Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Niagara Trip - July 14-15

Cave Spring Promenade
We dropped our 6 month old pup, a shih-tsu named Jesse, off at our niece's in Burlington with all of the paraphernalia a playful furry whirling dervish has then we were underway for Niagara Peninsula and Wine Country.

Our plan was to pick up a few more wines tasted in June from
Picking a Fudge Sample
Daniel Lenko's winery then try as many samples from the wineries nearby biding our time until checking in to The Inn on the Twenty for a rest, supper and an overnight. We had been to Graze the Bench in June so concentrated on wineries further along King Street (Hwy 81).

Tawse Winery
Now with eighteen 'Lenko' bottles in the trunk we stopped at Malivoire, Tawse, Creekside and 13th Street (closed Sundays) then to Cave Spring in Jordan. On the Monday we were back at 13th
Creekside Winery
Street then to Pillitteri in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The plan was to include several more in NotL however the heat and humidity cut short our travels.

13th Street Winery
Our stay at The Inn on the Twenty treated us to an excellent four course meal followed by a quiet overnight waking to a French toast/sausage-plus-extras breakfast reviving us for the next round of wineries.
The CS Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay Dolomite with the dinner convinced us to purchase more.

Megalomaniac Tasting Room
On the return home we wound up then down the winding gravel to/from the bunker on the hill called Megalomaniac, with a style true to its name, and our way back to the concrete and asphalt of the QEW. Wines purchased at the wineries are listed below as well as a previous blog entry.

Cheers, Ww


  • Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 89  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $32.15
  • The Academy of Spherical Arts Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 83  --  O,  Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $20.15

  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Dolomite 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 89-2  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery $14.95
  • Malivoire Melon 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 88-1  -- O,  Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $11.95 (375mL)
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chenin Blanc 2011 VQA Beamsville Bench, 87-1  -- O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery $15.90
  • Malivoire Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $8.95 (375mL) 
  • Malivoire Pinot Gris 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85 --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $19.95
(V - Vintages, G - General listing, O - Other, r-v - rating-value, a - aerated)


MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% D  2g/L,  #Winery  $19.95  (Tasted July 26, 2013)

Purchased from the winery on July 14, 2013. My notes: The 2012 vintage was released by Vintages on March 2, 2013. A delicate floral on opening adding a faint melon scent before fading. The colour is a polished pale yellow. A fragmented rim builds then recedes forming lacy patterns on the glass. Viscous on the tongue with a refreshing acid, a fresh melon apple then a touch  of dry mineral at the end. Acid and texture carries the day when served as a sipper or as a complement with seafoods. A welcomed summer cooler - I'd add an orange squeeze, a maraschino and one cube for interest, but that's me. A drink now. 85
MALIVOIRE CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0%  XD   2.6g/L,  #Winery  $8.95 (375mL), (Tasted August 10, 2013)

Purchased from the winery on July 14, 2013.  The 2008 vintage was part of a previous Vintages release (375mL, #960765) and priced at $10.95.  My notes: A pale yellow with a faint vanilla lemon zest scent and a rim that quickly sheds fast legs partly fragmenting as it falls. A smooth texture adds to melon and soft lemon flavours, medium-bodied and nicely tart with a long finish ending with slight chalk while retaining the tart. A Chard for Chard drinkers - for others it may be a compromise to ABC - likely not. Cellaring for several years could work some magic. Pair with Vij's Family Chicken Curry . 86

MALIVOIRE MELON 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0%  XD   xg/L,  #Winery  $11.95 (375mL), (Tasted August 11, 2013)

Purchased from the winery on July 14, 2013.  My notes: This wine is not listed on the Malivoire website. A blond colour and a subtle nose, mostly citrus with a faint floral. The first sip brightens the palate with its sharpness and adds a touch of fresh Granny Smith apple both immediately appealing. The finish retains the flavour profile right to a dry end. A swirl leaves a thin viscous film with a lacy rim drained by long legs. This is a pleasing social sipper having enough flexibility to pair with fresh oysters, grilled white fish, curried dishes, crabcakes or Salmon Burgers with Hoisin and Ginger . Keep on hand for a year or two.  88 

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHENIN BLANC 2011  VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 12.0% D  14.0g/L, #Winery $15.90,  (Tasted August 5, 2013)

Purchased from the winery on July 15, 2013.  My notes: A just detectable lemon lime nose and shows a light film that slowly recedes from a minimal rim gradually fragmenting into slow tears. There's a noticeable sweetness balanced with a gentle acid and soft citrus flavours providing fullness with each sip and going into a long citrus finish both refreshing and pleasing. A partner with lightly seasoned meals, we had with Angel Hair pasta with basil, parsley, tomatoes and grilled Zippered Back shrimp . Chill for sharing with guests as a starter to a grilled seafood meal or serve with/without a lime slice on a warm summer afternoon. The sweetness would pair nicely with sushi or Asian foods. A drink now. 87

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY DOLOMITE 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 13.0% D  5g/L, #Winery $15.00,  (Tasted August 15, 2013)

Purchased from the winery on July 15, 2013.  A blend of 59% Chardonnay and 41% Chardonnay Musqué from the Beamsville Bench (85%), Cave Spring Vineyard and the Twenty Mile Bench (15%).  My notes:  A mid gold with a mild floral, crab apple and lemon fragrance.  A swirl leaves a firm film gradually building at the rim eventually dropping slow tears. The first sip bites with a sour crab apple flavour not excessively penetrating but sufficient to hold its own with a seafood pasta, cream or tomato - and has a silk and mineral texture. The dry mineral, not as much chalk as expected, coats the tongue while the flavour takes time to fade. A sipper for most and a buffet/meal white for everyone. 89

THE ACADEMY OF SPHERICAL ARTS PINOT NOIR 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Vineland, Ontario, 13.0%  D  xg/L, #Winery  $20.15  (Tasted July 18, 2013)
Tawse Tasting Bar

Purchased from Tawse Winery on July 14, 2013.  My notes: Grapes from the Academy Vineyard in Vineland, Ontario and produced for the Academy by Tawse..  A charcoal tinted see-through ruby with a soft black cherry nose. The film is thin releasing many fast tears from a solid rim. The first sip is light-bodied, satin smooth with delicate tannins and matching acid. A pleasing light red cherry flavour with a bramble accent leads a long dry finish - a reasonable social sipper. Perhaps difficult to pair, I'd try vegetarian pizza, a plate of lightly sauced roasted back ribs or bbq'd pork tenderloin. A drink now and likely past peak. 83   

TAWSE LAUNDRY VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Vineland, Ontario, 13.0%  D  4g/L, #Winery  $32.15  (Tasted July 23, 2013)

Purchased from the winery on July 14, 2013. My notes: The 2009 vintage was released by Vintages (#130997, $31.95) and was rated 91 by Natalie MacLean (August 5, 2011) and 90 by Rick VanSickle  (July 27, 2011). Charcoal hued ruby opaque to view. A sniff senses warm, crushed berries and a faint presence of clove and anise. A swirl leaves a viscous film draining from a continuous rim through long, instant legs. Silky smooth, bright on the palate with a polite acid and fine tannin on the swallow for a nicely medium-bodied sipper ending on a chalk dry note. No jam here with a well presented fruity Cabernet Franc. Pair with grilled beef on the mild side. May be past cellaring.  89

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Ontario Rieslings 2013: 13 Tasted of 13

Much has been said about Riesling being a signature white grape for the Niagara wine region consequently I've selected a baker's dozen available from our local LCBO to explore possible variations in terroir and style of Rieslings from a dozen Niagara wineries.

There were only two criteria for selecting wines for this blog entry:
  • Price <$25 give or take
  • VQA level of a Bench or sub-appellation

Other than the budgetary consideration I don't believe in funding even part of a luxuriant lifestyle of the 'rich & famous'. I look for value and the higher the bottle price the more stringent is my scrutiny. (Other discussions: Ref 1, Ref 2 ) And secondly... I have as focus the theory that grapes of a type from one vineyard will have a different character, especially flavour, than those from another vineyard and those of one Bench to that of another. Retaining this difference should be a key factor in the style and process used by the respective winemaker.

The corollary is that blending across Benches, as in 'VQA Niagara Peninsula' and 'VQA Ontario', in my view, loses this emphasis on "Somewhereness" not that these two VQA levels don't or won't differ from other regions in Ontario and in Canada. 

IRF International Riesling Foundation
A previous blog entry, Niagara Appellations, describes in more detail the viticultural areas of the Niagara Peninsula. Essentially there are 2 super-appellations (Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake) containing 7 (Short Hills Bench, Twenty Mile Bench, Beamsville Bench and Niagara River, Niagara Lakeshore, Four Mile Creek, St. David's Bench respectively) sub-appellations and there are 3 additional sub-appellations (Creek Shores, Lincoln Lakeshore and Vinemount Ridge).

With the exception of Niagara Lakeshore and St. David's Bench each area is represented in The Lineup below. For any of the ten sub-appellations to be named on the front label 100% of the grapes must come from that area.

Cheers, Ww


An aside: If you have used the LCBO search app on their website you may find it somewhat awkward and limited. For example: You'd think a major proponent of VQA accreditation would allow a search of their inventory for VQA levels, ie. VQA Niagara River, VQA St David's etc. Naaddaa! VQA levels aren't part of a Canadian wine on file.  Also every time a wine or number is searched it's erased and you have to start from scratch for your next search. Do that 100 times a week and it's time consuming. Also to find inventory in your area(s) you have to select the areas, 1 by 1, each time... no setting up personal settings. etc.


  • Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Riesling 2012 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 90Cellar  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #198853  $23.95  
  • Greenlane Estate 'Old Vines' Riesling 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 90-1  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #283432 $29.95
  • Malivoire Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment,  89-2  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #277483 $15.95(now $13.95) 
  • Henry of Pelham Family Estate Riesling 2010 VQA Short Hills Bench, 89-2  --  V, St. Catharines, Ontario, #557165 $15.95 
  • 13th Street Winery 'June's Vineyard' Riesling 2011 VQA Creek Shores, 89-1  --  G,  St. Catharines, Ontario, #147512 $19.95
  • Earth & Sky Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  87-1  --  G, NotL, Ontario,  #343350 $14.95 
  • Chateau des Charmes 'Old Vines' Riesling 2010 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  87-1  --  V,  NotL, Ontario, #277228  $16.95 
  • Thirty Bench Riesling 2012 VQA Beamsville Bench, 87  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #024133 $18.95
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Riesling 2011 VQA Beamsville Bench, 86  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #286377 $17.95  
  • Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery Riesling 2012 VQA Four Mile Creek, 85  --  G,  NotL, Ontario, #241547 $14.95 
  • Reif Estate Winery Riesling 2010 VQA Niagara River, 83  --  G, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, #111799 $11.95
  • Vineland Estates Winery Dry Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 83 --  G, Vineland, Ontario, #167551 $13.95 
  • Flat Rock Cellars Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2011 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 82  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #578625  $19.95 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES  'OLD VINES' RIESLING 2010 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 12.5% D 8g/L, #277228   $16.95  (Tasted July 18, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on March 30, 2013. Rated 3.5 of 5 by Michael Pinkus (August 15, 2012).  My notes:  A nose with a difference, somewhat green apple with a hint of ground nutmeg and the colour is a delicate yellow. A thin film leaves a lacy rim dropping a few fast tears - the first sip is bright on the tongue drying the palate while adding a flavour of mild lemon with a hint of tangerine. Ends with a faint lemon/lime and mild chalk. Have with fish/crab cakes or grilled basil and tomato bruschetta. Best served 15oC+.  87

GREENLANE ESTATE  'OLD VINES' RIESLING 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.4%  M  24g/L,  #283432  $29.95  (Tasted July 18, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012 and rated 91 by Beppi Crosariol  (August 17, 2011).  My notes:  A slight pear and beeswax aroma from a green tinted polished delicate yellow. The film sticks then runs long slow legs. The first sip lays down a spicy acid with some sweet roundness that refreshes the palate and continues into a long finish ending with a dry mineral aspect, like licking wet granite. A patio sipper for a hot and humid Ontario summer or to pair with crab or lobster pieces. Cellaring may bring forward more minerality but drinking well now. 90

MALIVOIRE RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.5%  D  18g/L, #277483  $13.95 (was $15.95)  (Tasted August 2, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 16, 2013.  My notes: Not present on the Malivoire website and price was reduced by the LCBO after purchase. The strength of the nose fades quickly on pouring although still retaining a noticeable apricot/lime blend with a mineral edge - a soft floral comes with some warmth (15oC). The colour is a natural yellow blond, sparkling bright and a swirl leaves a fragmenting rim shedding slow tears. Clean with an immediate Escarpment (chalk) dryness then a light lemon/lime touches the palate fading slowly to a dry mineral and lime ending. Has a moderate fullness and depth for a crowd or have with a grilled cod or soul fillet topping a mound of vegetable rice.  A drink now. 89

TAWSE  QUARRY ROAD VINEYARD RIESLING 2012 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Vineland, Ontario, 10.0%  D  20g/L, #198853   $23.95  (Tasted July 23, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 31, 2012 and rated 92 by John Szabo, MS  (August 2012)  My notes: A polished, light yellow colour and a scent that needs time to develop as the glass goes off chill, then a touch of beeswax and lemon. Chalk dry from the start leading into an intense lemon tartness and flavour. A light film leaves a fragmenting rim rapidly disintegrating into nodules on the glass. Ends with a long period of chalky lemon refreshing as a sipper - a tooth cleaner. Pair with a BLT, hard cheeses or grilled tilapia on a bed of Basmati rice. Still quite young - several years cellaring may evolve a rounder texture while retaining its light-bodied appeal.  90Cellar

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2011  VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 11.5% D 14g/L, #286377  $17.95  (Tasted July 16, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2013. My notes:  A faint scent of apples and a faded grapefruit colour followed by a soft acid and grapefruit flavour has appeal as a sipper by itself or with a tray of cheeses. Wonderfully rich when quaffed. The finish would be short except for a lasting acid and suspicion of sweet apple. Went well with steamed Nova Scotia lobsters flown in fresh with a returning traveller. A drink now.  86

CATTAIL CREEK FAMILY ESTATE WINERY RIESLING 2012 VQA Four Mile Creek,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.5%  D  17g/L, #241547  $14.95  (Tasted July 8, 2013)  CS

A General listing. My notes:  A polished pale yellow with a thin film that runs a few fast legs and a mild aroma of limestone are the first senses. Then a sip adds a light citrus tang, a smooth seam and slight chalk edge ending soft on the palate. Attractive as a social sipper for its mid palate burst of flavour, a tactful acid and sweetness. Have with lightly seasoned grilled or poached white fish or shellfish. A drink now. 85

EARTH & SKY 2011 RIESLING VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NotL, Ontario, 12.5%  D 12.8g/L,  #343350  $14.95  (Tasted August 1, 2013)  CS

A General listing produced by Chateau Des Charmes owned by the Bosc family.  My notes: A well balanced social mixer with a delicate sliced dried apricot nose. The colour is a yellow blond and lays a thin film that runs long legs from a lacy rim on the initial swirl. The first sip brings a smooth texture and appealing apricot flavour with refreshing acid and a slight spice - best at 14-15oC.  Save a few for social happenings as a starter or as a flexible complement to a selection of seafood, rice dishes or chicken casserole. I don't see this cellaring long but a drink now to a year. 87

REIF ESTATE WINERY RIESLING 2010 VQA Niagara River, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, 12.0%  D  13g/L, #111799   $11.95  (Tasted July 24, 2013)  CS

A General listing produced by the Reif Winery.  My notes:  Serve well chilled. A mid yellow colour with an aroma of lemon and slight vanilla on opening dissipating as the wine airs leaving mainly a softer scent.  A firm film leaves a continuous rim that slowly accumulates and sheds slow tears. There's an appealing burst of tart lemon seed flavour with a bite and dryness that lasts before ending with a mild crushed lemon seed ending. A hint of sweet, no more. Try pairing with Asian foods: sweet and sour chicken, pork fried rice with soy or lobster claws. Did not pair well with grilled chicken thighs in a yellow plum sauce. A drink now. 83

FLAT ROCK CELLARS NADJA'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2011 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 11.0% D 14g/L, #578625  $19.95  (Tasted July 13, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012. My notes:  A pale blond with a lime and green apple aroma suggests this to be a refreshing sipper. The film is thin quickly draining a fragmenting rim through long fast legs. The first sip has an acidic bite that quickly begs a prosciutto wrapped asparagus spear or plate of stuffed mushrooms. Not a sipper by itself. Flavours fade quickly leaving a slight oil on the lips and a chalk dry finish. Have with fresh oysters, grilled halibut or cod on a bed of Basmati sprinkled with soy or with lobster. A drink now. 82

VINELAND ESTATES WINERY DRY RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Vineland, Ontario, 10.0% XD  ?g/L, #167551  $13.95  (Tasted July 29, 2013)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: A light yellow with a green hue and a nose of lemon and a background spice aroma - perhaps anise. The film, with a swirl, is thin leaving a lacy rim and quickly draining to lots of small globules on the glass. The first sip shows the low alcohol, has a drying texture with low fruit and teeth cleaning acid. Could be a sipper with a buffet table of hard cheeses and stuffed mushrooms, etc. - if a social function I'd keep a backup. Pair with fresh oysters or an Asian dim sum. A commercial drink now. I've changed LCBO's M to XD.  83

THIRTY BENCH RIESLING 2012 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.6%  M 23g/L, #024133  $18.95  (Tasted July 29, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2013 and an Andrew Peller Limited wine.  My notes: A touch of lemon and soft spice on the nose with a thin film sticking then slowly fragmenting on the glass - a light blond colour. A touch of lemon and young grapefruit filtered of any sediment or pulp - a very clean, biting first sip. Retains a bright fruitiness initially then slowly fades to a mildly unctuous, chalk dry ending. Begs a buffet assortment of bacon bits and tomato bruschetta, pigs-in-a-blanket, fresh oysters or to be paired with grilled tilapia on a bed of mushroom risotto. For cellaring, still young, I'd try a year at a time. A drink now.  87

13TH STREET WINERY  'JUNE'S VINEYARD' RIESLING 2011 VQA Creek Shores,  St. Catharines, Ontario, 12.0%  D  16g/L, #147512  $19.95  (Tasted July 8, 2013)  CS

A General listing. My notes:  I have to stop admiring the bouquet so I can think how to describe it... it's floral with a touch of tropical fruit. A pale yellow and a thin film is the visual look then a sip puts a chalk layer in the roof of the mouth and tongue that comes before and after a burst of delicate keylime taste, just noticeably off dry. A tang and chalk continue for a long finish. Have with anything Asian or sip as a chilled cooler on a summer day. Cellaring? 89

HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY ESTATE RIESLING 2010 VQA Short Hills Bench, St Catharines, Ontario, 11.0%  M  21g/L,  #557165  $15.95  (Tasted July 30, 2013) 

A Vintages release on June 22, 2013.  My notes:I swear there was a whiff of tangerine on opening that airs quickly leaving a just perceptible blend of lemon and apple on the nose. A light yellow colour and a thin film with a lacy rim that drains quickly leaving the glass bare. A silky first sip has a mild tang that's nicely balanced with Gala apple that includes a matching sweet note. A flexible white to have with Thai dishes with/without some heat, Asian with soft spices or coconut shrimp and Tempura vegetables. Keep a few on hand for that spontaneous party with Home Delivered Chinese or Japanese fare. Should be able to cellar for several years. 89

Monday, July 01, 2013

BC Wines: 8 Tasted of 8

Okanagan Valley looking South (197?)
The limited interpretation by the LCBO for cross border shipping regulations between Ontario and other Canadian provinces continues to throttle purchases of thousands of excellent vintages grown and bottled in more than 200 wineries of  British Columbia. A recent trip to Vancouver garnered just three of the bottles below. The other three came from a meagre representation on a local LCBO Vintages shelf.

Why only a few direct from BC? That's all my spouse could carry in her luggage. Courier shipment of BC wines even for personal consumption isn't possible or iffy and if you don't travel by car the limit becomes as much as you can stow away on your person - the de facto definition of 'personal consumption', in our case 3 days worth or an evening with a few guests. 

A BC Open Tasting Bar  (197?)
The LCBO, with the  complicity of the Ontario Government, continues to starve Ontario consumers and to lose the opportunity for revenue from this monopoly restricted market. 

One politician claims to support wine sales in local supermarkets. Groceterias and corner stores stocking food and household staples would also be allowed to stock wines. In my view, the very last proprietor to warrant acquiring an inventory of worthwhile Canadian or foreign wines is the manager of a supermarket, generally speaking. They are looking for high margins, volume sales and more efficient sourcing and distribution with low cost, secure  warehousing. Wines let alone Value wines haven't been their focus, a focus that can't be acquired with the flick of a legislation switch. The focus of this side of government is on the revenues from Ontario consumers buying cheap labels - you know which they are - believing this will satisfy the wine consumer. What it won't satisfy are the thousands of Ontario wine enthusiasts wanting a wider selection of BC wines. 

'Silence' has been the current position of those in the Ontario and Canadian Wine Trade: Grape Growers, Wineries, professional Wine Critics & Tasters, Sommeliers, Event Promoters, etc. for obvious reasons. From my perspective those deriving a benefit from the local wine market will be the last to support a freer Canadian market. Perhaps it's much easier to say it's not their fight. It's unfortunate there are no influential advocates for the Ontario wine enthusiast.

PS. Not mentioned above and yet having the highest potential as the most experienced purveyors in the Province are the agents and distributors already licensed to obtain and sell wine. Unfortunately these companies are as exposed as are the wineries, restaurants and boutique shops having to comply with the master/slave Licensing regulations - don't comply and lose your License.  Take away this Licensing power from the LCBO and a flood of retail shops would soon open to sell labels from the wine producing regions of the world. Setting up independent wine shops would be as fast as leasing a storefront. A whole marketing identity would be established supplying the public with products and the Government with taxes. 

However, the popular film title 'Silence of the Lambs' comes to mind with the LCBO playing the part of Hannibal eating the flesh of the innocent. Those that are silent continue to be slaughtered, metaphorically speaking, along with the rest of us.

The other aspect is the possible increase in competition with Ontario's proclaimed 'premium' wineries. No longer could they inflate prices based on an 'icon' status attributed them by their friends and followers. Many may have to resort to pricing based on Value, not the cosmetics of self adulation. Personally I don't believe competition from within or foreign will have much effect. Wine consumption will expand rapidly and all Canadian wineries will benefit from this freer market.

What say ye o'silent one? 


THE LINEUP: Reds then whites

  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley, 91-1  --  O, Oliver, BC,  $33.00
  • Cassini Cellars Merlot 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley,  87a  --  V, Osoyoos, BC, #324319  $21.95  
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Syrah 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley, 86  --  O, Oliver, BC, $33.00
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Noir 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley, 84  --  V,  Okanagan, BC,  #545012  $24.95
  • Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 88-1  --  O, Oliver, BC, $18.99
  • Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 87 --  O, Oliver, BC,  $18.49
  • Quail's Gate Chenin Blanc 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 84  --  O, West Kelowna, BC, $18.99
  • Calliope Sauvignon Blanc 2011 VQA British Columbia, 83  --  V, Oliver, BC, #258905  $19.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


BURROWING OWL ESTATE WINERY SYRAH 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley , Oliver, BC, 14.0%  XD  TA: 7.4g/L,  BC#  $33.00  (Tasted July 2, 2013) 

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013.   My notes:  The colour of a black cherry skin with a film that stays firm until releasing a ring of slow tears from a solid rim. The nose has a delicate blackberry and currant scent, a touch of pepper increasing the presence. The first sip has a fine tannin to carry earthy spice, appealing as a sipper, light in texture with an intense hard blackberry flavour. The tang at the start carries bold flavours forward changing to a finish with a metallic aspect and drying on the palate. A good starter for a social crowd altho' the finish may lose some interest - the solution... keep quaffing. Also lost much of its boldness pairing with bbq'd burgers 'with the works' on a cheese bun. Matching with a milder vegetarian pizza or rack of lamb may be preferable.  A drink now. 86

BURROWING OWL ESTATE WINERY CABERNET FRANC 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley,  Oliver, BC, 14.5%  XD  TA:7.4g/L,  BC#  $33.00  (Tasted July 9, 2013)  CS

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013.   My notes:A soft aroma of crushed blackberries with a touch of raspberry and an appealing spice and a dark ruby colour.  A swirl leaves a light film with legs running freely draining a rim of tears. A pleasing spark of acid starts a sip, a velvet layer unfolds luscious fruit blended with a cassis edge and ending with drying tannins. Have with anything beefy, grilled or bbq'd or with a tray of hard cheeses. Cellaring several years may replace some current youthfulness with a mellow maturity for wider matching.  Drinking nicely now.  91
TINHORN CREEK PINOT GRIS 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley , Oliver, BC,  12.9%  XD LT2.0g/L,  #BC  $18.99  CS

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013. Grapes from the Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench My notes:  A pale golden blond with a floral aspect to a melon aroma - serve at 14oC+ for an interesting social sipper. A thin film runs long legs with a firm swirl then fragments. The first sip has a polite acid balanced with a slight cream and fruity melon. Nicely dry on the swallow refreshing by itself as an aperitif and interesting for the long soft finish. Has a fullness to go with fresh oysters, bacon wrapped scallops, a tray of coconut shrimp or a Bento Box of tempura veggies and seafood pieces. Short cellaring. 88

TINHORN CREEK GEWURZTRAMINER 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, Oliver, BC,  12.9%  XD  7.08g/L,  BC#  $18.49  (Tasted July 10, 2013) 

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013. Grapes from the 'Tinhorn Creek' vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench.  My notes:  A polished light blond that needs to warm before showing a soft, faint scent of crushed grapefruit seed. The film is firm then runs slow tears from a fragmented rim. Serve at or above 12oC. A sharpness accompanies a well rounded texture with grapefruit, tangerine and apple all hiding their individuality but presenting an interesting blending. Ends with a slight chalk dryness on a long, tangy, cheek shrinking finish. Have with grilled/broiled fresh fish or shellfish or sip with soft cheeses. A drink now.  87

QUAILS' GATE CHENIN BLANC 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley ,  West Kelowna, BC,  13.0%  D  5g/L,  BC#  $18.99  (Tasted July 2, 2013)  

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013.  A blend of 92% Chenin Blanc and 8% Sauvignon Blanc.   My notes:  A hint of green to a delicate blond colour and an aroma of musty honeydew melon at 9oC shifting to a grassy Granny Smith as the temp creeps higher. The film holds to a solid rim quickly draining through long legs first then small tears. A crabapple adds to the tangy flavour along with a chalky background laying on the palate for a long finish. As a sipper I found it to have an 'acquired taste'. A well balanced thirst quencher for a stay in the shade or perhaps with a lime squeeze following a fast squash game? Should go well with Asian foods - a drink now.   84
MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley,  Okanagan, BC,  13.0%  D  6g/L,  #545012  $24.95  (Tasted July 5, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 16, 2013 and rated 89 by Anthony Gismondi & Stuart Tobe (October 6, 2012).   My notes:  The nose is an appealing blend of raspberry and red currant with a modest tang and slight smoke. Pours with a see through ruby colour muted by a charcoal cast. The film is light leaving a thin rim draining through fast tears. Thin-bodied, a bright red cherry and slight herb provides some interest and airs quickly leaving straight fruit with fine tannins for a dry, mellow, clean finish. A polite social sipper for an open buffet or have with a tuna steak or vegetarian pizza. A drink now. 84

CASSINI CELLARS MERLOT 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley, Osoyoos, BC,  13.2%  XD  3.2g/L, #324319  $21.95  (Tasted July 4, 2013)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 25, 2013.  My notes:  A deep ruby with a slight purple cast and having a scent of raspberry blueberry jam but not jammy. A swirl leaves a solid rim draining through long fast legs. A medium-bodied rich raspberry blueberry flavour adds a warming sensation for a long finish, a layer of fine tannin and an extra dry end. Decanting or aerating tames a core of acid that builds when sipping. Perfect for a buffet of mixed appetizers or have with beef steaks, ribs, tenderloin, rack of lamb and a gamut of meaty cheesy pizzas. Without aerating five years cellaring may take some of the bite from mid palate - seems young now. Watch for sediment.  87a
CALLIOPE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 VQA British Columbia, Oliver, BC, 13.5%  XD  6g/L,  #258905  $19.95  (Tasted July 4, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on June 22, 2013 and an entry level wine from a division of Burrowing Owl. My notes: A polished pale straw for colour and a honeycomb with a citrus gooseberry edge for a nose, just noticeable as the temp goes to 14oC+.  The rim separates quickly fragmenting as islands on the glass. The first nip is pleasing with some latent gooseberry showing as the freshness of the acid leads into an extra dry finish. A social sipper having the astringent aspect of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc without the strong presence of fruit. Have with seafood or chicken breast in a cream sauce or grilled and sliced.  A drink now. 83

July 2013 Wines - 14 Tasted of 14

Tauranga, NZ from the Shoals
Stay healthy! Drink at least 8 glasses of wine a day.



  • Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2011,  93a-3 -- V, Tanunda, South Australia, #167189  $20.95
  • Rutherglen Single Vineyard Petite Sirah 2008, 93-2  --  V, Victoria, Australia, #179127 $21.95
  • Marchesi di Barolo Maraia Barbera Monferrato 2011, 92a-3  --  V,  Barolo, Italy, #748277 $16.95 
  • Stoneleigh Latitude Pinot Noir 2011, 90-1  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #325654 $24.95
  • Beringer Founders' Estate Syrah 2009, 89a-1  --  V, Napa, California, #919654 $18.95 
  • Romain Duvernay Cairanne 2010, 89-1  --  V, Rhône, France, #320465 $19.95
  • Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel, 86-1  --  G, Napa, California, #308163  $13.85  
  • Brazin (B) Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 2010, 85  --  V, Lodi, California, #256750 $19.95   
  • Domaine de la Tete Noire Vacqueyras 2010, 83a  --  V, Rhône, France, #323675  $22.95 

  • Mont'Albano Pinot Grigio 2012, 92-3  --  V, Fruili, Italy, #249532 $15.95
  • Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2012,  92-2  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ #324228 $21.95
  • Steve Bird Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2012, 90-2  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #178319 $18.95 
  • Philippe Portier Quincy 2011, 89-1  --  V, Loire, France, #326876 $17.95   
  • Simonsig Chenin avec Chene Chenin Blanc 2009, 89a  --  V,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #282772 $28.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


PEPPERWOOD GROVE OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2011, Napa, California, 14.0%  D  .2g/L,  #308163  $13.85  (Tasted July 29, 2013) 

A General listing.  My notes:  As well as the Pepperwood site two others, Everything Wine and Demystifiedvine, provide some detail about this wine from Don Sebestiani & Sons. The colour is a deep ruby and the nose has a scent of strawberry-raspberry jam. A viscous film coats the glass leaving a full rim that eventually drains through snail-slow legs. The first sip has a satin texture and bright acid filling the senses with fruit flavours then a milder fruit carries into a long finish ending extra dry and lightly herbal. Initially an intense medium-bodied sipper mellowing to reveal fruit. Pair with a meat lasagna, bbq'd back ribs or seared steaks. Cellaring for several years could maintain present level. A commercial drink now. 86

STONELEIGH LATITUDE PINOT NOIR  2011, Marlborough, NZ, 14.0% XD  5g/L,  #325654  $24.95  (Tasted July 1, 2013) 
Released by Vintages on June 22, 2013 and rated 4 out of 5 by Bob Campbell, MW (August 2012).  My notes:  Has a see through red cherry colour, light on pouring with a thinnish film leaving a fragmenting rim. The nose has a polite intensity and the taint of American oak, pleasing to sniff. On the way to being silky but for a sharp tang delaying a tad a red cherry and red currant flavouring that comes out in a long dry warm finish. I have to sniff periodically, delicious.  Have with a ham steak with raisins or roast turkey slices with cranberry sauce. Cellaring for several years may smoothe, quite bright now and likely at peak. 90

STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC  2012, Marlborough, NZ. 13.5%  XD  3g/L, #324228  $21.95  (Tasted July 1, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on June 22, 2013 and rated 5 out of 5 by Vic Harradine (December 4, 2012). My notes:  There's a freshness to the gooseberry scent that wakens the senses inviting the first sip. The film is firm leaving a lacy rim slow to accumulate and shed tears. The colour is a pale yellow. The first sip has a tang and intensity of crushed gooseberries then quickly fades to an extra dry 'green' fruit. A bright NZ style savvy  with less ripeness making a suitable pairing with flavourful grilled seafood dishes - wild Atlantic salmon, bacon wrapped scallops or battered halibut and chips - hold the vinegar. Cellaring several years may soften giving a fuller body with more depth - drinking well as a youngster now. Drink up! Doesn't keep when opened.  92

ROMAIN DUVERNAY CAIRANNE 2010, Rhône, France, 14.5%  D  6g/L, #320465  $19.95  (Tasted July 16, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on June 22, 2013 and rated 90 by James Molesworth  (September 30, 2012).  My notes: A soft aroma of damp mahogany warmed by the sun and a film that sticks leaving a smooth rim shedding long legs. The colour is charcoal tinged dense ruby and a first sip coats the tongue with furry velvet, a long tang to carry dark fruit and darker chocolate. A dry finish parches the palate while a thin tobacco says old world. Have with bacon based nibbles or liver pate on salt crackers - also grilled or roasted lamb chops and perhaps a raisin sauced ham steak. At peak now with a few more years cellaring left. 89

MARCHESI DI BAROLO MARÀIA BARBERA MONFERRATO 2011,  Barolo, Italy, 13.0% XD  5g/L, #748277  $16.95  (Tasted July 25, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and rated 90 by Bruce Sanderson  (December 15, 2012).  My notes:  A touch of purple in the intense ruby adds a regal note to the glass. Freshly crushed blueberries give a freshness on top of the rich black fruit of the nose. A swirl leaves a firm film with a continuous rim accumulating then draining though snail slow tears and a sip confirms the full-bodied dimensions of a tangy texture as it revives every sensory ability. A tad metallic on the swallow and reason to pause between sips. Pair with grilled beef steaks, beef bourguignon, lamb shank or rack. Cellaring for several years may tone down some rawness as will aerating before serving now.  92a

DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONHEART OF THE BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2011, Tanunda, South Australia,  14.0%  XD 3g/L,  #167189  $20.95  (Tasted July 11, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and rated 94 by James Halliday  (February 14, 2013).  My notes:  Must aerate or decant to bring fruit forward then an aroma of warm crushed blueberries, smoky edged for a politely nippy sniff. The film sticks then flows long legs from solid rim. The colour is opaque to the meniscus almost black with a underlying ruby richness. Full-bodied, satin textured, brightly accented with blueberries blended with redcurrant for an appealing sipper. The finish has a rawness countering a layer of thick tannins while retaining the brightness. A plus is a nicely balanced warmth.  Cellaring several years could mellow and integrate producing an outstanding red. Have with a pepper steak or Barbarian rubbed bbq'd beef ribs. 93aCellar

DOMAINE DE LA TÊTE NOIRE VACQUEYRAS 2010, Rhône, France, 14.0%  XD  3g/L, #323675   $22.95  (Tasted JUly 19, 2013)  CS
Released by Vintages on June 8, 2013 and rated 90-92 by Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, (January/February 2012).  My notes: A dense ruby colour with an intense, spicy blackberry and herbal nose. A thick film sticks then slowly builds a smooth rim draining through slow tears. Let air or decant for an hour to settle aromas and flavours. The first sip lays a 'fuzzy' carpet for a blackberry, raspberry and red currant medley, the 'fuzz' continuing long after flavours have faded ending with a bright dried berry taste. Too intense as a sipper but a buffet of spicy sweet appetizers may subdue the beast - or have with a pepper steak or plate of grilled Barberian's rubbed back ribs. Cellaring may mellow a robust fermentation process but not likely.  83a

SIMONSIG CHENIN AVEC CHÊNE CHENIN BLANC 2009,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.5%  D  6g/L, #282772   $28.95  (Tasted August 7, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012 and rated 93 by Neal Martin  (August 2011). My notes: A bright mid golden with aromas of honey, faint beeswax and pear. A moderate film leaves a solid rim flowing long legs. The first sip has two flavour aspects, one of dry citrus and grass, the other of nicely rounded honey and pear following the nose. These recombine lasting as a tangy, dry, silky finish. An odd flavour profile may be an acquired taste for some when served as a solitary sipper - reminded me new oak. This profile may also conflict with delicately seasoned entrées - have a backup. Cellaring for several years could bring the fruit forward or emphasize the dry grass - go year by year. Aerating resolves some issues and is recommended.  89a

STEVE BIRD WINERY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  D  7g/L, #178319  $18.95  (Tasted August 8, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and rated 95 by Bob Campbell, MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine (April/May 2013).  My notes:  A pale yellow leaving a thin film that quickly fragments from the rim. The nose has an aroma of young fruit crushed with stems giving an overall fruity rawness. This carries over to the first sip which adds more gooseberry fruit filling out both the texture and body for a refreshing mouthful. The finish is long, extra dry, ending with a penetrating rawness but building a sweet kiss on the lips. A drink now for NZ Savvy lovers or to pair with any seafood entrée. I'd cellar year by year to see where it's going. 90

PHILIPPE PORTIER QUINCY 2011, Loire, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #326876  $17.95  (Tasted August 12, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. My notes: I would have to say 'the nose has left the building' although there is a slight pear on pouring. The colour is a mid golden, crisp and clean and a swirl leaves an evenly thin film slowly receding from a lacy rim down to the meniscus. A sip senses a smooth pear, some Granny Smith apple, a tang to go with a touch of sweet then a delicate chalky mineral. Some of the fruit fades leaving mainly pear and the drying mineral on the palate. Serve with prosciutto wrapped asparagus, bruschetta , or garlic shrimp. Cellaring for a year or two should maintain current profile and several bottles kept on hand would meet unexpected social or dining needs. 89-1

RUTHERGLEN SINGLE VINEYARD PETITE SIRAH 2008, Victoria, Australia, 14.5% XD 6g/L,  #179127 $21.95  (Tasted July 22, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and rated 91 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW (June 2011)  My notes:  A deep purple cast ruby showing a thick film that drains a smooth rim through slow legs. Noticeable acid balances an intense blackberry, soaked prunes and a tinge of moist raisin and currant pudding. The first sip has a strong acid carried along with a moderate warmth and a background of black fruit finishing dry with a touch of raw steel. Pair with beef back ribs, a pepper steak or T-bone. Sipping in a soft leather chair, feet up with a classic mystery could finish the bottle. Five years now and cellaring several more years is likely with some mellowing expected. 93

BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE SYRAH 2009, Napa, California, 13.9%  D  8g/L, #919654  $18.95  (Tasted July 12, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and rated 89 by David Lawrason (March 16, 2011). A product of Treasury Wine Estates.  My notes: After an initial tasting I let this stay in the corked bottle overnight. The colour is a purple stained ruby with a tint of charcoal. The nose has a prominent pepper edge to aromas of black currant softened by cherry and a film that sticks then a rim dropping slow legs. Dry and bold with tang equal to the flavours leaving the tongue and throat fuzzy and warm. A sipper if you prefer intensity or have with bacon based finger foods. Rack of lamb, pepper steak or a lamb shank could compete. A drink now. 89a

MONT'ALBANO PINOT GRIGIO 2012,  Fruili, Italy, 12.0% XD  5g/L, #249532  $15.95  (Tasted July 25, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and certified as an organic wine.  My notes:  There's a hint of copper to the polished mid yellow colour. A dusty pear adds to aromas of lemon and Gala apple, together prominent although each is delicate. A swirl leaves a mounded rim waiting to release slow tears. A sip welcomes tropical fruit with a lemon tartness and smooth texture, extra dry, not sharp, well balanced, medium-bodied. Wonderful by itself as a summer sipper. Would complement a range of seafood dishes including crab cakes, scallops or fresh oysters then as an after dinner refresher. A drink now with a few years cellaring potential - not longer.  92

BRAZIN (B)OLD VINE ZINFANDEL LODI 2010, Lodi, California, 15.0%  XD  8g/L,  #256750  $19.95  (Tasted July 27, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and produced by Delicato Family Vineyards.  My notes:  A light viscosity fragments quickly on the glass leaving only bead clusters. The nose has an initial penetrating intensity followed by black fruit aromas, a combination of blackberries, black cherries and vanilla. A generous sip leaves a tannin layer with bright berry flavouring, an acid bite and warmth forms a long extra dry finish. A sipper for those preferring rawness in their beverage. We plan to pair with grilled lamb cubes and caramelized onion with sour cream in pitas. A commercial red and a drink now.  85