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February 2018 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

91 Coyote’s Run Vidal Icewine 2016, Niagara ($49.95/375ml)
Intense and rich, peach, orange marmalade, mango, pineapple, ginger, and honey are all found in this soft Icewine. Excellent length. (ES)

91 Fielding Estate Riesling Icewine 2016, Niagara ($36.95/200ml)
Peach, apricot, toffee, apple juice, lemon peel and thyme honey leap out of the glass an onto the palate. Fresh acidity provides lift, and it finishes on a mineral note. (ES)

90 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2016, Niagara Escarpment ($19.95)
From a warm vintage comes this intense Riesling featuring peach compote, bergamot, lime, citrus and mineral. The sweetness (35g/l) is more apparent in this vintage when compared to a cooler year such as 2014 (my favorite), where there is an electric acidity.  Drink now. (ES)

88 Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2016, Niagara ($21.95/200ml)
One of the best value Icewine’s on the market. Not overly sweet with apple juice, peach, fresh flowers, honey and citrus working in tandem. Fine length. (ES)

87 Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Frissonesque Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($16.95)
SAS’s first ever Sauvignon blanc is a zesty offering which delivers fresh herbs, green apple, pink grapefruit, papaya, passion fruit and citrus. Serve alongside goat cheese crostini or grilled haddock drizzled with lemon, olive oil and fresh oregano. (ES)

87 Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White 2015, Niagara ($14.95)
This is a 100% Riesling, which is off-dry (29g/l). There is brisk acidity and profile of lime, petrol, honey, mineral and grapefruit. It requires something spicy, so that the sweetness can tame the fire. Try with Thai coconut curry or sushi with a heavy dose of soy sauce and wasabi. (ES)

86 Henry of Pelham Chardonnay 2016, Niagara ($14.95)
A straight-up, non-oaked Chardonnay that has sen some sur-lie aging. Fresh acidity supports apple, pear, white grapefruit, yeast and hints of anise. Medium length. Drink up. (ES)

Red

90 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2016, Short Hills Bench ($34.95)
Produced from HOP’s oldest Pinot Noir vines, this multi-clone offering reveals raspberry, black currant, cherry, red flowers and cinnamon.  Excellent length, and still tight, so hold until 2019 before opening. Roast chicken stuffed with black truffles would be be bliss with this wine. (ES)

89 13th Street Wine Corp Gamay Noir 2016, Niagara ($19.95)
A clean and fruit forward Gamay with candied strawberry and raspberry which meshes with blueberry, black pepper and herbs.  Perfect for Napolitana pizza or pasta and meat sauce. (ES)

89 Family Tree by Henry of Pelham 2016, Ontario ($18.95)
Blend five red grapes and add 17 months of oak aging and you have created a redolent red with smoke, chocolate, dark cherry, cassis, clove, violets and black olive. Lamb burgers or shish kabob, please!

88 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2016, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
This Pinot possesses a pale ruby colour and aromas of cherry, plum, red flowers and hints of cocoa. Medium body and acidity with fine-grained tannins.  Serve alongside a duck breast with a red currant sauce. (ES)

87 Vineland Estates Cabernet Merlot 2016, Niagara ($15)
Approachable, this red packs the flavour for a solid price. Cassis, raspberry, plum, tobacco and violets are all in play. Medium plus length. A blend of Cabernet Franc 64%, Merlot 21% and Cabernet Sauvignon 15%. Grab a few bottles for the BBQ season! (ES)

Chile

White

89 San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Elqui Valley ($19.95)
From Elqui (The Valley of The Stars) comes this super crisp Chardonnay which is grown on chalky soils. Stone fruit, tree fruit and judicious oak create an elegant and food friendly wine. Lobster or seabass in a beurre blanc sauce would be divine. (ES)

Red

91 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2015, Peumo ($19.95)
Delivers classic Carmenère flavours of crème de cassis, plum, bell pepper/mint, spice and violets. Full- bodied, there is a plush texture as well as elevated tannins. Excellent length. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

Italy

91 Tenuta Le Colonne 2015, Bolgheri ($26.95)
A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Shows the warmth of the 2015 vintage via the rich dark fruit: crème de cassis, blackberry, plum and Chambord liqueur. Add some dried herbs, cocoa, vanilla and spice and you have a full-bodied, smooth offering with an extended finale. (ES)

90 Sartori Amarone Della Valpolicella Corte Brà 2010, Veneto ($49.95)
Concentrated, this Amarone offers textbook aromas of raisins, currants, figs, dried herbs, potpourri, chocolate and licorice. Full-bodied with 15.5% alcohol backstopping the entire package. Drink until 2022. (ES)

USA

White

88 Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2015, Russian River Valley ($24.95)
Plush, yet refined, thanks to RRV’s cool climate, this Chardonnay doles out the tropical fruit, sweet apple, spiced pear, vanilla and cream. On the full end of the spectrum, there is great length and it is ready to drink. (ES)

Red

89 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, California ($24.95)
A multi-appellation California Cab with lots of upfront blackberry, plum, dark cherry, vanilla, chocolate and spice.  Tannins are polished, so it is ready to drink alongside a medium rare rib-eye. (ES)

89 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley ($34.95)
Textbook Napa, featuring blackberry, cassis, plum and mint wrapped around spice and vanilla. The palate is smooth, with a juicy edge, which is the hallmark of the 2014 vintage. Drink over the next three years. (ES)

89 Buena Vista The Legendary Badge Petite Sirah 2016 ($17.95)
Black/purple, as any self-respecting Petite Sirah should be! Full-bodied and intense, there are masses of cassis, blackberries, dark cherry, cocoa, vanilla and licorice. Tannins are present but rounded, and the protracted finish augurs well for prime rib. (ES)

87 Buena Vista Winery The Count Founder’s Red Wine 2014, Sonoma ($26.95)
This blend of unidentified red varietals pays homage to ‘Field Blends,’ the signature wine style of Sonoma from the mid-1800s right up until the 1970s. Plum, blackberry, mocha and undercurrent of weedy tobacco/herbs meet up with 14.5% alcohol. Medium plus length. (ES)
 

January 2018 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

87 Lakeview Cellars Kerner Morgan Vineyard 2016, Niagara ($17.95)
Kerner is aromatic varietal which was first created in 1929 by crossing Riesling with Trollinger. This rendition is chalk full of peach, pineapple, grapefruit, lime and white flowers. Very refreshing with a clean aftertaste. (ES)

87 Lakeview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($17.95)
An easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc with guava, lemon balm, white grapefruit, gooseberry, melon and herbs. Medium plus length, sound acid and ready to drink with fresh water perch or fried calamari. (ES)

Red

89 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc 2015, Twenty Mile Bench ($24.95)
An absolutely delicious Ontario Franc with classic cassis, raspberry, vanilla, cocoa, smoke, herbs and tobacco flavours. Medium plus body with a long finish and enough tannins to allow five years of cellaring. Pair with braised short ribs or a coffee-rubbed NY Strip. (ES)

87 Château des Charmes Gamay Noir 2016, Niagara ($15.95)
Easy drinking, this Gamay serves up strawberry, plum, cherry and black pepper. Mid-weight, the tannins are smooth, and there is very good length. Pair with a charcuterie and cheese board. (ES)

87 Lakeview Cellars Merlot 2013, Niagara ($29.95)
Ready to drink, there is plum, cherry, spice and cocoa coupled with a herbaceous streak. Medium body with fresh acidity and mild tannins.

Chile

92 Valdivieso Éclat 2010, Maule ($29.95)

This wine bears the Vigno (Vignadores de Carignan) Association trademark. By law, any wine ordained Vigno must come from the Maule Valley, be a minimum 65% Carignan, from vines that are at least 30-yeas-old vines, unirrigated, and aged for two years before being released. This wine includes 34% Mourvedre, helping to produce an impressively concentrated offering with layers of dark cherry, plum, anise, chocolate. Tannins are gritty, so serve alongside some grilled sausage or porchetta. (ES)


89 Miguel Torres Cordillera de Los Andes Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Maipo Valley ($19.95)
Opaque black/purple, this quintessential Chilean Cab doles out the crème de cassis, blackberry, tobacco smoke, fresh herbs, baking spice, cocoa and vanilla. Full- bodied with ripe tannins and an extended aftertaste. (ES)

France

White

91 Louis Moreau Vaulignot Chablis 1er Cru 2015, Burgundy ($38.95)
Tasted both in Burgundy and here at home with the same score. The warm vintage has produced a wine with a  sumptuous texture and flavours of peach, sweet apple, lemon, white flowers and minerals. The finale is crisp and clean. Drink now. (ES)

91 André Blanck & Fils Altenbourg Gewurztraminer 2016, Alsace ($19.95)
Lovers of Gewurztraminer rejoice! Here you will find an intense, textbook offering which inundates the senses with rose, lychee, sweet peach, honey, grapefruit and cardamom. Off-dry, ripe and long-lasting. Epoisses or Munster cheese please! (ES)

Red

91 Domaine du Grande Tinel Côtes du Rhône 2015, Rhone Valley ($23.95)
This wine just serves to prove how great the 2015 vintage was in the Rhone Valley, as well as the rest of France! Made from 85% Grenache, this full-bodied red explodes with sweet cherries, plum jam, raspberry, Provencal herbs and anise. There is a sweet texture and a finale which carries long.  Easily bests many CNPs for double the price! (ES)

89 Ferraton Père et Fils Calendes Crozes-Hermitage 2015, Rhone Valley ($29.95)
From a top vintage comes this medium plus body red. Deep ruby/violet colour and linear in structure, it serves up a melange of cassis, violets, tobacco, black pepper, oregano and hints of vanilla. There is excellent length as well as fine-grained tannins which will ensure another five years of life ahead. (ES)

89 Château Puygureaud 2015, Cotes de Bordeaux- Francs ($28.95)
This is a small property located near the St-Emilion border. This blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec serves up plum, chocolate, cherry, spice and herbs, or in other words, a textbook example. Alcohol is on the high end, so chill slightly. (ES)

Greece

White

88 Tetramythos Roditis 2016, Patras ($13.95)
A straight-forward, unpretentious Greek white with flavours of peach, citrus, white flowers and mineral notes. Refreshing, there is very good length. Chill and serve on the patio this summer. (ES)

Red

88 Boutari Naoussa Xinomavro 2015, Macedonia ($13.95)
This wine continues to be one of Greece’s greatest red wine values-period! Medium-bodied and linear, there is a profile of cherry, plum, tar, herbs, tomato paste, vanilla and dried earth. Great length and some gritty tannins make for an ideal pairing with a braised lamb shank or a medium rare NY Strip! By it by the case and enjoy until 2022. (ES)

Italy

White

89 Ca’Bolani Pinot Grigio 2016, Friuli Aquileia ($16.95)
Packs lots of flavour, and easily bests many Italian Pinot Grigio’s out there in the marketplace. Peach, apple, citrus, honey, white flower and hints of pineapple are layered on a lively acidity and a long finish. (ES)

88 Mastroberardino Mastro Greco 2016, Campania ($16.95)
This southern Italian white is reminiscent of Gewurztraminer, what with its lychee, peach, floral qualities which mesh with lemon and pear. A creamy texture finishes off with minerality. Drink up. (ES)

Red

93 Quintarelli Rosso Ca’Del Merlo 2009, Veneto IGT ($111.95)
Yes, it is Quintarelli. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is entirely delicious! Simply put, it blends eight grapes that were aged for seven years in old wood, creating a concentrated red full of dried fruit flavours, accented by savoury and spicy notes.  Drinking well know, but can still cellar for many years to come. (ES)

92 San Felice Il Grigio Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2013, Tuscany ($48.95)
An impressive Chianti Classico with a bouquet of violets, leather, cherry, raspberry, tobacco and undergrowth. It is concentrated with elevated acidity and refined tannins. Drink until 2024. (ES)

89 LaTorre Guinzano San Gimignano Rosso 2013, Tuscany ($16.95)
An absolute steal from Tuscany! Made from 70% Sangiovese and the rest Cab Sauv and Merlot, it is an elegant red with dark cherry, plum, cassis, chocolate, humus and spice. Sangiovese’s acidity is present, and the tannins are suave. Great length and delicious! (ES)

Portugal

94 Fonseca Vintage Port 2009 ($58.95)
Incredible value! I remember trying this Port, at the winery, back in 2012, just before being released and was blown away by the quality. Big, rich and full bodied, the 09 Fonseca possesses a saturated colour and a bouquet of crème de cassis, plums, raisins, spice, violets, dark cherries and earth. There is a concentrated palate, internse tannic structure and a long finish, which equates to 30 plus years of longevity. (ES)

Spain

86 Torres Altos Ibéricos Crianza 2014, Rioja ($14.95)
Soft, easy drinking and juicy, this 100% Tempranillo is all about cherry, plum, strawberry, tobacco and cedar. Ready to drink alongside grilled sausage or spaghetti and meatballs. (ES)

USA

90 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Alexander Valley ($22.95)
Superb value! Plum, blackberry, raspberry, anise, cocoa and mint weave together around polished tannins a plush mid-palate, suave tannins and sound acidity. Excellent length. Drink or hold. (ES)

89 Gunsight Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Paso Robles ($24.95)
If you are in the market for a new world, fruit forward red, look no further. Full-bodied and smooth, there are masses of cassis jam, blackberry, Chambord liqueur, plum, vanilla, cocoa and mint. Long aftertaste and ready to serve alongside some prime rib. The price is right! (ES)

 

 

November 2017 Ratings

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Argentina

White

88 Catena Chardonnay High Mountain Vines 2016, Mendoza ($19.95)
Here you will find an obvious, oaky and upfront Chardonnay with loads of pineapple, mango, lemon, yellow apple and honey. The palate is creamy and buttery, with a strike of acidity which provides lift. Fine length. Halibut or salmon. (ES)

Red

89 Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza ($19.95)
A full-bodied Malbec with loads of blackberry, plum, dark cherry, raspberry, spice, cocoa and vanilla. Tannins are firm, so hold for a year or two then drink over the next six years. (ES)

89 Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2015, Mendoza ($19.95)
Packs good power for a $20 red. Medium plus body, there is purple/red colour and loads of plum, blackberry, raspberry, violets, herbs, spice and vanilla. Excellent length and some fine tannins round out the package. Lamb burgers or ratatouille would be delicious with this wine. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
Top notch stuff! Baked apple, pear, white peach, honey, cream, spice, vanilla and citrus leap from the glass and on to the palate. Sexy mouthfeel with refreshing acidity and a finish which carries long. Lobster or crab poached in butter all the way with this beauty! (ES)

92 Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2016, Niagara ($49.95/375ml)
A flattering Icewine with a mouth-coating texture and flavours of bergamot jam, peach, honey, pineapple, sweet apple, spice and minerals. There is acidity which frames everything nicely and brilliant length. Who needs dessert with this beauty -  just chill and serve! (ES)

90 Reif Estate Winery The Stars Sparkling Riesling, Ontario ($21.95)
Made in the Charmat Method, there is a lifted bouquet of white flowers, tangerine, banana,  peach and honey. This leads into a mouthful of sweet apple flavours accented by cinnamon and lime. It is off-dry with crisp acidity and bubbles providing symmetry. Excellent length and ready to drink. (ES)

89 Two Sisters Riesling 2016, Niagara ($35)         

Off-dry with a lot of acidic tension, this crisp white doles out the pear, apple, lemon zest, nectarine and mineral. Excellent length and ready to be paired with arancini or oysters on the half shell. (ES)

 


Red

92 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Speck Family Reserve 2016, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)
This is HOP’s finest Baco Noir to date! Full-bodied, it exudes loads of blackberry, plum, dark cherry, chocolate, vanilla, hickory and baking spice. There is great concentration and density as well as excellent length. Drink until 2023, preferably with braised dishes. (ES)

91 Two Sisters Cabernet Franc Reserve 2013, Niagara River ($37)

Without a doubt, one of the best reds from the 2013 Vintage, as the combination of low yields and late picking has produced a full-bodied red which pushes 15% alcohol, with a concentrated mid-palate and fabulous length. Quintessential Franc with roasted red pepper, cassis, black raspberry, violets, smoke, black olives and graphite. Drink until 2022. (ES)

91 Two Sisters Estate Red Reserve 2012, Niagara River ($37)

Another stunning 2012 red from Two Sisters, this one based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a lifted personality of cassis, dark plum, raspberry, vanilla, anise and tobacco smoke. Elegant, with a sweet mid-palate and fine tannins. Drink over the next six years. Fans of Bordeaux will find gravitate to this wine. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Niagara River ($64)

Cassis, fraises du bois, black raspberry, violets and vanilla work as one in this refined red. Nice weight and density as well as a long aftertaste. Drink or hold, but make sure to serve alongside a rack of lamb accented with garlic and rosemary. (ES)

 

89 Two Sisters Merlot 2013, Niagara River ($49)

A cool climate Merlot with plum, dark cherry, raspberry, roasted herbs, vanilla and smoke. There is fine length, some grippy tannins and a touch of heat. Duck breast with a red wine reduction would be divine with this wine. (ES)


87 Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2016, Niagara ($14.95)
A versatile, well-priced Bordeaux Blend, which features cassis, plum, raspberry, herbs, smoke and spice. Medium body and perfect for those pasta and pizza evenings. (ES)

Chile

87 Miguel Torres Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016, Central Valley ($14.95)
A punchy Sauv Blanc which leans towards the grassy/jalapeno end of the spectrum. You will also find grapefruit, lime, passion fruit and fruit salad. Popping acidity and fine length round out the package. (ES)

France

White

88 Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer 2015, Alsace ($18.95)
A powerful nose of honey, ripe peach, rose, mango, lychee, cold cream and spice spill over onto an off-dry palate. There is sound acidity, a touch of heat and great length. Serve alongside Thai spring rolls or Chicken Tikka Masala. (ES)

Red

88 Gérard Bertrand Saint Chinian 2015, Languedoc ($17.95)
A warm red with cassis, raspberry, violets, black pepper, rosemary, mint and hints of leather. Med plus body with very good length and grippy tannins. Nice a nice steak to tam (ES)

87 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2016, Loire Valley ($22.95)
A mild Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of fruit salad, lime, apple, melon,  grapefruit, lilac, grass and white pepper. Dry, with a mineral core and hints of passion fruit and herbs on the finale. (ES)

Spain

White

94 Bodegas Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Anada 2014, Andalucia ($24.95)
If you are a fan of super rich stickies with low acidity, then this wine falls right into your wheelhouse. Unctuous, there is masses of toffee, burnt sugar, Amaretto, maple syrup, dried figs and dates. There is a brilliant finale with over 400 g/l of sugar. Needs a good chill before being served. (ES)

88 Torres Habitat Garnacha-Syrah 2015, Catalyuna ($19.95)
Organically grown, there is perfumed red pumps out blackberry/cherry jam alongside clove, smoke, rosemary, flowers and cocoa. Already drinking beautifully so pair alongside paella or lamb chops. (ES)

Italy

92 Fontanafredda Vigna La Rosa Barolo 2013, PIedmont ($74.95)
This single vineyard Barolo is hugely aromatic with plum, cherry, licorice, cedar and tar beguiling the senses. Full bodied, it is firmly structured, so hold until 2019 then drink until 2030. (ES)

90 Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2015, Toscana IGT ($21.95)
This red always delivers the goods at a fair price! A blend of 50% Cab sauv, 30% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc and 10% Sangiovese serves up cassis, raspberry, dark cherry, mint, vanilla and spice. Drink now or cellar for another 5 years, the choice is yours. (ES)

90 Fontanafredda Serralunga d’Alba Barolo, Piedmont ($44.95)
Plum, spice, tobacco, red flower and tar on the nose meet wup with cherry, earth, vanilla and spice on the palate. Full-bodied with elevated tannins, brisk acid and a lingering aftertaste. (ES)

90 San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2015, Tuscany ($24)
I was blown away after tasting the portfolio of this biodynamic producer at this year’s Italian Wine Show in Toronto. Plum, cherry, humus, spice, herbs are built on a concentrated frame. Excellent length, and perfectly suited for a porterhouse steak! (ES)

88 Masi Campofiorin 2014, Veneto ($21.95)
This wine, the original Ripasso, celebrates its 50th birthday with this vintage. It is ripe with plum, raspberry, cherry, violets, tobacco, cocoa, herbs and spice. Fresh acidity and fine grains tannins round out the package. Ready to drink. Try with a sausage ragu! (ES)

88 Fontanafredda Barolo 2013, Piedmont ($29.95)
Always solid value for Barolo! Cherry, plum, spice, vanilla, earth, dried flowers and tar work their way out of the glass and onto the palate. Very good length with dry tannins. (ES)

USA

92 Fess Parker Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Santa Maria Valley ($64.95)
From California’s Central Coast comes this rich and textured Pinot Noir. Black and red fruit snuggle up with rose, anise, earth. Tannins are firm, acidity brims and there is excellent length. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

92 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2014, Dundee Hills ($52.95)
Here is a vibrant and flavorful Oregon Pinot Noir. Full-bodied, there is a plethora of red berry fruit, alongside plum, beetroot, rose, spice, mushroom and smoke. Juicy acidity, fine tannins and a velvety complete and seductive package. Drink until 2022. (ES)
 


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Wine Facts

The lip of a red wine glass is sloped inward to capture the aromas of the wine and deliver them to your nose.