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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)


June 2014 Wine Ratings

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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)


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)



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)


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)



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.



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)


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)


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Wine Facts

To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.