Evan’s Maverick Picks
95 Château Vieux Télégraphe Le Crau 2005, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France ($60)
This wine, from both an outstanding vintage and producer in CNP, is truly stunning. It reminds me of the 1998, but with less gritty tannins. There is a mass of red-berry fruits as well as spice, leather and garrigue to be found in the intense, full-throttle offering. The blend is approximately two-thirds Grenache with the remainder being Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. Drink until 2025.
95 Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse Lalande 2003, Pauillac, Bordeaux ($100)
How can one not be seduced by this incredible wine? It starts with a black–purple colour, follows with a sexy bouquet (a mix of dark fruits, spice, minerals, chocolate-covered coffee bean and violets) and finishes with a full-bodied yet soft texture. There is so much density that you don’t feel the super-ripe tannins on the extensive finale. Now to 2023.
95 Château Suduiraut 2003, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France ($50/half bottle)
This is a super-intense, fat wine with low acid and fabulous complexity. A perfume of honeysuckle, dried apricot, pineapple, crème brûlée and spice permeates the senses when enjoying this super-sweet offering. The finish just goes on and on. Mostly Sémillon with some Sauvignon Blanc. Drink it over the next 15 to 20 years.
92 Château Fombrauge 2003, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France ($55)
I must admit a fondness for this Château, which is owned by Bernard Magrez of Pape-Clément fame. My introduction to the wines of Fombrauge occurred four years ago when I visited the Château for the first time. With managing director Ugo Arguti, I tasted all the vintages from 1998 to 2002. Recently I had the chance to taste the impressive 2003. The wine is black as night and just fills the mouth with a whole whack of licorice, cinnamon, plums, blackberries, chocolate and cherries. The finish is long with a good dose of alcohol (14.5%) and is backed up with enough tannin to take 15 to 20 years. This is a house to acquaint yourself with, as the quality is high, while prices are still reasonable.
92 Hidden Bench Vineyards La Brunante 2005, Niagara ($70)
Ex-Montrealer Harald Thiel opened Ontario’s newest super-premium earlier this year. Of all his wines, this dead ringer for a top-notch Saint-Émilion is the most impressive; a blend of 60% Merlot, 20 % Malbec, 18.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1.6% Cabernet Franc that spent 16 months in new Tronçais wood. This treatment has given the wine a smoky/roasted-coffee-bean quality that melds perfectly with the plum, cocoa, cherry and black pepper. Superb length. Now to 2012.
91 Cousiño-Macul Finis Terrae 2003, Maipo Valley, Chile ($29.95)
Stuck in Washington Dulles airport for 24 hours during a snowstorm this winter, I decided to pass the time at the local wine bar. The barkeep suggested that I try this superb offering from the fabulous 2003 vintage in Chile. Black in colour with loads of cassis, smoke, blackberry, cocoa and herbs, it is medium-bodied with a concentrated core of jammy black fruits on the palate. There is excellent length and a solid backbone of tannin. Drink it over the next 5 years as it offers immediate gratification. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.
90 Stratus Icewine Red 2006, Niagara ($39/200 ml)
This Icewine is an assemblage of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There is an interesting apple-juice quality to the cherry/raspberry/plum profile. In the mouth, raisins, chocolate and more berry fruit emerge, making it a perfect partner for a chocolate mousse or any derivative of the cocoa bean.
89 Hillebrand Winery Trius White 2006, Niagara ($18.95)
This is the first vintage of Trius White, a wine that has been created as a companion for the long-established red version. It is a full-bodied cocktail of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It flaunts peach, passion fruit, spice, mineral, citrus and honey. Excellent length. Try with macadamia-encrusted tuna with a tropical fruit–ginger salsa accented with lime.
89 Hillebrand Winery Trius Red 2005, Niagara ($19.75)
One of the best Triuses ever! With yields down almost 80 per cent due to winter damage, coupled with the insane warmth of the summer, a very Australian-styled wine was produced with lots of plum, vanilla, coconut, cocoa and spice. There is a soft mouthfeel with supple tannins, which will allow it to age between 3 to 5 years. Very limited quantities are available so get it while you can.
89 Stoney Ridge Estate Winery Founder’s Signature Collection Meritage 2005, Niagara ($42.95)
Another great Founder’s Signature Meritage from SR. The heat of 2005 shows through as the wine has lots of blackberries, plums and raspberries as well as a good underpinning of licorice, vanilla, cocoa and coffee. It is elegant, with excellent tannin structure and an admirable finish. Drink it over the next 5 to 10 years.
88 Calamus Estate Winery Calamus Red 2005, Niagara ($15)
This small winery in the backwoods of Jordan showed that it is playing in the big leagues with its 2005 reds. This is an incredible value in homegrown product and definite case purchase. More approachable than the Calamus Meritage (another 88-pointer), it is a blend of 62% Cabernet Franc and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon. It serves up a nose of cassis, vanilla, spice, raspberry and tobacco. The palate is ripe with notes of cocoa at the end. Now to 2011.
88 Thirty Bench Wine Makers Thirty Bench Red 2005, Niagara ($22)
This blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot possesses a medium-to-dark cherry colour and a rich bouquet of blackcurrants, cherries, leather, plums, licorice and herbs. In the mouth, cocoa, plums and spice linger as the wine finishes with dusty tannins. Made for pot roast or roasted top sirloin. Drink over the next 4 to 5 years.
88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Meritage 2005, Niagara ($24)
This is a mélange of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc and 14% Merlot. The medium cherry colour leads the way to a bouquet of blackberries, plum, smoky chocolate and herbs. Medium-to-full body with firm tannins and very good length. Drink over the next 4 to 6 years.
(All wines were tasted by Evan Saviolidis.)