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November 2016 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Riesling 2014, Twenty Mile Bench ($35)

From the prized Foxcroft Vineyard comes the superb Riesling which balances acidity and sweetness to perfection, giving the impression of a dry wine. Pale water colour and textbook ‘Bench’ aromas of mineral, lime, white flower, white peach and hints of honey. Long, brisk finale. Drink or age, your choice. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc de Blanc 2011, Short Hills Bench ($44.95)

Made in the traditional method, from 100% Chardonnay grapes, and aged for five years on its yeast cells.  Lots of bread/toast, lemon, green apple and nuts here. Elegant and refined with fine bubbles and creamy texture. Pair with lobster and drawn butter or oysters on the half shell.

88 Coyote’s Run Red Paw Chardonnay 2015, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

Still tight, the oak is the first that hits the senses in the form of vanilla, butterscotch and spice. The banana fruit, apple, citrus and white peach join in afterward. Great length and ideal with salmon filet topped with a mustard sauce. (ES)

Red

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Eleventh Post 2012, Niagara River ($39)

This blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon is an impressive and seamless red which exudes dark cherry, cassis, raspberry, plum, chocolate, herbs and hints of graphite. Full bodied, ripe and long lasting, it is ready to drink now but can easily handle another 6 years of cellaring. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Merlot 2012, Niagara River ($48)

This is what a great Merlot should be: delicious, ripe and mouth coating. Plum, chocolate, cherry, red/purple flowers, spice, smoke and mint combine to provide a gratifying experience. Excellent length. Drink until 2020. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2013, Niagara River ($48)

Considering the challenging nature of the vintage, this wine is somewhat of a minor miracle. It clocks in at a natural 14.2% alcohol and is classic Cab Franc with vanilla, raspberry, cassis, red pepper, cocoa and smokey tobacco attributes. Low yields provide a sweet/fruity palate with fine tannins. Drink until 2023. (ES)

90 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Syrah 2014, Four Mile Creek ($34.95)

Of all the ’14 Rare Vintage Reds, this is my favorite. Ripe, the style leans more to the Rhone model with a bouquet of cassis, violets, black pepper, oregano and hickory. Excellent density and aftertaste with enough structure to take it until 2022.

89 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Cabernet Franc 2014, Four Mile Creek ($34.95)

Fermented and aged in new French and American barrels, this rendition of this wine lets loose with aromas of blackberry, raspberry, spice, violets, cocoa, black olive and hickory. The palate adds cassis, smoke and tobacco. Stylish, there is a medium body, fine tannins and proper acidity. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)

89 Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Niagara River ($62)

Of all the Two Sisters’ reds, this is the one with the most grip. Plum, blackberry, crème de cassis, violets, cedar and cocoa powder are all in play. Pair this baby with Osso Bucco or a NY strip with a rosemary demi-glace and let the magic happen. (ES)

89 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Meritage 2014, Four Mile Creek ($34.95)

Merlot is the dominant grape with both Cabs acting as a backstop. Mid-weight with black cherry, blackcurrant, raspberry, vanilla, smokey tobacco and pencil shavings. Tannins are present but unobtrusive, making for an excellent pairing with a rack of lamb. (ES)

89 Tawse David’s Block Merlot, Twenty Mile Bench ($49.95)

Dark cherry, plum, raspberry, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa and herbs are all in play in the med to full bodied red. Tannins are fine grained, and acidity is a touch on the higher end, so pair with some duck breast with a cherry sauce for an ethereal experience. (ES)

88 Tawse Grower’s Blend Cabernet Franc 2013, Niagara ($27.95)

A mid-weight and easy drink Franc with cassis, raspberry, violets, tobacco, cocoa and spice flavours. Ready to drink with a smoked pork loin topped with an herb demi-glace. (ES)

88 Two Sisters Vineyards Estate Red 2012, Niagara River ($23.50)

This red is only sold in restaurants. It is mid-weight and delivers lots of tobacco, cassis, plum, raspberry, herbs, cocoa and vanilla. Tannins are fine, and there is great length. Drink now. (ES)

88 Coyote’s Run Black Paw Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Four Mile Creek

My favorite Cab Sauv from this winery in the 2014 vintage. Mint, beef stock, blackcurrant, herbs, spice, vanilla are founded on some grippy tannins. Hold for a year and then drink until 2022. (ES)

Chile

White

89 Conchya y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2014, Limari ($19.95)

The cool climate and combination of clay/limestone soils of Limari give this wine a decidedly elegant feel. Medium yellow with aromas of butterscotch, toast, vanilla, honey, pineapple, yellow apple and bosc pear. Medium body and vibrant acidity provide lift and symmetry. Lobster ravioli in a cream sauce would be divine with this wine. (ES)

Red

93 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley ($75)

Full bodied, this is a powerful and polished red with new oak influence of toast, cocoa and spice which melds with blackberry, plum, violets, mint, graphite and scorched earth. Concentrated, there is a thick texture and enough backbone to age 15 years. (ES)

91 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Puente Alto ($21.95)

A solid Cabernet Sauvignon which dishes up cassis, plum, violets, mint, earth, graphite, spice and cocoa. Medium plus body with depth that carries long and finishes with fine tannins which will allow seven years of aging. (ES)

90 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserve Privada Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Maipo ($17.95)

A bargain Cabernet Sauvignon! It hits the palate right away with dark fruit flavours of plum, cherry and blueberry. This is followed by mint, cocoa, spice and purple flowers. Texturally, it is round with unobtrusive tannins. Excellent length and ready to be drunk over the next 5 years. (ES)

90 Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Maipo Valley ($16.95)

This is your quintessential steak wine. Medium plus body, there is cassis, smoke, mint, vanilla, violets, herbs and mint. Ripe and flavorful, it has the ability to cellar for a couple years, if so desired. (ES)

90 Nativa Organic Community Blend 2012, Maule Valley ($16.95)

This organic wine is a blend of five grapes, with Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon acting as the lead. Ripe and easy drinking, you will find Rubina juice, cocoa, violets, bay leaf, vanilla and spice. Fullish, there is a long aftertaste. (ES)

88 Carmen Premier 1865 Carménère 2015, Colchagua Valley ($12.45)

This is an incredible value Carménère, so make sure to pick up a few bottles! Cassis, plum, vanilla, cocoa and mint are all in play. Lengthy with a fruit-driven personality and suave tannins. Perfect with red sauce dishes! (ES)

France

White

87 Côté Mas Blanc Méditerranée, IGP ($11.95)

A great price for this Mediterranean blend of primarily Grenache Blanc and Vermentino with hints of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Medium body, there is green apple, peach, lemon, honey and white flowers in play. There is moderate acidity and fine length.

Red

92 Château Mont-Redon 2012, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($45.95)

From one of CNP’s top producers comes this four square red which exudes dark cherry, plum, cured meats, pepper and garrigue. Excellent depth and a long aftertaste with non-obtrusive tannins. Drink until 2022. (ES)

Italy

90 Sartori Corte Brà Amarone Della Valpolicella 2009, Veneto ($49.95)

A full-bodied Amarone with a sweet fruit personality of prune, cherry and fig, which then adds cocoa, spice and herbs on the backend. Rich, concentrated and succulent. It is ready to drink but still has some stride left. (ES)

New Zealand

88 The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough ($16.60)

Classic Kiwi-style SB with passion fruit, gooseberry, pink grapefruit, nectarine, tomato vine, lime zest and minerals. Vivid acidity carries the pure finale. Drink now (ES)

 

September 2016 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

85 Bodega Norton Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Mendoza ($13.20)

A grassy, sweet pea quality greets the senses, which is the followed by citrus, grapefruit, anise and vague florality. Light bodied. Chill well be serving. (ES)

Canada

White

91 Big Head Riesling Icewine 2014, Niagara Lakeshore ($68)

Fermented via natural yeasts, this brilliant stickie exudes petrol, honey, beeswax, honeycomb, thyme honey, coconut and spice. Rich with lifted acidity and a prolonged stone fruit/ lime aftertaste. (ES)

90 Big Head Old Vines Chardonnay 2015, Niagara Lakeshore

Made from 32-year-old-vines, this is a ripe and giving Chardonnay which exudes copious amounts of pineapple, peach, honey, sweet apple, banana, cream and spice. There is oak, but it was applied judiciously. Long, full-texture, succulent and ready to drink. (ES)

90 Big Head Big Bang Sparkling NV, St. David’s Bench ($45)

If you enjoy mature elements in your bubbly, this wine will fall smack dab in your wheelhouse. Yeast, caramel, bruised apple, honey, dried flowers and caramel flow out of the glass. Crisp, with creamy bubbles and long lasting. (ES)

90 Big Head B.A. Chenin Blanc 2014, Niagara Lakeshore ($34)

Partially affected by noble rot, this is  Chenin what with its honey, wax, mushroom, chamomile, apricot and bruised apple. Rich, off dry and long lasting with some warmth on the finale. Pair with a torchon of foie gras or red curry dishes. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Riesling Estate 2013, Short Hills Bench ($17.95)

My favorite Riesling from HOP as it regularly delivers above its price tag. It is delicate and flavorful with lots of tension.  There is lime, bergamot, smokey mineral, white flower and green apple. Even though there is some residual sugar; it comes across as dry because of the acidity. Drink over the next five years. Pair with Cajun spiced pork chops topped with an apple slaw. (ES)

89 Pondview Vidal Icewine 2014, Niagara ($19.95)

All Vidal with its honey, peach, apricot, lychee, orange marmalade and sponge toffee qualities. Rich and sweet with a good amount of acidity giving the proper lift. Ready to drink by itself or with some blue cheese. (ES)

89 McMichael Collection Group of Seven Chardonnay 2014, Niagara ($14.95)

Gold medal winner at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards this wine packs a lot of punch for the price. Mid-weight, the fruit and work in tandem to produce a profile of pear, apple, citrus, cream, spice and honey. It lingers with a crisp edge making for a beautiful partner with salmon or halibut. (ES)

88 Chateau des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Chardonnay 2013, St. David’s Bench ($22.95)

Starting to show mature notes of crème brulée which melds with hazelnut, vanilla, apple, pear, baking spice and quince. Medium body with a creamy texture. Butter poached lobster would be Nirvana with this wine.

87 Pondview Estate Winery Viognier 2015, Niagara ($16.95)

A refreshing style of Viognier which captures some of the exotic nature of a Condrieu. Nectarine, citrus, honey, anise, fresh flowers. There is the classic Viognier yogurt/creaminess in the mouth with great length. (ES)

87 Henry of Pelham Riesling 2015, Niagara ($14.95)

From a warm vintage comes this soft Riesling, revealing peach, honey, lime cordial, white flower and some minerality. Off-dry and approachable, chill well and serve with sushi or General Tao chicken.

87 Château des Charmes Aligoté 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($14.95)

A pale straw colour leads into a perfume of apple, lemon, pear, white flower and hints of honey. For an Aligioté, there is nice weight, depth and length. Ready to drink with fresh water fish or brie. (ES)

Rose

88 Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Foxy Pink 2014, Niagara ($14.95)

SAS’ Rosé is a singular blend of 92% Riesling and the remainder Cabernet Franc. Lime, raspberry, strawberry, grapefruit, green apple and peach are all present. Refreshing and off-dry, the fruit dances on the tongue for a long time. Pair with terrines tuna steaks. (ES)

Red

91 Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Speck Family Reserve 2010, Short Hills Bench ($39.95)

This Bordeaux modelled blend has started to transition into adolescence as the tannins have softened and complexity has emerged. Cassis, tobacco, black cherry, mocha, vanilla, spice are apparent from start to finish. It is complex, layered and long. It will go another 6 years. (ES)

87 McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot 2014, Niagara ($14.95)

A perfume of blackcurrant, cherry, herbs, cocoa powder, violets and spice meets up with a medium-bodied palate which presents soft tannins and sound acidity. Great length and ready to drink. (ES)

87 Pondview Estate Winery Lot 74 Cabernet Merlot 2015, Niagara ($14.95)

If you are looking for go to everyday dinner red, then this is your wine. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon and Merlot, it offers pleasing cassis, plum, violet, herbs, cocoa and spice attributes. Mid-weight with very good length and supple tannins. Ready to drink. (ES)

Italy

86 Masi Modello  Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio 2015, Venezie IGT ($12.10)

This Pinot Grigio that is priced right.  It delivers some white peach, earth, lemon and spice. Light bodied with sound acidity and a linear structure. Fried seafood, please. (ES)

France

85 Jean-Claude Mas Syrah Reserve 2014, Pays d’Oc ($12.95)

A workhorse Syrah which is distinctly peppery with violets, cassis, vanilla and oregano. Ready to drink, preferably with charcuterie or hamburgers. (ES)

85 Jean-Claude Mas Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Reserve, Pays d’Oc ($13.95)

From France’s land of sunshine comes this easy drinking blend which features cassis, plum, dark cherry, herbs, rubber, spice and cocoa. Medium length and ready to pair with pasta or pizza. (ES)

South Africa

91 Waterkloof Circumstance Syrah 2012, Stellenbosch 2012 ($22.95)

Most definitely a cool climate interpretation of Syrah. Grown at higher elevations and on granite soils (which Syrah loves), it is elegant, with black pepper, violets, plum, oregano, cured meat and hints of hickory. Tannins are flush and provide five years of cellaring if so desired. Rack of lamb marinated in rosemary and garlic is the way to go.  (ES)

Spain

88 Torres Ibéricos Crianza 2013, Rioja ($16.95)

Made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 12 months in a combination of American and French, of which a portion was new. Strawberry, raspberry, plum, cedar, coconut, vanilla and tomato concentrate are all in play. Fine length with suave tannins. Lamb chops I the way to go with this wine (ES)

 

August 2016 Wine Ratings

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Australia

87 Lindemans Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc ($11.10)

A great little value! Passion fruit, pink grapefruit, tomato vine, lime and hints of fruit salad. A lively palate carries the finale. (ES)

86 Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio ($11.10)

Outclasses many Italian versions with higher price tags. Dry and vibrant, with pear, apple, lemon and hints of spice. Medium length and ready to go. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2013, Short Hills Bench ($29.95)

Made from yields of 2 tonnes per acre and fermented in French oak, this beauty is elegant and concentrated. It reveals a multi-dimensional personality of toast, honey, apple, sweet peach, pineapple, banana, hazelnut, mineral and caper berry. Lobster or crab served with warm butter is perfect for this wine. (ES)

91 Domaine Queylus Chardonnay Reserve du Domaine 2014 ($34.95)

The fruit and oak mesh together creating a balanced Chardonnay with pear, apple, citrus, anise, white flower and honey qualities. Mid-weight with a great aftertaste and lovely pineapple and peach pinch at the end. (ES)

90 Charles Baker Riesling Ivan Vineyard 2015, Twenty Mile Bench ($27)

From a warm year comes this top-notch Riesling full of sweet peach, ripe apricot, lime, smokey minerals and white flowers. The bright acidity acts as a counterpoint to the residual sugar, creating a dry personality that is long lasting. Finishes with an apple note. (ES)

90 Huff Estates Riesling Off-Dry 2015, Ontario ($18)

A huge nose of mineral, green apple, white peach, honey, lime, lilac and smokey minerals leads into a palate full of juicy acidity, light sweetness and a long finale. Drink over the next five years. Great on its own or with food. (ES)

89 Tawse Gewürztraminer Quarry Road Vineyard 2014, Vinemount Ridge ($24.95)

An ultra-textbook Gewurz, which flaunts lychee, honey, rose water, orange, mango and cinnamon. Only 12% alcohol but with superb depth, definition and length. Off-dry and sound acidity make for an easy paring with Pad thai or sushi. (ES)

88 Huff Estates Pinot Gris 2015, Prince Edward County ($20)

Ripe on the nose with sweet peach, honey, cream, pineapple, spice and yellow flowers. The palate is tight and linear with an acidic lift, minerals and a spice-tinged aftertaste. (ES)

88 Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2014, Beamsville Bench ($28.75)

Toast, honey, apple, white flower, spice and green apple are all present in this mid-weight Chardonnay. Very good length with crisp acidity. Try with grilled salmon. (ES)

88 Cuddy by Tawse Chardonnay 2013, Niagara ($24.95)

Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo’s front man, has partnered with Tawse to create his own brand. This Chardonnay is mid-weight and features green apple, citrus, yellow peach, spice and vanilla. Splendid length with a mineral backbone and a slight creaminess round the package out. (ES)

87 Tawse Redfoot Vineyard Pinot Gris 2015, Lincoln Lakeshore  ($24.95)

Water white with a moderate perfume of honey, peach, smoke, spice, yellow apple and cream is backed up by minerality, light alcohol, vibrant acidity and very good length. Ready to drink. (ES)

87 Tawse Unoaked Chardonnay 2015, Lincoln Lakeshore ($19.95)

Chardonnay purity in a glass. Sweet apple, pear, white apple, citrus, apple and mineral. Refreshing acidity makes me want to pair with a dozen or so fresh shucked oysters. (ES)

Red

91 Tawse Tintern Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Vinemount Ridge ($44.95)

A new Pinot Noir from Tawse!  Even though it comes from young vines there is nothing but class and elegance in the glass. Cranberry, red cherry, raspberry, wild flowers, herbs, vanilla and spice are built on a svelte body and dusty tannins. Superb length and it should be drunk over the next 3 to 4 years. As the vines mature, quality will only get better, and personally I can’t wait! (ES)

90 Huff Estates Pinot Noir Reserve 2014, Prince Edward County ($35)

An explosive nose of sweet cherry, raspberry, rose, iodine, beetroot, spice, earth and violets. On the palate, there is cranberry, bitter cherry, fresh acidity and easy tannins. Great length, only 12% alcohol and ready to serve with braised beef or lamb dishes. (ES)

90 Stratus Tempranillo 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($42)

Yes, there is no typo, this is a 100% Tempranillo from Ontario. From a warm vintage comes this fullish rendition with plum, strawberry, black raspberry, cedar, coffee, pepper and vanilla. It is dry with good grip and a long finish. Now to 2022. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2012, Niagara River ($49)

An ambitious Cabernet Franc with plum, boysenberry, mint, spice, scorched earth and anise. Full-bodied and ripe, it  clocks in at 14.5% alcohol. Long lasting. Drink until 2021 to take advantage of its exuberance. (ES)

89 Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Merlot 2013, Prince Edward County ($39.95)

A dead ringer for a top Saint-Émilion and a worthy successor to the delicious 2012. A deep ruby/purple colour leads into a compelling and polished bouquet of plum, dark cherry, cocoa, coffee, leather, cloves and red flowers. There are lots of firm tannins, but my preference would be to drink it over the next 4 to 5 years. Duck confit all the way. (ES)

88 Bachelder Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, St. David’s Bench ($44.95)

Bing cherry, rosehip, mushroom, spice, vanilla and earth are all present in this bright in Pinot. Delicate on the tongue, the red fruit carries long. Ready to drink. (ES)

Chile

88 Miguel Torres Las Mulas Merlot 2015 ($12.95)

A great addition to the LCBO general list! Plum, blackberry, dark cherry, eucalyptus, herbs, cocoa, vanilla and anise. Medium body with a lingering aftertaste and price that won’t break the bank! Buy a few bottles of this organic wine to be served alongside pasta or pizza. (ES)

Italy

White

93 Ca' del Bosco Franciacorta Dosage Zero Noir Vintage Collection 2006, Lombardy ($90)

An impressive bubbly made in the traditional method from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and aged for over eight and half years on its yeast cells. Copper colour with small pinpoint bubbles. It is bone dry, with a profile of yeast, brioche, cherry, strawberry, spice, chalk and earth. Long creamy aftertaste with brisk acidity. (ES)

Red

92 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011, Veneto ($90)

Lighter in style than previous vintages but still of elevated stature. Full bodied, both on the nose and palate, it resonates with plum, crème de cassis, dark cherry, raisins, cocoa, anise and violets. Full-bodied and long and with the structure to age two decades. (ES)

New Zealand

White

90 Dog Point Vineyard Chardonnay 2014, Marlborough ($41.95)

Lots of verve to this Chardonnay with smokey minerals, pear, fresh apple and honey. Even though there is 14%, there is not a trace of heat whatsoever, and crystalline acidity relieves any form of heaviness. (ES)

Red

90 Archangel Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago ($39.95)

An explosive nose of dark cherry, black raspberry, damson plum, spice, beetroot, raisins and cocoa are all present in this rather hefty Pinot Noir. It turns juicy on the palate and finishes on an alcoholic note. Beautiful length. Duck breast all the way. (ES)

South Africa

91 Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay 2014, Hemel-En-Arde ($39.95)

From “The Heaven on Earth” region comes this Chardonnay with a  good dose of oak in the form of vanilla, caramel and spice which envelopes the tropical fruit, mineral, honey and peach qualities. Lingers and there is a lifted finale which bodes well for food friendliness. (ES)

USA

White

91 Sonoma-Cutrer Winery Russian River Ranches Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma ($27.95)

Peach pie, pineapple, honey, nutmeg, vanilla, caramel, citrus, cream, orange peel and sweet apple are all present in this polished Chardonnay. Excellent length, crisp acidity and a spice tinged finale cap it all off.  (ES)

Red

94 Robert Mondavi Winery To Kalon Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Oakville, Napa Valley ($150)

Mondavi’s flagship red is a big, powerful Napa Cab with no harsh edges. Concentrated and ripe, there is cassis, blackberry, plum, raspberry, mint, mocha, creosote, vanilla and earth. Full-bodied with grand length and tannins to take it to 2035. (ES)

 


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Wine Facts

Although “château” means castle, it may also be a mansion or a little house next to a vineyard that meets the requirements for winemaking with storage facilities on its property.