q23EW[

 21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

Discovery Pass Tastings

I recently had the opportunity to head down to the Niagara Region for the 21st Annual Icewine Festival, my first time down to experience this event. I am a huge fan of Ontario Icewines and I was excited to use the Discovery Pass (still available for $40, more information here) to try some Icewine inspired wine and food pairings. As I was flying solo I had to be careful of my alcohol consumption and limited myself to four wineries over the two days I was down. One of the great things about the Discovery Pass is that it can be split between all the weekends that the Icewine Festival runs as well as between people. On this trip I visited Fielding Estate WineryRedstone WineryMegalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My final post from my first tour, here are the details from my snowy stop at Inniskillin Wines.

 Inniskillin Wines

From the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – Northern Cool Meets Southern Warmth … Warm up this cold winter with our own take on the southern favourite, Chicken and Waffles, spread with our classic Riesling Icewine Butter. Enjoy this warm pairing with Inniskillin’s cool and highly awarded Riesling Icewine.

My only stop on the Sunday, a light snowfall added to the ambience of this classic Niagara winery. Inniskillin Wines makes one of my most favourite things, Sparkling Icewine, and I was elated to see they had offerings of both their Vidal and Cabernet Franc versions in addition to the Discovery Pass pairing listed above.

Chicken and Waffles with Icewine Butter and Icewine Hot Sauce paired with 2014 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

  
Although listed as a warm pairing, the sample I got warm room temperature, not surprising considering the sheer volume of people through the doors. I’m a fan of chicken and waffles and this take with some Icewine elements added, in the form of the Icewine Butter and Icewine Hot Sauce, was a delicious mouthful. The 2014 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was a wonderful pairing with the sweet, salty and savory heat from the chicken and waffles. This Riesling Icewine was typical excellence from Inniskillin with a vibrant yellow-gold hue leading to aromas of golden ripe pineapple and honeyed guava, following through with a sweet and balanced punch of tropical fruit and a vibrant seem of acidity making this refreshing and happy, warming and delicious. The Icewine Butter was the key ingredient, adding a layer of texture to bring all the components into harmony across the palate, the sweet-salty-heat-creamy profiles all playing together nicely.


From the indoor tasting room to the tasting bar outside, I ordered the 2012 Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and went with the White Sparkling Icewine pairing, the raw oysters, instead of the ‘Smores offered with the Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine. I lucked out to get one of the remaining Fanny Bay West Coast oysters, and a Malpeque from the East Coast. An Icewine mignonette was offered along with generic cocktail sauce and lemon, I went with a splash of the mignonette on both of the oysters. Both were cold and fresh, tasting like the smell of the ocean with a tart sweetness from the garnish. I have tried the Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine in the past but had yet to try the Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine and was super excited to see it offered. Wow! The 2012 Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was outstandingly astounding! Served in a frozen art deco ice saucer, the deep reddish brown colour had a muted nose that opened up with the first sip of this amazing nectar. The delicate fairy bubbles whispered sweet nothings as they danced across the palate, revealing a cacophony of aromas and flavours: cranberry tart, barbeque ribs, peach pie, strawberry jam. I found this to be true happiness in a glass, effervescent excellence remarkable in its verve and function as pure luxury, a fitting end to my first visit to the Niagara Icewine Festival.

Patiently waiting to be turned into liquid gold

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016 pt. 3

 

Niagara Icewine Festival 2016 Tour 1


21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

Discovery Pass Tastings

I recently had the opportunity to head down to the Niagara Region for the 21st Annual Icewine Festival, my first time down to experience this event. I am a huge fan of Ontario Icewines and I was excited to use the Discovery Pass (still available for $40, more information here) to try some Icewine inspired wine and food pairings. As I was flying solo I had to be careful of my alcohol consumption and limited myself to four wineries over the two days I was down. One of the great things about the Discovery Pass is that it can be split between all the weekends that the Icewine Festival runs as well as between people. On this trip I visited Fielding Estate WineryRedstone WineryMegalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My first post of this tour is about my stop at Fielding Estate Winery followed by my post on my stop at Redstone Winery and I culminated my first day with a stop at Megalomaniac. My final and only stop on the Sunday, Inniskillin Wines, will be posted in the next few days.

Megalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction

Megalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction

From the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – Megalo-Mixology-Mania … Icewine martinis are back! Megalomaniac is pleased to offer you three Icewine-based martinis. You will experience Icewine in three unique ways, as part of creative and delicious concoctions. Please call ahead for groups of more than six people.

Discovery Pass Tasting Menu

 
Another first-time visit, perched high on the escarpment with panoramic views, the winery with glass walled tasting room was abuzz as twilight crept in. Although the brochure notes said three cocktails, four were on offer. Under promise, over deliver!

  

Coldhearted Personality

First up was the Coldhearted Personality, a mix of their 2015 Megalomaniac Sparkling Personality Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and 2014 Megalomaniac Coldhearted Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA (the 2013 information available here). Sweet and bubbly with aromas and flavours of sweet key lime pie and mango puree, a refreshing start with great balance between the acidity and big sweetness.

Vodka Martini

Vodka Martini was next up with Dillon’s Small Bath Distillers Method 95 Vodka, 2014 Megalomaniac Coldhearted Riesling Icewine, and a splash of Triple Sec and Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers Lime Bitters. The lime bitters added a layer of dimension to the backend, a twist on the classic Icewine Martini. More Triple Sec at the start, transitioning through the Icewine to the lime flavours, the pleasant aftertaste was reminiscent of a sweet lime rickey.

  

Cherry Vodka Martini

Cherry Vodka Martini followed, a combination of the 2013 Megalomaniac Grounded Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and Absolut Cherrys Vodka with a few canned cherries thrown in the mix. This was cheery cherry, cherry, cherry! I spent a few of the summers of my youth at a cherry processing plant between Waterford and Simcoe, Norfood Cherry Growers. This cocktail took me right back there.

  

The Sweet Seduction

The finale to the martini tasting, and a very fine finale it was, was the Sweet Seduction. 2013 Megalomaniac Grounded Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and white Crème de Cacao together created a most delicious cocktail. Big aromas and flavours of chocolate covered strawberries and Black Forest Cake. The ratio of liquid chocolate to Icewine glory was spot on, with the Icewine taking main stage and the chocolate singing perfect background harmonies.

  

2012 Megalomaniac Frank Cabernet VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

Putting my final taste of the day in the hands of Lauren at the tasting bar, I tried her current favourite wine on offer, the 2012 Megalomaniac Frank Cabernet VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA. The colour was a thin translucent red, revealing a nose of roasted green bell pepper and inky boysenberry. In the mouth the bright young acidity was balanced with drying tannins and upfront red berry fruit. A very fine expression of Niagara Cabernet from a warmer vintage, terrific now with potential for evolution over time.

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016 pt. 2

 

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival – Discovery Pass Tastings

 

I recently had the opportunity to head down to the Niagara Region for the 21st Annual Icewine Festival, my first time down to experience this event. I am a huge fan of Ontario Icewines and I was excited to use the Discovery Pass (still available for $40, more information here) to try some Icewine inspired wine and food pairings. As I was flying solo I had to be careful of my alcohol consumption and limited myself to four wineries over the two days I was down. One of the great things about the Discovery Pass is that it can be split between all the weekends that the Icewine Festival runs as well as between people. On this trip I visited Fielding Estate WineryRedstone WineryMegalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My last post was about my stop at Fielding Estate Winery and after a delightful start to my tour, as well as the recommendation of Katharine at Fielding Estate Winery, my next stop was Redstone Winery to try their aged Cabernet Franc Icewine pairing and their Syrah.

 Redstone Winery

Write-up from the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – It’s Gonna be ‘Chili’… Bundle up and join us fireside on the Terrace at Redstone to enjoy a cup of Chef Sider’s Icewine-inspired creation. A sweet and savory pairing of our 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine with a Braised Venison and Dark Chocolate Chili is sure to keep you warm.

My first visit to Redstone Winery and my first time trying their wines. Somewhat understated on the outside, this winery with terrace and restaurant is simply gorgeous. The use of natural materials in the construction and finishing is beautiful. The Discovery Pass tasting was set on the terrace overlooking the vineyard below. An ideal setting save for the fact of the gusty wind blew over my glass spilling my sample. My cat-like reflexes saved the glass from smashing below and I told the sample guy to pour a bigger sample to prevent that from happening again. He did laugh, but didn’t pour a bigger sample. I retreated inside and took a seat at the bar to try the wine and chili.

 

A steadying finger to save this glass from blowing over!

The 2010 Redstone Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA had a colour of golden raspberry marmalade, a nose of strawberry compote and a slight whisper of sherry rancio, and flavours of strawberry rhubarb tart with a pleasant sweetness balanced gently by the tart, low acidity finish. A fine example of an Ontario Icewine with some age and maturation, with secondary and tertiary aromas at play. The chili on its own was big in its flavours of chili powder and cumin but overpowered the delicate nuances of the Icewine, turning it too acidic when tasted together. I can appreciate the intention of the sweet/savoury pairing but it just didn’t jive for me. While looking through the menus as I tasted my Icewine and chili I saw Fried Chicken Skins and thought to myself that it would be a crime to not try them. My favourite food item from the weekend, the crispy battered skins served with a garlic and lemon dipping sauce were exceptional, nicely seasoned with a spice rub with similar flavours as the chili. I will be back just for a double order of the Fried Chicken Skins! The Cabernet Farnc Icewine matched nicely with the fried chicken skins, both very indulgent in their own right, together the sweet and grease was an extravegent pleasure.

 

Selections from the Lunch menu

 

Fried Chicken Skins – Amazing!

Katharine from Fielding recommended the Syrahs from Redstone so I tasted what they had on offer, their 2011 and 2012 that was just being released.

 

Redstone Winery 2011/2012 Syrah

The 2011 Redstone Syrah VQA Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Redstone Vineyard was a pink crimson in the glass with aromas of tart red sour cherry and a light floral note. In the mouth there was still some tannic grip from the young tannins with finesse and crisp acidity on the pepper finish.

Jelena at the tasting bar poured a sample of the 2012 Redstone Syrah VQA Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Redstone Vineyard, a warmer vintage in the Niagara Region compared to the 2011. The colour was similar to the 2011 with a little purple added into the pink crimson. The nose was cooked red fruit and sun-baked brick, replayed on the palate with brickish tannins, a rustic yet smooth and juicy finish. I found the 2012 more masculine in nature than the more feminine 2011.

With a small sip left in each glass I combined the two for my own special Redstone Syrah blend and was pleasantly satisfied with the results, an Ontario Syrah that hit on all notes, the big fruit from the warmer 2012 and the delicate floral notes from the 2011. Truly a case where the sum is greater than the parts, the 2011/2012 was exceptional with ultimate balance and great harmony.

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

Four fabulous winery stops for the Niagara Icewine Festival

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

Discovery Pass Tastings

I recently had the opportunity to head down to the Niagara Region for the 21st Annual Icewine Festival, my first time down to experience this event. I am a huge fan of Ontario Icewines and I was excited to use the Discovery Pass (still available for $40, more information here) to try some Icewine inspired wine and food pairings. As I was flying solo I had to be careful of my alcohol consumption and limited myself to four wineries over the two days I was down. One of the great things about the Discovery Pass is that it can be split between all the weekends that the Icewine Festival runs as well as between people. On this trip I visited Fielding Estate Winery, Redstone Winery, Megalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My first post is about my stop at Fielding Estate Winery with the other stops to be posted over the next few days.

 

Icewine and nachos, a fantastic pairing!

 Fielding Estate Winery

Write-up from the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – Icewine Ole! To celebrate the Icewine Festival at Fielding we’re serving up cheesy ‘Chile Con Queso’ nachos topped with crumbled bacon and blue cheese. Paired with our 2012 Riesling Icewine or 2012 Cabernet Franc it’s a fiesta not to be missed.

 

2012 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

First stop of the day and my favourite pairing of the weekend. The 2012 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA colour was a bright golden yellow hue with a nose of candied apricots and pineapple jam, flavours replayed on the palate with a mouth-coating slight unctuousness, sweet with a light seam of acidity. I enjoy the classic blue cheese and Icewine pairing and this take with nachos gave a shabby chic playfulness with the added texture from the chips, a really nice cheese sauce and the pungent creaminess of the blue cheese. Simple yet luxurious, similar big flavours in each of the ingredients lead to very enjoyable pairing.

After the tasting in the tank room, I went back to the retail space and tasting bar to try some of their other offerings, specifically their 2013 Viognier, 2012 Syrah and 2012 Chosen Few high-end blend.

 

2013 Viognier VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

 2013 Viognier VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

Pale, pale faint tint of pale yellow, like clear water. Nose of peachy apricots, with some time a hint of candy floss. Flavours of stone tree fruit and touch of fresh lime, crispness from the cooler vintage year.

 

2012 Syrah VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

 2012 Syrah VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

Dark red, semi-transparent. Nose of brick pepper spice. Androgynous in nature, not masculine or feminine in style, somewhere either in between or outside. Fresh red fruit and pepper (green peppercorn?) in the mouth. Balance of fruit and spice.

 

2012 Chosen Few VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

 2012 Chosen Few VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Translucent crimson, clean and clear. Fantastic aromas of toasted marshmallows on asphalt and Brunswick Stew. Vibrantly youthful in its tannic crispness, the dark fruit is balanced by the other big flavours that march across the palate. Drinking very well now, great potential for more to evolve from this wine.

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…

2009 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA‏

2009 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

The 2009 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA is a delicious wine. Elegant colour of ruby red garnet. Nose of high perfumed cherries, forest floor, and happiness. Flavours of elegance and sophistication, ripe red cherry, violets on a damp forest floor, beet compote, fresh and clear spring water.

Lovely acidity to match the fruit, dryness and fruitiness in poised balance.

This is an amazing example of Canadian Pinot, a couple extra years in my cellar have elevated this excellence in a glass. Very well done.

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.

#Somewhereness

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

 

2012 Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Vineland Estate Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Vineland Estate Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

I needed a bottle of red wine to reduce down and add as an ingredient for my umami paste that I make to put in my James Jackson Barbeque Signature Finishing Sauce. The wine, since it was to be reduced by 4/5, needed fresh fruit and balanced acidity, nothing overly tannic or extracted. Since the umami paste is an integral ingredient to my barbeque sauce, the components of the umami paste need to be of certain quality. I have tried a number of different varietals and vintages with mixed results. The 2012 Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was the perfect choice to reduce and concentrate.

The deep translucent crimson colour hints at the nose of dark red fruit, cassis and leather. The flavours are lighter on the palate with black cherry and raspberries with an echo of leather from the nose. The balance between the vibrant acidity and forward fruit is bang on. Simply excellent, another stunner from the Ontario 2012 vintage. Go and get some (LCBO link here) before this vintage is no longer available!