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)