Monday, September 24, 2012

Niagara Trip Sept 22, 2012

Still on the Vine
The opportunity was there so I had no excuse not to take the advantage. My spouse, sister-in-law and niece were heading to Whitby for the day not returning 'til after supper. Our car was available and, for some time, I had wanted to visit Niagara wineries expressly to sample reds. In August we had visited Niagara purchasing many whites most of which have been Tasted during the intervening weeks. This trip had a different objective. I needed to update my view of Niagara reds so I planned to sample as many reds one trip could allow.

The following lists the wineries in sequence of my visits along with the wines sampled at each stop. Starting with Peninsula Ridge every Tasting Room was exceptionally busy - the Discover Niagara event was on.  The crowds were in a congenial and a buying mood shown by the number of cases seen being carried to cars in the parking lots. The noise clackers or bird bangers added to a festive mood.  Every green thing glowed with the recent rains and the cooling Fall days.

Penninsula Ridge
Foreign Affair - finally!
I led GPS astray only once during my 240km trip. On the way to the Foreign Affair Winery I turned left too soon and went along the North Service Road. I missed the first 'U-Turn' instruction - by this time I was on Cherry Ave. - and ended up travelling several kms along Lakeshore Road. I never knew at this point this major road is two lanes and dirt with an interesting view of Lake Ontario only forty yards to my right. A twenty minute trek back to Victoria Ave. followed . GPS isn't all that necessary travelling along the Wine Route - in this case it's a new toy needing some more practice.  

Creekside welcome
Ravine Grocery
Château des Charmes
Pillitteri event started
Next, Creekside with their beautiful landscaped entrance then Ravine Vineyards where a film crew were setting up. I was told four weddings were taking place, I believe at various locations. Each wedding was to be filmed for a Reality TV program and each was to be voted as to which would receive a Honeymoon Vacation as a prize.  So I was told! My luncheon planned at the Ravine turned into a DIY sandwich, a sliced Sourdough loaf, a few slices of smoked cheddar and a diet Sprite from their Grocery store.

The next four wineries, Château des Charmes, Between the Lines, Pilliterri and Palatine went without incidence.

With a total of 28 wines 26 of which were reds I managed to reach my target.  

More picking to go

For those sampled and in general, Niagara reds have a unique style. Many have a delicate framework on which to hang a depth of flavours and textures. When done well most have an elegance and subtlety not found in bold imports. If comparisons (with imports) are attempted it's like me comparing my two sons - it's unproductive. Let`s say they're different and comparisons only get one into trouble.

Instead, Niagara wines should be explored for their individuality. Ratings for quality and value accompanied by tasting notes can still be meaningfully applied but with a focus on their personalities rather than Loire-like or NZ-like, etc.  I'd say following a winemaking process that works for an import doesn't necessarily work for Niagara red grapes. It starts with the grape which, I understand, is more delicate. With that delicacy imperfections can be more apparent and have to be accommodated each step of the wine making process. Value wines rated in the 90's don't come easily and can come with a higher production cost.  When everything comes together that wine is 'world class'.  Niagara wine making isn't for the novice - it needs the attention of a dedicated crew and, perhaps, is even an obsession.  That's my opinion anyway.

Salut, Ww

WINERIES VISITED - grouped by winery and wines sampled:

Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery: 

  • Beal Vyds Cabernet Franc 2004 VQA Niagara Peninsula   $15.95
  • McNally Vyds Proprietor's Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula    $24.95
  • Beal Vyds Reserve Merlot 2009 VQA Peninsula   $21.95
  • Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 VQA Peninsula   $24.95

the Foreign Affair winery: 

  • Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA ?  (20% Appassimento)  $22.95
  • Riesling 2009 VQA ?  (30% Appassimento)  $24.95
  • Pinot Noir 2009  VQA ?  (40% Appassimento)   $44.95

Creekside Estate Winery:

  • Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 VQA St. David's Bench   $24.95
  • Broken Press Shiraz 2007 VQA St. David's Bench   $39.95
  • Broken Press Shiraz 2008 VQA St. David's Bench   $39.95
  • Undercurrent Shiraz.Malbec 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula   $32.95

Ravine Vineyard:

  • Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 VQA St. David's Bench   $39.00
  • Ravine Merlot 2010 VQA St. David's Bench    $34.00
  • Estate Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA St. David's Bench    $32.00

Chateau des Charmes: 

  • Estate Bottled 'Old Vines' Cabernet-Merlot 2007 VQA NOTL   $19.95
  • Paul Bosc Vineyard Equuleus 2010 VQA St. David's Bench   $40.00
  • Paul Bosc Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010  VQA St. David's Bench    $35.00

Between the Lines: 

  • Pinot Noir 2011    $14.95
  • Merlot 2009   $13.95
  • Cabernet Franc 2010   $15.95

Pillitteri Estates Winery:

  • Cabernet Merlot 2010  VQA Niagara Peninsula   $13.20
  • Merlot 2010  VQA Niagara Peninsula    $20.20
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2010  VQA Niagara Peninsula   $20.20
  • Exclamation Cellar Series 200x (Not Released)

Palatine Hills Estate Winery:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietors Reserve 2006  VQA Niagara Lakeshore   $15.75
  • Merlot Proprietors Reserve 2006  VQA Niagara Lakeshore    $20.00
  • Merlot Proprietors Reserve 2007 VQA Niagara Lakeshore    $44.95
  • Merlot Cabernet 2010 VQA Niagara Lakeshore    $15.95

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Once More The Cry...

Ontario consumers need educating!!!  Why? because "they don't seem to understand their local wine".  We definitely need this understanding so we, and I'm a consumer too, would acquire a taste for Niagara wines instead of imports. Right?

According to the article, it's 'proven' that if offered two Sauvignon Blancs we would prefer a New Zealand over a Niagara. If offered a Chilean Merlot or Cabernet we would prefer it over a 'best vintage' Niagara.  And why is this?  Because New Zealand, and by extension Chile, has very cleverly trained our senses to distinguish a 'real Savvy' from an imitation Niagara - a real Cab or Merlot from a Niagara.  That is according to Michael Pinkus' article, There Must be Some Misunderstanding.

Generally speaking, if someone wants to say I enjoy a Chilean Merlot more than a Niagara it would be true. I also prefer a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and one from the Loire depending on the circumstance. If the same person says this is because I've been brainwashed I would strongly object. 
Playing catchup
I grew up on fermented Ontario Concord and Lambrusco juices. Jordan wines were a staple at house parties and Baby Duck for special occasions. Back then Niagara wines did the 'educating'.

Moving to California we graduated to E&J Gallo jugs. My education continued when I became an Opimian member ordering from lists of world wines selected by their professional consultant and pairing of these wines at their dinners. This continued into middle age when over a decade I travelled through Napa and up the West Coast, the Okanagan and then New Zealand's North and South islands.

More recently my curiosity has encouraged a more diverse interest most of which is recorded in this blog, tastings of likely over 2000 wines. I enjoy diversity. Conversely 'same-old same-old' bores me.  Sampling of Ontario wines has increased among wines from a dozen world regions. This history has established my likes and dislikes of today and Ontario has had ample opportunity to correct its original training and, in fact, some individual wineries have become local favourites. My current perception is that more Ontario wineries have migrated to what I call 'the basics', ie. relying on the vineyard for a genuine presentation of their wines.

Admittedly my view is limited to a budget (up to $25 per btl.). Being constrained by price, I have resorted to showing comparative values as an additional rating for each of the wines I taste. Price matters when funds don't come easily. Other consumers with higher budgets could very well have a different view of Ontario wines and of course 'send me a sample' critics seldom need to be concerned with price often leaving Value out of their e---uations.

As Ontario wineries continue to play catchup consumers will eventually reward their persistence. I'd like to offer a few recommendations to speed up this transition:

  1. Get rid of the notion that programs to retrain the Ontario consumer will work. You'll likely go broke offering free samples before your customers quench their thirst.  'Build the wine and they will come' as they say.
  2. Get rid of the notion that 'cool climate' is a valid rationale for consumers to change their buying habits or taste in wines - it's what's in the bottle that's important not a climate. If 'cool climate' doesn't work for your grape, if it doesn't help you build your volumes don't use customer lack of understanding as the reason.
  3. Do a taste and price comparison of what you consider to be your competition, whether local or imported, not to imitate but to maximize strengths and eliminate weaknesses, both of which could be distinctly separate from your wines.
  4. Review where expenses are eroding margins. Don't reward premium labels if there's no return.

The LCBO has an ongoing campaign promoting local wines however the rows of shelves filled with Canadian International Blends puts their emphasis on making money perhaps at your expense.  It's time 'VQA took over the shelves' and I think (don't know) it's a pricing thing.

My opinions, Ww (a consumer)

Monday, September 03, 2012

September 2012 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

Medellin, Colombia Sept 6 '12
This month's collection of wines are from various sources.

So far: Two reds are Vintages Wines of the Month. Another two (TA) are from Tony Aspler's list of ten recommended wines from Vintages September 1st Release . Of these ten, 8 were unfortunately above my budget of $25. The Rutherglen Petit Sirah was recommended in a tweet (T), three are from @cono_sur 's picks (marked with a 'J' for Jason). The remainder are random choices.

A digression:

The following diatribe addresses a concern developing over the last year and becoming more focussed as a result of recent, I'd say the last 4 months, tasting of Ontario wines. Because of this focus one may wrongly assume that local winemaking has suffered a setback from a more liberal use of synthetic approaches to winemaking. Actually I believe the opposite is true: The purity used in the production of recent vintages, 08 thru 11, by a growing number of wineries separates their approach from the recipe based wines produced by a shrinking minority.

A question I have mulled over the past few days when it forced itself into my conscious is which Ontario wineries use non-indigenous yeasts, which ones use flavour and aroma enhancers to produce the generic collection of whites and reds typical of a segment of today's wines? In fact, when did using other than natural components become foisted on the public consumer? But 'when' is not relevant. What is relevant is how can the consumer tell without buying a bottle of the doctored wine?

If you have sniffed a powder puff perfumed Vidal, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier you know what I mean. If you've tasted flavours full of candy floss or a flatness on the nose with a lemon drop attack in that first sip, you've been there. When did winemaking, an obsession of many proud vineyard owner, turn into a broadly accepted con on the consuming public? Today a winery whether big or small can produce whatever they think will find a market based on the chemical wizardry of volume based, process driven suppliers. They have become driven by whatever can be put in a bottle, labelled with an appropriate marketing focus and delivered if not by the LCBO by blending among legitimate wineries. You've been there. I know I have as well.  Whenever there's an opportunity please support fuller content declaration on every wine label.

I should add this does not advocate regulating 'recipe wineries' out of existence. It does advocate providing enough content information so consumers can decide. 

Salut, Ww  

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, bubblies and other:

  • Oscar's Estate Shiraz/Viognier 2008, 92-3  --  V,  Barossa Valley, Australia,  #287961  $17.00
  • Château de Galifay Cairanne Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2010,  92-3  --  V, Rhône, France,  #290080 $17.00  (J)
  • (WOM)Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2010,  92-2  --  V, Côtes du Rhône, France, #287532 $18.95
  • Château d'Anglès La Clape Grand Vin 2007,  92-2  --  V,  Midi, France, #286492 $19.95
  • The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2010, 91-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #066738 $17.95
  • Casa de la Ermita Idilico Crianza Seleccion 2006, 91a-2 --  V, Jumilla, Spain, #286161 $19.95 (TA) 
  • Château d'Anglès La Clape Classique Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre 2007,  90-2  --  V, Midi, France, #286484 $14.95  
  • (WOM)Evans & Tate Metricup Road Shiraz 2009, 90a-2  --  V, Margaret River, Australia, #606905  $19.95
  • Jean-Luc Baldès Triguedina la Chapelle du Clos Malbec Cahors 2008,  89-1  --  V, Cahors, France,  #276253 $16.95 
  • Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Petit Sirah 2008,  86a  --  V, Victoria, Australia, #179127 $20.95 (T)
  • Domaine Parent Pinot Noir Bourgogne 2010,  85a  --  V,  Cote-D'Or, France,  #597971  $19.95 
  • (WOM)Barba I Vasari Old Vines Montepulciano d'Abruuzo 2008, 75  --  V, Abruzzo, Italy,  #289991 $18.95 
  • André Blanck & ses Fils Rosenbourg Pinot Blanc 2011,  87-1  --  V,  Alsace, France,  #626606  $13.95 (J)
  • Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 86  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #293043 $15.45
  • Daniel Lenko Chardonngay 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  86  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario,  #260398  $19.95
  • Vineland Estates Winery Elevation 'St. Urban Vineyard' Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 84  --  V, Vineland, Ontario,  #038117  $19.95

  • Château de Manissy Tavel Rosé 2011,  87-1  --  V, Rhône, France, #276469  $15.95 (J) (TA) 
  • Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé,  84  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #122275 $16.95

  • Jean Geiler Rosé Brut Crémant d'Alsace NV,  84  --  V,  Haut-Rhin, France, #047191  $18.95

  •  Joseph Cattin Gewurztraminer Hatschbourg Grand Cru 2009, 90-1  --  V, Haut-Rhin, France,  #259770  $19.95

(WOM - Wine of the Month, V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


WOMs  for August/September 2012 - two were released on August 18th and a third, the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, on September 15, 2012.

EVANS & TATE METRICUP ROAD SHIRAZ 2009, Margaret River, Australia, 14.5%  D  xg/L,  #606905  $19.95  (Tasted September 6, 2012)  CS

Rated 90 by Lisa Perroti-Brown, MW,  (August 2011).  My notes:  More than a bit of BRETT  on opening so let air for 30 minutes - a tad still there along with mild liquorice and blackberries but aerating eliminates the BRETT.  The colour is a fresh ruby opaque in the glass and leaves a continuous rim that tears quickly. Nicely smooth with ripe fruit, a pleasant tang and fine tannin making the first sip welcome. The finish is long ending dry on the palate, surprisingly no heat just warmth. Have with any grilled or bbq'd meats or sip, sip.  Likely at peak, perhaps cellaring a year at a time will prove me wrong.  Very nice when aerated. 90a

DOMAINE GRANDY VACQUEYRAS 2010,  Côtes du Rhône, France, 13.5%  XD  xg/L,  #287532  $18.95   (Tasted September 5, 2012)  CS

This classic blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre won a Gold Medal at the Concours des Vins Orange in 2011.  My notes: A dense purple hued red depositing a firm film with a continuous rim that recedes slowly following long legs. The nose is soft and full of ripe berries with a subdued white pepper and caramel aromas. Silky smooth, dry on the tongue, light berry flavours and near full-bodied giving a profile easily sipped and equally partnered with roast prime rib, T-bone or beef medallions. This could easily cellar several years but no need - drinking well now. The flavours grow lighter over a long finish then end drying the palate.  92

BARBA  I  VASARI OLD VINES MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2008, Abruzzo, Italy,  13.5% XD  5g/L,  #289991 $18.95  (Tasted September 17, 2012)  CS

My notes:  Vintages says "The 2012 edition of Gambero Rosso Italian Wines rated this show-stopping Montepulciano 3 Glasses (out of 3)". (3 Glasses = the Traffic Light system or NoGo, Use Caution and Go). On first sniff and sip I decided to aerate this full-bodied red. I agree this is a show-stopper - I can't see anyone being able to sip or pair with any meal this 'Old Vines Montepulciano'. The colour, nose and viscosity are normal if not impressive. Then a metallic acid bites the tongue, etches the teeth and overrides any anticipation of a velvety condensed blend of black berries. Aerating definitely removes 50% of the bite allowing some black fruit, anise, drying tannin and cranberry to show - but not enough. Cellaring several years may soften but not to be expected. Perhaps airing overnight may soften. No, it didn't.  I took it back for a refund.  The Vintages Panel has earned my skepticism.  75


STONELEIGH MARLBOROUGH PINOT NOIR ROSÉ 2011,  Marlborough, NZ, 13.0%  D  8g/L, #122275  $16.95  (Tasted September 23, 2012)  CS

A commercial wine made by Pernod Ricard Pacific Pty Ltd.   My notes: A deep salmon colour with aromas of crushed strawberries more acid than sweet altho' both are present. The film sticks to the glass before running slow tears and leaving a lacy pattern. The first sip has a pronounced sweetness with fresh fruit, white cherries, watermelon and berries. The texture is silky and with the flavours lasts through a long finish making this a pleasant offdry sipper. Went well with bbq'd chicken, legs or white meat. Should also go with Thai or a Chinese buffet. A drink now - perhaps too fruity to be 'true'.  84

CHÂTEAU DE MANISSY TAVEL 2011, Rhône, France, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #276469  $15.95  (Tasted September 29, 2012) CS

Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012 and winner of Medialle d'Or Paris 2012 Concours General Agricole.   My notes: Rated 89 by Tony Aspler.  A blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Bourboulenc grapes.  A bright red cherry red and a slight aroma of crushed white cherries, not convincing. A sip delivers a silky textured subtle white cherry flavour and a suspicion of sweetness, a light tannin and a soft finish that is dry waiting for a second sip. An appealing sipper and would be OK with grilled seafood or chicken breast done in a creamy sauce. Serve well chilled. A drink now.  87

CASA DE LA ERMITA IDÍLICO CRIANZA SELECCIÓN 2006, Jumilla, Spain, 14.0% XD 5g/L, #286161  $19.95  (Tasted September 20, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012 and rated 90 by Jay Miller (June 2009).   My notes:  A blend of 60% Monastrell (vines older than 70 years) and 40% Petit Verdot. The cork crumbled on opening so I aerated to a decanter to remove bits.A superlative aroma of crushed berries, red currant, floral and vanilla. Deep ruby in the glass and a thin film shedding fast tears left by a quick swirl. The first sip layers tannins and sharp acid that complement the full taste of berries. The intense aroma fills the senses as the finish carries the fullness to a dry flavourful ending. A pleasing sipper and a full-bodied red for simmered red wine sauced meats. Was great with beef stroganoff. Cellaring for several years more should be OK - may be at peak now.  91

RUTHERGLEN ESTATES PETIT SIRAH 2008, Victoria, Australia, 14.5% XD  6g/L, #179127  $20.95  (Tasted September 4, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 21, 2012 and rated 91 by Lisa Perroti-Brown, MW  (June 2011).  My notes:The colour is a deep ruby and a swirl leaves a continuous rim the sheds slow tears then slowly fragments. There's a spicy warm scent of crushed red currants and raspberries without any sweetness - aerating relieves some sharpness. The first sip is smooth with a delayed tartness that immediately layers the throat with dry tannins and the warm fruit blend. Flavours and textures slowly decline leaving a parching dryness. Overall, a warm sipper with interesting fruit, fullness and having a 'hot' finish somewhat rough. Pair with grilled red meats - was great with Mom's Meatloaf and steamed parsnips fried with a sprinkle of grated parmesan.  Cellar a few years - perhaps.  86a

ANDRÉ BLANCK & SES FILS ROSENBOURG PINOT BLANC 2011, Alsace, France, 12.5% D  3g/L, #626606  $13.95  (Tasted September 15, 2012)  CS
Release by Vintages on September 1, 2012.  My notes: There's a greenish hue to the light straw and the aroma has some apple and pear but marginally so. Perhaps as it goes off chill more will come (nope). A thin film swirls a lacy rim then drops quickly to small nodules. A mild nip, a delicate flavour of apple and Bosc pear at first then a chalky dryness as the flavours slowly subside. Some may prefer sipping - on a warm day and social stand around occasion. Also pair with white fish grilled or with a cream sauce.  A drink now.  87

DANIEL LENKO CHARDONNGAY 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Beamsville, Ontario, 14.0% D 6g/L,  #260398  $19.95  (Tasted September 14, 2012) CS

A General listing. Celebrates 'Canada's diverse Gay culture'.  My notes: A light golden with a faint floral verging on pineapple scent and a rim that fragments easily into long streams ending in lacy globules. The first sip has a minimum sweetness as well as a bright acid and a lemon accent to apple pear flavours. The finish takes advantage of the fullness, definitely not on the light side, in the mouth carrying the flavour then ending nicely dry. This is a social pleaser to compete with mid tier imports - one to sip all evening - better with fresh oysters or a Chinese buffet/Bento box. A drink now.  86

JEAN GEILER ROSÉ BRUT CRÉMANT D'ALSACE NV, Haut-Rhin, France, 12.0% XD 12g/L, #047191  $18.95  (Tasted October 8, 2012) CS
Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012.  My notes: 100% Pinot Noir with a mid salmon colour, no pink. An aroma of freshly crushed white cherries and there's a lacy rim left by a gentle swirl that recedes slowly following a burst of fine bubbles, not frothy, on pouring. The first sip is extra tangy with a steely apple berry flavour that refreshes the palate with each sip. An extra dry finish leaves tart flavour trails along with a touch of grassiness. Pairing with a trio of Mandarin Gardens entrées: Pork Chow Mein, Shrimp Fried Fice and Moo Goo Gai Pan, a lively spritz cleansed each mouthful. A drink now.  84

JEAN-LUC BALDÈS TRIGUEDINA LA CHAPELLE DU CLOS MALBEC CAHORS 2008, Cahors, France, 13.5% XD  4g/L,  #276253  $16.95  (Tasted September 17, 2012) CS
Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012 and rated 90 by Kim Marcus .  My notes: Decant or aerate. There is a slight purple to the deep ruby and the nose has a subdued scent of blackberry and smoky spice. A swirl leaves a firm film shedding a string of slow tears from a continuous rim. Smoothly textured, bright acid balanced with earthy ripe berries and a drying layer of tannin on the tongue.  Everything continues on a long path gradually fading to an dusty dry mineral coating.  An oldworld red with enough fruit to make it an interesting sipper. Better as a grilled beef companion and wonderful with broiled beef along with pureed cauliflower and seared sliced mushrooms in a red wine sauce (tonight's supper). Likely past improving but should keep a few years.  89

JOSEPH CATTIN GEWURZTRAMINER HATSCHBOURG GRAND CRU 2009, Haut-Rhin, France, 13.0%  D  26g/L(?) ,  #259770  $19.95  (Tasted September 27, 2012) CS
Release by Vintages on March 31, 2012. Rated 91 by Alison Napjus  (Oct 31, 2011).   My notes: A mid gold with a honey-lemon nose, more lemon than honey. The film sticks to the glass then recedes lacily until small nodules form. A honey consistency greets the first sip, a medium sweetness with a dry tang and mineral-citrus flavour, less citrus than mineral starts a moderate finish ending sweet with a mellow mouthfeel. Might appeal to icewine sippers. Have with Thai or Chinese entrées or samples from a buffet table. Cellar for several years - try again after four. A niche/dessert wine.  90

OSCAR'S ESTATE SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2008, Barossa Valley, Australia, 15.9%  D  7g/L?,  #287961  $17.00  (Tasted September 12, 2012)  CS
Release by Vintages  on September 1, 2012. Rated 91 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW  (Dec 2011). A blend of 96% Shiraz and 4% Viognier.  My notes:  A thick film with long legs flowing evenly down the glass and a spicy aroma of ripe crushed black cherries is the intro along with a deep ruby. Silky, rich, bright rather than tangy and tannins neither overdone but matching the flavours and textures and lasting forever (a long time). This could satisfy both occasional sippers as well oenophiles not expecting a special treat - has a touch of sweet. Have with anything grilled, bbq'd, roasted and beefy. Buy a dozen as this will cellar for many years - can't believe the alcohol level, more like 14.0%.  92
This was fantastic with bbq'd tenderloins topped with seared Upper Canada Cheese Co. Guernsey Gold, garlic butter'd cremini mushrooms, sweet potato fries and cippolini onions. (Dec 10, 2012)

DOMAINE PARENT PINOT NOIR BOURGOGNE 2010, Cote-D'Or, France, 12.5% XD  3g/L, #597971  $19.95  (Tasted September 9, 2012)  CS
Release by Vintages on September 1, 2012.  My notes:  A ruby with a charcoal hue and an aroma of ripe strawberries their freshness dried out in the sun, a sombre nose to go with the colour. The first sip is sharply tart, silky textured with dried strawberry and wet wood flavours that parch the palate dry. The cork pulled apart on opening dusting the wine with some particles appearing with a swirl. I aerated to soften the acids and remove the particles. An interesting sipper with texture and flavours leaving some warmth on the throat and consistent flavour remnants. Likely would not improve with cellaring.  85a

STONELEIGH MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% XD 5g/L,  #293043  $15.45*  (Tasted September 27, 2012)  CS

A General listing 'priced at $15.45 until September 16, 2012'.  My notes:  The 2004 vintage tasted in 2005 was priced $14.95. The 2007, in May 2008 was priced $15.95 and also rated 82. Then in 2011 the 2009 vintage was reduced to $14.95 from $16.95 and rated 82. When compared with 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages recent years have had a higher acidity.  Serve the 2011 well chilled. A straw blond with an aroma of fresh gooseberry, tangy tho' not biting.  A swirl leaves a lacy rim shedding long slow tears. Grassy, firm tang and full of fresh gooseberries set a good mood for sipping - has a chalk dry ending.  Would be excellent with seafood dishes or Swiss Chalet chicken. A drink now.  86

CHÂTEAU DE GALIFAY CAIRANNE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2010, Rhône, France,  14.0% XD 4g/L, #290080   $17.00  (Tasted September 10, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012 and rated 90 by James Molesworth   (February 29, 2012).  My notes: A deep purple with an aroma a blend of blackberry, black cherry and dark chocolate - nose buildup is reserved. The rim is continuous becoming lacy as legs slowly develop. The first sip shows the dusty texture of Grenache with a mild white pepper from the Syrah both coating the tongue making this an interesting sipper. It's difficult not to quaff this red occasionally for a warm addition to the sip. Cellaring for several years could develop more depth and added fullness but it's drinking very well now.  92

CHÂTEAU D'ANGLÈS LA CLAPE GRAND VIN 2007,  Midi, France, 14.5%  XD  5g/L, #286492  $19.95  (Tasted September 14, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012.  My notes: An Eric Fabre, formerly of Château La Fite Rothschild, wine. A blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvèdre and 20% Grenache and unfiltered.  The colour is deep ruby with a garnet hue. The nose has the warmth of a fresh blackberry cobbler with an additional touch of spice. Swirling lays a thin film with a continuous rim that laces and sheds slow tears. The sharpness in the first sip cuts through any previous flavours, cleanses the palate then leaves a dry layer of mineral based berries. The finish carries a long dry steely edge accumulating tannins with each sip. Would pair nicely with any grilled meats or stews. Has lots for long term cellaring - a few years may smoothen some roughness but drinking well now. 92

THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2010, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5%  D  5g/L,  #066738  $17.95  (Tasted September 19, 2012)  CS

Release by Vintages on September 15, 2012.  Rated 90 by Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar (July/Aug 2011). My notes:  Seven medals on the label so how could I resist? A product of the Galvanized Wine Group and a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier.  The colour is a black cherry skin and a sweet spicy aroma of black cherries is pleasing to the sniffer. Silky on the mouth with red currant and berries brightening the palate. A fine tannin carries the flavours a long while until a blending of flavour and warm texture remain. Appealing as a full-bodied dry sipper for its freshness and went well with Soy basted and bbq'd pork chops.  Perhaps a tad 'unrefined'  -  a drink now and keeping a few years should be OK.  91

CHÂTEAU D'ANGLÈS LA CLAPE CLASSIQUE SYRAH /GRENACHE /MOURVÈDRE 2007, Midi, France, 14.0%  XD 3g/L, #286484  $14.95  (Tasted September 16, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012 and is an unfiltered classic blend of 50% Syrah 30% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. Rated 16.5 out of 20 by Tamlyn Currin  (May 2012).   My notes: My conversion of a 20 point rating is 50+2.5xRating, in this case 16.5 becomes 91 and a bit.  This is the 4th red from Famille Fabre having previously tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon (#261891 , $14.95 91a-2), Malbec (n/a , $15.95 88-1), and Grand Vin 2007 (#286492 , $19.95 92-2). A touch of graphite, blackberry and herbs provides a soothing aroma for a rich see-through ruby. A firm film hangs heavy then drops evenly from a smooth rim. Full-bodied, silky textured with fine tannins, penetrating acid and a dry blend of earthy berries meet the palate then gradually loses most of the fruit ending warm, dry and mildly herbal.  Have with beef bourguignon or braised beef short ribs with puréed broccoli/cauliflower. Likely at peak. 90

VINELAND ESTATES WINERY ELEVATION 'ST. URBAN VINEYARD' RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Vineland, Ontario,  9.5%  M  26g/L,  #038117  $19.95  (Tasted September 19, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012.  My notes: An LCBO Staff pick at the Clarkson, Mississauga outlet.  2667 cases.  On first pour there's a touch of spritz on the glass and a light blond colour in the glass. The aroma is negligible, perhaps a fresh pear. A swirl leaves a lacy rim that recedes leaving island fragments.  Has a rounded texture w/ minimal sign of sweet, chalky with acid starting mild and building slowly with each sip. Flavours are of mild crabapple and pear staying for a short while before fading to a dry mineral finish.  More of a quaffer, add a slice of lime, than a meal wine - was not up to a grilled salmon with asparagus and corn.  Pairing with a grilled whitefish entrée may be a better match.  A drink now - not enough to cellar.  84

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Niagara Trip Aug 18th: 17 Tasted of 17

Salutations to the Sun
The Table's set for Charcuterie
My BH and I visited all but two of the planned wineries on the  Friday of our two day trip to nearby Niagara Peninsula and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Staying overnight at the Jordan House wasn't as inviting as our last year's stay at the Inn on the Twenty but the room was clean and quiet and the staff very personable. I'll have to plan our trip earlier as each year there's ample proof of the  growing popularity of Niagara Wine Country's hospitality. 

We arrived at Rosewood Estates at 11:00am on the Friday then went on to Organized Crime
A manicured welcome at Vineland
(closed), Vineland Estates - expressly to taste their 2 new labels -  then to Featherstone Estate which is home to 2027 Cellars, a virtual winery, as well as a satisfying charcuterie lunch, then to Calamus Estate, 13th Street Winery landing at Cave Spring Cellars by mid afternoon check-in. A few sips of a chilled Chenin Blanc and a two hour snooze gave new life to my ageing bones preparing us for a four course meal paired wonderfully with Cave Spring Dolomite wines.

Saunter the shoppes

The next morning we sauntered through Main Street's boutiques, had a selection of breakfast treats... then a tasting and purchase of a selection of Cave Spring wines. 

Home of Niagara Gold

Packing to check out of our room on Saturday by 11am we headed first to the Upper Canada Cheese shop then to

DiProfio Winery to try Nyraia whites before heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a Shaw play, Misalliance, at the Royal George theatre. Unfortunately the extreme personalities and a theme of dysfunctional relationships in the first Act overwhelmed us. We skipped the 2nd Act. 

Main Street NOTL was crowded with vacationers - ice cream and fudge weakened our willpower giving us the energy to get back into the car. Our last effort was to stop in at Lailey Vineyard where the
Bistros at Capacity
Making fudge in NOTL
tasting room server managed to
pour two of Derek Barnett's whites. Attempting to taste at the crowded bar was futile so our stay was shortened.

Going there and returning home was a breeze with traffic on the QEW moving at 120km/hr - an enjoyable ride.

Salut, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by winery:   (See the Winery website for OnLine ordering)

  • Rosewood Estates Sémillon 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  91-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario,  #Winery  $18.20
  • Rosewood Estates Renaceau Vineyard Riesling Reserve 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $20.20

  • Vineland Estates - no purchase 

  • Featherstone Estate Winery 2010 Canadian Oak Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #149302  $21.95 
  • Featherstone Estate Winery Red Tail Merlot 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85a  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #131540  $19.95 

  • 2027 Cellars Falls Vineyard Riesling 2008 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 91-2Cellar  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #294041  $18.95 
  • 2027 Cellars Fox Croft Vineyard Riesling 2011 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 90-1  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $25.20

  • Calamus Estate Winery Riesling 2011 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 85a  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $16.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84  --  O,  Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $14.95
  • Calamus Estate Winery Riesling 2010 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 83  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #158642  $16.95
  • Calamus Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 81  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $17.20  

  • 13th Street Winery Old Vines Riesling 2009 VQA Creek Shores, 90-1  --  V, St. Catharines, Ontario, #272617  $23.95
  • 13th Street Winery Pinot Gris 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85 --  O, St. Catharines, Ontario, #Winery   $19.95
  • 13th Street Winery Viognier 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  O, St. Catharines, Ontario, #Winery   $19.95

  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musqué 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, 88-1  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #246579  $15.95 
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench,  86  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #071662 $18.95
  • Cave Spring Dolomite Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment,  86  --  O, Jordan, Ontario,  #Winery   $21.95
  • Cave Spring Dolomite Riesling 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment,  84  --  O, Jordan, Ontario,  #Winery  $16.95 

  • Nyarai (DiProfio) - no purchase

  • Lailey Vineyard - no purchase

(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


ROSEWOOD ESTATES SÉMILLON 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  Beamsville, Ontario,  13.5%  D  5.6g/L,   #Winery  $18.20  (Tasted September 25, 2012)  
Available from the Winery.  My notes:  A pale blond, sparkling clear with faint aromas of lime and stone fruit or orange blossom. A thin film left on the glass has a lacy rim that quickly sheds legs until only nodules remain. Letting air ten minutes brings out some cream to a first sip along with a pleasing spice and lemon apple apricot flavour that lasts and builds with each sip before ending on a spicy mineral note. An elegant sipper that would please anyone. Start with an amuse bouche, switch to the sémillon and followup with lobster pieces or braised scallops - not too much seasoning.  Cellaring for several years would likely add to what is now a reasonably complex charmer.  91

ROSEWOOD ESTATES RENACEAU VINEYARD RIESLING RESERVE 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench,  Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0%  D  xg/L, #Winery  $20.20  (Tasted September 9, 2012)

Available only from the Winery.  My notes: There's a suspicion of green in the light golden blond and a swirl brings a slowly receding uneven rim. On the pour the nose has a light fragrance of pleasantly spiced lanolin. A sip layers the palate with pear, peach, tart apple and dry mineral balanced so not one is prominent. The finish carries the flavours well with slight chalk remaining. A great summer sipper, dry with a touch of natural sugar - I'd say 8g/L. Held its own with an impromptu plate of lean bacon and field tomato slices on toasted onion bun and hot mushroom lentil soup. Now four years on and another four may show more polite petrol. Worth the try.  91

FEATHERSTONE ESTATE WINERY 2010 CANADIAN OAK CHARDONNAY VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario,  13.0%  XD  4g/L,  #149302  $21.95  (Tasted September 26, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on April 14, 2012.  My notes: 198 cases.  There's a slight tarnish to the gold for an oldgold look and a soft burnt caramel scent to a citrus aroma. A firm film hangs long legs from a lacy rim before quickly sliding into fragmented islands. The caramel flavour takes precedence over fruit, a touch of silk and a finish that goes to a long tangy butterscotch. Have with roast chicken, Rainbow trout, seasoned Thai or Chinese buffet. Sipping depends on your proclivity to oak this being clean and well integrated. Cellaring for a few years may mellow the whole for an interesting mouthful. 90
FEATHERSTONE ESTATE RED TAIL MERLOT 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Vineland, Ontario, 13.0% XD  xg/L,  #131540  $19.95  (Tasted August 31, 2012)  CS . A Vintages release on March 3, 2012.  My notes: 522 cases. A touch of varnish in the nose airs slowly leaving a delicate vanilla tobacco scent -  aerating speeds up things. The film sticks to the glass and a continuous rim drains slowly thru' long legs. The first sip has a penetrating tang, aerating gives some softness to the tangy merlot, perhaps from young vines, having a crushed cherry pit flavour with a dryness continuing a long while. A lightish medium-bodied with some possibility to develop more smoothness and density over five years - lacks terroir. When aerated a mild drink now - match with grilled pork tenderloin or beeferoni pizza. Cellar or sip now only if aerated.  85a
2027 CELLARS FALLS VINEYARD RIESLING 2008 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Vineland, Ontario, 10%  D  18g/L, #294041 $18.95  (Tasted October 1, 2012)  CS
Vintages release date is not available My notes: 160 cases.  A green tint in the glass with a light beeswax, lime and fresh apple aroma. A swirl leaves a lacy rim that quickly recedes into small traces on the sides. The first sip has a crab apple tartness as well as flavour adding a suspicion of lanolin then going into a full tart apple-lime that's chalk dry on the palate. Becomes a tooth cleaner with successive sips... better as a prelude to fresh oysters or a seafood course. I'd cellar for several years to subdue acids and bring forward pleasing textures that lurk. 89 as a drink now.  91-2Cellar

2027 CELLARS FOX CROFT VINEYARD RIESLING 2011 VQA Twenty Mile Bench,  Vineland, Ontario, 11.0%  D  15g/L,  #Winery  $25.20   (Tasted September 12, 2012)
Available from Featherstone Winery.  My notes: 300 cases.  There's a touch of lanolin along with a sniff of mild honey in the nose. The colour is a faint blond. A thin film leaves a rough edged rim that sheds slow tears finally forming small nodules. A mild honey flavour bursts onto the palate with the first sip and a tang builds carrying with it a touch of sweet then ends with dryness on the tongue. A thirst quencher with canapés or soft cheeses, pair with seared scallops on skewers, tilapia filets or Thai dishes. Cellaring a few years should be possible - perhaps some petrol will show.  90

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY RIESLING 2010 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Jordan, Ontario,  12.0%  D  15g/L, #158642  $16.95  (Tasted August 29, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on August 18, 2012 and rated 90 by Rick VanSickle  (October, 2011).  My notes:   A light, crisp and clean, gold with negligible nose, perhaps a really light grapefruit. A swirl leaves a rim that quickly recedes. The first sip is pleasingly tangy with soft flavours of lemon and pear making this a hot summer day off-dry sipper, perhaps with a few cubes and lime slice. Have with grilled tilapia and basmati rice served with lemon wedges - but not easily paired for its sweetness - try with Thai or sushi. A drink now.   83

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Jordan, Ontario, 12.5%  D  9.4g/L, #Winery  $14.95  (Tasted September 20, 2012)
Available only from the Winery.  My notes: 200 cases. Aeration lessens aromas but mellows out some of the vegetal flavouring and is my preference.  Without aeration there's an aroma of lanolin, pineapple and stone fruit and the colour is a crisp, clear mid golden. A swirl leaves an uneven rim that flows long tears clearing the glass except for a few nodules.  A buttery texture combine with slight citrus and butter cream flavours provide an easily quaffed sipper. The finish fades slowly to a light oil and a residual of the initial taste. Pair with a cheese tray with fruit dips or preferably roast chicken with a creamy pasta. A drink now. 84

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY RIESLING 2011 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Jordan, Ontario,  12.0%  XD  6.8g/L, #Winery  $16.20  (Tasted October 4, 2012)
Available only from the Winery.  My notes:  450 cases.   A golden blond colour with stone fruit and lime aromas when aerated - serve well chilled. The film is on the thin side leaving a lacy rim that declines slowly shedding a few tears. The first sip is bright on the palate and brings stone fruit, tart apple and lime followed by a mineral layer that builds and lasts in the mouth. Did not sense sweetness although a moderate roundness infers a there's a tad residual sugar edging a refreshing tartness. If aerated sip otherwise pair with seafood or creamed chicken. Drink now or cellar a few years. 85a

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY PINOT GRIS 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Ontario, 12.2%  D  12.1g/L,  #Winery  $17.20  (Tasted September 3, 2012)

Available only from the Winery.  My notes: 400 cases.  There's a just perceptible pink hue in the light blond colour and almost a pear apple scent in the nose. A mineral dryness coats the tongue at the end of the first sip seemingly contradicting a suspicion of sweet in the background. Apple pear flavours add interest as a sipper and a mild acid may partner nicely with mild seafood dishes, grilled cod or tilapia w/ basmati rice. A Thai combination may also be appropriate - but I'd have a backup.  A drink now. A blend of Niagara grapes give this an uncertain terroir altho' the dryness comes from the Niagara Escarpment the home of the winery.  81
13th STREET WINERY OLD VINES RIESLING 2009 VQA Creek Shores,  St. Catharines, Ontario,  12.0%  D  xg/L,  #272617  $23.95  (Tasted August 29, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on February 18, 2012 My notes:  90 cases. The golden colour is a tad deeper and the aroma of beeswax and lemon is pronounced from the first sniff. The film sticks to the glass while the rim hesitates to recede then falls evenly. The first sip is dry but is sufficiently smooth to carry lemon and petrol through a long mellow finish. If you prefer a distinct petrol in the nose and flavour this is your Riesling. Quite a long finish makes this a pleasing sipper. Have with grilled seafood almost competes with grilled salmon. A drink now to three years.   90

13th STREET WINERY PINOT GRIS 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, St. Catharines, Ontario, 13.0%  D  4g/L, #Winery  $19.95  (Tasted September 4, 2012)

Available from the winery.  My notes:  450 cases.  Pouring brings a delicate peach colour to the glass with no noticeable fragrance at 11oC  - a soft scent comes forward as the temperature heads higher. There's some silk and a slight sweetness adding interest to a mild stone fruit of the first sip. The touch of sweetness is balanced by a mild acid followed by a chalky dryness over a moderate finish. Could be an interesting sipper for a summer afternoon, with chilled apricot slices in rich cream perhaps - better with a table of seafood on crackers, a tray of soft cheeses or a selection from a Thai menu. A drink now.  85
13th STREET WINERY  VIOGNIER 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, St. Catharines, Ontario, 12.5%  D  6.2g/L,  #Winery  $19.95  (Tasted September 5, 2012)

Available from the winery.  My notes:  270 cases. A pale blond leaving a thin film that accumulates then recedes evenly from a lacy rim. A nose that's slightly perfumed with a mild  lemon lime seam. Acid comes with the first sip letting oily stone fruit flavours develop before coming forward. The same flavours carry through a long finish until finding a mineral oil ending leaving the fruit behind. A well made off dry white with a distinct fragrance and flavour.  For me, not a sipper. However, could be for those with an acquired taste and should be OK with grilled seafood or Asian entrees. A drink now.  82

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 12.0%  XD  2g/L, #071662  $18.95  (Tasted September 10, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release date is not available.  My notes: A Vintages release date is not available.  My notes: A hint of asparagus with faint lemon lime, a touch of green in the golden colour and a light film layering a lacy rim that fragments to small islands introduces this white. A bright tang is the first sensation followed by lemon lime flavours and a parching mineral dryness for a first sip. Could be a refresher for a warm day or a silent partner with grilled seafoods: scallops or cod on a bed of basmati and sliced green/red peppers. A drink now to be served chilled to friends with a buffet table - fresh oysters for sure.  86

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 12.5%  XD  2.5g/L,  #246579   $15.95  (Tasted September 16, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release date is not available.   My notes:  There is a greenish hue to a mid golden colour and a scent of lime, pear and muscat. The film is moderately firm  leaving many slow tears. More muscat comes out in the flavour accompanied by a smooth melon with a tangy dryness. The finish is long with flavours softening leaving more tang and a touch of oil on the lips - this builds with each sip.  A mineral aspect may limit it as a social sipper although the soft texture is pleasing. There's sufficient acid to complement Asian dishes as well as a variety of grilled seafood. A few more years cellaring may settle some questions, ie. where does the oiliness come from?  88
CAVE SPRING DOLOMITE RIESLING 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario,  12.0%  XD  11g/L,  #Winery   $16.95  (Tasted August 29, 2012) 

Available at the winery.  My notes:  Previously tasted in March 2012 with the same rating. A light straw colour, crisp and clean, with a soft lemon nose. The rim quickly runs long legs then recedes slowly to fragments. Tangy on the first sip but polite. Light pink grapefruit flavours are appealing as a social sipper - pair with Thai or sushi. I did not get dolomite as in previous vintages but the finish is soft, drying and lasting. Have with grilled shrimp, scallops or white fish not too seasoned. Not for cellaring but a enjoyable drink now.  84  

CAVE SPRING DOLOMITE PINOT NOIR 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment,  Jordan, Ontario, 13.0%  XD  5g/L,  #Winery   $21.95  (Tasted September 3, 2012)

Available at the winery.
  My notes:  This went well with medium rare beef medallions with steamed vegetables. Showing its mild flavours, prominent acid and fine tannins I'd call it a polite red easily overwhelmed by seasoned dishes. The colour is a see-through red cherry. The film flows quickly from a lacy rim leaving only dotted islands behind. There's a scent of rhubarb and berries too mild to excite but enough to be noticed. The first sip leaves warmth on the palate under a tasty layer of red berry/cherry with the dry touch of mineral. This needs the character of a fine meal to show its merit -  also an interesting sipper for a quiet occasion. May not benefit from cellaring.  86