Rotary Club of Palgrave 18th Annual Wines of the World

Rotary Club of Palgrave 18th Annual Wines of the World

Rotary Club of Palgrave 18th Annual Wines of the World

On Saturday June 6, 2015 I was privileged to attend the 18th Annual Wines of the World event held by the Rotary Club of Palgrave on the picturesque grounds of the EMG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, Palgrave Caledon. A cool breeze complimented the Caledon sunset with another sold-out offering of wines from around the world. Below are my abbreviated notes on what I had the chance to try with my focus on what Ontario wines and ciders were on offer. The program was general in the description of the wines, I tried to get as much info as possible in the short timeframe this event ran.

2013 Errazuriz Pinot Noir Chile

2013 Errazuriz Pinot Noir, Chile

2013 Errazuriz Pinot Noir, Chile – lighter style of Pinot Noir with aromas rhubarb and cherry tart and tastes to match, balanced by smooth acidity.

2013 Epica, Chile

2013 Epica, Chile

2013 Epica, Chile – dark red colour with a brickish ruby and red raspberry nose. Smooth tannins with flavours of plum and cherry, low acidity and a fruity sweet finish

2012 Graffigna Reserve Blend, Argentina – deep dark red with aromas/flavours of spicy dark red fruit and slight crayon and a strong tannic finish.

2013 Zolo

2013 Zolo Classic, Argentina

2013 Zolo Classic, Argentina – ruby garnet colour leads to big expressive nose of bright red fruit (red plum, cherry) and a tannic finish balanced with acidity.

Graffigna Pinot Grigio Riserva, Argentina – thin and insipid, vagueness in flavour.

Downey's Estate Winery "Loose Goose"

Downey’s Estate Winery “Loose Goose”

Downey’s Estate Winery Loose Goose Gooseberry Fruit Wine, Ontario Canada – light and refreshing with a slight residual sweetness, flavours of fresh gooseberries, lime pith and lemon curd. A very refreshing summer sipper.

Downey’s Estate Winery Two to Tango Apple/Raspberry Fruit Wine, Ontario Canada – pale pinkish red leads to a nose of crab apple compote. Flavours of raspberry jam, apple jelly and a slight sherry note with balanced tannins and acidity.

2013 Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario Canada – aromas and flavours of bright cherry tart with a slight tannin grit and some brick on the finish.

2013 Sandbanks Cabernet Franc VQA Ontario VQA

2013 Sandbanks Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Ontario VQA

2013 Sandbanks Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Ontario VQA, Ontario Canada – translucent purple red with nose and flavours of ripe red fruits and a simple balance of refined acidity and fruit freshness. Excellent example of young Ontario Cabernet Franc. Enjoyable on its own, would match well with bistro cuisine.

2013 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario Canada – bright red leads to aromas of red plum and cassis that are replayed on the palate with some wonderful toasted marshmallow notes on the finish. Balanced with bright acidity and tannic backbone.

2011 L'Evidence Bordeaux, France

2011 L’Evidence Bordeaux, France

2011 L’Evidence Bordeaux, France – big dark red with big alcoholic heat, aromas and flavours of singed red and black fruit with tannic grip and high acidity. A big, food friendly red.

2013 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Baco Noir VQA Ontario VQA, Ontario Canada – nose of sweet red fruit and candied cherry compote. Acidity in balance with a delightful fruit-forwardness, almost like a cross between Merlot and Gamay. A tamed brute with a smooth finish and complementary tannins. Excellent.

2014 Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer, France – nose of lychee, rose petals and orange sorbet, replayed with flavours of orange peel and lemonade. Low acidity and a sweet finish.

2011 Cannanou Riserva Sardinia, Italy – bright red colours leads to a spicy red fruit nose and sweet red fruit, flavours of cranberry sauce and fresh cherries. Low tannins and an acidic finish.

2014 Café Culture Pinotage, South Africa – dark red with a nose of freshly ground coffee, replayed with sweet fruit, light tannins and refreshing acidity.

Spirit Tree Cidery 2013 Reserve, Ontario Canada – light and refreshing with tart apple notes, fine thin mousse. Would never have guessed it it 8% abv., drinks much lighter.

Pommies Farmhouse Cider, Ontario

Pommies Farmhouse Cider, Ontario

Pommies Cider Farmhouse Cider, Ontario Canada – a slightly drier version of the flagship Pommies Dry Cider with a gorgeous fine fizz, a hint of residual sweetness swept away with a refreshing acidic twang. This is my go-to cider for the summer, another fine offering from Pommies Cider Co. Simply excellent!


2007 Ravine Vineyards Meritage Red VQA St. Davids Bench VQA

2007 Ravine Vineyards Meritage Red VQA St. Davids Bench VQA

2007 Ravine Vineyards Meritage Red VQA St. Davids Bench VQA

A rainy late summer afternoon, the Toronto Blue Jays on the radio and the suggestion from a good friend to open a 2007 Ontario Pinot Noir. No ’07 Pinots in the cellar so went with another ’07 red, a 2007 Ravine Vineyard Meritage Red VQA St. Davids Bench VQA I bought for myself on my birthday in 2009 at the winery. The voluptuous bottle hints at the gorgeous nectar inside like a beautiful woman in stunning black dress.

Colour of opaque crimson with a whisper of garnet on the rim. Nose of juicy red raspberries, rain-dampened violets, white pepper, cherry jam. A symphony of flavours roll over the palate with bright red fruit of cherries, raspberries and overripe red currants, all sprinkled with white pepper. Balance and elegance in the interplay of seductive fruit and evolved tannins. Glorious, truly the sum is greater than the parts. Pure expression of the elegance, I wish I had bought a case…

2008 Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot Merlot VQA Beamsville Bench VQA

2008 Thirty Bench Winery Small Lot Merlot VQA Beamsville Bench VQA

2008 Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot Merlot VQA Beamsville Bench VQA

My beautiful wife wanted a glass of red wine to go with a steak supper so I told her to pick whatever she felt like from the cellar. Up she comes with the 2008 Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot Merlot VQA Beamsville Bench VQA and I say to her, “Fancy-schmancy, nice choice! That should be drinking beautifully now!” Indeed I was right!

The colour was deep crimson with a slight garnet rim. The nose opened with spicy red fruit – raspberry, plum – progressed to show cassis and some leather with time. Mouthfeel was cool, clean and delicious with perfect balance of fruit and acidity. Flavours of raspberry, bing cherry, purple plum and a hint of leather. Elegance and character, each sip made me want to take another. Drinking very well now but still some life left for short-term aging. Exceptional.


photo-56someWHEREness – OLD SOILS new wines

Tasting Notes from Trade Tasting held at St. James Cathedral Centre in Toronto on Monday, April 20th, 2015. Eleven wineries represented – around the horn it was Norman Hardie Wines, Southbrook Vineyards, Charles Baker Wines, Stratus, 13th Street Winery, Flat Rock Cellars, Cave Spring Cellars, Tawse Winery, Malivoire Wine, Bachelder Niagara and Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery. A separate Late Harvest and Ice Wine table was set up with seven wineries offering sweeter samples.

St. James Cathedral, Toronto

St. James Cathedral, Toronto

Terrior, the french term for Somewhereness, describes the interplay of all the characteristics that make up a wine and how the uniqueness of individual place, type of soil, and varietal choice influence the final product. The Somewhereness experienced continued my belief that Ontario makes delicious wines that truly speak to their sense of place. Balance was a descriptor used to describe many of the wines tasted. Fruit and acidity, tannins and texture, refreshing and satisfying.

“Somewhereness is more than just an event. It allows us to recognize the particular beauty of a place. Since Ontario’s wines have just such a particualr beauty, Somewhereness celebration makes sense in a single sip.” – Matt Kramer, author and wine columnist, quote from programme.

Somewhereness Trade Tasting

Somewhereness Trade Tasting

I tasted whites first, followed by reds with a sweet and a couple sparklers mixed in. Also showcased were a number of artisan food purveyors with some awesome cheeses, smoked salmon, bacon and eggs, breads and preserves offered to compliment and complement the wines. Below are my short notes and impressions from what I tried. Some I thought would be excellent with FOOD and are noted as such.

Norman Hardie Wines

2013 Norman Hardie Wines Calcaire VQA Ontario – mineral witha  tinge of sweetness. Nose and flavours of apricots and granny smith apple. Summer sipper, light and refreshing.

2013 Norman Hardie Wines County Chardonnay VQA Prince Edward County – crisp fruitiness, zingy lemon pith – FOOD

2012 Norman Hardie Wines Niagara Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula – crisp and refreshing, smoother than County, balance.

2011 Norman Hardie Wines Niagara Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula – floral and pretty, feminine power, excellent. My favourite Pinot Noir of the day.

Southbrook Vineyards

2014 Southbrook Vineyards Small Lot Orange Wine – a natural wine with no sulphates, may use very low (10 ppm) in bottling, cloudy pale orange colour gives way to vibrant orange swirl aromas and crisp blood orange flavours. Definitely unique, discussion about the predisposition to having a taste for a certain amount of sulphates from the trace amounts in most wines.

2012 Southbrook Vineyards Poetica Red VQA Four Mile Creek – freshly opened bottle slightly closed. Beautiful nose of red licorice, raspberry, red ink. Tannic, acidic, young spicy bite. Balanced in its power, still a baby. Decant for FOOD now, will evolve for years to come.

2010 Southbrook Vineyards Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula – golden brown colour with a nose of caramel squares, sherry notes, caramel apple pie. Flavours replayed with slight acidity, not unctious and not thin but smooth. Sampled with de la terre bakery multigrain baguette topped with rhubarb ginger jam.

Charles Baker Wines

2014 Charles Baker Riesling Ivan Vineyard VQA Twenty Mile Bench – minerality and vibrant young fruit sweetness against a lemon lime finish and a dry acidity to end.

2012 Charles Baker Riesling Picone Vineyard VQA Vinemount Ridge – juicy and still young, almost jammy on the nose. Tastes of apple pudding and a lemon curd tart that fell in gravel, hints of petrol starting to evolve. Balanced acidity and fruit, outstanding expression for a hot vintage.

2008 Charles Baker Riesling Picone Vineyard VQA Vinemount Ridge – silky smooth with the same aromas and flavours of the 2012 with more petrol to bring it into a nirvanic state of equilibrium. The next evolution with more integration – outstanding. My favourite white wine and favourite wine of the day.

Stratus Winery

2011 Tollgate White VQA Niagara Lakeshore – nose of fruit and dryness with a hint of caramel, buttery and creamy on the palate with cardamon spice. – FOOD

2014 Wildass Rosé VQA Niagara Lakeshore – pink grapefruit aromas and flavours from this freshly bottled pink prettiness. Clean, clear, dry and refreshing.

2010 Stratus Red VQA Niagara Lakeshore – excellent, perfect balance of dark red fruits and bright acidity. Fine wine finesse that shows how the sum is greater than the parts.

13th Street Winery

NV 13th Street Winery Cuvée Rosé VQA Niagara Peninsula – fantastic nose of Laura Secord strawberry cream chocolates, fine mousse of strawberry and white cherry. Sampled with Fat Chance Cold Smoked Salmon prepared by Imant Malins, enjoyed the smokey fatness of the salmon with the fruit and acidity of the sparkler.

Flat Rock Cellars

2014 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench – nose closed at moment but hints of lemon pineapple upside-down cake come through. Lively and exciting on the palate with a luxuriously smooth oiliness, mouth coating then refreshed with acidic backbone. Great expression of Somewhereness. Interesting to taste a new, younger version from this vineyard compared to the 2007 I tasted in the fall.

2012 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity VQA Twenty Mile Bench – dark ruby with a nose of rusty beets. Flavours of red cherry, crisp red current, roasted beets. Smooth tannins for so young. Lots of potential for evolution.

Cave Spring Cellars

2010 Cave Spring Cellars Sparkling Riesling Extra-Dry VQA Niagara Escarpment – nose of petrol, lemon pith, orange peel with a mouthful of lemons and limes and vibrant acidity. Evolving mid-age Riesling with bubbles. You can tell it is a Riesling, in a good way.

2013 Cave Spring Cellars Dolomite Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Escarpment – crisp nose of red raspberry, brick and clay. Bright acidity to balance the chalky stewed red fruit. Still a baby, potential for fantastic evolution.

Tawse Winery

2011 Tawse Winery Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc VQA Lincoln Lakeshore – inky purple goodness with a nose of black and red fruit. Finely gritty (good) tannins reveal the black raspberry and blackberry acidic backbone.

Malivoire Wine

2011 Malivoire Wine Stouck Meritage VQA Lincoln Lakeshore – inky depth in this dark and angry wine. Grip from tannins and copious black and purple fruit, leather and smoke. Serious and masculine. Lots of life left in this juggernaut.

Bachelder Niagara

2012 Bachelder Chardonnay Mineralité VQA Niagara Peninsula – mineral sweetness on the nose with flavours of crisp apple and lemon

2012 Bachelder Pinot Noir Parfum VQA Niagara Peninsula – lighter style of Pinot Noir with fruit-forward cherry on the nose and palate. Balanced acidity to the fruit. FOOD

2012 Bachelder Lowry Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA St. David’s Bench – balanced and lovely with light red fruit. Integrated tannins for so young, drinking very well now.

Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery

2011 Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery Terroir Caché Red Meritage VQA Beamsville Bench – blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. Deep and rich nose of black fruit and stewed liquorice. Chalky and youthful tannic grip with jammy black fruit. Big, balanced wine. Excellent. FOOD


2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula

Family get-togethers such as Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas are great reasons to open up those special bottles of wine from the cellar. For both the selections I took down to my parent’s place I chose wines that I had more than one bottle of to see how they were evolving. The first bottle opened on the weekend was the 2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA that I picked up on a trip to the Niagara Region in 2007. The Speck Family Reserve is the highest tier of wines produced by Henry of Pelham, wines made for cellaring and longer-term enjoyment.

Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Cabernet Franc (19%) and Merlot (48%), the fruit was cropped at approximately 2 tonnes per acre from some of the oldest blocks held by the Speck Family. With a saturated inky purple colour, I was surprised that there wasn’t even a hint of brick on the rim after over 10 years of bottle age. The nose matched the deep, dark colour with copious dark fruit – blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry – along with printer’s ink, wet chalkboard, nasturtiums and a hint of black pepper and a high floral note. My beautiful wife detected black cherry, black plums and cinnamon. The dark fruit was replayed on the palate, dusty dry tannins with grip and bite (in a good way) and a spicy fruitiness. My beautiful wife thought it tasted like leather and plums.

This wine still had a brooding strength, a powerful, manly wine that is still in-your-face in its style. Simply awesome, I am so happy I bought two bottles 7 years ago and have had the patience to not open them. It will be a lot tougher now that I know what a treasure lies beneath that other cork.

2003 Château Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

2003 Château Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

2003 Château Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

I cooked a pig the other night and was happy to have some company from a good friend of mine that puts Saint-Emilion Merlots as his favourite wines. When I do an overnight smoke of a pig I like to enjoy a bottle of wine and listen to Coast To Coast AM radio on AM640. I find it hard to open a full size bottle as when I drink a bottle to myself i get a little bit tipsy, not the best idea when you are tending to a 150 pound pig and a bunch of fire. I knew exactly what wine to open and went with the oldest vintage of Château Pipeau in my cellar (besides a couple magnums of the 2000) to see how it was faring 11 years on.

Colour of vibrant crimson with the slight emergence of a garnet rim, some fine sediment thrown. Nose of ripe red fruits (raspberry, ripe plum, mulberry) mixed with fresh violets and damp stone. These flavours are replayed on the palate with smooth integrated tannins and a remarkable freshness for the bottle age. Gorgeous, the best value for a premium quality wine in this price point. Great wine to go with great company.

Château Pipeau has been a favourite of my beautiful wife and I since we discovered it on a trip to Bordeaux during one of the best meals I have had in my life at L’Envers du Décor in Saint Emilion. Château Pipeau is now part of the LCBO Vintages Essentials program and is widely available, current list price of $38.95, on sale until October 12, 2014 for $35.95.

2007 Nyarai Cellars Vertitas VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

After an eventful day of falling down my stairs and putting on a cooking demonstration at the Bolton Farmers’ Market, I needed a glass of wine. A quick look and some contemplation in the cellar as to what wine would suit the mood. My choice was the 2007 Nyarai Cellars Vertitas VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA. The twist-off closure seemed appropriate for the setting.

Nyarai Cellars Veritas 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula

Nyarai Cellars Veritas 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula

Blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Vibrant colour of ruby red with a garnet brick rim. Wonderful nose of perfumed flowers (think sugared violets), pleasant medicinal hint, granite stoniness, inky black berries. The palate is refined elegance with multiple layers of flavours – white pepper, gentle spiciness, over-ripe raspberries, red plum and integrated fine tannins. With time the nose evolved to mushrooms and cherries and the flavours of smoked meats and peppered cherry jam emerged. The truth is that this wine is outstanding, drinking perfectly now, I feel that I opened it at the exact right moment. Multi-dimensional – sweet (but dry), spicy, savoury – a wine like fine barbeque.