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September 2006 Wine Ratings

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86 Fielding Estate Gewurztraminer 2005, Niagara ($16.00)
A pleasant wine with moderate aromatics of peach, honey, spice, rose and cold cream. Off dry and somewhat creamy on the palate with good density and a lengthy finish which resounds with roses, lemon and tropical nuances. (ES)


86 Chateau des Charmes Estate Riesling 2005, Niagara ($15.95)
It is a well regarded fact that hot years (as is the case for 2005)do not favour the Riesling grape . This being said, CDC has done a solid job with their Estate Riesling. A nose of lime, lemon and mineral. Good length and a fresh finish. Try with grilled prawns doused with lemon, olive oil and thyme. (ES)


85 Henry of Pelham Dry Riesling 2005, Niagara ($11.95)
Ready to drink with lime zest and mineral qualities. Good length and fresh acid.


84 Henry of Pelham Pinot Blanc 2005, Short Hills Bench ($14.95)
Pale colour with lots of zesty green apple and melon flavours. A perfect foil for shellfish or salads




88 Fielding Meritage Reserve 2004, Niagara ($40)
The Indian summer of 2004 helped the grapes that went into this wine to achieve phenolic ripeness. Medium bodied with a delicious nose of smoke, blackberries, cassis, chocolate, dark cherries. The palate flirts with the same flavours as well as possessing very good length and a cedary finish. A blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.  Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)


88 Chateau des Charmes St Davids Bench Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, St Davids Bench ($25)
Resonates with cassis, tobacco, vanilla and minty/herbs. The palate showcases CDC’s typical linear qualities with ripe fruit, a good dash of tannin and just the right amount of acid. Very good length. Drink over the next 4 to 5 years. (ES)


86 Henry of Pelham Gamay 2005, Niagara ($13.95)
This is one of those easy drinking reds which finds it place on the table with tomato based sauce dishesor roasted chicken with herbs. Lots of sweet red fruit, black pepper and herbal flavours. Good length and ready to be uncorked. (ES)


85 Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir 2004, Niagara ($16.95)
Plums, violets, earth and cherry are all present in this easy drinking Pinot. Soft in the mouth with good acid. Drink now. Try with beef or salmon carpaccio. (ES)



87 Wine Art Estate Idisma Drios Chardonnay, Drama ($17)
A Chardonnay which was given the royal treatment -free run juice, mololactic fermentation, aging in new Allier barrels and batonnage. Overt, with lots of pineapple, peach, figs, spice and honey on the nose. In the mouth, the wine is creamy, yet it displays fresh acid and a nice honey/oaky/spicy finish. (ES)



86 Ampelou Gis 2002, Messina ($13.95)
A new listing at the LCBO and one that definitely merits attention. This product, which is Greek by birth, is made from Spain’s Tempranillo grape and France’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Light to medium bodied it offers lots of strawberry, sandalwood, leather and black cherries on the nose, while in the mouth there is cassis, earth and cedar flavours. Medium plus length and perfect for a medium rare NY strip. (ES)


85 Tsantali Mount Athos Red, Mount Atheos ($9)
For under $10, you will be hard pressed to find a wine of this quality on the LCBO general list. Equal portions of indigenous Limino and Grenache has produced an offering which showcases plum, spice, tar, leather, raspberry and Greek oregano (ironic, n’est pas!) Medium length and ready to drink. Try with pizza, pasta or souvlaki. (ES)


South Africa


86 Grand Provence Angels Tears White 2005, Franschhoek Valley
A blend of Chenin Blanc and Muscat of Alexandria, two grapes which have a long history in South Africa. Off- dry with the Muscat component dominating in the form of peach, orange blossom, musk, honey and bubble gum. Clean finish. Asian cuisine all the way. (ES)


85 Grand Provence Angels Tears Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Franschhoek Valley ($9.55)
Clean and refreshing with a good dose of minerals, gooseberries, asparagus and passion fruit. Medium length and balanced. (ES)


90 Grand Provence Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Franschhoek Valley ($28)
At a recent tasting of private importation South African wines, this was my top pick. Medium to full bodied with lots of cassis, vanilla, black olives, herbs and mint on the nose. The palate spreads out with sweet blackberries, spice and cocoa coating the mouth. Long finish with good cellar potential. Now to 2011.


88 Grand Provence Shiraz 2004, Franschhoek Valley ($28)
This wine dosen’t have the same “meat on the bones” quality as the Cab Sauv, but it is well made with a bouquet of leather, tobacco, stewed dark fruits, cherries and toasty elements. The palate is peppery with sweet blackberries and cherries. (ES)


July 2006 Wine Ratings

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90 Tawse Riesling 2004, Niagara ($22)
This is wowser of a Riesling with a stunning nose of peach, smoky minerals, honey, pineapple, papaya and burnt almond. The mouth is rich and ripe with an Auslese level of sweetness and a touch of nuttiness from almost overripe grapes. Now to 2012. (ES)


90 Tawse Chardonnay Robyn’s Block Reserve 2003, Niagara ($48)
After a few years out of the limelight, winemaker Deborah Paskus has returned with a vengeance and is producing singular Chardonnays like she did in the 90’s. True to her style, this is a big wine with lots of oakiness and extract. Caramel, cream, spice and ripe fruit are on the nose, whilst the palate is creamy and dense with sweet pineapple, peach and green apple flavours. Long finish. Hold off until 2007 so as to allow the wine to completely mesh together and drink until 2012. (ES)


89 Tawse Chardonnay Beamsville Bench Reserve 2003, Niagara ($42)
This is a more open knit, in your face style compared to the Robyn’s Block. Peach, honey, oil, spice and hazelnut dance around the nostrils while in the mouth citrus and caramel appear. There is just a slight touch of acetic acid (another Paskus calling card) which adds complexity. Now to 2011. (ES)


88 Cave Springs Chardonnay CSV 2003, Niagara ($30)
A heavy overlay of oak; namely spice, hazelnut and caramel combine with honey and green apple flavours. The palate is creamy with citrus, apple and toasty flavours. Crisp acid provides lift at the end. Drink now until 2009. (ES)


86 Creekside Estate Chardonnay Reserve, Niagara ($19)
A light overlay of spicy/vanilla oak adds dimension to the fig, pear, mineral and citrus aromas. Light to medium body,with caramel and spice on the lingering, fresh finish. Drink now with pickerel in a beurre blanc sauce. (ES)


86 Creekside Estate Riesling Butler’s Grant Vineyard, Niagara ($15.95)
Sends a serious jolt of electric acid down the mouth as well as a touch of sweetness. Medium bodied with lots of lime juice, peach, tutti frutti and minerals. Pair with schnitzel with lemon or veal piccata. Now to 2009. (ES)


85 Vineland Estates Chardonnay 2004, Niagara ($13.95)
A non oaked Chardaonnay with moderate aromatics of melon, lemon, green apple and pear. Minerals, peach and honey and cream linger on the taste buds. Drink now. (ES)


85 Fielding Estate Semi Dry Riesling 2005, Niagara ($12.95)
A pleasant offering with peach, lime and tutti frutti. On the tongue there is honey, mineral and lime. Medium length. Drink now.


88 Tawse Pinot Noir Reserve 2003, Niagara ($28)
At first whiff, this may not be everyone’s cup of proverbial tea, as there is a distinct barnyard aroma. Not to worry, as it blows off after being open for a half hour and the fruit emerges. Hell, this is what good Pinot is supposed to be about! Lots of cherries, plums, blackberries, vanilla and earthy scents. Very good length and a lil tough right now so hold it in the cellar until 2007 and drink until 2012.


88 Cave Springs Gamay Reserve 2004, Niagara ($19.95)
All the peppery, provencal herb, strawberries and cherries make you think Southern Rhone Grenache rather than Gamay. Why? The combination of low yields and long hang time has seriously kicked up the quality. Perfect for grilled quail or antipasto platters. Now to 2009. (ES)


87 Cave Springs Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2005, Niagara (   $21.95 )
A curiosity that was made in small quantities. Light salmon colour with a bouquet of strawberry rhubarb and raspberries. The sweetness and acid are perfectly balanced. Drink now. (ES)


85 Cave Springs Cabernet Merlot 2004, Niagara ($15.95)
A reasonably priced offering laced with vanilla, dill, smoke, tobacco and cocoa. Medium length and soft in the mouth, providing immediate drinking. (ES)



New Zealand


87 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Marlborough ($29.95)

Rather disappointing based on the producer’s reputation as well as the price. Not as intense or as powerful as previous vintages. Grassy, lime zest and tropical fruit are all present on a medium bodied frame. Crisp finish. (ES)





88 Quinta do Infantado Ruby Port, Oporto ($15.95)

Infantado makes some of the best Ruby ports in the entire Douro valley. This wine has a saturated black colour and a nose of blackberries, raisins, plums, pepper and violets. Expansive and rather full bodied (compared to other Rubys) on the palate with very good length and finish which resonates with plums and pepper. (ES)


May 2006 Wine Ratings

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90 Flat Rock “The Rusty Shed” Chardonnay 2004, Niagara ($24.95)

“The Rusty Shed” is derived from the fact that Flat Rock’s Chardonnay vineyard encapsulates an old, run down…shed.  The name reminds of d’Arenberg’s quirky/historical/fun labeling practices, something which I quite like. What I enjoy even more is the quality of this wine. At first, the nose greets you with oak but the fruit is quick to appear. Mid weight with aromas of fresh toast, caramel, green apples, pear and spice. Finishes long.  My preference would be to drink this wine over the next 3 to 4 years. Yummy stuff! (ES)


89 Angels Gate Single Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2004, Niagara ($18.95)

I tasted this wine at Cuvee and it completely “wowed” me with its intense peach, honey, lanolin and spice aromas. In the mouth it is oily, with loads of peach juice and a touch of grapefruit bitterness. This is what a good Gewurz is supposed to be about. Job well done! (ES)


88 Chateau des Charmes Riesling Reserve 2004, Niagara ($15.95)

CDC’s second vintage of this wine is a more intense/plumper version than its older sibling. This is due two factors- first, great growing conditions for Riesling in 2004 and second, the use of an Alsatian clone, rather that more abundant German “Weiss 22B” which is grown through out Niagara. Lime, peach, tutti frutti and minerals with very good length. Drink until 2011. (ES)


88 Malivoire Estate Chardonnay 2004, Niagara ($22)

 Like a symphony orchestra, all the components of the wines are in unison, working together in great harmony. On the nose there is green apple, mineral, toast and vanilla. The mouth serves up much of the same with added minerals, pineapple, guava and spice. Now to 2010. (ES)


86 Featherstone Riesling 2005, Niagara ($13)

Peach, mineral, and lime zest and honey are the calling card of the wine. Light to medium body, medium length and a finish which reverberates with minerals. (ES)



89 13th Street Wine Corp. Cabernet Rose 2005, Niagara ($16)

To date, this is my highest scoring Rose out of Ontario. It really packs in the strawberry, cream, raspberry and plums as well a subtle undertone of herbs. Long finish with just a hint of residual sugar. There is enough weight here to pair with grilled fair as well as being your every day patio sipper. A mandatory purchase for the summer and early autumn months.  (ES)



91 Pillitteri Family Reserve Merlot 2002, Niagara ($50)

Sue Ann Staff’s hot hand continues with her 02 Family Reserves. Like her Cabernet Franc which  took top red wine at Cuvee,  this is another rich offering with a magnificent nose of chocolate, black cherries, plums, blackberries, cassis and earth. Full bodied with excellent length and fresh finish. Now to 2015. (ES)


89 Stoney Ridge Wismer Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2004, Niagara ($29.95)

Very impressive and somewhat surprising considering the cooler growing season of 2004. Wall to wall blackberries and cocoa with a concentrated, sweet mid palate and a lengthy finish. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

88 Creekside Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2002, Niagara ($29)

Creekside strikes again, this time with there 02 Reserve Cab Sauv. Dark cherry colour and an oak dominated nose of roasted espresso, cocoa, toast, plums, cassis and blackberry. Full bodied with loads of sweet dark fruit. Really persistent finish. Now to 2011. (ES)


88 Peninsula Ridge Merlot Reserves 2002, Niagara ($39.40)

Winemaker J.P. Colas tale for this wine is “6 weeks on its skins after fermentation to give the extract/body and then aged in a combination of new and 1 year old barrels.” Aromatically, the wine flatters the nose with cassis, plums, smoke and chocolate while the palate is still tight. It also displays firm, yet ripe tannins, which necessitate cellaring before consumption. Drink from 2008 to 2015.


88 Colio Merlot Reserve 2002, Lake Erie North Shore ($22.95)

The 02 Merlot is a medium bodied offering which is driven by smoke and chocolate. In second gear there is sweet fruit, notably cherries and plums. It then kicks in with spice and earth and cruises elegantly to the finish line. Now to 2010. (ES)


87 Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2004, Niagara ($32)

This is a rather pleasant wine, offering up a bouquet of tobacco, dark cocoa, dill and plums. The palate is linear bur lengthy with sweet cherries and plums and tingling chocolate notes.  Now to 2008. (ES)


87 Fielding Estate Syrah Reserve 2004, Niagara ($28)

Last year I was blown away by the quality of Fielding’s white wines. Success continues with their reds, even though the 04 vintage was a cooler one.  No doubt, the decision to leave the red grapes on the vine until mid November to extract every last bit of heat and sun from Mother Nature really helped. This Syrah has a distinctive peppery personality which weaves around cocoa, herbs, plums, strawberry, toasty oak and caramel flavours. . Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES).


87 Lakeview Cellars Syrah Reserve 2004, Niagara ($49.95/1.5L)

To commemorate their 15th anniversary, Lakeview has released this very limited edition Syrah in 1.5L bottles. Made from 3 year old vines, it displays an impressive ruby/purple colour and a bouquet of raspberries, black pepper, mint and cassis. There is a lingering finish with flavours that copy the nose, as well as an unusual Armagnac/yellow plum note. From 2007 to 2011. (ES)







88 Le Grand Clos 2003, Bourgeuil ($23.95)

It has been a while since I’ve tasted a Loire Cabernet Franc this good. Undoubtedly, the 2003 heat wave in Europe helped to rev up the quality. The wine displays an opaque black colour with a purple rim as well a nose of cassis, fresh bread, tobacco, smoke and animal undertones. Medium bodied and still a tad disjointed so hold off until 2007 and drink until 2012. (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.