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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)

 

June 2016 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

90 Malivoire Moira Chardonnay 2012, Beamsville Bench ($39.95)

A full-bodied, oaked style of Chardonnay with a creamy texture. Banana, spice, honey, sweet apple, cream and anise carry long into the sunset, where mineral notes chime in. Lobster in butter is what you want to serve with beauty. (ES)

90 Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard 2014, Beamsville Bench ($30)

Sweet apple, white peach, mineral, lime cordial, apricots, bergamot and citrus are all in play. There is excellent length and even though there is some residual sugar, the steely acidity gives an impression of dryness. (ES)

89 Thirty Bench Gewurztraminer 2015, Beamsville Bench ($30)

A textbook Gewürztraminer! An explosion of lychee, rose, honey, cardamom, sweet peach and vanilla. It is dry with a broad mouthfeel and a long honey/spiced finale. Pair with Munster or other wash rind cheeses. (ES)

88 Kacaba Riesling Reserve 2015, Niagara ($18)

Citrus, bergamot, crushed rock, white flower and white peach lead into a palate which gives an impression of dryness. Fresh acidity provides lift, and there is great length. Chilled shellfish platter please! (ES)

88 Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2015, Niagara ($15)

Crisp and clean with no oak to take away from the purity of the fruit. Ripe apple, pear, citrus, lilac and minerals. Dry and refreshing with great persistency. (ES)

Red

90 Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2015, Niagara Escarpment ($19.95)

Malivoire continues to lead the Gamay revolution in Ontario. Pepper, raspberry, strawberry, earth, red flowers and cocoa.  Excellent length and ready to drink or can be cellared for a couple of years. Serve with burgers topped with blue cheese or spaghetti topped with an Italian sausage ragout.

90 Malivoire Stouck Merlot, Lincoln Lakeshore ($40)

A minor miracle for the vintage! Harvested at less than 1 ton per acre, the deep cherry colour with purple highlights leads into a bouquet of dark cherry, plum, oregano, hickory, dill, coconut and cured meats. Full in the mouth with ripe fruit and just a hint of herbaceousness. There is abundant tannin, but I would choose to drink over next five years. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir, Ontario ($19.95)

From the Baco-masters comes this full-bodied rendition made from 30 year-old-vines.  It is chock full of dark cherry, blackberry, cassis, bbq spice and cocoa. Baco’s natural acidity streaks through the concentrated and lengthy palate. Grilled and braised meats will shine with this wine. (ES)

Rose

89 Malivoire Vivant Rosé 2015, Beamsville Bench ($21.95)

This Pinot Noir rose was produced via a direct pressing hence the orange/peach colour.  Floral, cherry, earth and spice on the nose.  Elegant and tart with a cherry fruit finish. (ES)

88 Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2015, Niagara ($15.95)

A blend of primarily Cab Franc with Gamay and Pinot Noir acting as backstop. Twenty-four hours of skin contact has produced a vibrant pink colour. Herbal, violets, cassis, cherry, tobacco, herbal, spice and cocoa are all present. Charcuterie and smoked salmon come to mind.

Greece

White

88 Boutari Moschofilero, Mantinia ($12.95)

Boutari has it done it again, delivering a bang for the buck Moschiofilero for the masses. A perfume of banana, lemon, white peach, honey, melon, jasmine and hints of ginger leads to a light yet lengthy  palate full of refreshing acidity. At 11% alcohol it will go down easy all by itself, or even better, with sushi, (ES)

87 Thalia White 2015, Crete (9.95)

Smokey mineral, herbs, grapefruit, lemon, white peach, green apple and white flowers are all present in the delicate blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Vilana. Refreshing with great length and a structure which makes for a perfect pairing with shellfish or mild cheeses.

Red

88 Kir-Yianni Paranga 2013, Macedonia ($14.75)

This blend of 50% Xinomavro, 25% Syrah and 25% Merlot exudes black cherry, black licorice, plum, rose, roasted herbs, tar and vanilla. It is medium bodied with supple tannins and a lingering aftertaste. Ready to drink with a nice plate of pasta topped with braised sausage or veal in a tomato sauce. (ES)

87 Tsantali Rapsani 2013, Rapsani ($13.40)

From the southern slopes of Mount Olympus comes the blend of equal parts of Xinomavro, Krassato and Stavroto, which six months in oak have produced a nose of black cherry jam, roses, sweet spice, vanilla, plum, tomato paste and black olive. Somewhat grippy on the palate (which bodes well for the red meat factor) there is lifted acidity and persistency. (ES)

87 Boutari Agiorgitiko 2014, Nemea ($12.95)

Huge florality gives way to black cherry, cassis, cocoa, earth and clove qualities. Light with an appealing, easy drinking structure. Drink now and it won’t break the bank. (ES)

Italy

White

90 Réva Sauvignon Langhe 2015, Piedmont ($26.95)

A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, which exudes grapefruit, passion fruit, nectarine, white peach, white flowers and herbs. Bright on the palate with fine length and a mineral-tinged finale. (ES)

Red

93 Réva Barolo Ravera 2012, Piedmont ($89.95)

The discovery of this winery at this year’s Nebbiolo Prima was one of my highlights!  Powerful, the cherry, plum, vanilla, spice, cocoa, tar, dried earth carry long into the sunset. With all the tannins, there is a twenty-year life ahead. (ES)

92 Monti Barolo Monforte d’Alba 2012, Piedmont ($50)

Made in an ultra-modern style where new oak envelopes the sweet cherry, tar, cola, anise, humus, and chestnut.  Full bodied, super-ripe, with a  long finish, lots of flavour and enough stuffing to age two decades. Purists might scoff at this wine, but there is no denying the quality. (ES)

92 Monti Barolo Riserva Bussia 2010, Piedmont ($65)

Full bodied, this modern Barolo sees a healthy dash of new oak, coming out on the other side with a  perfume of sweet cherry, vanilla, flowers, earth, tar and spice. Long on the finish with lots of polished tannins which bodes well for a great life ahead. (ES)

92 Rivetto dal 1902 Barolo Riserva Leon 2010 Piedmont ($90)

Tobacco, balsamic, potpourri, dark cherry, blackberry, anise, and minerals are layered on a firm yet lovely palate. Superb aftertaste and great longevity  – 25 years. (ES)

92 Cascina del Monastero Barolo Riserva Riund Bricco Rocca 2010, Piedmont ($95)

Opens up with a volley of cherry, spice, earth, dried rose and licorice. The palate delivers sweet fruit with a long vanilla and berry tinged finale.  Deep, balanced and refined. Start to drink after 2020 as it is still youthful. (ES)

91 Réva Barolo 2012, Piedmont ($59.95)

This superb Barolo is fragrant, revealing a bouquet of rose, cherry, cocoa, plum, fried leaves, vanilla and clove. Great length, with lots of grippy tannins which will allow the wine to evolve over the next 15 plus years. (ES)

91 Mauro Veglio Barolo Castelletto 2012, Piedmont ($65)

A well balanced Barolo with high notes of plum, vanilla, cherry, rose and dried earth. Rich and concentrated with excellent length. (ES)

91 Pira Luigi Barolo Margheria 2012, Piedmont ($80)

From the commune of Serrlunga d’Alba comes this full-bodied Nebbiolo with an intense nose of sweet cherry, flowers, plum, raspberry, vanilla and spice. Concentrated, there is great length and structure which will allow a long life. (ES)

90 Paolo Manzone Barolo Meriame 2012, Piedmont ($65)

This house continues to produce attractive wines at attractive prices. Cherry, plum, earth, spice and earth are all built on concentrated fame. Long aftertaste and lots of life ahead. (ES)

90 Renato Ratti Barolo Conca 2012, Piedmont ( $75)

A textbook Barolo full of cherry, prune, flowers, earth, vanilla and spice. Splendid length and well suited with braised lamb shanks. (ES)

90 Brovia Barolo Rocche di Castiglione 2012 ($100)

Plum, cherry, earth, spice, vanilla, game, floral and tar. Nice weight and length. Drink this wine over the next decade. (ES)

Spain

90 Goru El Blanco Moscatel-Chardonnay 2015, Jumilla ($13.95)

From Jumilla, Spain’s hotbed of value, comes this singular blend of Muscat and Chardonnay. Dry, there is great texture and ripe fruit which inundates the senses. Orange blossom, banana, pineapple, honey, red and delicious apple and spice are all in play. It is long lasting with just the right pinch of acidity. Fish tacos or Szechuan-inspired dishes are made for this wine. (ES)

USA

88 Chateau St Jean Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma County ($18.95)

A wooded Chardonnay, which is soft and creamy with smoke, honey, fruit salad, pineapple, yellow apple, smoke and spice. There is a solid backbone of acidity which alleviates any heaviness on the lengthy finale. (ES)

 


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Wine Facts

Wine is often called the nectar of the gods, but Sangiovese is the only grape named after a god. Sangiovese means “blood of Jove