Monday, July 18, 2011

Niagara Trip, July 2011: 15 Tasted of 15

Legends Estate
It was the first trip ever that I've been 'wined out' but eight wineries, 4 - 5 tastings per, in two days will do it.
Foreign Affair
Reservations at the Inn on the Twenty were made a month ago. Tickets for an Irish comedy, Drama at Inish, in Niagara-on-the-Lake were waiting for us at the Court House Theatre Box Office for the Saturday matinée - and - we incidentally pass several wineries, on the north side of the QEW for a change: Legends Estate, Foreign Affair, Harbour Estate, Strewn Winery, Stratus Vineyards and a new one added along the way, Hinterbrook Estate. Cave Spring and Henry of Pelham made up the eight. (Map)

Harbour Estate
Henry of Pelham
And of course there was Jordan Station, one of our favourite places to wander among the Galleries, the Fudge Shop, Aroma shop,  etc. as well as the Inn on the Twenty restaurant for dinner and breakfast both  included in our overnight lodging. There have been so many tweets mentioning Stone Road Grille near Mary Street on Niagara Stone Road we made sure to phone ahead for Saturday reservations. What wonderful food paired with stellar (Ontario) wines! A new one (to us), Charles Baker Riesling 2009, was outstanding.
The wines listed below, all but one available only at the winery, were brought back for more relaxed tasting.

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparkles and other:
  • Legends Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 90-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $18.15
  • the Foreign Affair Temptress 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $45.20
  • Stratus Red 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88  --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #131037 $44.20
  • the Foreign Affair Dream 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 87  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $29.15
  • Strewn Winery
  • Legends Reserve Malbec 2007 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 78  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $19.15

  • Legends Estate Reserve ‘Lizak Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore,  91-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $19.15
  • Cave Spring ‘Dolomite’ Riesling 2007 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 89-1  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $17.15
  • Legends Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  89-1  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $20.15
  • the Foreign Affair Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $30.15 
  • Henry of Pelham Reserve Riesling 2008 VQA Short Hills Bench, 86-1  --  O, St. Catharines, Ontario, #Winery  $14.95
  • Strewn ‘Terroir’ Riesling Gewurztraminer 2010 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 86  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $17.15
  • Strewn Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 80  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $12.15
  • the Foreign Affair Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 80  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $25.15
  • Stratus Vineyards
  • Stratus Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 78  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $29.20

    Hinterbrook Estate
  • Hinterbrook Winery Rosé 2010 VQA Niagara Lakeshore, 90-2  --  O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery  $16.20
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, O - other, r-v - Rating-Value)


STRATUS RED 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.5% XD, #Winery  $44.20  (Tasted July 30, 2011)  CS

A Tasting Note from the winery says "[2007] was ideal for the art of assemblage... Predominately Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, other varieties were included to lift the body and nose. etc."  Konrad Ejbich gave it 5 stars.  My notes:  The colour and nose has a delightful freshness of Cabernet Franc, a bright cherry hue and a distinct red liquorice and tangy redcurrant scent. The film appears thin on the bowl but takes some time to fall shedding long tears. Medium-bodied, the first sip covers the palate with an astringent mouthfeel. A red currant accent to red cherry flavour makes for an interesting start but soon begs for at least finger food to quell the acid that hides the silk and dominates the finish, not quite a teeth-cleaner but close. Pair with grilled salmon, Swiss Chalet chicken with half ribs or veal scallopini and stewed beets. Further cellaring may accentuate the acid and fade the fruit - I‘d try a year at a time.  88

STRATUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.5% XD, #Winery  $29.20  (Tasted July 28, 2011)

My notes:  A slight nose of white peach, a mid gold colour and a firm film that edges down slowly before breaking into lacy islands introduces this white. There’s a penetrating tang to the first sip, a silky texture, full-bodied with flavours of stone fruit and a spicy wild honey. The finish stays true to the first sip fading slowly to a spicy mineral note.  An unusual sipper, unpleasant or an acquired taste - not likely to add to a meal - try with seafood. May be past peak. 78

STREWN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 11.6% XD, #Winery  $12.15  (Tasted July 31, 2011)

The back label describes the wine as ‘…the best of the old and new world styles. Melon, tropical fruits and summer herbs…’. Joe Will is the winemaker.  My notes: A polished mid gold in the glass with a hint of green and a soft, just perceptible, aroma of nettles and herbs. A swirl leaves a thin film that quickly recedes leaving lacy islands. The first sip has a flavour of Boston lettuce and lemons - a taste to acquire and may limit sippers. The finish ends with a fresh acid level, mineral and slight chalk. Pair with grilled seafood: tilapia filets, cod or haddock on lemon rice or serve with a cold buffet. Without nibbles I find the texture interesting but couldn’t acquire the taste. Not for cellaring.  80

STREWN ‘TERROIR’ RIESLING GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 11.6% XD, #Winery  $17.15  (Tasted August 5, 2011)

The back label describes the wine as ‘…Delightful floral aromas and tropical fruit flavours…’. Joe Will is the winemaker and the blend is 60% Riesling and 40% Gewurztraminer.  My notes: The floral is distinctive (but where in Niagara Peninsula does it come from?) and blended with the clean edge showing. The colour is a green tinged light blond and there’s an immediate scalloping of the film that falls in long slow tears. A touch of natural sweet roundness, a touch of puckering and flavours of citrus, candy floss and green apple can be a social mixer - ends dry. Don’t vision Alsace nor sense petrol… this is Niagara. The floral and well balanced sweet and acid should cellar for several years.  Pair with an Asian mixed buffet or sushi bar or add a squeeze of lime and cubes for a hot summer on the patio.  86

HENRY OF PELHAM RESERVE RIESLING 2008 VQA Short Hills Bench, St. Catharines, Ontario, 11.5% XD, #Winery  $14.95  (Tasted August 5, 2011)

The back label describes the wine as ‘…best reflect the relationship of soil, climate and grape variety… from older lower yielding vineyards…’.  My notes:  A light blond, crisp and clean, with a green hue. The nose has a touch of nettles and a vegetable core. The film covers thinly leaving a lacy rim and a few slow tears. A very dry first sip leaving a parched palate with flavours of green apple and slight pear. Finishing chalk dry this preludes more cleansing if a sipper or refreshing if waiting for the next bite of grilled sole. Although not objectionable as a sipper it feels more comfortable with a charcutier or fried octopus, veal schnitzel or a ham slice. Cellaring for a few years should be OK.   86

CAVE SPRING ‘DOLOMITE’ RIESLING 2007 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery  $17.15  (Tasted July 18, 2011)
The back label describes the wine as ‘…named for layers of dolomite limestone unique to the Niagara Escarpment.… [and] contribute to the intense aromatics and mineral textures…’.  My notes: The 2009 is a combination of grapes from Twenty Mile Bench (63%) and from Beamsville Bench (37%).  For the 2007 the majority of grapes were from the Niagara Escarpment. There’s a light gold colour, a film that recedes from a quickly disintegrating rim and a touch of honey to a tangy lime scent. Luscious lime and melon are edged with a chalky mineral that becomes more pronounced as the finish lets the fruit fade. A nicely rounded fullness on the palate gives substance for flexible pairing with a variety of seafood: telapia, halibut (if you can find it) or bbq’d chicken. Went well with  Cuban Cod and even Delmonte Mango Realfruits.  It's quite fresh now and should cellar nicely for a few more years.  89

HINTERBROOK WINERY ROSÉ 2010 VQA Niagara Lakeshore, NOTL, Ontario, 14.0% D, #Winery  $16.20  (Tasted August 18, 2011)

The back label states: ‘This Cabernet Franc Rosé was pressed after three days of skin soak resulting in optimal colour lending red fruit notes to the taste. … aromas of strawberries and white pepper. Etc. ‘  My notes: Crushed strawberry colour or a delicate shade of a tea rose and very polished. As well, there’s a scent of crushed strawberries and a gradually receding film. Full-bodied with pronounced strawberry and peach flavours, an acid lining is the start of a long finish. Texture is silky on the lips and ends with a touch of candy floss and a soft pepper edge. As a sipper this would likely have interest for most. I’d pair with  fried/grilled whitefish, e.g. cod , or pickerel, but have a backup wine.  A few years in the cellar could give acids more prominence - sipping well now.  90
LEGENDS ESTATE RESERVE MALBEC 2007 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D,  #Winery  $19.15  (Tasted July 28, 2011)

Owned and operated by the Lizak family. The back label says:  ‘Malbec has a concentrated black plum almost smoky aroma with a nuance of black cherry… extended barrel ageing.’  My notes: A deep plum colour and aromas of spicy cherry and red liquorice. Swirls a firm film with long fast legs, the first sip, and continuing sips, has a strong pungent attack sustained through a long finish with bitter fruit lasting then fading slowly to a dry brambly end. A rough sipper, not  appealing… would be okay paired with a well seasoned T-bone or bbq’d ribs. Would not benefit from cellaring nor saving as a drink now.  78  PS. Add two points if aired overnight - some of the acid mellows.
LEGENDS ESTATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 14.0% D,  #Winery  $20.15  (Tasted August 11, 2011)
Owned and operated by the Lizak family. The back label says: ‘… 100% barrel fermented chardonnay with strong aromatics of mineral and buttered toast. … hints of dried … apricots and raisins… full-bodied and smooth…etc.’  My notes: A yellow gold in the glass with slow tears accumulating at the rim then falling. There’s some mild honey and butter in a light lemon nose. Flavours of mild, smooth butterscotch overlaid with sharp acids, full-bodied with lightly flavoured finish ending warm and dry. Fully oaked and for those remembering California Chardonnays - a limited audience. Have with Swiss Chalet chicken or a cheesy chicken pizza with extra cheese and onions. Cellaring another four years should be OK.  89

LEGENDS ESTATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D,  #Winery  $18.15  (Tasted August 10, 2011)
Owned and operated by the Lizak family. The back label says: ‘… aroma … has sweet currant, spice and even a hint of tobacco… extra long finish.’  My notes: Close your eyes and this is not an under $20 Niagara red…  the colour is deep, smoky tinged and opaque, the nose has pleasing blend of smoke, light blackberry and currant. The first sip confirms a medium-bodied to full- silky smooth combination of plum, black berry with acids matching the tannin and flavours so the finish lasts forever leaving some smoothness. Pair with mostly beef entrées or beef stews, shank of lamb or French onion soup with a tenderloin chaser. Cellaring another five years should be fine. Not as much fruit the next day - and a suspicion of Baco Noir?   90

LEGENDS ESTATE ‘LIZAK VINEYARDS’ RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D,  #Winery  $19.15  (Tasted July 21, 2011)
Owned and operated by the Lizak family. The back label says:  ‘… dominated by tropical notes of melon, pineapple, lime and a hint of passion fruit.’  My notes:  A blond with a possible greenish tint, a delicate colour. A firm film crystallizing at the rim then forming slow tears and lacy islands, medium-bodied. The nose develops nicely over a short minute filling the bowl with nettles and soft gooseberries, making sipping more attractive. The burst of acid on the first sip refreshes and leaves a flavour of freshly pressed, almost ripe gooseberries lingering on the palate. Eyes closed this could easily be a New Zealand SB although there’s a touch of rose in the scent. Have with whitefish filets or shellfish - a lightly curried bowl of bearded mussels. Cellaring for a few years should do well.  91
THE FOREIGN AFFAIR SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 13.1% D,  #Winery  $25.15  (Tasted July 21, 2011)

Partial grape drying (appassimento) is used for concentrated flavours and fuller body. Tasting Notes from the winery say "the drying process has concentrated the varietal character.... wonderful lemon, lime and herbs on the nose.... etc."  My notes: A mid new gold colour, crisp and clean, with some visual interest. The nose is on the ripe side of delicate gooseberry and dissipates quickly. The film is firm delaying the start of tears which slowly accumulate sufficiently to drain the rim leaving small globules. The first sip fills the mouth with a dry mineral, a moderate tang and a soft blandness - the finish starts and ends consistent with the first sip. Overall this is medium-bodied with moderate acid, scarce on fruit. 80

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 13.1% D,  #Winery  $30.15  (Tasted August 21, 2011)

Fermented in French oak barrels with partial grape drying (appassimento) is used for concentrated flavours and fuller body. Tasting Notes from the winery say "On the nose, this wine shows wonderful peach, lemon, lime and fresh cream... Green apple, pineapple, mushroom and crème brûlée flavours fill the palate...etc."   My notes:This has a pleasing blond colour with a just perceptible apple caramel nose. The film is firm and gradually forms long legs before sliding lacily down the bowl. On the full side of medium-bodied with a silky texture, nicely tart and flavours of green apple and caramel finishing warm, tart and softly herbal. Sip with nibbles from a tray of aged cheddar or saltry blue. Pairing with white fish entrées would capitalize on the light acids or have with a charcuterie as a first course. Cellaring for several years is likely.  89

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR TEMPTRESS 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 14.2%  D,  #Winery  $45.20  (Tasted July 30, 2011)

Fermented in French oak barrels with partial grape drying (appassimento) is used for concentrated flavours and fuller body.  Tasting Notes from the winery say "...very deep, almost opaque black/purple colour, this wine provides phenomenal intensity on the nose showing cassis, plum, red and black cherry and caramel...etc.` My notes: Almost opaque and a deep ruby in colour.  A soft burst of strawberry berry anise scent is a pleasing intro to the first sip. On the light side of full-bodied with thin silk and mild tannins balanced with bright acid that together carry the fruit to a long, dry, steely end.  Would pair nicely with sliced grilled pork tenderloin with a side of roasted mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. A ‘cool climate’ red with body and character benefiting from the appassimento method.  Very similar to the Stratus Red 2007 but fuller with marginally less acid.  89

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR DREAM 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 13.4%  D,  #Winery  $29.15  (Tasted August 2, 2011).

Fermented in French oak barrels with partial grape drying (appassimento) is used for concentrated flavours and fuller body.  Tasting Note from the winery says "... this wine's focus on the nose, showing blackcurrant, plum, blackberry and cocoa. etc."  My notes: Airing for twenty minutes allows the nose to settle. Meanwhile, a swirl gives a firm film with many tears that drop slowly eventually leaving a lacy rim. Now, the nose is cherry liqueur accented with subtle herbs de Provence. The first sip is smooth with an underlying sharpness supported by fine tannins and ends with mild berry and leather then metallic tones. Cherry, blueberry and dark chocolate flavours have interest as sipping partners or with a charcuterie before moving to a rare meat entrée covered with a rich red wine sauce and accompanied by puréed potatoes or parsnips. Cellaring for a short while could work but primarily a drink now.  87

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