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.

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

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WHITE

92 Château des Charmes Blanc de Blancs 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($32.95)

Wow! Just wow! Made from low yields and fermented in old barrels, this wine is an absolute beauty with toast, honey, flowers, yeast, white peach, apple and cream. Full in the mouth there is good mousse and a superb finale. Perfect for celebrating the upcoming holiday season. (ES)

92 Wescott Vineyards Lenko Old Vine Chardonnay 2014, Beamsville Bench ($32.95)

Made from Ontario’s oldest Chardonnay vines which were planted back in the 1950s! Golden colour with impressive richness and a good amount of oak as support. Vanilla, toast, pineapple, honey, baking spice, golden apple and cream are in play. Excellent length with bright acidity and long aftertaste. (ES)

91 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($35.80)

Another excellent Robyns Block Chardonnay! Only 12% alcohol, but there is depth and elegance combined. Vanilla, sweet apple, cream, fig, banana, white flower, earth and mineral are all wrapped together. Fine length. (ES)

90 Reif Estate Winery Gewürztraminer 2015, Niagara River ($19.95)

Alsace meets Canada. The juice spent 24 hours in contact with its skins to give more flavour and aroma. Turkish Delight is the driving force here with honey, peach, spice, mango and cream weaving in. Long finale and off-dry, so serve with Peking Duck or chili chicken. (ES)

90 Trius Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay Oliveira Vineyard 2014, Lincoln Lakeshore ($36.00)

Banana, cream, peach, golden apple, spice and hints of hazelnut are all present in the wine. There is a rich mouthfeel, with creamy notes intermixing with freshness. Long lasting and a brilliant match with shrimp risotto. (ES)

89 Reif Estate Winery Kerner Reserve 2016, Niagara River ($18.95)

Kerner is an aromatic white grape that is a crossing between Riesling and a red grape called Trollinger. Huge peach, honeysuckle, lime, sweet apple and spice. Off-dry and ideally suited for sushi. (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)

88 Château des Charmes Riesling Old Vines 2014, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($17.95)

Mineral, lime, apple, white peach, honey, flowers are all present in this taut Riesling. There is a dash of residual sugar, but with all the brisk acidity, it comes across as a dry wine. Pair with Choucroute Garnie or fresh water fish. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Burger Blend Riesling/Pinot Grigio 2016, Niagara ($13.95)

Aromatic, there is peach, fresh flowers, honey, lime and citrus on the nose; this meets up with notes of nectarine and orange on the palate. Very good length, off-dry and 11.5% alcohol. (ES)

87 Eastdell Riesling 2016, Niagara ($13.95)

A lovely Ontario Riesling at a friendly price! White peach, lime, honey, bergamot, mineral and green apple flavours are supported by acidity. Off-dry and ready to go with Sushi. (ES)

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RED

91 Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2016, Beamsville Bench ($19.95)

Besides being Winemaker of The Year at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards, Shiraz Mottiar, is without a doubt making Ontario’s best Gamays – period! This vintage features strawberry, raspberry, plum, black pepper and purple flower. There is a sense of sweet fruit on the lips, this before Gamay’s lovely acidity sweeps everything up. Great stuff! (ES)

91 Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc Clark Farm 2014, Four Mile Creek ($45.00)

Another impressive rendition of this wine! Full bodied and complex, there is cassis, raspberry, smoke, roasted pepper, violets, pencil shavings, dried earth, tobacco and chocolate. Concentrated and ripe, there are good tannins, which make me want to pair with rack of lamb.  Drink until 2023. (ES)

91 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Niagara Escarpment ($44.95)

An impressive red with lots of sweet oak in the form of chocolate, coffee bean and vanilla, which meshes with raspberry, plum, cherry, spice, cola, roasted herbs and violets. Concentrated, ripe and full on the palate. Long finish with firm tannins. Drink until 2024. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Eleventh Post 2012, Niagara River ($39.00)

This blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon is an impressive and seamless red which exudes dark cherry, cassis, raspberry, plum, chocolate, herbs and hints of graphite. Full bodied, ripe and long lasting, it is ready to drink now but can easily handle another 6 years of cellaring. (ES)

90 Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2013, Niagara River ($48.00)

Considering the challenging nature of the vintage, this wine is somewhat of a minor miracle. It clocks in at a natural 14.2% alcohol and is classic Cab Franc with vanilla, raspberry, cassis, red pepper, cocoa and smokey tobacco attributes. Low yields provide a sweet/fruity palate with fine tannins. Drink until 2023. (ES)

90 Ravine Vineyard Cabernet Franc Nancy’s Block, St. David’s Bench ($55.00)

A beautiful Cabernet Franc with cassis, raspberry, cherry, tobacco, baking spice, graphite and violets. Tannins are ripe, but non-obtrusive and support the medium body. Excellent length and very refined. (ES)

90 Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir, Ontario ($19.95)

HOP continues to prove they are the Baco-masters! The heat of the 2016 vintage has produced an elegant Baco with blackberry, raspberry, smoke, chocolate, anise and scorched earth. Medium to full body with splendid length and enough tannins to allow five plus years of aging, if so desired, but it is ready to drink also. (ES)

90 Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, St. David’s Bench ($39.95)

From the fabulous 2012 vintage, this robust red spent 32 months in barrel and 18 months in bottle before being released. Cassis, raspberry, violets, herbs, vanilla, dark cocoa and spice are built on 14% alcohol and masses of tannins. That said, my preference would be to drink it over the next seven years, with some medium rare beef. (ES)

90 Tawse Chery Ave Vineyard Pinot 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($48.95)

This Pinot packs quite a punch as there is lots of extract as well as elevated, dry tannins. Cherry, raspberry, plum, spice, dried earth and flowers are all in play. Excellent length. This wine needs food, so duck breast will do the trick, quite nicely. (ES)

89 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2013, Twenty Mile Bench ($29.95)

Lovely and seductive, this Pinot beguiles with red berry fruit: cherry, raspberry and strawberry. Add red flowers, spice and herbal notes, and you have a complex wine ready to paid alongside Boeuf Bourguignon or grilled quail. (ES)

88 Kacaba Cabernet/Syrah 2015, Niagara Escarpment ($29.95)

A unique blend of 66% Cabernet Franc and 34% Syrah. Tobacco, raspberry, cassis, violets, dark cherry, black pepper, herbs and vanilla are built on a medium body. Tannins are present, and there is fine length. Pair with grilled sausage. (ES)

88 Fielding Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara ($21.95)

From one of my favourite wineries in Niagara ! Accessible and cheerful, this Franc features raspberry, red flowers, cassis, mint/herbs and chocolate. Medium body and ready to drink. Solid value! (ES)

88 Red House Wine Co. Cabernet Shiraz, Niagara ($13.95)

This wine delivers well above its pay-grade. Medium plus body, it provides a rich mouthful of plum, blackberry, raspberry, violets, tar, spice, and chocolate. There is fine length with ripe tannins and just a hint of residual sugar. Steak time! (ES)

88 Coyote’s Run Cabernet Franc 2015, Niagara ($24.95)

This is a pretty, red fruit scented Franc – raspberry and cherry – as well as tobacco leaf, turned earth, leather and violets. Medium body with beautiful freshness, which makes for a perfect pairing with red sauce dishes and grilled vegetables. Reminiscent of a fine Saumur-Champigny! (ES)

88 Thirty Bench Double Noir 2015, Niagara ($19.95)

This blend of 60% Gamay Noir and 40% Pinot Noir is Thirty Bench’s answer to a Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains – but vastly superior! Cherry, raspberry, pepper, spice, cocoa and earth are built on a soft and easy drinking texture. (ES)

87 13th Street Winery Burger Blend Gamay Noir/Pinot Noir 2016, Niagara ($14.95)

This wine is aptly named as BBQ fair (as well as pasta/pizza) would be brilliant with this juicy red. Black pepper, raspberry, carnation and herbs are supported by soft tannins and fresh acidity.