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Evan Wine Savvy

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Wine Reviews

Throughout the year WineSavvy Consultants will be rating wines and posting their results monthly on this page.

Come back each month and have a look at what we have come up with, and click the button to the right to see previous months of tastings and reviews.



February 2014 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

92 Konzelmann Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2010, Niagara ($65)

This Icewine has started to reveal mature notes of caramel, alongside the dried apricots, peach compote, spice and honey. Full bodied and super rich, the acidity is on the low side, so chill it well and drink with a terrine of foie gras.  (ES)

91 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($69.95)

An absolute delight to drink! Huge apricot, sponge toffee, mineral, spice and lime on the nose meshes with honey, peach and apple on the palate. It is stylish, with fresh acidity and a long finish.  A sublime pairing with crème brûlée, if ever there was one! (ES)

90 Pondview Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2011, Four Mile Creek ($39.95)

This wine is a worthy successor to the 2010, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Peach, apricot, honey, white flowers, sponge toffee and spice are all in play. Concentrated, there is a long aftertaste and fresh acidity to provide lift. (ES)

90 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($32.95/200ml)

I really appreciate this dessert wine for the elegance factor, especially in lieu of the heat of 2012. Peach, Macintosh apple, honey, marzipan, white flowers, nectarines and citrus weave around a core of fresh acidity. Excellent length and a long finish make for a truly tasty drop. (ES)

90 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-110 Chardonnay Wild Ferment, Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95)

This impressive Chardonnay spent 10 months fermenting au naturel. This has produced an impressive bouquet of cream, pear, apple, spice, coconut, honey and cream. There is density on the palate, a slight sweetness, a creamy texture and a spice driven finale. I should also add that there is a slight high tone of VA, thanks to the natural ferment factor, which adds complexity. Drink over the next 3 years, preferably with lobster or Alaskan king crab with drawn butter. (ES)

88 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Gewürztraminer 2012, Niagara ($19.95)

Intense aromas of rose water, lychee, smoke, cold cream, honey, mango cream and some hints of spice. On the palate, the wine turns decidedly spicy, with grapefruit peel and Turkish delight notes. There is very good length, a slight sweetness and pleasant acidity. Pair this with coconut curry chicken or a duck terrine topped with a fruit compote.

88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Sparkling Chardonnay, Niagara ($24.95)

Made in the traditional method, this Chardonnay bubbly spent 19 months on its yeast cells before being disgorged. The final product offers up a mix of yeast, apple, pineapple and spice, as well as pinpoint bubbles, helping to create a creamy texture. Lengthy aftertaste. (ES)

88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Red Paw Chardonnay 2012, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

Aged in 100% Hungarian oak for six months, this Chardonnay unleashes a perfume of smoke, cream, pineapple, apple and anise. Honey, flowers, cream and a spice driven finale complete the picture. Pair with a rich cheese such as Chaource, Livarot or 5 year old Cheddar. (ES)

87 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Unoaked Chardonnay, Niagara ($14.95)

Every vintage, this wine delivers terrific value, and the 2013 in no exception. An explosive bouquet of spice, peach, red apple, lilac and honey meets up with creamy notes on the palate. Medium in body, there is admirable acidity and very good length. In essence, this is a very customer friendly wine which will please many palates. (ES)

86 Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Series Riesling 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($14.95)

The 2012 rendition of the wine starts off with a perfumed burst of peach, lemon, honey, white flowers, mineral and bergamot. Grapefruit and lime enter on the palate where there is medium length and pleasant acidity. It is ready to drink now, so chill it down and serve on the patio this summer. (ES)

86 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot White Assemblage 2012, Niagara ($16.95)

This mid weight blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer dishes up moderate aromas of minerals, honey, flowers and red apple. The palate turns creamy with some spice and caramel notes on the finish. Drink now. (ES)

Red

91 Vineland Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012, Niagara ($75)

Jam all the way: prunes, strawberries and raspberries mesh with flowers on the nose. The palate features much of the same as well as pineapple and earth on the elongated finale. Concentrated, ripe and quite luscious, to say the least! (ES)

91 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012, Niagara ($75)

A bouquet of strawberry, raisins, roasted herbs and cocoa powder meet up with buckwheat honey and guava paste on the palate. It is on the full side, with excellent length and solid acidity. (ES)

88 Kacaba Proprietor’s Select Syrah 2011, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

The Syrah leans towards the wilder side of the grape: hickory smoke, game, leather, herbs, cassis and spice, or, in other words, the good stuff! Med weight and elegant, the palate is soft with cassis fruit and violets adding complexity. There is very good length, and it is ready to drink. Serve with pepper, herb and red wine marinated quail or duck breast. (ES)

88 Riverview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2012, Niagara ($59.95)

Riverview’s Cab Franc is a mid weight stickie with a personality of strawberry, cocoa, earth, violets and herbs. There is generous length, and it is ready to drink. (ES)

87 Coyote’s Run Cabernet Merlot 2012, Niagara ($16.95)

A herbal/minty element weaves through the plum, raspberry, anise and earth qualities. There are supple tannins and admirable length, which will allow the wine to age short term. My suggestion would be to drink it over the next 3 year, preferably with grilled lamb chops or pork el pastor style. (ES)

New Zealand

89 Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough ($17.95)

This vintage is better than the excellent 2012 as well as being an excellent value! Sourced from the Wairau sub-region of Marlborough, the passion fruit, fruits salad, guava, pink grapefruit, honey and hints of tomato vine leap out of the glass and onto the taste buds. There is a vibrant mouth feel and a long lime driven aftertaste. Of course, goat cheese and freshwater fish are a perfect pairing for this wine. (ES)


 

 

January 2014 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

90 Versado Malbec 2012, Lujan du Cuyo ($25.95)

Versado is the Argentinian fruit of the Canadian superstar winemaking team of Ann Sperling and Peter Gamble. There is a viscous texture and full bodied personality of plum, raspberry, dark flowers, blueberry, cinnamon, smoke and cigar box. The tannins will allow cellaring; drink over the next 8 years. (ES)

Australia

90 Katanook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra ($29.95)

The telltale scent of Coonawarra eucalyptus meshes together with plum, blackberry, anise, graphite and cocoa. Medium to full body, there is a solid mid palate and excellent length. Drink this elegant wine over the next 5 years with a nice piece of steak with a good char. (ES)

89 Fowles Wines Are You Game? Shiraz 2012, Victoria ($16.95)

This wine is always a terrific value, and the 2012 is the best rendition to date. The grapes were sourced from the cooler Victoria area, producing a full bodied and elegant red with a bouquet of plum, raspberry, coconut, smoke, menthol, cocoa and spice. On the palate, it becomes noticeably peppery, with the fruit emerging on the long finale. The tannins are soft and the acidity fresh, making this a superb partner for charcuterie or a simple salt and pepper crusted steak. (ES)

90 Chapel Hill Bush Vine Grenache 2011, McLaren Vale ($24.95)

It is my belief that Grenache is Australia’s most underappreciated red grape. This full bodied version dishes out cherry jam, raspberry, plum, garrigue, black pepper, violets, and earth. Full bodied, the palate is concentrated with a long finish and suave tannins. In essence, this a hugely gulpable wine!  Drink until 2018. (ES)

89 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2011, Padthaway ($16.95)

This Shiraz, from the cooler Padthaway region is a beautiful offering, featuring a menthol, fennel, cherry blackberry and plum personality. The palate is quite fullish and rich with considerable length and supple tannins. Short term aging here, so drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

87 Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 2012, South Eastern Australia ($15.95)

This crowd pleaser doles out plum, blackberry, soy sauce and anise flavours on the nose. The palate adds nuances of raspberry and soft tannins. Drink now. (ES)

Canada

92 Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Reserve Brut 2007, Gaspereaux Valley ($74.95)

Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge continues to produce some of Canada’s most profound bubbles. The 07,  a combination of 38% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir and 30% Seyval Blanc exudes a perfume of yeast, toast, licorice, honey, cherry, green apple and earth. The finale is a combination of cream and toast which carries long. The bright acidity frames everything quite nicely. (ES)

91 Sperling Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2011, Okanagan Valley ($34.95)

The combination of biodynamics, old vines and a talented winemaker has created a truly impressive Riesling which should last a decade, if not more. Huge minerals, peach, grapefruit, honey and petrol are layered on crisp acidity and a superb finish. Pick your preferred preparation of pork and enjoy! (ES)

88 Fielding Estate Viognier Lot S-F 2012, Niagara ($25.95)

Fielding’s 2012 Viognier was crafted in the fashionable “orange wine” style. For the uninitiated, orange wine is a white wine made like a red; the white skins are included with the fermenting juice, providing more depth, flavor, tannins, and of course, an orange colour. This rendition serves up a bouquet of fresh picked peaches and nectarines, cherry pit, apple juice, white flowers and spice. Put a medium chill to this baby and then serve with pork tenderloin or mahi-mahi topped with a spiced fruit salsa. There were only 408 bottles made of this singular wine, so if you are looking for something different, do not miss this opportunity. (ES)

87 Cattail Creek Cabernet Merlot 2012, Niagara ($14.95)

This Bordeaux inspired blend is all about cassis, raspberry, violets, coconut, mint/herbs and spice. Medium bodied, the palate shows sweet fruit and supple tannins which bode well for short term aging. Drink over the next 3 years, preferably with some fennel laced sausage or a nicely charred steak. (ES)

Chile

94 Santa Rita Bougainville Petite Sirah 2010, Maipo Valley ($80)

The scary opaque black purple colour is the first thing you notice about this wine. The second is the powerful perfume of damson plum, dark cherry, coffee and vanilla. The third is the monster extract and length. This will surely appeal to those who love an over the top style wine! The quality is also reflected in the price- close to $80. It should age for 15 years. (ES)

92 Errazuriz Kai 2010, Aconcagua ($145)

Errazuriz’s top Carmenère is a big boy, and in this vintage, it features blackberry jam, red jalapenos, hickory, violets, pepper, vanilla, earth and cocoa. There is a thick texture, excellent length and lots of round tannins. Drink from 2015 to 2020. (ES)

92 Errazuriz Syrah La Cumbre 2010, Aconcagua ($51)

This top tier Syrah from Errazuriz is impressive for its combination of concentration, elegance and personality of blueberry jam, cherries, spice, violets, roasted herbs and cured meats. The tannins will allow it to age for 10 years. Needless to say, it is a full bodied and delicious offering. (ES)

90 Montes Outer Limits CGM 2012, Colchagua Valley ($25)

This combination of 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre displays a huge nose of jam: cherry, raspberry and cassis meets up with violets, vanilla and cocoa. It is full bodied, with a rich mouth coating personality and excellent length. Only 2000, 6 bottle cases were produced of this sexy wine, so if you can find any do not hesitate at all to purchase.

89 Emiliana Novas Petit Verdot 2011, Colchagua Valley ($16)

This organic wine is a terrific value for $16. Violets, blackberry, cassis, liquorice, vanilla and chocolate are all in play in this medium to full bodied red. Firm tannins and high acidity make this a perfect foil for a nice thick cut of prime rib or braised lamb shanks. For the price, stash a few bottles in the cellar. (ES)

89 Montes Alpha Malbec 2011, Colchagua Valley ($20)

This is a very pretty, modern style of Malbec with plum, coffee, toffee, raspberry, cassis, spice and cocoa flattering the senses. It is medium bodied with a lengthy finale and medium tannins. Drink this polished red over the next 5 years. (ES)

89 Odfjell Aliara 2011 ($30)

This blend of Carignan (32%) from Maule is blended with 26% Malbec, 22% Shiraz and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from other regions. It serves up soy sauce, plum, cassis, mint, pepper, raspberry and earth on the nose. The palate adds sweet cherry and cocoa. The finale lingers and supple tannins round everything out. (ES)

89 Odfjell Malbec 2011, Lontué Valley ($20)

Made from 50 year old vines, this Malbec serves up blueberry compote, blackberry jam, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, earth and violets. It is polished on the palate with a long aftertaste and tannins which will ensure another five years of aging. (ES)

88 Errazuriz Max Reserva Syrah 2011, Aconcagua Valley ($18.95)

When I tried this wine at the winery late last year, I noticed a freshness that was not present in previous renditions. When I questioned the winemaker about this, he informed me that, for the first time, cooler coastal fruit was blended with warmer inland grapes. This has produced a stylish offering with a black- purple colour and a mélange of damson plum, mint, raspberry, blackberry, pepper and licorice. There is enough depth and tannins to age over the next 4 to 5 years. (ES)

88 Odfjell Carignan 2011, Maule Valley ($20)

This biodynamic winery was established by Norwegian shipowner Dan Odfjell after he fell in love with Chile while looking for a warm winter retreat. The colour of this wine is black with purple highlights. The bouquet of game, earth, plum, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and tobacco spills over onto the palate. There is very good length, crisp acidity and a sophisticated feel to this delicious wine, with the 15% alcohol held completely in check. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

88 Miguel Torres Cordillera Carignan 2009, Maule Valley ($25)

Plum, earth, cassis, mint and a floral detail emerge out of the glass. The palate is rich with soft tannins caressing the finish. Drink now. (ES)

88 Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Gran Reserva Petit Verdot 2011, Rapel Valley

There first thing to jump out of the glass is a distinct earthiness, followed by sour cherry, banana, plum, earth, violets and pepper. There is a concentrated mid palate and very good length and PV’s famous tannins. Drink from 2015 to 2020. (ES)

88 Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan  2010, Maule Valley ($15.95)

The deep ruby colour heralds a huge bouquet of red flowers, plum and cherry jam, spice, tamarind and molasses. The palate is very ripe, almost sweet, with added nuances of cocoa as well as fresh acids and medium tannins. Now until 2017. (ES)

86 Anakena Tama Vineyard Selection Carignan 2012, Maule Valley ($20)

This is an easy drinking Carignan with a profile of plum, cherry, flowers, earth and spice. There is medium length and easy finish. Drink now. (ES)

 

 

November 2013 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

90 La Posta Pizzella Family Malbec 2011, Mendoza ($15.95)

This superb value Malbec serves up a concentrated mix of plum, raisins, violets, smoke, cherry, cocoa and spice. It is rather fullish and ripe, with a hint of sweetness and a long finish. Drink this wine over the next 3 to 4 years, and at this price, a few bottles in the cellar will reward greatly.   (ES)

Australia

91 Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2012, Adelaide Hills ($29.95)

This elegant Chardonnay comes from the cooler Adelaide Hills region. It displays a combination of toast, smoke, minerals, green apple, pineapple, banana, peach and spice. Fullish on the palate, there is great balance and concentration, as well as fresh acidity. It should drink wonderfully over the next 4 to 5 years, especially with grilled salmon or veal oscar. (ES)

Canada

White

88 Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2012, Short Hills Bench ($19.95)

Still shy, this Chardonnay needs another year in the bottle to show its best. Currently, there is peach, pineapple, vanilla, spice and green apple. The palate is a mixture of cream, spice, and green apple all supported by medium acidity and a lengthy finish. (ES)

Red

89 Kacaba Vineyards Single Vineyard Syrah 2010, Niagara Escarpment ($39.95)

Very aromatic, this Syrah sings a song of hickory, leather, cassis, cocoa and pepper. There is a medium body with density and lots of peppery/smokey notes supported by tangy acidity and soft tannins. (ES)

88 Burning Kiln Winery Cab Frank 2012, Ontario ($24.95)

Burning Kiln is a new winery in Lake Erie North Shore region specializing in appassimento wines (think Amarone), which are dried in old tobacco kilns. This 100% Cabernet Franc starts off with a bouquet of herbs, cassis, violets and cherry.  It then adds spicy elements on the ripe, almost sweet palate. There is a lengthy aftertaste and supple tannins. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Burning Kiln Harvest Party Red 2012, Ontario ($15.95)

Another Cab Franc wine from Burning Kiln.  This rendition is a touch lighter and leans towards to the bell pepper nature of the varietal. Fruit wise, there is plum, cassis, and cherry. There is solid concentration, and it finishes soft and easy. (ES)

France

88 Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2012, Cote de Gascogne

This dry white blend comes from France’s Southwest region of Gascony, famous for the brandy Armagnac. The passion fruit, tomato vine, honey and lime on the nose meets up with minerals, white flowers and fruit salad on the taste buds. Crisp acidity and a lengthy aftertaste round everything out. (ES)

Greece

White

92 Argyros Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini ($19.95)

Made from 60 year old vines, this impressive wine starts with off with a pale straw colour and then heads into a perfume of crushed volcanic rock, apple, honey, pear and white flowers. On the palate, it is full-bodied and bone dry with an enormous saline minerality weaving in between the apple, citrus and peach fruit. There is excellent length and crunchy crystalline acidity, which gives it 8 to 10 years of longevity. (ES)

91 Estate Argyros Assyrtiko 2011, Santorini ($22.95)

The average age of the vines used to make this wine is 150 years, with a small portion being close to 5 centuries old. Yes, I did say 500 years old! Partial barrel fermentation and aging have imbued the wine with anise, peach, honey, toast and smokey mineral qualities. The palate is full bodied with a slight creaminess, as well a spiciness which carries on the long finish. (ES)

87 Thalia White Sauvignon Blanc-Vilana 2012, Crete ($9.95)

This blend of equal parts Sauv Blanc and indigenous Vilana is the best rendition to date. A profile of banana, fruit salad, passion fruit, honey, lime and herbs is supported by refreshing acidity. Light bodied, there is very good length, and it is perfectly suited for shellfish, somewhere along the lines of seared scallops or grilled shrimps. (ES)

Red

87 Thalia Red Syrah-Kotisfali 2012, Crete ($9.95)

This new addition to the LCBO general list certainly delivers for its price point! Raspberry, plum, cherry, pepper, dark cocoa, herbs, and violets all come together in this easy drinking red. Suffice to say, with its lingering flavours and soft tannins, pairing with herb infused pork dishes or pasta in a red sauce is an easy decision. (ES)

New Zealand

90 Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Awatere Valley ($17)

The Awatere Valley is situated within the famed Marlborough region. This aromatic Sauvignon Blanc features telltale aromas of honeysuckle, pink grapefruit, guava, fruit salad, passion fruit and tomato wine. There is a medium body, excellent length and crisp acidity. (ES)

89 Giesen Riesling 2012, Marlborough ($15.95)

This is a dead ringer for a top end Rheingau Riesling Kabinett.  Peach, honey, petrol, lime, mineral and hints of tropical fruit are all in play. There is crisp acidity, some residual sugar and a long finale. Drink until 2020. (ES)

88 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough ($13.95)

Here, you will find a punchy Sauvignon with passion fruit, tropical, peach, ammonia, white flower and lime qualities. It is cleanly made with a light body and tangy finale. Pair with chèvre or sautéed shrimps in a lemon sauce. (ES)

Portugal

96 Fonseca Vintage Port 2011, Oporto ($130)

2011 was universal declaration in the Douro valley. As always, Fonseca is always at the upper echelon of quality. Full bodied, this absolute stunner oozes loads of blackberry, kirsch, fig, raisins, rhubarb, freshly cracked pepper, vanilla and hints of cocoa. It is medium sweet with a fine acidity and flavours that carry for an exceedingly long time. The fine grained tannins will ensure a long life ahead. Hold until 2025 and then drink until 2060. (ES)

Spain

88 Beronia Reserva 2008, Rioja ($18.95)

Reserva means that the wine aged a minimum of 3 years before being released, of which, 1 year minimum has to be in oak. Made from the Tempranillo grape, this wine is a classic example of old school Rioja. Here, you will find strawberry, prunes, cedar, tobacco, tomato puree and savoury notes both on the nose and palate. The tannins will ensure another 4 to 5 years of life. Grilled lamb chops are a perfect foil for this tasty bottle. (ES)

 

September 2013 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

90 Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling 2012, Beamsville Bench ($18.95)

This Riesling is always one of the stars from Niagara’s bench lands. Even though there is 30 g/l of sugar, the extremely high acid brings the wine down to the point of off-dryness on the palate. It is rich and mouth coating with all of its lime juice, blood orange, smokey minerals, white flowers and apricot. It will also age well over the next 3 to 4 years.

90 Hidden Bench Nuit Blanche White Meritage 2011, Beamsville Bench ($40)

Close to 90% Sauvignon Blanc and the rest Sémillon, mixed with some new oak, is the recipe for this wine. Apricot, honey, spice, lanolin, nectarine, toast, honey and vague tropical fruit nuances are all in play. The acidity makes for food friendliness, especially halibut, chicken in a cream sauce and even some mild curries.  Drink from 2014 to 2019. (ES)

90 Hidden Bench Roman’s Block Riesling 2011, Beamsville Bench ($32)

One word: minerals! This wine is the essence of crushed rock, with added nuances of lime zest, apple juice and stone fruit. No sweetish Riesling here. It is dry, slightly austere, and it is a perfect foil for some pork schnitzel or choucroute garni. From 2014 to 2019. (ES)

89 Rosewood Estates Select Series Sémillon 2012, Beamsville Bench 2012 ($18)

Sémillon excels with heat, and there was an abundance to be had in 2012. Clocking at 14.6% alcohol, this full bodied version is inundated with anise, lanolin, mango, quince, lychee, cream, white flowers and peach. There is a rich texture and elongated finish. From 2014 to 2018. (ES)

88 Rosewood Estates Select Series Süssreserve Riesling 2012, Beamsville Bench ($15)

This straightforward bench Riesling dishes out lime, crushed rock, bergamot, mineral, grapefruit and a slight hint of C02, at this early stage. The palate is tangy with just the right amount of residual sugar, taking the edge off. Crack it open tonight with sushi or a spiced ceviche. (ES)

88 Cattail Creek Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Small Lot Series 2010, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

The aromas of pineapple, vanilla, spice, honey, fig and coconut explode out of the glass and onto the palate, where additional nuances of golden apple, cream and nutmeg join the party. The finish is lengthy with a nice underpinning of acidity providing lift. Drink now. (ES)

Red

92 Rosewood Estates Merlot Reserve Natural Fermentation 2010, Twenty Mile Bench ($36)

In a blind tasting, I would call this wine a top St-Émilion, what with all its chocolate covered coffee bean, plum, cinnamon, violets, anise, black cherry and smoke. Encapsulating the tannins is the fabulous richness. This beauty will reach its peak around 2016 and drink well until 2022. It is a steal for the price. (ES)

92 Hidden Bench La Brunate 2010, Beamsville Bench ($75)

This is only the 3rd time that La Brunate, Hidden Bench’s flagship red wine, has been made as it is only produced in top vintages. That being said, this vintage is the best rendition to date as it was harvested at an insanely low yield of 1.5 tonnes/acre. This blend of 33% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Malbec saw a high percentile of new oak, creating a bouquet of plum, mint, graphite, smoke, blueberry, black cherry, dark cocoa, earth and anise. That being said, it is still remarkably youthful, and will require at least another 2 years of bottle aging and then should be consumed by 2022. If you are looking to give a top end red this holiday season, this wine should be at the top of your list. (ES)

90 Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2010, Beamsville Bench ($38)

This little brother to La Brunate is no slouch in the quality department. Dark cherries, raspberries, figs, plums, smoke, vanilla, toast, violets, dark cocoa and a savoury blend of oregano and mint are all present in this medium bodied offering. The finale is long, and the tannins will allow 8 to 10 years of cellaring. (ES)

88 Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir 2011, Twenty Mile Bench ($20)

Even though 2011 was not any easy year for red wine production, Rosewood has done an excellent job capturing the elegance of the vintage. A combination of black cherry, plum, earth, cola, cinnamon and smoke flatters the senses. Tannins are suave, and there is terrific length. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Rosewood Estates Merlot 2011, Twenty Mile Bench ($22)

This is a worthy successor to the superb 2010 and a minor success considering the vintage. Plum, anise, red flowers, root beer, spice and cocoa are built on a medium bodied frame. The finish carries, and there is just a minute green/bitter edge which necessitates some form of roast/braised meat to take the edge off. It will age well over the next 4 to 5 years. (ES)

87 Cattail Creek Pinot Noir Estate Series 2010, Four Mile Creek ($18.95)

An explosion of black cherries, black raspberries, spice and vanilla inundates the senses. Texturally, it is polished with crisp acidity and a lingering, earthy/spicy finish. (ES)

86 Cattail Creek Cabernet Merlot Creek Series, Four Mile Creek ($14.95)

This solid value combination of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot reveals a bouquet of cassis, raspberry, tobacco smoke and vanilla on a light to medium bodied frame. Tannins are soft, and there is admirable richness and persistency. Drink over the next 2 years. (ES)

USA

90 Treana Marsanne/Viognier 2010, Central Coast ($29.95)

This Rhone inspired blend of equal parts Marsanne and Viognier has been treated to some new oak. Peaches macerated in honey, pineapple, marmalade, fig, cream, spice, vanilla. It is full bodied with excellent length and more acidity than previous vintages due to the cooler growing conditions in 2010. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)

87 Liberty School Chardonnay 2011, Central Coast ($18.95)

This is a relatively oaky Chard, but not overdone. The cream, vanilla and spice of the wood meet up with pineapple, banana, golden delicious apple and citrus of the grape. The palate is creamy, with lowish acidity and just a dash of residual sugar. This is a tailor made for parties, get-togethers or simply for sipping. (ES)

 

August 2013 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

91 Tawse Quarry Road Vineyards Gewürztraminer 2012, Vinemount Ridge ($24.95)

The peachy/yellow colour heralds the cold cream, mango, apricot, mango, rose, grapefruit and spice. The palate is ripe, round, intense and shows pleasant acidity, providing relief from any heaviness. The finish is long with a light sweetness. Pick your choice of Asian cuisine to enjoy with this beauty. (ES)

90 Tawse Lenko Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, Beamsville Bench ($44.95)

This is a one shot release from the good folks at Tawse. Made from the oldest Chardonnay planting in Ontario (1959), this wine exudes pineapple, peach, golden delicious apple and honey. There is a small kiss of oak which also compliments, rather than overwhelms. The lengthy finish is supported by crisp acidity. Get it while you can as there are only 4200 bottles in existence. (ES)

89 Southbrook Whimsy! “Sirugue” Chardonnay 2011, Niagara ($34.95)

Intense pear, apple, cream, spice, floral and vanilla hits the nose. On the taste buds, there is much the same, as well as spice, excellent length, creaminess and refreshing acidity. Drink now or over the next 3 years. (ES)

89 Coyote’s Run Red Paw Chardonnay 2012, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)

All the pieces are here: fruit, oak, concentration and acid, but the wine is disjointed and requires another year to integrate. Flavour-wise there is peach, pear, flint, honey, anise and caramel. The palate is creamy with a lengthy aftertaste. Hold until 2014 and then drink until 2018. (ES)

88 Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, Niagara ($24.95)

This soft Chard is drinking beautifully right now, what with all of its peach, cream, spice, yeast, floral and pineapple qualities on the nose. The palate adds some caramel qualities as well as refreshing acidity, making for a perfect partner with lobster in butter or grilled salmon. (ES)

88 Tawse Sketches Riesling 2012, Niagara ($17.95)

This vintage of Sketches Riesling features lime, green apple, powdered candies, honey, peach and minerals. The perception is that of a dry wine due to the tightrope balance between acidity and residual sugar. There is very good length and it is ready to drink. (ES)

87 Redstone Vineyards Brickyard Riesling 2012, Niagara ($13.95)

Brickyard is Maury Tawse’s new winery venture, just down the street from his namesake winery.  There is a pale straw colour and a bouquet of mineral, lime, bergamot, peach, candied orange peel and white flowers. The palate is slim with lots of mineral, peach, lime and honey lingering on the finish. I should also mention that there is 18g/l of residual sugar, but because of the elevated acidity, the presence is that of a dry wine. (ES)

Red

88 Tollgate Merlot 2010, Niagara ($24.95)

Tollgate is a mid-range label from Stratus. This 14.9% Merlot is dolled up in lots of new oak and will appeal to those who like woodier attributes. Full bodied, there is considerable concentration and lots of mocha, smoke, plum, cherry, spice and hints of herbs. There is decent length, but the tannins are assertive, so my suggestion is to drink over the next 5 years with a nice cut of prime meat. (ES)

Italy

92 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Scarone Vigna Veccia 2010, Piedmont ($80)

Sourced from 90 year old vines, this 2.5 acre tract of land produces some of the most intense Barbera you will ever come across. Aged for 10 months in new oak, it greets the taster with a saturated purple colour and alluring bouquet of cassis, cherry jam, raspberry jam, earth, cocoa and spice. In the mouth, there is added nuances of blueberry. There is fantastic length and concentration, but no sense of heaviness due to Barbera’s naturally high acidity. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

92 Paolo Scavino Monvigliero Barolo 2008, Piedmont ($75)

This is a “softer” style of Barolo with a mix of cherry, tar, plum, roses, spice and mint layered on a medium bodied frame. The flavours linger long on the finish, and with the firm tannins, I would suggest holding for a couple of more years and then drink until 2027. (ES)

France

88 Chateau Moncotour Jovly Cabernet Franc Chinon 2010, Loire ($13.95)

This Cabernet Franc over delivers for its pay grade. The deep ruby colour leads the way into a cornucopia or raspberry, cassis, cherry, violets and cocoa. The palate is ripe and concentrated, with none of that overt herbaceousness found in some Francs. The finish is long, and the soft tannins make for a wine that is ready to drink now or over the next 2 years.  At this price, a case purchase is mandatory. (ES)

Italy

88 San Savino Picus Rosso Piceno Superiore 2010, Marche ($15.95)

This mid weight blend of 60% Montepulciano and 40% Sangiovese from the Marche region delivers up cherry, plum, potpourri, roasted herbs and hints of vanilla. The aftertaste is long with some warmth. Drink over the next 3 years with eggplant parmesan or a sausage laden pizza. (ES)

South Africa

91 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2011, Hemel-en-Arde WO ($32.95)

Hemel-en-Arde (Heaven on Earth) is a cool climate enclave in the Western Cape region. The combination of cool influence and nine months of oak aging has helped to produce an elegant Chard with a deep yellow colour and a bouquet of pineapple, spice, buttered popcorn, spice and peach compote. Full malolactic was done, so the palate is creamy, with added nuances of apple and citrus. Drink over the next 3 years.

As a side note, while rating this wine, I received news that Tim Hamilton Russell, the man who pioneered the first plantings and winery (namesake) in Hemel-en-Arde had passed away. He was a true visionary and a staunch advocate of South Africa’s transformation from quantity to quality. RIP. (ES)

United States

93 Kistler Vinehill Vineyard Chardonnay 2010, Russian River Valley ($89.95)

Deep minerals, pear, candied apple, fig, tropical fruits and vanilla exude from the glass. In the mouth, it is rich with a combination of cream and acidity working behind the fruit flavours.  The full body and awesome aftertaste make for an absolute joy to drink. (ES)

 


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Wine Facts

To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.