Written by: Evan Saviolidis

If you’ve ever walked into the LCBO, only to stand confused in the wine section because there are so many different options, this is a great place to start! Evan Saviolidis, one of Niagara’s leading wine experts, gives us some insight into some of our local Niagara Wines.

Evan’s Wine Ratings: The 100 Point Scale

95-100 = Outstanding
90-94 = Excellent
85-89 = Very Good
80-84 = Good
75-79 = Drinkable
70 & Under = Below Average

 

WHITE:

92 – Trius Vidal Icewine 2015, Niagara ($54)

This is the first vintage of this wine not to be aged in old wood, thus imbuing it with a more fruit driven, fresher personality. Honey, sponge toffee, brined olive, peach compote, pink grapefruit and apple juice. Long sweet finale with lovely acidity. (ES)

91 – Pondview Vidal Icewine 2014, Niagara ($49.95/375ml)

This award-winning stickie inundates then palate with honey, peach, pineapple, lemon, lime, smoke and pear. Excellent length and perfect by itself or with a vanilla cheesecake. (ES)

90 – Reif Estate Winery The Stars Sparkling Riesling, Ontario ($21.95)

A perfect bubbly to ring in the new year with! Made in the Charmat Method, there is a lifted bouquet of white flowers, tangerine, banana, peach and honey. This leads to a mouthful of sweet apple flavours accented by cinnamon and lime. It is off-dry with crisp acidity and bubbles providing symmetry. Excellent length and ready to drink. (ES)

90 – Magnotta Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay NV, Niagara ($19.95)

Off-dry, this Chardonnay bubbly was made in the traditional method and thus displays some toast/yeasty notes alongside, apple, citrus, and honey. Rather weighty, the palate adds spicy/tropical notes. Excellent length. (ES)

89 – Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Chardonnay 2014, St. David’s Bench ($19.95)

Offers up a lot of flavour for the price, notably from the oak spectrum. Cream, vanilla, apple, pear, spice and roasted nuts are built on a medium body. Lovely acidity and length. Pair with seabass topped with a beurre blanc sauce. (ES)

88 – Redstone Gewürztraminer 2016, Niagara ($21.95)

For a wine that is only 11.5% alcohol, this wine packs quite a punch. There is a slight peach colour which denotes some skin contact. Honey, rose water, anise, cold cream, pink grapefruit are all in play. Off-dry with an extended finale. Serve alongside your favorite spicy cuisine, from Indian to Asian to Mexican.

89 – Thirty Bench Small Lot Gewürztraminer 2015, Beamsville Bench ($30)

A textbook Gewürztraminer! An explosion of lychee, rose, honey, cardamom, sweet peach and vanilla. It is dry with a broad mouthfeel and a long honey/spiced finale. Pair with Munster or other wash rind cheeses. (ES)

88  Pondview Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($17.95)

This Sauvignon Blanc delivers above its pay grade. A huge bouquet of nectarine, guava, passion fruit, poached pear and grapefruit. On the palate, it is dry with fresh acidity and very good length as well as added nuances of lemon balm and minerals. Oyster time! (ES)

89 – Niagara College Teaching Winery Balance Dry Riesling 2015, Niagara ($13.95)

Gold Medal Winner at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards. Aromatic, with copious amounts of lime, apple, bergamot, honey and mineral which carries through onto the extended finale. Pair with ceviche or chilled shellfish. (ES)

87 – Kacaba Summer Series Jennifer’s Pinot Gris 2016, Niagara ($17.95)

Aromatic, there is pear, white peach, jasmine and lime aromas, which combine with flavours of cream and spice on the palate. Dry, with good acidity and medium plus length. (ES).>>

89 – Thirty Bench Small Lot Gewürztraminer 2015, Beamsville Bench ($30)

A textbook Gewürztraminer! An explosion of lychee, rose, honey, cardamom, sweet peach and vanilla. It is dry with a broad mouthfeel and a long honey/spiced finale. Pair with Munster or other wash rind cheeses. (ES)

88 – Pondview Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Niagara ($17.95)

This Sauvignon Blanc delivers above its pay grade. A huge bouquet of nectarine, guava, passion fruit, poached pear and grapefruit. On the palate, it is dry with fresh acidity and very good length as well as added nuances of lemon balm and minerals. Oyster time! (ES)

89 – Niagara College Teaching Winery Balance Dry Riesling 2015, Niagara ($13.95)

Gold Medal Winner at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards. Aromatic, with copious amounts of lime, apple, bergamot, honey and mineral which carries through onto the extended finale. Pair with ceviche or chilled shellfish. (ES)

87 – Kacaba Summer Series Jennifer’s Pinot Gris 2016, Niagara ($17.95)

Aromatic, there is pear, white peach, jasmine and lime aromas, which combine with flavours of cream and spice on the palate. Dry, with good acidity and medium plus length. (ES)

ROSE:

89 – Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2016, Niagara ($16.95)

There is no denying that this wine is consistently one of Ontario’s top Rosés. Mid-weight, there is a salmon colour and a personality of strawberry, rhubarb, cherry, peach, red flowers, herbs and dried earth. Delicate, but lengthy and ideal with sushi. (ES)

RED:

 

92 – Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Speck Family Reserve 2016, Short Hills Bench ($24.95)

This is HOP’s finest Baco Noir to date! Full-bodied, it exudes loads of blackberry, plum, dark cherry, chocolate, vanilla, hickory and baking spice. There is great concentration and density as well as excellent length. Drink until 2023, preferably with braised dishes. (ES)

91 – Two Sisters Cabernet Franc Reserve 2013, Niagara River ($37)

Without a doubt, one of the best reds from the 2013 Vintage, as the combination of low yields and late picking has produced a full-bodied red which pushes 15% alcohol, with a concentrated mid-palate and fabulous length. Quintessential Franc with roasted red pepper, cassis, black raspberry, violets, smoke, black olives and graphite. Drink until 2022. (ES)

91 – Two Sisters Estate Red Reserve 2012, Niagara River ($37)

Another stunning 2012 red from Two Sisters, this one based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a lifted personality of cassis, dark plum, raspberry, vanilla, anise and tobacco smoke. Elegant, with a sweet mid-palate and fine tannins. Drink over the next six years. Fans of Bordeaux will find gravitate to this wine. (ES)

90 – Kacaba Vineyards Winery Terrace Vineyards Syrah 2014, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

This is a powerful, youthful and somewhat backwards Syrah. The colour is inky purple and there is cassis, raspberry, cracked pepper, game, leather, chocolate and oregano. Full-bodied and concentration it should evolve nicely over the next 7 to 8 years. (ES)

90 – Malivoire Stouck Merlot 2014, Lincoln Lakeshore ($40)

A minor miracle for the vintage! Harvested at less than 1 ton per acre, the deep cherry colour with purple highlights leads into a bouquet of dark cherry, plum, oregano, hickory, dill, coconut and cured meats. Full in the mouth with ripe fruit and just a hint of herbaceousness. There is abundant tannin, but I would choose to drink it over next five years. (ES)

89 – Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2016, St. David’s Bench ($17.95)

This wine always more punch than your typical Gamay thanks to the ‘Droit’ clone that CDC discovered almost 20 years ago. Medium to full body, there is plum, cherry, strawberry, raspberry and black pepper qualities. There is enough stuffing here to pair with a porcini crusted pork loin topped with a mushroom demi-glace.

 

89 – Tawse Unfiltered Redfoot Vineyard Gamay 2016, Lincoln Lakeshore ($28.95)

A delightful Gamay with a profile of plum, strawberry, black pepper, dry earth and flowers. A lifted palate and easy tannins make for an excellent match with charcuterie and terrines. (ES)

89 – Redstone Cabernet Franc Redstone Vineyard 2013, Lincoln Lakeshore ($39.95)

A deep ruby colour leads into a bouquet of cassis, plum, tobacco, licorice, herbs, violets and dark cocoa. Fullish, it is concentrated, and the aftertaste lingers. A job well done from a difficult red wine vintage. (ES)

88 – Kacaba Meritage 2015, Niagara ($24.95)

Cherry cola, plum, herbs, vanilla, cocoa, liquorice and herbs work together on a medium plus body. There is a lingering personality and firm tannins. Perfect for winter’s braised dishes! (ES)

88 – Thirty Bench Red 2015, Niagara ($24)

A blend of 75% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. Medium plus body with a bouquet of blackcurrant, cherry, tobacco, baking spice, roasted herbs and vanilla. Very good length and fine-grained tannins. Drink or hold. (ES)

88 – Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah, Twenty Mile Bench ($24.95)

Put this red in a carafe for a half hour and then experience a complex mix of coffee, pepper, earth, blackcurrant, plum, leather, game, vanilla. Mid-weight and ready to go with rosemary and garlic rack of lamb. (ES)

87 – Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($22.95)

A juicy Cabernet Franc, which has a green streak which runs through the cassis, red currant, tobacco, graphite, violets and spice. Fine length and approachable right now. (ES)

87 – Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2016, Niagara ($14.95)

A versatile, well-priced Bordeaux Blend, which features cassis, plum, raspberry, herbs, smoke and spice. Medium body and perfect for those pasta and pizza evenings. (ES)

87 – Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($15.95)

This is a straight up, well made and well priced Franc which delivers cassis, raspberry, tobacco, herbs, olive, cocoa and spice. Medium bodied, the tannins make this a go-to wine for the upcoming BBQ season. Fine length. 

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