraminer 2012, Niagara ($19.95)

Intense aromas of rose water, lychee, smoke, cold cream, honey, mango cream and some hints of spice. On the palate, the wine turns decidedly spicy, with grapefruit peel and Turkish delight notes. There is very good length, a slight sweetness and pleasant acidity. Pair this with coconut curry chicken or a duck terrine topped with a fruit compote.

88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Sparkling Chardonnay, Niagara ($24.95)

Made in the traditional method, this Chardonnay bubbly spent 19 months on its yeast cells before being disgorged. The final product offers up a mix of yeast, apple, pineapple and spice, as well as pinpoint bubbles, helping to create a creamy texture. Lengthy aftertaste. (ES)

88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Red Paw Chardonnay 2012, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

Aged in 100% Hungarian oak for six months, this Chardonnay unleashes a perfume of smoke, cream, pineapple, apple and anise. Honey, flowers, cream and a spice driven finale complete the picture. Pair with a rich cheese such as Chaource, Livarot or 5 year old Cheddar. (ES)

87 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Unoaked Chardonnay, Niagara ($14.95)

Every vintage, this wine delivers terrific value, and the 2013 in no exception. An explosive bouquet of spice, peach, red apple, lilac and honey meets up with creamy notes on the palate. Medium in body, there is admirable acidity and very good length. In essence, this is a very customer friendly wine which will please many palates. (ES)

86 Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Series Riesling 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($14.95)

The 2012 rendition of the wine starts off with a perfumed burst of peach, lemon, honey, white flowers, mineral and bergamot. Grapefruit and lime enter on the palate where there is medium length and pleasant acidity. It is ready to drink now, so chill it down and serve on the patio this summer. (ES)

86 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot White Assemblage 2012, Niagara ($16.95)

This mid weight blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer dishes up moderate aromas of minerals, honey, flowers and red apple. The palate turns creamy with some spice and caramel notes on the finish. Drink now. (ES)

Red

91 Vineland Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012, Niagara ($75)

Jam all the way: prunes, strawberries and raspberries mesh with flowers on the nose. The palate features much of the same as well as pineapple and earth on the elongated finale. Concentrated, ripe and quite luscious, to say the least! (ES)

91 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012, Niagara ($75)

A bouquet of strawberry, raisins, roasted herbs and cocoa powder meet up with buckwheat honey and guava paste on the palate. It is on the full side, with excellent length and solid acidity. (ES)

88 Kacaba Proprietor’s Select Syrah 2011, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

The Syrah leans towards the wilder side of the grape: hickory smoke, game, leather, herbs, cassis and spice, or, in other words, the good stuff! Med weight and elegant, the palate is soft with cassis fruit and violets adding complexity. There is very good length, and it is ready to drink. Serve with pepper, herb and red wine marinated quail or duck breast. (ES)

88 Riverview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2012, Niagara ($59.95)

Riverview’s Cab Franc is a mid weight stickie with a personality of strawberry, cocoa, earth, violets and herbs. There is generous length, and it is ready to drink. (ES)

87 Coyote’s Run Cabernet Merlot 2012, Niagara ($16.95)

A herbal/minty element weaves through the plum, raspberry, anise and earth qualities. There are supple tannins and admirable length, which will allow the wine to age short term. My suggestion would be to drink it over the next 3 year, preferably with grilled lamb chops or pork el pastor style. (ES)

New Zealand

89 Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough ($17.95)

This vintage is better than the excellent 2012 as well as being an excellent value! Sourced from the Wairau sub-region of Marlborough, the passion fruit, fruits salad, guava, pink grapefruit, honey and hints of tomato vine leap out of the glass and onto the taste buds. There is a vibrant mouth feel and a long lime driven aftertaste. Of course, goat cheese and freshwater fish are a perfect pairing for this wine. (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.