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February 2016 Wine Ratings

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Australia

94 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra ($99.95)

Exciting stuff! Made only in the best years, this icon wine is without a doubt one of the top Cabs in all of Coonawarra. Concentrated, elegant and layered, there is wall to wall plum, blackberry, dark cherry, eucalyptus, vanilla, anise, violets, black olive, herbs and chocolate. With all of the tannin, I suggest holding until 2018 and then drink until 2032. (ES)

91 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Coonawarra ($27.95)

This perennial 90+ point wine does it again in the 2013 vintage. Full bodied, polished and elegant, it serves up a soaring bouquet of blackberry, plum, mint and violets. The palate adds eucalyptus, vanilla, spice and a chocolate-tinged finish. It should age well over the next 8 to 10 years. For the price, make sure to pick up a few bottles for the cellar. (ES)

Bulgaria

86 Domaine Boyar Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($8.90)

If you are looking for a bang for the buck, everyday sipper, this is your wine! It is smooth and easy drinking with plum, dark cherry, mint, spice and violet flavours. Medium body and length. Ready to drink with pasta, pizza or burgers. For this price, a case purchase is mandated. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Sue-Ann Staff Winery Vidal Icewine 2012 ($24.95/200ml)

This double gold medal winning Icewine possesses a brilliant golden colour an intense perfume of honey soaked peaches, golden raisins, dried apricots and spice. Rich, but not heavy thanks to the fresh acidity. Lingers long. (ES)

91 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2014, Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95)

The combination of aromatic purity, power and balance are truly impressive. Huge lime, bergamot, white peach and crystalline minerality soar across the senses. The palate achieves the status of a lovely Kabinett with a long aftertaste. Still an infant, it will be interesting revisit this wine as it evolves over the next decade, at least.  (ES)

91 Rockway Vineyards Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($29.95/375ml)

Huge peach, honey, sponge toffee, toast, candied pear, bergamot and candied lemon are present on a concentrated frame. Vibrant acidity tidies up any heaviness and the final carries long. (ES)

91 Pillitteri Reserve Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($35/200ml)

Pillitteri’s 2013 Vidal Icewine churns out enormous peach, honey, lychee, pineapple, candied citrus and spice flavours. Excellent extraction and weight with a crisp edge giving definition. Great length. (ES)

91 Mike Weir Winery Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($49/375ml)

Honey, candied peach, apple concentrate and sponge toffee are all present in this stickie. Excellent length with solid acidity. Pair with an apricot and almond custard tart. (ES)

90 Between The Lines Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($39.95)

A dark golden/orange colour introduce the apple concentrate, candied pear, peaches in honey and spice. Long finish, focused with just the right amount of acidic lift. (ES)

90 Château des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2014, St. David’s Bench ($65)

A lighter style compared to previous vintages but one which still of high quality. Riesling’s natural acidity frames the sweetness quite nicely and the flavours of peach, pear, apple compote, mineral and lime carry long. (ES)

90 Redstone Chardonnay 2011, Beamsville Bench ($31.95)

Toast, caramel, apple, white flower, honey and smoke on the nose meet up spice and cream on the palate. Fine length, solid acid and a round mouthfeel make for a perfect pairing with grilled salmon. (ES)

90 Peninsula Ridge Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2013, Beamsville Bench ($29.95)

An impressive Chardonnay for Peninsula Ridge, which features peach, banana, pineapple, toast, white flowers, sweet apple, vanilla and honey qualities. Medium plus body, concentrated and long on the finish. (ES)

90 Trius Showcase Sparkling 5 Blanc de Noir 2009, Niagara ($55)

The five denotes that the wine spent that amount of time aging on its yeast cells before being disgorged. This has created a bubbly with lots of toasty/yeasty qualities which marry with strawberry, peach, cherry and earth qualities. Bright acidity, long finish and a certain austerity hallmark this wine. (ES)

89 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Niagara ($19.95)

A lively Sauv Blanc with a lifted personality of nectarine, passion fruit, fruit salad, lemongrass, and flowers. Mid-weight, with great length. Pair with sole topped with lemon dill sauce. (ES)

89 Mike Weir Winery Limited Edition Riesling 2014, Beamsville Bench ($22.95)

A fabulous Riesling from Weir, which has a soaring bouquet of bergamot, lime, honey, smokey minerals, while flowers on the nose. The palate is decidedly mineral with a long citrus aftertaste and just a hint of residual to round everything out. (ES)

88 Ravine Vineyard Small Batch Riesling 2014, St. David’s Bench ($28)

Bergamot, honey, lime, white flower, green apple and minerals carry from the nose to the taste buds. A hint of residual sugar and vibrant acidity make for a fine match up with Thai or sushi. (ES)

88 Konzelmann Riesling 2013, Niagara ($13.65)

Konzelmann continues to churn out great bang for the back whites at a sub $15 price point. Peach, lime, citrus and apple are all wrapped up nicely by some sweetness and fresh acidity. Very good length. (ES)

88 Peninsula Ridge Barrel Aged 2014, Beamsville Bench 2014 ($15.95)

A lot of stuffing here for the price. Medium-bodied, there is green apple, citrus, spice and hints of stone fruit. The crisp acidity makes for a very food friendly wine. Ready to drink. (ES)

87 Kacaba Oak Aged Chardonnay 2014, Niagara Escarpment ($24.95)

Vanilla bean, pear, red apple, cinnamon and honey and citrus flavours fold into a creamy texture with a good amount of acidity. Elegant with very good length and lifted acidity.  Pair with crab cakes or grilled kalamari topped with a garlic aioli. (ES)

86 Château des Charmes Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($13.95)

This nicely balanced Chardonnay has just the right amount of fruit to oak ratio. Flavorful with peach, red apple, toast, spice and notes of honey. Medium length and ready to drink. (ES)

86 Small Talk Vineyards Burning Ambition 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($14.95)

A blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Peach, pineapple, spice, flowers and honey are all in play. Needs something spicy such as Pad Thai or a green curry dish to act as a counterpoint to the sweetness. (ES)

Rose

89 Fielding Estate Sparkling Rose NV, Niagara ($30)

A blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay. Strawberry, cherry, earth, yeast and toast are all present on a creamy texture. Combined with great length and fresh acid, it makes for a splendid pairing with duck rillettes or charcuterie. (ES)

Red

90 Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Niagara ($29.95)

Deep ruby colour, there is evident oak in the form of chocolate, coffee and spice which folds into the dark cherry and blackberry fruit. Ripe tannins and great length mean it should be consumed over the next 5 to 7 years. (ES)

89 Kacaba Merlot 2013, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

To ensure that the Merlot was fully ripe in the cool 2013 vintage, Kacaba left the grapes to hang until mid-October. The result is a rather fullish red with plum, dark cherry, toast, chocolate, spice and green olive qualities. Cuban ropa vieja or a skirt steak with chimichurri would be stellar pairings. (ES)

88 Kacaba Silver Bridge Vineyard Syrah 2013, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

Made from 25-year-old vines, this Syrah is still a tad closed but features plum, raspberry and cranberry flavours which encapsulate black pepper, cocoa, incense, oregano and vanilla notes. Very good length, fine acid and approachable.  (ES)

87 Kacaba Terraced Vineyard Syrah 2013, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

Compared to the Silver Bridge Syrah, this is a more open rendition which sings black pepper, dark cocoa, plum, raspberry, oregano and violets. Ready to drink with pot roast. (ES)

87 Rockway Vineyards Red Assemblage 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($17.95)

Rockway continues their qualitative ascension. This blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon reveals cassis, raspberry, mint, herbs, tobacco and violets. Splendid length, good acid and suave tannins. (ES)

Italy

89 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2012, Tuscany ($22.95)

Always great value from the realm of CCR! Ripe cherry, tomato, plum, raspberry, tobacco and some oak spice are built on a medium to full body. Nice concentration, great length and some dry tannins make for a top partner with classic Italian fare. A blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot. (ES)

87 Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2013, Tuscany ($16.95)

A touch jammy, the cherry, cocoa, tobacco, herbs, red flowers and forest floor aromas meet up with fresh acid and sound tannins. Very good length. Pair with lasagna or grilled sausages. (ES)

 

January 2016 Wine Ratings

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Australia

87 The Entertainer Red Blend 2014 ($15.95)

From Wolf Blass comes these easy drinking blend of Grenache and Syrah. Cherry, plum, rhubarb, pepper, herbs and hints of cocoa/vanilla mesh together with a medium plus body and 14% alcohol. Very good length and ready to drink. Try with bbq ribs or grilled sausage. (ES)

Canada

White

91 Stratus Sémillon 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($32)

This full-bodied, some would say massive Sémillon exudes honey, wax, apricot, pineapple, binned apple, toast, smoke, vanilla, cream and spice. Ripe and concentrated, there is a thick/creamy texture, low acid and a long finale. Pushes 15% alcohol, so chill slightly and serve on its own. (ES)

91 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($45.95)

Made from 30-year-old vines, this Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in partially new French oak for twelve months. Peach, toast, anise, green apple, honey, white flower and vanilla are built on a medium to full-bodied frame. Excellent length with a long mineral and citrus aftertaste. Pair with a pork roast or chicken in a cream sauce. (ES)

91 Tawse South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Prince Edward County ($45)

Tawse sourced the Chardonnay grapes for this wine via a fruit exchange with Huff Estates. The later received Pinot Noir from Niagara in return. Deeply mineral, there is sweet vanilla, anise, nectarine, tangerine, spiced apple and pear rounding out the package. Great length and a crisp personality make for a perfect pairing with pickerel topped with a beurre blanc sauce.

90 Tawse Estate Chardonnay 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($37.95)

Citrus, mineral, white peach, toast, anise and lime are all in play in this medium-bodied white. Refreshingly crisp with a long mineral aftertaste. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)

88 Château des Charmes Brut NV, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($22.95)

CDC’s Brut is one of Ontario’s original traditional method sparklers. This blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir delivers pinpoint bubbles and a profile of green apple, citrus, pear, lemon and subtle toasty notes. Fine length and ready to drink with oysters or smoked salmon. (ES)

88 Redstone Brickstone Riesling 2014, Niagara ($14)

A solid value Riesling with a profile of bergamot, lime, peach, grapefruit, white flower and mineral. Light bodied, yet lengthy with crisp acidity and a touch of sweetness rounding out the edges. (ES)

Rose

91 Château des Charmes Rose Sparkling 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($28.95)

Done in the Sec (22g/l of sugar) style, this blend of 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir obtained its colour via the Pinot grapes being left in contact with their skins for a short period of time. It spent three years on the lees so you can expect a creamy texture and flavours that lean to the red fruit spectrum as well as apple, citrus and earth qualities. Ready to drink with spicy sushi. (ES)

Red

91 Pondview Cabernet Appassimento 2013, Four Mile Creek ($70)

Pondview’s first Appassimento wine is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The drying period of 120 days has produced a dark ruby colour and a huge bouquet of plum, cherry jam, anise, vanilla, After Eight chocolate and herbs. This carries over to the palate where additional where raspberry, blackberry and raisins join the mix. Excellent length with a glycerin laden sweet texture and enough underlying structure to age for five to six years. (ES)

91 Creekside Estate Winery Unbroken Press Syrah 2012, St. David’s Bench ($42.95)

This powerful 100% Syrah serves up a sophisticated bouquet of cassis, violets, tobacco smoke, black pepper, bay leaf, raspberry and cocoa. Still grippy, I would suggest holding it until 2017 and then drink until 2022, preferably with a peppercorn crusted NY strip. (ES)

90 Creekside Estate Winery Broken Press Syrah, St. David’s Bench ($42.95)

Modelled after a Côte-Rôtie, this wine contains 4% Viognier.  A dark ruby colour with purple highlights, one can expect to find cassis, raspberry, vanilla, oregano, black olive, black tea and pepper. This wine was made for roast leg of lamb. Drink until 2022. (ES)

90 Tawse Grower’s Blend Cabernet Franc 2012, Niagara ($26.95)

Still tannic, this punchy red needs a few years to resolve itself. Cassis, blueberry, raspberry, roasted herbs, smoke, anise, vanilla and graphite are built on a medium plus body.  Excellent length. Hold until the end of 2016 and drink until 2021. (ES)

90 Redstone Syrah 2012, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

A cool climate Syrah with a perfume of black pepper, cassis, grilled meat, oregano, violets, vanilla and smoke. Full-bodied and elegant, the finish carries long. Drink over the next five years. (ES)

90 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013, Niagara ($30/200ml)

Sweet cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam meld with hints of blue fruits, cocoa and herbs. Vibrant acidity buttresses a rich texture. Long finale. A flourless chocolate cake would be gorgeous with this stickie. (ES)

89 Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Queenston Road Vineyard 2011, St. David’s Bench ($34.95)

An impressive Cab Sauv from a cool vintage. An enormous nose of After Eight Chocolate, smoke, violets, graphite, cassis, dark cherry, beef bouillon, smoke and spice. Medium plus body with great length. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)

89 Creekside Estate Winery Laura’s Blend 2012, Niagara ($19.95)

The 2012 Laura is the best rendition of this bottling to date. Ripe, it exudes plum, raspberry, vanilla, blue corn, green olive, cocoa and spice. Splendid length, medium body and dusty tannins. A fine wine that won’t break the bank for weeknight meals.  A blend of all five Bordeaux grapes with a dash of Syrah. (ES)

89 Tawse Gamay 2014, Niagara ($18.95)

A powerful nose of red cherry, strawberry, dark plum, rose, herbs and black pepper. There is a light oaking that comes through on the palate in the form of cocoa and vanilla. Supple tannins, fresh acid and a juicy finale make for a beautiful partner with seared duck breast or a chorizo and seafood paella. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2013, Ontario ($24.95)

HOP’s 203 Reserve Baco continues to be the benchmark by which all other Bacos are judged. Full- bodied, there is an explosive bouquet of dark and red fruit, coffee, chocolate, smoke and spice. Vivid hybrid acidity leads the palate before some residual sugar kicks in to act as a counterpoint. Drink or hold. Pair with some Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs. (ES)

88 Pondview Bella Terra Pinot Noir 2013, Four Mile Creek ($50)

Pondview’s first Pinot Noir succeeds in capturing plum, sweet cherry, earth, vanilla, cocoa aromas and flavours. With a natural alcohol of 14.5%, there is very good length, lifted acid and supple tannins. Accessible right now. Pair with mushroom risotto topped with duck breast. (ES)

88 Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($24.95)

Fresh cracked pepper, smoke, cocoa, raspberry, blackcurrant, thyme, earth and leather are supported by acid, supple tannins and a lengthy aftertaste. All in all a textbook example of Ontario Syrah, which should be served with braised meats. (ES)

87 Creekside Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Serluca Vineyard 2013, Four Mile Creek ($26.95)

A mid-weight Franc with raspberry, dark cherry, tobacco, violets, graphite and coffee. Medium length, fresh acid and solid tannins. Now to 2020. (ES)

France

White

92 Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2008, Champagne ($97.95)

Made from equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Delicate yet lengthy, it explodes with chalk, green apple, pear, lemon, toast and honey. A fine mousse, excellent length and elevated acidity on the palate bode well for aging if ones enjoys a more mature style of bubbly. (ES)

90 Gérard Bertrand Cuvée Thomas Jefferson Crémant de Limoux 2013, Limoux ($19.95)

Limoux is the birthplace of sparkling wine, some 150 plus years before Dom Pérignon even touched a grape in the Champagne region. Made in the traditional method, this blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac possesses pinpoint bubbles and a personality of apple, citrus, pear, white peach, wax, anise and yeast. Long finish. Superb value and one that easily shames many champagnes at double or triple the price. (ES)

88 Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2014, IGP Pays d’Oc  ($15.95)

A great value Viognier from Southern France. Peach, apricot, orange, banana, spice and white flowers waft over the senses. The fresh acidity gives lift and focus, carrying the finish. Pair with halibut filet topped with a jalapeno and fruit salsa. (ES)

Rose

87 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé 2014, Languedoc-Rousillion ($18.95)

An eye-catching salmon colour!  Produced from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this serious and dry Rose reveals cherry, strawberry, blackcurrant, rose, grapefruit and spice qualities. Pour alongside a pork tenderloin with a mushroom sauce. (ES)

Spain

86 Jean Leon 3055 Merlot Petit Verdot 2014, Penedès ($18.95)

A singular blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot, which is easy drinking and chock full of blackberry, plum, cherry, anise flavours. Medium length. Sausage and peppers or hamburgers are solid pairings. (ES)

United States

87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, California ($16.95)

Dry with citrus, lime, grapefruit, white flower and hints of honey and herbs. Crisp, refreshing with a long citrus aftertaste. (ES)

87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Chardonnay 2013, California ($16.95)

An upfront Chardonnay, which will thrill those who like oak and tropical fruit in their wine. Peach, pineapple, mango, sweet apple, honey, vanilla, butterscotch and spice pack a solid punch. Very good length and ready to drink. (ES)

Red

88 Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, California ($17.95)

A solid value from Beringer’s bang-for-the-buck tier. Mid-weight, there is sweet plum and blackberry fruit encapsulating the spice, vanilla, cocoa, mint and tobacco. Suave tannins make this wine ready to drink. Enjoy your favorite cut of steak with this bottle. (ES)

 

November 2015 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

92 Marynissen Estates Vidal Icewine 2013, Niagara ($40/375ml)

Hugely extracted this stickie exudes intense peach, honeycomb, orange marmalade, vanilla, sponge toffee and spice. Excellent length and well suited for blue cheeses or custard based desserts. (ES)

91 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Chardonnay 2014, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

If you are a lover of great Chardonnay, this is one that should not be missed. Medium to full-bodied, it is ripe with peach, cream, baked apple, pineapple, spice and lilac on the nose. On the palate, cream, vanilla, banana and minerals add dimension. Long finish, fresh acid and superb length make for a brilliant pairing with lobster or poultry. (ES)

90 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Late Harvest Pinot Gris, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

Made in the style of an Alsatian Vendanges Tardives, this Pinot Gris is medium sweet with 50 g/l of residual sugar.  That said, the concentration and lowish acidity combine with the sweetnes to give the impression of something that is sweeter. Full bodied, there is enormous peach, honey, cream spice, red apple and cream. Drink with a foie gras appetizer or munster (or other wash rind cheeses) after a meal. (ES)

89 Redstone Reserve Chardonnay 2011, Beamsville Bench ($38.95)

Medium plus body, this Chardonnay was fermented via natural yeasts and spent 12 months maturing in partial new French oak. Enticing aromas of peach, toast, honey, anise, pineapple and golden apple are all present. Fresh acid, a lush mid-palate and great finale round everything out. Now until 2019. (ES)

89 Palatine Hills Sauvignon Blanc Neufeld Vineyard 2014, Niagara Lakeshore ($18)

Partially barrel fermented, this Sauvignon Blanc gushes gooseberry, passion fruit, tomato vine, fruit salad, herbs and vanilla on the nose. On the palate, peach, citrus and honey chime in. Long finish with vibrant acidity and a touch of sweetness makes for a superb pairing with crab cakes or pasta primavera topped with feta cheese. (ES)

88 Palatine Hills Riesling 2014, Niagara Lakeshore ($13)

If you are a Riesling lover, you should run to pick up this steal of adeal. Peach, lime, honey, bergamot, grapefruit and white flowers inundate the senses. Off-dry with tangy acidity and great length. (ES)

87 Marynissen Estates Pinot Gris Kasper Vineyard 2014, Niagara Lakeshore ($17)

Twelve hours of skin contact and partial barrel fermentation has created a bouquet of peach, red apple, honey, banana, cream and spice. Pineapple and yeasty flavours combine with the fresh acidity and fine length. (ES)

Red

91 Marynissen Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013, Niagara ($55/375ml)

This Icewine busts out a perfume of strawberry, raspberry, guava, cassis, vanilla and herbs. On the tongue, it is pure essence of berry with a succulent aftertaste. Chocolate fondue all the way. (ES)

89 Redstone Winery Cabernet Franc Icewine 2010, Niagara ($25.95/200ml)

Ready to drink, this rock solid Cab Franc Icewine pumps out strawberry, red currant, cassis, dried cherries, and red flowers. Splendid length, soft texture and low acid make for a perfect pairing with a flourless chocolate cake. (ES)

89 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Cabernet Syrah 2012, Four Mile Creek ($32.95)

From one of Ontario’s best red wine vintages ever comes this singular blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Syrah. Dark coloured, the complex nose of cassis vanilla, herbs, smoke, black cherry, black olive and violets carry over to the palate where the tannins add support. Long finish. Drink now to 2021. (ES)

89 Marynissen Estates Gamay Noir Marynissen Vineyard 2013, Four Mile Creek ($30)

A great surprise from a cool vintage. Clocking in with a natural alcohol of 14.5%, this Gamay resembles a cru Beaujolais with is plum, boysenberry, raspberry, strawberry and pepper personality. Suave tannins, fresh acid and a long aftertaste complete the package. Charcuterie was made for this wine.  (ES)

89 Marynissen Estates Platinum Series Syrah 2013, Four Mile Creek ($35)

An impressive Syrah which was harvested at a paltry one ton per acre. Smoke, plum, dark cherry, raspberry, cassis, black pepper, vanilla and oregano on the nose meet up with purple flowers and graphite on the taste buds. Soft texture with a vibrant personality and long finale. (ES)

88 Redstone Winery Merlot Redstone Vineyard 2011, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

Plum, smoke, chocolate chip cookie dough, raspberry, vanilla, dried earth and carnations are all present in the soft and alluring Merlot. Mid-weight, with great length and suave tannins make for immediate accessibility. (ES)

86 Coyote’s Run Five Mile Red 2014, Niagara ($15.95)

This crowd pleaser is a blend of 55% Cabernet (both), 36% Merlot and the remainder Pinot Noir and Syrah. Mid-weight, there is an intense perfume of raspberry, blackberry, cassis, herbs, vanilla, spice and smoke. The palate is soft with fresh acid and medium length. (ES)

 

Red

92 Domaine Eric & Joel Durand Empreintes Cornas 2012, Rhone Valley($46.95)

This 100% Syrah offers depth and complexity. Smoke, cassis, rosemary, cured meat, iron, violets and licorice are all present on the nose. The same reciprocates on the palate as well as a cocoa/pepper elements that carry the finale. Medium body. Now until 2022. (ES)

91 Château Pesquié Les Terrasses 2014, Ventoux ($17.95)

Pesquié, the undeniable star of the Ventoux, continues to churn out impressive wines at all price points. The 2014 Les Terrasses possesses a black/purple colour and doles out violets, crème de cassis, kirsch, oregano, anise, olive and graphite. Full bodied and concentrated, the plummy tannins will ensure a decade of aging. For the price, make sure to pick up a few bottles for the cellar. (ES)

91 Château de Braude 2010, Haut-Médoc ($33.95)

This Cru Bourgeois, from the great 2010 vintage, is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. It is a textbook example with its cassis, black olive, tobacco, mint and medicinal qualities. Pick your cut of steak to enjoy with this wine. Drink until 2022. (ES)

90 Château Fleur La Mothe 2009, Médoc ($24.95)

This is a stunning value from an ultra-warm vintage in Bordeaux. Made in a modern style, there is a prodigious nose of blackberry, cassis, smoke, tobacco, black olive and anise. Suave and silky on the palate it is ready to drink now until 2020. (ES)

Germany

91 Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Scharzhofberger Spätlese Riesling 2012, Mosel ($31.95)

From the prized Scharzhofberger comes this hugely floral Riesling with honey, lime, apricot, peach, green apple and minerals acting as backup. The crisp acidity is balanced by the sweetness giving the impression of an off-dry wine. Chill well, pour and sit back and relax. (ES)

Greece

White

91 Tselepos Santorini 2014, Santorini ($40)

Having mastered the Moschofilero grape of the Peloponnese, Yiannis Tselepos has turned his sights south, to the volcanic beauty of Santorini and its singular superstar grape - Assyrtiko! Full-bodied and concentrated, this wine’s power is held in check by brisk acidity. Salty minerals, white peach, lime and honey are abound in this dry wine. Long finish. Great now but better in 3 to 4 years. (ES)

91 Biblia Chora Ovilos 2013, Macedonia ($30.75)

Greece’s answer to a great Pessac-Léognan! Full bodied, this oaked blend of 50% Semillon and 50% Assyrtiko doles out honey, wax, lanolin, peach, herbs, vanilla, spice and huge minerals. Long aftertaste with great acidity. Halibut in beurre blanc sauce or a pork roast would be sublime with this wine. (ES)

87 Thalia White 2014, Crete ($9.95)

Great bang for the buck from Greece’s southernmost island!  This 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and indigenous Vilana is delicate yet flavorful with apple, melon, peach, white flower and nougat aromas. On the palate, crisp acidity, fine length and minerality complete the package. Drink with hors d’oeuvres such as fried shrimp/kalamari or mild cheeses. (ES)

Rose

88 Tselepos Amalia Brut Rose NV, Arcadia PGI ($25)

Yiannis Tselepos, famous for his white Amalia Brut, made from the aromatic Moschofilero varietal is now producing a companion rose bubbly made from the local Agiorgitiko grape. Strawberry, cherry, red flowers, dried earth and herb flavours are all in play. A fine mousse, fresh acid and great length make for a perfect pairing with smoked salmon and charcuterie. (ES)

Portugal

92 Messias Colheita Port 2005 ($24.95)

A Colheita is a single Vintage Tawny Port, which by law must age a minimum of seven years in wood before being released to the marketplace. This wine over delivers for the price especially considering it is a full-size bottle. The brick red colour leads to a combination of prunes, dried raspberry, dried flowers, spice and hazelnut. Smooth and well balanced with a long aftertaste. (ES)

91 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port 2004 ($29.95/375ml)

With the cold nights now upon us, there is nothing quite as satisfying and cathartic as a glass of Port in front of a roaring fireplace. Black as night, this single Quinta (farm/vineyard) Vintage Port is concentrated with masses of cassis, plum, kirsch, violets, mint and dark cocoa. It will evolve nicely over the next 15 years. Superb value! (ES)

United States

White

91 Talbott Kali Hart Chardonnay 2013, Monterey County ($27.95)

This wine certainly has a lot of heart! Golden apple, pineapple, mango, peaches and cream corn, butter and vanilla flatter. Ripe, it is rich on the palate with fine acidity giving a lift on the long, spice-tinged finale. (ES)

91 Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay 2012, Carneros ($45.95)

Full-bodied, Mondavi’s flagship Chardonnay is a class act that is starting to show mature qualities. Peach, golden apple, pineapple, smoke, honey and mineral are all present. It is balanced, concentrated and possesses terrific length. Drink until 2019 (ES)

90 Beringer Chardonnay 2013, Napa Valley ($22.95)

This Chardonnay is always a stalwart of quality. Apple, peach, pear, vanilla and cream corn are all present in this medium-bodied chardonnay. Lengthy, it is not heavy, thanks to the fresh acidity that tidies everything up. Very versatile with food. (ES)

Red

93 Justin Isosceles 2012, Paso Robles ($117.95)

The 2012 vintage of this Icon wine from Paso Robles is a 15.5% monster that throws masses of dark fruit at you in the form of blackberry, plum, cherry and blueberry. Additionally, there are mocha, caper, mint, balsamic, vanilla and cola qualities that add dimension. Thick, almost syrupy on the palate with sublime length and enough tannins to cellar for a decade, if so desired. That said, it is in fine drinking form right now as it just keeps on giving. (ES)

91 Rodney Strong Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Alexander Valley ($59.95)

This 15% Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe, lush and velvety. It offers wall to wall dark raspberry, blackberry, plum, cassis and chocolate flavours. It is quite flattering right now, but it has the stuffing to go another five to six years. (ES)

90 Rutherford Ranch Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley ($53.95)

An explosive nose of dark plum, cassis, mint, balsamic, licorice and vanilla are all present in this wine that shows a combination of ripeness and elegance. Long finish and ready to drink now over the next 7 years. (ES)

88 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, California ($19.95)

An open and approachable Cali Cab with plum, dark cherry, mint, cocoa and hints of animal. A touch sweet, there is very good length and is drinking well now. (ES)

87 Brazin Old Vine Zinfandel 2012, Lodi ($19.95)

Here is a straight up, no holds barred, fruit driven Zin with a tell-tale personality of red and black jam, raisin and spice. It is ripe, but not clumsy, and will fare well with braised and bbq foods. Drink now. (ES)


 

 


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Wine Facts

Dom Perignon (1638-1715), the Benedictine Abbey (at Hautvillers) cellar master who is generally credited with “inventing” the Champagne making process, was blind.