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February 2007 Wine Ratings

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90 Maleta First Frost Last Grape Oak Aged Vidal Icewine 2002, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($26.95/200ml)
At this year’s icewine gala, this was my top pick, no doubt due to the extra ripeness achieved with the hot 2002 vintage.  Deep golden colour, with honey, dried apricot, prunes and a touch of caramel on the nose. Excellent length with just the right amount of acidity to give lift. (ES)


88 Maleta First Frost Last Grape Oak Aged Vidal Icewine 2003, Niagara-on-the-Lake (26.95/200ml)
A different creature than the 02 version. From a cooler vintage, the wine shows less intensity and more elegance. Aged in Canadian oak, it delivers citrus, clover, spice, honey and orange marmalade flavours. In the mouth there is lots of zingy acid to counterbalance the sweetness. Now to 2009. (ES)


88 Chateau Des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Chardonnay, St Davids Bench ($19.95)
I have always been a big fan of this wine. Mid weight with a bouquet of pear, apple, honey and vanilla. In the mouth, the fruit resurfaces as well as spice, caramel and mineral notes. Elegant with very good length. Having sampled every vintage since 1990, I can unequivocally say that this wine ages extremely well, so drink until 2011. (ES)


88 Eastdell Cabernet Franc Icewine 2004, Niagara ($54.95)
A red Icewine that delivers a crate full of red fruits; cherries, raspberries and cranberries. The palate is sweet with 20% sugar as well as herbs, tobacco flavours. Lengthy finish with a touch of bitterness. (ES)


United States

92 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Sonoma ($44.75)
In a recent blind tasting of some high profile 03 Bordeaux, this “ringer”, unanimously, came out on top. It displays a dark colour and flaunts lots of black fruits, spice and cocoa as well as a light undercurrent of herbs. Approachable now, but there is more than enough structure behind the fruit to give it cellaring potential. Drink until 2022.  (ES)



92 Chateau du Viella Cuvee Prestige 2003, Madiran ($27.25)
It’s unfortunate that most wine loving Canadians have not had the opportunity to taste Alain Bertolussi’s fabulous offerings from Madiran. He and Alain Brumont of Montus fame, are the best producers from this appellation. This wine, a 16% alcohol monster was left open for three days. Over that period, it kept on evolving like a high speed locomotive zipping down the track. Everything from red to dark fruits, from spice to chocolate kept appearing and evolving, with no sign of weakening. Beautifully concentrated, excellent length and at least 15 years ahead of it.  Why buy Bordeaux at double to triple the price when this is available? (ES)


92 Chateau Lamartine Cuvee Expression 2001, Cahors ($41.25)
This wine expresses itself via a black colour, as well as with power, elegance, length and a wonderful bouquet of blackberries, spice, cocoa and earth. By far, my favorite wine from Cahors, four year in a row. Now to 2020. (ES)



94 Alvear Pedro Ximenez  DeAnada 2003, Montilla Moriles ($18.95/375ml)
Feeling tired? A little blah? Blood/sugar level low? Well, say hello to a superb dessert wine from southern Spain, close to Jerez. The PX grapes were dried in the sun before being pressed, which has yielded a wine as thick as olive oil, as sweet as Willy Wonka’s factory, and as intense as the inside of a nuclear reactor. Superb length! If you love the famous Liqueur Muscats from Australia, this is definitely your cup of tea. (ES)


89 Torres Mas la Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, Penedes ($39.95)
Dark garnet colour with just a hint of garnet at the rim. Fairly aromatic, with violets, tobacco/cedar, cocoas, cassis, spice and vanilla. The palate is soft with supple tannins, mild acid and cassis on the finish. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)


87 Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses 2004, Priorat ($38.95)
A warm climate red, rather forward, with jammy cherries (think nibs licorice), raspberries, blackberries and pepper. Very good length with a hot finish thanks to 14% alcohol. Needs hearty fair, like stew or osso bucco. (ES)


87 Bodegas Breton Lorinon Gran Reserva 1998, Rioja ($33.95)
This is definitely for fans of the traditional style of Rioja; meaning long aging in barrel which in turns allows the wine to loose its fruit and take on an oxidative/cedar/tomato ketchup quality. Very good length, pronounced acid and black olive flavours. Try with Gazpacho.


86 Herencia  Remondo La Montesa  Crianza 2003, Rioja ($21.95)
A modern style of Rioja. It is a blend of 40% Grenache, 45% Tempranillo, and the rest Graciano and Mazuelo, which was aged in French oak. Offers up a medley of sweet fruit; namely cherries, strawberries and plums, as well as vanilla from the barrels. Medium bodied and a wine to have with the first BBQ of the season. (ES)


86 Vinas del Vero Syrah Las Corona , Somontano ($18.95)
Somontano translates as “in the foot of the mountains”, a reference to its location at the base of the Pyrenees. One of the new “hot ticket” regions in Spain, it concentrates on the international varietals, as in the case of this wine. An opaque colour leads the way to blackberries, dark cherries, earth, licorice and herbs. Lingering finish. (ES)



New Zealand

89 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Marlborough ($19.95)
A very intense nose of tomato vine, nectarines, red delicious apple, passion fruit, gooseberry and pink grapefruit. In the mouth, it is mid weight with very good length, but lacks the zippy acid which is typical of this wine. (ES)


December 2006 Wine Ratings

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87 Wynns Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Estate, Coonawarra ($19.95)
The wine displays an opaque center with a slight evolution on the rim. Lots of upfront plums, blackberries, minty sage, spice and chocolate.  It is medium weight with a lengthy finish. Drink now to 2009. (ES)





88 Chateau Bastor Lamontagne 2003, Sauternes ($41)
One of the unsung heroes of Sauternes, offering a very good quality/price ratio. Straw yellow with a bouquet of honeysuckle, currants, white flowers and dried apricots. Very good length with flavours of wax, nuts and orange rind. Now to 2016. (ES)



87 Frederic Magnien Fixin Crais de Chene 2003, Fixin ($33.95)
Frederic Magnien is without a doubt one of the young superstar winemakers of Burgundy. Even though he owns no vineyards, he selects the best growers to purchase grapes from, and in some cases even works the vineyards himself. This wine, from a lesser known appellation in the Cote de Nuits showcases a flattering nose of plums, dark fruit, violets and cocoa. Supple texture, lengthy finish and no harsh edges. 2007 to 2012. (ES)



88 Chateau d’Issan 2003, Margaux ($50)
This is a soft and seductive offering, serving up cassis, earth, cloves and tobacco. In the mouth it is mid weight with cassis, smoke and vanilla resonating on the lengthy finish. Tannins are unobtrusive, so drink now until 2016. (ES)




89 Jackson Triggs Vidal Icewine 2004, Niagara ($45.95/375ml)
An intense pure nose of peach, apricots and honey. Harmonious with a good backbone of acid and a lengthy finish.


88 13th Street Wine Corp Chardonnay Reserve 2004, Niagara ($25)
A rather intense Chardonnay dominated by lots of oaky, toasty, roasted nut, spice and vanilla aromas which tornado around the pear, green apple, figs and apricots. Full malolactic was done so there is a creamy feel in the mouth. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)


88 Riverbend Chardonnay 2005, Niagara ($25)
This is the inaugural vintage of this wine. The grapes come from the Riverbend Inn vineyard and are completely vinified by Reif winery. It was aged for 10 months in a combination of new French and American oak; displaying a yeasty, toasty, vanilla, caramel, pear and green apple profile. Creamy in the mouth with lots of caramel, vanilla, green apple flavours as well as roasted nuts. (ES)

87 13th Street Wine Corp Riesling 2005, Niagara ($18)
This is a return to the style that was established in the late 90’s and early 00’s. There is mineral, honey, peach and flowers present. In the mouth, it is somewhat lean but with good persistency to the fruit. Off dry with good acid balance. Now to 2011. (ES)


87 13th Street Wine Corp Premier Cuvee, Niagara ($28)
This sparkler is made in the traditional method and is a blend of 68% Pinot Noir and 32% Chardonnay. Moderately aromatic with biscuits, honey, anise and toast. Medium length with lovely pinpoint bubbles. (ES)


87 Henry of Pelham Select Late Harvest Vidal, Niagara ($19.95)
A straight forward dessert wine with aromas of green apple, peach and honey. Lengthy finish. It will work perfectly with cheesecake. (ES)


86 Konzelmann Riesling 2005, Niagara ($10.95)
This wine represents great value. It delivers up a rather complex nose of peach, baby powder, lime, honey and wax. On the palate it is a touch off dry with admirable depth and medium length. Pair it up with jerk rubbed pork tenderloin and revel in the sensation. (ES)


85 Lakeview Riesling 2005, Niagara ($10.95)
Floral, honey and waxy on the nose with a white pepper, mineral palate. Light bodied with good length and a refreshing tang. Seared sea scallops would be divine. (ES)




89 Reif First Growth Merlot 2002, Niagara ($50)
Made from low yields of 35hl/ha.  There are concentrated flavours of cherries, plums, spice, cedar, smoke and root beer. On the palate there is more of the same as well as a chocolate drenched finish. Now to 2014 (E.S)


89 Reif First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Niagara ($50)
A powerful wine which is stacked with cassis, vanilla, smoke, spice and mint. Medium to full body with a lingering finish and somewhat assertive tannin. From 2008 to 2016. (ES)


87 13th Street Cabernet Franc 2004, Niagara ($20)
A supple offering which shows of tobacco, dill, red currant, raspberry, plums and vanilla. Medium plus length. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)



October 2006 Wine Ratings

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91 Peninsula Ridge Ratafia 2005, Niagara ($29.95)
Ratafia is what the French classify as a Mistelle-fortified grape juice. Widely available in his native Burgundy, Jean Pierre Colas has been producing this aperitif since his arrival at Pen Ridge.  To the best of my knowledge it is the only one Canada. His recipe consists of blending Chardonnay juice with yellow plum brandy. Intense nose of yellow plums, cherries, honey and orange rind. Thick in the mouth with a long finish. Grab a few  bottles for the holiday season and share with family and friends (ES)


89 Peninsula Ridge Beal Vineyards Inox Chardonnay Reserve, Beamsville Bench ($19.95)
This is the first vintage where the Beal Vineyard designation has been added. Like its predecessors, the wine is completely vinified in stainless steel. Complex, with lots of peach, apple, honey, minerals/gun flint and pear.  Excellent length with cream, pear, spice, white flowers and minerals on the tongue. Now to 2009. (ES)


88 Inniskillin Montague Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2004, Niagara ($17.95)
A deep gold colour with a nose which is oaky, but not overpowering. The caramel, spice and vanilla work in tandem with the figs, green apple and honey. Very good length, refined and good acid balance. (ES)


86 Inniskillin Chardonnay Reserve 2004, Niagara ($14.95)
Green apple and spice are on the nose. The palate is creamy with medium length and green apples and caramel reverberating on the finish. (ES)


85 Jackson-Triggs Proprietor’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Niagara
Textbook grassy, asparagus, fruit cocktail and cat pea aromas. In the mouth there is citrus, mineral and herbs. Good length. (ES)


85 Jackson-Triggs Riesling  2005, Niagara ($11.95)
More intensity and a touch sweeter than the dry version. A bouquet of apricot, honey and spice lead the way to minerals and lime on the taste buds. Crisp finish. (ES)


84 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors Reserve Dry Riesling 2005, Niagara ($11.95)
Shows moderate aromas of mineral, peach, honey and tropical tones. The palate is somewhat austere with mineral and lime flavours.


91 Creekside The Lost Barrel 2002, Niagara ($45)
There are only 69 cases of this wine in existence and if you are able to procure any via any legal method, please do so. This wine, which is made from the consolidated   remnants of forgotten Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Shiraz barrels is truly impressive. Medium to full bodied with lots of cocoa, plums, vanilla, violets and spice. Excellent length and at least 6to 9 years ahead of it. (ES)

90 Creekside Reserve Meritage 2002, Niagara ($34)
Without a doubt, Creekside has scored big with their 2002 reds. Every wine is truly impressive, as is the case of this one. A superb, complex nose of cassis, plums, spice, vanilla, smoky/roasted herbs and cedar. In the mouth there is concentration, elegance and definition. Long finish. Drink over the next 5 to 7 years. (ES)


87 Chateau des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot Estate 2002, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($19.95)
I have become rather fond of this wine over the past few vintages. Mid weight with cassis, dark cocoa, cigar and raspberry. The palate is grippy with sweet cassis fruit, spice and tobacco tones. Needs food, so go beef and go big, like prime rib. Now to 2012. (ES)


86 Inniskillin Pinot Noir Reserve 2004, Niagara ($16.80)
Toasty oak aromas weave together with dark fruits, wild berries and earth. Good depth, mid weight and medium length. I envision this with pork tenderloin encrusted in a dried porcini crust and served with a mushroom risotto. (ES)


86 Inniskillin Merlot 2004, Niagara ($14.99)
Plums, spice, cherries, raspberry and vanilla are all present in this value priced offering. Light to medium body with a touch of heat on the finish. (ES)


84 Inniskillin Pinot Noir 2004, Niagara ($14.99)
A rather pleasant, soft offering which serves up cherries, earth, plum and black pepper. Light bodied with a soft mouthfeel. This is one of those easy sipping reds, ideal with cocktail hour canapés.




86 Beringer Founders Estate Chardonnay 2004 ($19.95)
In the glass, the wine is golden with vanilla, toasty, green apple and caramel aromas. The mouth chimes in with roasted nuts, apple and fresh acid. Balanced and a perfect foil for halibut in a butter sauce. (ES)



89 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Napa ($39.95)
The classic Mondavi nose of cassis, vanilla, mint, cedar and spice is present. In the mouth itl is mid weight with more cassis as well as tobacco and cherry flavours. Very good length, supple texture and soft tannins. Drink over the next 4 to 5 years. (ES)


89 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Knights Valley ($44.95)
More intense fruit than the Mondavi, thanks to the warmer climate of Sonoma. Dark cherry colour and a bouquet of blackberries, dark cherries, spice and smoky chocolate. Medium to full body with lots of jammy blackberries and cherries shrouded in chocolate. Now to 2012. (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