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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.



April 2012 Wine Ratings

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California

91 Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Napa ($29.95)

This SB exemplifies the new style which California is now becoming known for: crisp, fruit driven and food versatile. Melon, grapefruit, minerals, tropical fruit and asparagus are all in the mix. The long finale makes for a great partner with a beet, olive oil and quinoa salad or pan seared chili crusted scallops. (ES)

Canada

White

94 Château des Charmes Riesling Icewine Paul Bosc Estate 2009, St. Davids Bench ($65)
Liquid Ambrosia! This vintage offers superb concentration and sweetness, and is balanced by the tangy acidity.  It is full bodied with the peach and apricot preserves, honey, pineapple, apple sauce, mineral and lime lingering forever on the finale. Forget the notion of dessert, just pour yourself a glass and enjoy this majestic tipple. (ES)

91 Stratus Gewürztraminer 2010, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($32)
Stratus has scored big with this Gewürztraminer. It is classic textbook with a sensual nose of peach, mango, rose, honey, spice, cold cream and pineapple. Rich in the mouth, the fruit, flowers and spice reverberate on the long finale. Unusual to the varietal there is excellent acidity. A tip of the chapeau to JL Groulx for his finest rendition to date! (ES)

91 GreenLane Estate Winery Old Vines Riesling, Lincoln Lakeshore ($29.95)
The regular Riesling from GreenLane won gold at Cuvée, and as impressive as it is, my money is on their OV bottling, made from 22 year old vines. Dry, there is mineral, lime, bergamot and apples layered on zesty acidity. Kudos to this small winery in Beamsville for the quality they are churning out. (ES)

90 Stratus White Meritage  2009, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($48)
Explosive to say the least! Even though it is almost equal parts Sauv Blanc and Semillon, it is the SB component which dominates the nose in the form of green plums, fruit salad, passion fruit and asparagus. The Sémillon controls the mouth with its honey, pineapple and spice. Add in some toast and yeast qualities and what you have is a multi-dimensional wine which is one of Ontario’s finest White Meritages. (ES)

89 Stratus White 2008, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($44)
For the number lovers out there, this vintage contains 37% Chardonnay, 28% Sémillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% each of Gewürztraminer and Viognier. The toast, peach, lanolin, honey, spice and vanilla on the nose mesh with apple, citrus and rose water on the palate. There is refreshing acidity and some heat on the finale. (ES)

89 Stratus Viognier 2009, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($38)
This rendition captures the exotic notes found in a Condrieu, but it is definitely Canadian in its cool climate mouthfeel. Aromas of banana, peach juice, papaya, white flowers, yogurt and hints of blueberry flow into an elegant texture, with fresh acidity and a lengthy aftertaste. (ES)

88 Stratus Sémillon 2009, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($38)
There are not too many single varietal Semies in Ontario, and this one requires heat and a long hang time. To ensure ripeness, in 09, Stratus picked their grapes on December 3rd! It may not be as blousy as some Aussie versions, but it is definitely emblematic with all of its apricot, wax, lanolin, honey and spice qualities. The acidity and very good length make for an appealing bottle of wine. (ES)

Red

91 Ravine Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, St. Davids Bench ($37)
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is an impressive backward wine that requires another 2 years in the bottle before being enjoyed. The nose is still a tad shy at this early stage, but cassis, black raspberries, menthol, plums, cherries, spice and cocoa are discernible. Medium to full bodied, the tannins are distinct and strong, so when the time arises, serve it with some medium rare steak with a char on the outside. Drink  it from 2014 to 2021. (ES)

91 Ravine Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Franc Picone Vineyard 2010, Vinemount Ridge ($40)
The Vinemount appellation might be better known for Riesling production, but there is no denying the quality of this wine. Mid weight, it starts with red berry fruits: cherries, strawberries and raspberries. This is followed by graphite, herbs, cassis, violets and spice. The tannins are ripe and well integrated, allowing for immediate drinkability, and it will continue to improve over the next 7 years.(ES)

90 Colaneri Insieme 2009, Niagara ($34.95)
This appassimento blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot won the best red blend category at this year’s Cuvée gala. Medium to full bodied, it is concentrated, churning out black pepper, cherries, earth, cassis and licorice. Suave tannins complement everything. (ES)

90 Fielding Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010, Niagara ($21.95)
Fielding was one of the victors at this year’s Cuvee awards, taking home three gold medals. For my money, it is this Cabernet Franc which offers the best bang for the buck.  The dark cherry colour leads into a profile of cassis, raspberries, smoky herbs and violets, which are layered on a medium body. The supple tannins and excellent length gives the wine staying power. Drink it now or until 2018. A tip of the chapeau to winemaker, Richie Roberts! (ES)

89 Ravine Vineyard Meritage 2010, St. Davids Bench ($25)
This blend of 50% Merlot and equal parts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon dishes out a perfume of menthol, cherries, plums, licorice and vanilla. The texture is round and significant tannins encompass the flavorful aftertaste.  Drink it until 2018. (ES)

88 Stratus Red 2008, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($44)
Two thousand and eight was certainly not an undemanding red wine vintage in Ontario. That being said, Stratus has pulled off a minor miracle with their signature red. Cherry, plum, licorice, bell pepper/mint, cocoa and spice swirl around a core of supple tannins. It is ready to drink now or over the next 3 years. (ES)

Chile

87 Santa Alicia Carmènere Reserva 2010, Maipo Valley ($11.95)
This red is a great value for under $12. A dark cherry colour summons the plum, mint, Worchester sauce, steak spice, vanilla, smoke and violets. It is soft and easy drinking with slight heat from the 14% alcohol that presents itself on the finish. (ES)
 

February 2012 Wine Ratings

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White

91 Cave Spring Cellars Riesling Icewine 2008, Niagara ($49.95)
This is always one of the top Riesling Icewines in Ontario! A nose of smokey minerals, peach jam, lime cordial, honey and flowers meet up with grapefruit on the palate. Great concentration, aftertaste and acidity will ensure a decade of aging, but there is no need to wait, as there is immediate gratification to be had. (ES)

90 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2010, Niagara ($17.95)
This great value Riesling starts off with a pale green yellow colour and then follows with significant minerals, smoke, lime cordial, bergamot, peach and yellow apple. Although it is light bodied,  it is oh so flavorful, with just a drop of residual sugar offering a counterpoint to the tangy acidity. The length is excellent. A perfect pairing may be found with either spicy sushi or braised pork with an apple-onion compote. (ES)

90 Cave Spring Cellars Blanc de Blancs CSV 2004, Beamsville Bench ($39.95)
For lovers of mature attributes in their bubblies, you will go crazy for this beauty!  Having aged an unheard of (for Ontario) 70 months on the lees, this vintage Chardonnay serves up a bouquet of brioche, toast, brown  butter, caramel, hazelnut and honey. The texture is creamy and the finish long with minerals and citrus adding an extra dimension. It easily bests many pricier Champagnes! (ES)

90 Vineland Estates Vidal Icewine 2010, Niagara ($42)
Here is my sweetheart from this year’s Icewine Gala! The deep yellow colour ushers in candied peaches, dried apricots, sponge toffee, figs and mangos. Full bodied, the fruit just lingers on the tongue, and the acid is just right. (ES)

90 Riverview Cellars Buona Notte Icewine 2009, Niagara ($99.95)
Riverview has crafted a singular Icewine blend of two thirds Vidal and one third Riesling. The latter was also botrytis affected. Partially barrel fermented/ aged, the nose of peach jam, spice, mushrooms, wax, honey, lime and lanolin is also found on the taste buds. The flavours are lasting and offset by constant acidity. (ES)

89 Tawse Wismer Vineyard Riesling Lakeview Block 2010, Twenty Mile Bench ($24.95)
This Riesling possesses a bit more weight than the Sketches, but is not as long on the taste buds. The colour, once again, is a pale green/yellow, and a profile of minerals, peach, Asian pear and lanolin resonate on the nose and palate. (ES)

89 Henry of Pelham Reserve Off-Dry Riesling 2009 ($15.95)
This is a great follow up to the fabulous 08 Reserve. It is light to medium body with a punchy nose of lime, lemon peel, minerals, grapefruit and peach. The length and acidity work as one, making for a long and tangy finish. (ES)

89 Fielding Estate Vidal Icewine 2009, Niagara ($22.95/200ml)
Peaches studded with cloves, ginger, apples and tropical fruit are all part of this well priced Vidal Icewine. It is not overpowering. Rather it is both elegant and well defined, carrying its sweetness and acidity in tandem. (ES)

89 Konzelmann Estate Riesling Icewine 2008, Niagara ($58)
This Riesling is starting to show mature petrol aromas, which intersect with dried apricots, golden raisins, flowers, honey and lime zest. Delicate and flavorful, the aftertaste hangs around for a while, while the crisp acidity frames everything. (ES)

88 Cave Spring Cellars Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2010, Beamsville Bench ($18.95)
There is more weight to this wine than in past vintages, thanks to the heat of 2010. Smoke, cream, vanilla, banana, citrus, spice and hints of pineapple work as one, both on the nose as well as with the lengthy aftertaste. It is elegant with just the right amount of acid. (ES)

88 Cave Spring Cellars Dry Riesling 2010, Niagara ($14.95)
Normally, my preference, when it comes to Cave’s entry Rieslings, is for their off-dry version. But in 2010, my taste leans to their dry rendition. Petrol, the dominant quality, is accompanied by bergamot, lime and minerals. Acidity is present, but not overpowering, making for a refreshing summer sipper. (ES)

88 Cave Spring Cellars Chenin Blanc 2009, Beamsville Bench ($17.95)
This offering is an off dry Chenin, along the lines of a ripe Vouvray Demi-Sec. Light yellow in colour, there is golden delicious apple, mango, wet wool, minerals, citrus and honey which are supported by the crisp acidity. Pair it with goat cheese and asparagus stuffed crepes, or scallops in a Dijon cream sauce. (ES)

Red

90 Tawse Cabernet Franc Icewine 2010, Niagara ($34.95)
Crème de cassis, raspberry liqueur, strawberry jam, allspice and a slight herbal undertone make for a pleasing red Icewine. The acidity relieves any heaviness and the red and dark fruits echo on the great aftertaste. (ES)

89 Tawse Growers Blend Cabernet Franc 2009, Niagara ($26.95)
Tawse has turned in an impressive array of Francs in 2009. This mid weight wine is absolutely delicious with complexity presenting itself in the form of cassis, raspberries, violets, dark cocoa, tobacco, herbs and spice. It is ripe with good concentration and supple tannins on the great finish. Serve with a pappardelle and veal ragout or an herb scented leg of lamb. (ES)

89 Between the Lines Cabernet Franc Icewine 2009, Niagara ($39.95)
The strawberry, guava, spice, thyme in honey, raisins, dried flowers and blackcurrant are the crux of the sweetie. Mid weight and refined, the dark and red fruits carry the lengthy aftertaste. (ES)
 

January 2012 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

92 Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris 2010, Niagara Lakeshore
Winemaker, Gord Roberts, has stepped out of the shadow of his predecessor, the famed Jim Warren, and is producing compelling wines at Stoney Ridge. This Pinot Gris is a dead ringer for a top Alsatian version. Full bodied and dry, there are mega amounts of peach, flower, smoke, vanilla, cream, spice and honey. Rounding out the experience is a creamy texture and superb aftertaste. (ES)

92 Stoney Ridge Excellence Barrel Fermented Gewurztraminer Icewine 2009, Niagara ($70)
What a wowser of an Icewine! The bright yellow/golden colour heralds the huge nose of guava, peach compote, buckwheat honey, dried apricots, dried roses, apple sauce and spice. Full bodied with considerable richness, this wine is ready to drink now, preferably with blue cheeses or foie gras. (ES)

91 Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling, Niagara ($16.95)
I have tasted all of CDC’s Rieslings since 1992, and I can say, unequivocally, this edition is their finest, of this varietal, to date. Medium bodied, the explosive nose is starting to show some age in the form of petrol, which couples with the white peach, apricot, mineral, honey, lime cordial and white flowers. Lightly off dry, crisp acidity and a length finish round out the picture. It should age well for another 4 or 5 years. (ES)

91 Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc Kasper Vineyard 2010, Niagara Lakeshore ($30)
A quarter of this wine was barrel fermented and barrel aged, giving a vanilla and spice slant to the floral, honey, lime, mint, gooseberry and fruit salad qualities of the grape. Full bodied, the great depth and long finish are supported by crisp acidity. It is a worthy successor to the great 2009 rendering. (ES)

90 Inniskillin Legacy Riesling 2010, Niagara ($30)
This is the second Legacy Riesling to have been produced. The previous one was in 2008. Like its predecessor, it is a full bodied white with loads of peach, honey, lime and minerals, but the acid is softer due to the heat of 2010.The finale is long and fruit driven. Beautiful stuff indeed! (ES)

88 Stoney Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Niagara ($17)
Strong aromas of passion fruit, grapefruit, gooseberries, grass, minerals and honey just keep on coming. In the mouth, minerals, citrus and grapefruit dance with the medium body and sound acid. There is very good length and it is ready to drink. (ES)

87 Reif Estate Winery Gewürztraminer Riesling, Niagara River ($14.95)
The medium yellow colour leads into a nose of peache, lychee, cold cream, roses, honey and cardamom. In the mouth, it is dry, with the acidity of the Riesling acting as a backstop to the candied pineapple and ginger flavours. Serve it with prawns in a coconut curry sauce or pad thai. (ES)

87 Kacaba Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2009, Niagara Escarpment ($14.95)
This is a pure expression of Chardonnay: green apple, pear, peach, gooseberries and anise. Light to medium body, there is fresh acid and a green apple finale. (ES)

Red

90 Stoney Ridge Excellence Cabernet Franc 2009, Twenty Mile Bench
The grapes for the wine were sourced from the Fox Croft Vineyard; one of the top three for Cabernet Franc in the Niagara Peninsula. The dark cherry colour heralds a bouquet of cassis, smoke, violets, graphite, herbs and vanilla. Medium to full body, there is pronounced acidity and tannins, ensuring a long life ahead. Hold it until 2013 and then enjoy it until 2020.(ES)

88 Reif Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010, Niagara River ($19.95)
From the fabulous 2010 vintage comes this Franc, which possess a deep cherry colour. Plums, cassis, dark cherries, tobacco, smoke and black pepper are layered on a medium body. Elegantly styled, the flavours carry long on the finish, while the tannins ensure at least 4 years of longevity. Pair it with herb and olive oil marinated grilled pork chops and sautéed Swiss chard or vegetarian lasagna. (ES)

88 Angels Gate V, Niagara ($50)
This singular wine is a blend of five different wines from five different vintages: 2002 to 2006.The colour is still youthful, but the nose is starting to show some mature ceder qualities which melds with the plums, dried cherries, earth, dark cocoa and spice. The tannins have melted and the acid is fresh, making for a wine thath is ready to drink with braised lamb shanks in a rosemary/red wine jus. (ES)

87 Stoney Ridge Simply Red Cabernet Merlot, Niagara ($13.95)
Stoney Ridge’s lifestyle red is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. The medium cherry colour leads into a nose of spice, herbs, cassis, raspberries and flowers. Soft, smooth and easy drinking is its mantra. (ES)

87 Kacaba Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Niagara Escarpment ($18.95)
This Cab is still tight and requires another year in bottle before showing its full potential. That being said, mocha, spice, cassis, coffee, plum and herbs are all in the mix. Very good length and firm tannins round everything out. Serve it with grilled rosemary scented lamb chops. (ES)

California

88 Sledgehammer Zinfandel 2009, Napa ($17.95)
The name is very apropos as the wine just hits the senses with 15.1% alcohol, a mélange of dark and red fruits and gobs of new oak. Jammy, a touch of sweetness and very good length make for a hedonistic bottle of juice. (ES)

87 Sledgehammer Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast ($19.95)
Here is a commercial Cab with blackcurrant, blackberry and plum fruit swirling around a core of oak influenced spice and cocoa. Medium plus length and somewhat firm tannins make this a solid steak wine. (ES)
 

December 2011 Wine Ratings

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Argentina

Red

89 Trivento Amado Sur 2009 ($15)
This delicious blend of 73% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 12% Syrah offers great value. A combination of plums, blueberries, raspberries, black pepper, flowers, chocolate and espresso are layered on a plush, yet smooth frame. Lengthy aftertaste.  Drink now, or over the next three years, with grilled rib eye. (ES)

Canada

White

92 Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2009, Twenty Mile Bench ($65)
Le Grand Clos is Jordanne’s top Chardonnay, with a price tag to match. Medium to full bodied, there is super balance: the extract/concentration, oak, acid and alcohol mesh together beautifully. Its flavour is succulent, with ripe apple fruit, lemon, toast, vanilla, slight tropical notes and a beguiling backbone of minerals. The persistency is gratifying. It puts many a great Burgundy to shame. (ES)

92 Mission Hill Riesling Icewine Reserve 2010, Okanagan ($59.90)
Here is a delightful Icewine which possesses incredible sweetness as well as incredible acidity. Honey, golden raisins, pineapples in syrup and lime cordial flatter the senses. The long finish is so gratifying. (ES)

90 Stoney Ridge Excellence Chardonnay 2009, Niagara ($32)
Stoney Ridge continues to churn out excellent white wines from their 2009 ‘Excellence’ line. First up was the Pinot Gris (91pts), then the Sauvignon Blanc (90 pts), and now, this oaked Chardonnay. Full bodied, it serves up tropical fruit, cream, vanilla, hazelnut, spice and green apple. Rounding everything out is the refreshing acidity and great length. Drink over the next four years. Pair with a butternut squash risotto topped with butter poached lobster. (ES)

Red

90 Le Clos Jordanne Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir, Twenty Mile Bench ($45)
This medium cherry coloured Pinot is aromatically pleasing, with smoke, tobacco, truffle, porcini mushroom, spice, rose, cherry and plum. The velvety texture, supple tannins, fresh acid and excellent length make it an appealing experience. (ES)

88 Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Noir 2009, Niagara ($35)
Here is a smooth drinking Pinot Noir with a flattering bouquet of black cherries, dark fruits, flowers, mushrooms and smoke. The finish is built on graceful tannins and fresh acidity. Pair it with prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin in a mushroom/thyme sauce. (ES)

Greece

88 Boutari Moschofilero 2010, Mantinia ($11.95)
Moschofilero has become Greece’s aromatic gem, much the way Albarino has been for Spain. Every vintage, this wine offers has exceptional value. The current release charms with aromas of peach, apricot, orange blossom, spice and honey. Although dry, there is very good length and crisp apple acidity. It is a must discovery! (ES)

Italy

White

92 Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala 2009, Umbria IGT ($54.95)
From a warm year comes this blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Grechetto.  A medium yellow colour  leads the way into a combination of toast, pineapple, red apples, canned corn and licorice.  There is excellent length, a creamy texture and it is ready to drink. (ES)

90 Tenuta Guado al Tasso Vermentino 2010, Bolgheri ($20)
This is the best Vermentino that has ever crossed my lips. The aromatic mélange of white peach, banana, lime, grapefruit, minerals and green apple is built on a medium to full bodied frame. The palate is concentrated with excellent length and bright acidity. Grilled sea bass drizzled with olive oil and herbs will be a divine match. (ES)

Red

94 Antinori Guado al Tasso 2007, Bolgheri Superiore ($89.95)
This wine possesses a left bank nose of pencil shavings, smoke, tobacco/herbs, cassis, vanilla, roasted morello cherry and plums. It is full bodied, ripe, concentrated and elegant with superb length and tannins to allow 15 years of aging gracefully. It is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. (ES)

94 Antinori Solaia 2008, Tuscany IGT ($249.95)
The 08 Solaia is indeed an impressive wine, chock full of aromas of plums, vanilla, violets, herbs, graphite and balsamic reduction. In the mouth, nuances of cocoa and spice add more complexity. It is full bodied with a ripe palate, substantial tannins and great length. Drink until 2030. (ES)

94 Castello di Ama L’Apparita 2007, Tuscany IGT ($164.95)
L’Apparita is one of Tuscany’s top two Merlots (the other is Masseto). Full bodied, the plums, dark cherries, raspberries, flowers and milk chocolate are built on an elegant, yet structured frame. The long aftertaste just keeps on pumping out the fruit. Hold it until 2015, as it is still not showing its full potential, then drink it until 2030. (ES)

92  Antinori Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2009, Bolgheri  ($29.95)
Il Bruciato is the second wine of Guado al Tasso, but, trust me, there is nothing second class about it. This  black wine , a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah is complex, with layers of plums,  black cherries, blackcurrants, vanilla, cinnamon and mocha. Full bodied and hearty, the finish just carries on. It wil drink well over the next decade. Charred T- bone steaks or beef carpaccio are the best matches. (ES)

92 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Vigneto Bellavista 2007, Tuscany ($164.95)
This CC from Ama offers a significant nose of humus, cherries, cassis, raspberries, mocha, licorice and coffee. Medium to full bodied, the  firm tannins and fresh acid ensure at least 15 years of longevity. (ES)

91 Castello di Ama L’Apparita 2008, Tuscany IGT ($164.95)
Not as profound as the 07, this edition is still a well built and flavorful Merlot. Mint, graphite, plums, cherries, raspberries, earth, spice and herbs reveal themselves on both the nose and palate. There is a long finish with enough structure to last 20 years. (ES)

91 Antinori Tignanello 2008, Tuscany IGT ($99.95)
The 08 Tignanello is more linear than the richer 07. Toast, graphite, morello cherry, humus, cassis, mocha and a slight herbal edge are supported by Sangiovese’s acidity and Cabernet Sauvignon’s tannins. It will age well for a decade. (ES)

90 Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, Tuscany ($43.95)
The 07 Chinati is a 100% Sangiovese with a perfume of cherries, violets, humus, licorice and spice. The palate emulates the nose, and the fresh acid and medium body round out the experience. Drink it from 2013 to 2020. (ES)
 

September 2011 Wine Ratings

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Canada

White

90 Thirty Bench Winemakers Small Lot Riesling “Triangle Vineyard” 2010, Beamsville Bench ($30)
Of all of Thirty Bench’s Riesling in 2010, this is my favorite.  It serves up a bouquet of minerals, peach, lime, grapefruit and a touch of honey. Light to medium body, there is dash of residual sugar, but it is definitely on the dry side. The excellent length and crisp acid round out the mix. (ES)

89 13th Street Winery June’s Vineyard Riesling 2010, Niagara ($17.95)
Most Riesling in Ontario is made from the Germanic Weiss 21B clone, which tends to produce wines which are more mineral driven. In the case of this wine, it was produced from the Alsatian clone 49, which has given more of a tropical dimension to the wine- peach compote and passion fruit meet up  grapefruit and lime. Beautiful persistency and a refreshing backbone complete the wine. (ES)

88 13th Street Winery 13 Below Zero NV ($19.95)
This singular wine is a blend of 2008 Riesling Icewine and the dry 2009 June’s Vineyard Riesling. Medium sweet (think Auslese), the perfume of peach jam, flowers, honeycomb, spice beguiles the senses. A lengthy finish and superb acid give symmetry. (ES)

88 Soutbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2009, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($21.95)
Hand harvested, barrel fermented with indigenous yeast, and then aged for 13 months in a combination of French and American oak is the recipe used to produce this medium bodied wine. The nose of  pineapple, honey, white peach and vanilla gives way to a palate of spice and minerals. The length is very good with fresh acid rounding out the experience.  (ES)

88 Thirty Bench Winemakers Small Lot Chardonnay 2009, Beamsville Bench ($30)
This Chardonnay shows a very Meursault nose of hazelnut, honey, spice, pineapple and green apple. Mid weight, there is a creamy texture, crisp acid and a spicy finish. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)

87 Rosehall Run Cuvée County Chardonnay  2009, Prince Edward County ($21.95)
PEC’s limestone soils translate into a backbone of minerality for this wine, which supports the toast, vanilla, pear, cream and nutmeg. A medium body, crisp acidity and very good length make for a wine well suited for veal medallions in a dijon/cream sauce. (ES)

85 Southbrook Vineyards Connect White 2010, Ontario ($15)
I am usually standoffish about dry Vidal, but this wine was a pleasant surprise. Off dry, it serves up peach, Asian pear, spice and citrus. Refreshing and easy drinking is its mantra. (ES)

Red

90 Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2009, Ontario ($24.95)
Without a doubt, HOP’s Reserve Baco is constantly Ontario’s best! This vintage, a worthy successor to the superb 07, is a concentrated offering full of raspberries, blackberries, mocha, espresso, spice and game. Typical hybrid acidity and supple tannins backstop the fabulous finish. Drink over the next 5 years, preferably with duck rillettes or a pork terrine. (ES)

88 Southbrook Vineyards Whimsy! Winemakers’ Red 2008, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($35)
By no means was 08 an easy red wine vintage in Ontario, but Ann Sperling and her team have pulled of a minor miracle. I credit this to the biodynamic practices which are in place at the Southbrook. This blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 26% Franc possesses a deep cherry color and a profile of plums, tobacco smoke, spice, flowers, vanilla and pencil shavings. Medium body and elegantly styled, there are some noticeable tannins. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Southbrook Vineyards Whimsy! Cabernet Franc 2008, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($35)
Here is an aromatically enticing Franc with a bouquet of cassis, bell pepper, peppermint, violets , vanilla and earth. The palate emulates the nose and the soft texture makes it amiable to grilled calves liver in a mushroom sauce. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Gamay Noir 2010, Niagara ($19.95)
Always one of Niagara’s best Gamays!  Still youthful, it possesses a combination of prunes, raspberries, tobacco leaf and black pepper. Fresh acid, soft tannins and a juicy mid palate make this bottling a perfect candidate for grilled marinated quail or herb marinated roast pork. (ES)

88 13thStreet Winery Merlot 2010, Niagara ($17.95)
This soft and approachable Merlot is all about the fruit, as it hasn’t been touched by any oak. Mid weight, the plum, cherry, tobacco leaf, menthol and mocha are supported by supple tannins and sound acid. (ES)

85 Southbrook Vineyards Connect Red 2008, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($15)
This red companion to the Connect White is a quaffable mix of cassis, herbs, cherries and pepper. Soft tannins and an easy drinking personality add to the allure. (ES)

France

92 Domaine Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2009 ($175)
Still extremely youthful, this wine requires another couple of years in bottle to come together. A bouquet of smokey minerals, pear, apple, spice and white peaches meet up with an extremely spicy palate. There is a long finish to say the least.  Drink from 2015 until 2021. (ES)

90 Domaine Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2006 ($165)
Even though it is now five years old, this wine is still very much youthful, a testament to the age ability of great Burgundy. A bouquet of minerals, toast, vanilla, cream, licorice and apple leads into a creamy mouthful of apples and nuts. Excellent length, it should be imbibed over the next decade.

90 Domaine Roux Père et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet les Chaumes 1er Cru 2009 ($38.95)
A 1er cru for under $40!  Buy it as is it is a no brainer. Ripe, it is medium bodied with vanilla, apple, citrus, minerals and stone fruit qualities. The length is excellent and it is ready to go.

90 Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Grand Charrons 2008 ($42.95)
This elegant Meursault is all about flowers, smoke, baked apples, pear, stone fruit and vanilla. Acids are firm, so hold until 2013 and drink until 2018.

90 Domaine Saumaize-Michel Pouilly-Fuisse La Roche 2009 ($30)
This is the best Pouilly-Fuissé I have ever tasted! From steep slopes, this full bodied Chardonnay is endowed with a perfume of apples, licorice, spice, minerals and pear. The same is found on the taste buds. The creamy texture and great length make for a delicious bottling. I also had the chance to try the 1991 side by side with this wine at the winery. At twenty years of age, it was still alive and kicking. Truly impressive!

89 Domaine de La Soufrandière Mâcon-Vinzelles Clos Grand-Père 2009 ($39.55)
The biodynamic wine is made from vines which average 50 years of age (some are even 100 years), and without any oak. Apples, white flowers, vanilla, licorice and minerals are layered on a full bodied and creamy frame. Added nuances of apricot and spice make their appearance on the finale.

88 Domaine de La Soufrandière Pouilly-Vinzelles 2009 ($38.25)
Apple, mineral, spice and white peach mesh into a rich and creamy texture.  There is very good length, with a mineral core right down the middle. 5 years of life ahead.

88 Domaine Roux Père et Fils Saint-Aubin Les Cortons 1er Cru 2009 ($41.90)
Mineral, vanilla, apple and spice come together on both the palate and nose. It is mid weight, with very good length and refreshing acidity. Drink now to 2015.

88 Blason de Bourgogne Saint-Véran 2009 ($20.95)
Light yellow colour, this SV delivers the goods in the form of melon, citrus, spice, banana and tropical fruits. Fine persistency and a certain softness make for a wine that is ready drink.

87 Domaine de La Vougeraie Côte de Beaune Les Pierres Blanches 2008 ($35.50)
This Côte de Beaune has been amped up with the use of new oak. Hazelnut, toast, apple, pear and spice are built on a light to medium bodied frame. Acid borders on nervy, so pick some rich creamy dishes to pair up with.

85 Louis Latour Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009 ($16.45)
Here is a basic Bourgogne why is upfront and accessible. Smokey minerals, apple and citrus work in tandem on the light bodied frame. Drink now.

Italy

90 Vie de Romans Chardonnay 2008, Friuli Isonzo ($49.95)
My tag line for this wine is Italy meets Chablis. This stainless steel fermented Chardonnay is mineral driven with accents of apple and citrus. Crisp acid and excellent length make for a wine that is ideally suited for white fish, marinated anchovies or sashimi. (ES)

89 Tenuta Mosole Chardonnay 2010, Veneto ($19.95)
This unoaked Chardonnay impresses with its purity of fruit. The ripe aromas of white peach, honey and flowers, flow into a mouth full of apple, citrus and mineral. There is delightful concentration and persistency. I paired this with eggs benedict and it was sublime. (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.