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March 2017 Wine Ratings

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Canada


White


92 Trius Vidal Icewine 2015, Niagara ($54)

This is the first vintage of this wine not to be aged in old wood, thus imbuing it with a more fruit driven, fresher personality. Honey, sponge toffee, brined olive, peach compote, pink grapefruit and apple juice. Long sweet finale with lovely acidity. (ES)


91 Pondview Vidal Icewine 2014, Niagara ($19.95/200ml)

Superb value alert! This stickie inundates then palate with honey, peach, pineapple, lemon, lime, smoke and pear. Excellent length and perfect by itself or with a vanilla cheesecake. (ES)


90 Strewn Riesling Icewine 2013, Niagara ($63)

Mature elements of petrol, buckwheat honey, spice, cherry pith, lime on the nose mesh with caramel, wax and candied honey on the palate. Excellent length, luscious and ready to be served well chilled. (ES)


90 Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Niagara ($30)

This Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in 20% new oak which has produced a wine of great balance and flavour. Toast, honey, vanilla, honey, peach, fig and yellow apple are all in play. Medium body with great length and ideally suited for lobster or crab dishes. (ES)


88 The Hare Wine Co. Frontier Collection Riesling Icewine 2013, Niagara ($65)

An easy drinking Riesling Icewine with moderate aromas of lime, mineral, peach, apple and sponge toffee. Very good length. Try with foie gras.


88 Strewn Winery Terroir French Oak Chardonnay, Niagara ($27.15)

Fifty percent new oak has added vanilla cream aromas to the green apple, peach, pineapple and fig. The palate shows sweet fruit qualities, fresh acidity and a spice tinged finale. Halibut, please! (ES)


87 The Hare Wine Co. Crown Land White 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($18.50)

An off-dry blend of 55% Gewurztraminer and 45% Riesling. Petrol, peach, smokey minerals, flowers and spice flavours. Ready to drink and I would choose Szechuan cuisine as the perfect foil. (ES)

 

Red


90 Kacaba Vineyards Winery Terrace Vineyards Syrah 2014, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

This is a powerful, youthful and somewhat backwards Syrah. The colour is inky purple and there is cassis, raspberry, cracked pepper, game, leather, chocolate and oregano. Full-bodied and concentration it should evolve nicely over the next 7 to 8 years. (ES)


89 Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit, St. David’s Bench ($17.95)

This wine always more punch than your typical Gamay thanks to the ‘Droit’ clone that CDC discovered almost 20 years ago. Medium to full body, there is plum, cherry, strawberry, raspberry and black pepper qualities. There is enough stuffing here to pair with a porcini crusted pork loin topped with a mushroom demi-glace. (ES)


88 The Hare Wine Co. Crown Land Red 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($25.50)

This new winery, on Niagara-on-the Lake’s Highway 55, first offerings are a solid lot. This Cabernet Franc (70%) based blend is a mid -weight and serves up cassis, herbs, tobacco, violets and cocoa. Elegant there is depth with fresh acidity and subdued tannins. Drink or hold. (ES)


88 Stoney Ridge Excellence Merlot 2015, Niagara ($24)

Plum, cherry, raspberry, vanilla, spice and cocoa are all present in this mid-weight Merlot. Nice density, fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity will ensure five years in the cellar, but it can be

broached right now, with some duck breast or rib eye steaks. (ES)


88 Mike Weir Limited Edition Cabernet Franc 2013, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

Winemaker, Jeff Hundertmark, has pulled off a minor miracle considering that 2013 was a difficult one for red varietals in Ontario. Plum, cassis, red currant, herbs, violets, tobacco are all present in this fresh and friendly red. Ready to drink with braised meats or charcuterie. (ES)


87 Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($14.95)

This is a straight up, well made and well priced Franc which delivers cassis, raspberry, tobacco, herbs, olive, cocoa and spice. Medium bodied, the tannins make this a go-to wine for the upcoming BBQ season. Fine length. (ES)


USA


90 Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley ($26.95)

An incredible value Napa Cab and a multiple bottle purchase is mandated! Smooth a silk, there is plum, blackberry, raspberry, vanilla, raisins and a touch of smoke in the full-bodied wine. Excellent length and ready to drink with NY strip. (ES)


89 Sextant Zinfandel 2013, Central Coast ($21.95)

For those who like hedonistic, over the top, jammy Zin, this is your ticket. Full bodied with gobs of red and dark fruit, tobacco and raisins. Concentrated with no harsh edges and ready to go with Memphis-style dry rubbed ribs. (ES)


89 Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills ($33.95)

A delightful Pinot Noir with cherry, raspberry, cranberry, porcini mushroom, dried flowers, vanilla, humus and tobacco. Ready to drink with salmon or roasted pork tenderloin with an herb jus. (ES)


Chile


92 Primus Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley ($19.95)

From Colchagua, which is prime Carmenere growing land, comes this full-bodied rendition with a distinct mix of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, tar, black olive, spice, herb, cured meats and Tahitian vanilla.  Long lasting and enough tannic backbone to age for another 6 or 7 years. (ES)


France


92 Jean-Max Roger Cuvée C.M. Sancerre Blanc 2014, Loire Valley ($27.95)

When Sancerre is done right, it is truly a thing of beautiful- case and point, this baby. Gooseberry, honey, nectarines, herbs, honey, white flowers and a boat load of minerals linger into the sunset. The brisk acidity and great depth will allow cellaring, but it is already approachable, especially when served alongside seafood. (ES)


New Zealand


White


89 Marisco Vineyards The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris 2016, Marlborough ($19.95)

Here you will find a full-bodied Gris which offers a rich mouthfeel, fine acidity and flavours of peach, cream, spice, honey, smoke and citrus. Dry with a gratifying finale. Pair with butternut squash soup or double cream brie. (ES)


88 The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough ($16.60)

Quintessential Kiwi Sauv Blanc with huge aromas of passion fruit, pink grapefruit, nectarine, honey, lime, guava and tomato vine on display. Brisk acidity and fine length round out the experience. (ES)


Red


88 The Ned Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough

An overt Pinot Noir with a bouquet of dark cherry, plum, spice, chocolate, earth and toast. The palate is all fruit and oak-driven with lovely acidity, supple tannins and great length. Pair with grilled quail or duck breast topped with a red fruit infused demi-glace. (ES)

 

January 2017 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

89 Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Chardonnay 2014, St. David’s Bench ($19.95)

Offers up a lot of flavour for the price, notably from the oak spectrum. Cream, vanilla, apple, pear, spice and roasted nuts are built on a medium body. Lovely acidity and length. Pair with seabass topped with a beurre blanc sauce. (ES)

Red

89 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2012, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)

Supple, maturing and ready to drink, this Pinot exhibits cherry fruit, graphite, beetroot, truffle, spice and dried earth. Beautiful length and a perfect fit with a duck terrine. (ES)

89 Southbrook Organic Triomphe Pinot Noir 2015, Niagara ($29.95)

Starts off with a burst of ripe cherry fruit which is the followed by red flowers and earth. Suave tannins and fresh acidity make for a magical pairing with braised short ribs with root vegetables. (ES)

88 Southbrook Organic Triomphe Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara ($21.95)

A mid-weight Franc with a bouquet of cassis, black raspberry, herbs, violets and spice. The palate is linear with elevated acidity and fine tannins. Drink over the next five years. Contains 15% Merlot.  (ES)

France

White

92 Le Mesnil Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV, Champagne ($49.95)

A stellar value from the famed Chardonnay vineyard of Mesnil-sur-Oger which is rated Grand Cru per the Échelle des Crus classification. This bubbly is very toasty and autolytic with added nuance in the form of lemon, apple, nuts and hints of caramel. Lively on the palate with creamy bubbles and delightful length. (ES)

89 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint-Martin 2015, Chablis ($23.20)

A soft and approachable Chablis with a personality of citrus, honey, green apple, anise and mineral. There is great length and just the right amount of acidity which allows it to pair perfectly with double cream brie or asiago cheeses. (ES)

Red

88 Chateau Tour Carmail 2011, Haut-Médoc ($19.80)

This well priced Left Bank Bordeaux features classic aromas of cassis, raspberry, herbs, tobacco, graphite, anise and vanilla. It possesses a medium body and very good length. Drink or hold for a couple of years. Serve with charcuterie or steak. (ES)

88 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres 2013, Côte de Roussillon ($18.95)

Les Aspres is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache from Southern France. Dark plum, cassis, raspberry, Provencal herb, black pepper, smoke, vanilla cream and tar are all in play. Full-bodied with very good length and a healthy amount of tannins and fresh acidity. (ES)

88 Ferraton Père et Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône 2014, ($14.95)

A great value petit Rhône blend which serves up black pepper, lilac, cassis, plum, black olive. Medium body with very good length, soft tannins and ready to open with pasta or pizza. (ES)

Italy

93 I Castei Campo Casalin Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012, Veneto ($51.95)

From a top vintage and producer comes this Amarone which doles out the plum, cherry, raspberry, vanilla cinnamon, raisin and garam masala. Full-bodied, with 15.5% alcohol, it is balanced, concentrated and long-lasting. It will age well for a decade. (ES)

92 Sartori Corte Bra Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2009, Veneto ($49.95)

Starting to hit a sweet spot, this maturing Amarone reveals plum/prune, sweet cherry, leather, spice and cocoa. Brawny with a great finale. Will age gracefully for many more years. (ES)

92 Giacosa Vigna Mandorlo Barolo 2010, Piedmont ($53.95)

Just starting to hit its stride. Shows an evolved colour and classic aromas of cherry, prune, rose, liquorice and spice. Full bodied with tannins that will ensure another 15 years of life ahead, at least. (ES)

89 La Vite Lucente 2014, Toscana IGT ($34.95)

A Merlot dominant blend with Sangiovese and Cab acting as the backstop. Medium body, with blackberry, cherry, spice, earth and tobacco notes. Fine length and ready to drink. (ES)

Spain

91 Faustino I Gran Reserva 2004, Rioja ($34.95)

2004 was a superb vintage, and this has translated to a medium to full-bodied wine with dried fruit, leather, tomato concentrate, cedar, mint and game qualities. Excellent length with sound tannins, still. Pair with lamb chops.  (ES)

91 Senorio de P. Pecina Reserva 2009, Rioja ($29.95)

An obvious old-school Rioja with strawberry, stewed plums, coconut, red flowers, stewed tomatoes and cedar. Excellent length and ready to go. (ES)

Portugal

92 Quinta do Portal LBV Port 2012, Douro ($24.95)

This LBV easily matches and bests Vintage Ports, which are double or triple the price. From the fabulous 2011 vintage, this wine possesses an opaque black/purple colour and a profile of damson plum, kirsch, chocolate, mint and spice. Approachable now but has the stuffing to improve over the next decade. If you are a port lover, do not miss this opportunity! (ES)

USA

White

92 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay 2014, Russian River Valley ($64.95)

Full-bodied and rich, this superb Chardonnay is concentrated with peach, honey, quince jam, fig paste, apple, citrus, spice, cream and vanilla. Long-lasting with a pop of bright acidity, which is the hallmark of the vintage. Lobster and butter please! (ES)

90 La Crema Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma Coast ($29.95)

This stalwart of most Canadian wine stores is a creamy Chardonnay with a personality of citrus, green apple, peach, white flowers, honey, vanilla and spice. Excellent length with just the right amount of acidity. (ES)

90 Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2014, Napa Valley ($22.95)

Mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of Sémillon. Citrus, lime, gooseberry, apricot and herbs come together in this crisp and elegant wine. Seared scallops all the way. (ES)

Red

93 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Stags Leap District ($114.95)

This is a powerful and dense Napa Cab with boatloads of crème de cassis, dark cherry, violets, mint, graphite. The palate boasts sweet fruit and enough tannins to age 20 years. Top notch juice! (ES)

92 Austin Hope Syrah 2013, Paso Robles ($40.95)

A big and brash Syrah which clocks in with 15.5% alcohol, a thick texture and intense flavours of dark plum, blackberry, black cherry, balsamic, spice and cocoa. Long finish. (ES)

89 Big Smooth Old Vines Zinfandel 2014, Lodi/Sonoma/Napa ($24.95)

The name says it all- this is a big, fruit-driven Zin with a soft and succulent texture, and of course, 15.5% alcohol. Dark and red fruit jam, raisins, black tea and spice gush from the glass. A hedonistic wine in the truest sense. (ES)

88 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, California ($24.95)

A multi-appellation blend which delivers plum, dark cherry, spice, vanilla and cocoa. It provides immediate gratification with its upfront personality but can go another five years in the cellar, if you so chose. (ES)

 

 

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)

 


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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.