County in The City walk-around wine tasting held at The Berkeley Church in downtown Toronto. Having attended this event since it's inception back in 2012, I have found that my appreciation for Prince Edward County wines has grown - and for good reason.
Two years ago, I did not have much appreciation for Pinot Noir, and after attending County in the City in 2012, I think I liked it even less. Following the event in 2012, I was left with an impression that (nearly) everyone out there in PEC was making heavily oaked, smoky Pinot Noir - a style which I did not enjoy back then, nor do I enjoy now. A year later, the same wines showed much more restraint and balance and were generally much better in quality. In 2013 I also came away with a few favourites that I would have loved to add to my cellar.
One of the biggest draws of this event is the ability to order the wines that you taste and have it shipped to your door for free. Taking it one step further - you can mix and match wines from any of the wineries in attendance, so long as you order a minimum of 6 bottles total. Such a great idea (!) as many of these wines are not available at the LCBO.
This year, there were many yummy wines. The star grape for me at CITC was Riesling, followed closely by Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. All of the Rieslings had some level of sweetness to them, which I really enjoyed. Some even reminded me of German Riesling - with its high acidity, sweetness, and petrol nose.
Wineries in Prince Edward County frequently label their wines as "VQA Ontario". Often, this is because the grapes for those particular wines come from more than one appellation - usually Prince Edward County and Niagara. Personally, I am not a fan of blending grapes from different appellations, but I am sure they have their reasons for doing it. Wines that use 100% County fruit will be labelled as VQA Prince Edward County. Among my wine recommendations below, you will find wines with both types of classifications.
Here are wine reviews of the some of the wines I tasted during the evening. While all of these wines will be available at the winery, a select few are available at the LCBO. I am planning a trip out to the County during the Summer - send me a quick note if you're interested in joining me. Cheers!
CASA-DEA RIESLING 2011 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#) (MD) - $16.95
High intensity aromas of petrol and beeswax. Light-bodied and medium-dry sweet with mineral, lime and hints of peach on the palate. Bright acids and a taut, medium-long finish. Light and easy drinking. Score: 88+
HUFF ESTATES OFF-DRY RIESLING 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#155606) (D) - $17.95
Because of the VQA Ontario designation, this will contain Niagara fruit, as well as County fruit. Medium-high intensity aromas of beeswax, petrol and minerals. Medium-full bodied with bracing acids. Off-dry in sweetness with lime and peach palate. Long finish that's a bit tart and a touch hot. LCBO General List and readily available. Score: 89 pts
KARLO ESTATES RIESLING 2012 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#) (MD) - $22
Lovely spring flower bouquet from the glass. Medium-dry in sweetness with nice floral replays, fruity, petrol and what reminds me of Flintstones vitamins. Vibrant acids and finishing long. Easy drinking and crowd pleasing. Score: 89 pts
KARLO ESTATES VAN ALSTINE WHITE 2010 - Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#) (S) - $29
Blend of estate grown Frontenac Blanc and Gewürztraminer made in a port-style. Medium intensity aromas that is all melon. Oily texture with sweet melon, orange and citrus flavours on the palate. Lively acid and a long finish. Delicious. Score: 90 pts
LIGHTHALL VINEYARDS GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (D) - $25
Medium-high aromas of lychee and floral. Lightweighted with nicely balanced aroma replays and minerality. It's off-dry (slightly sweet) with a crisp mouthfeel. Has good acids and a long finish. Classic Gewurz. Score: 89 pts
LIGHTHALL VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2010 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $25
Medium-high aromas featuring red currant, cherry and cola. Medium+ bodied with very good acids. Flavour profile echoes the nose with spice, red currants and cherries. Oak leads the way on the long finish. Score: 89 pts
NORMAN HARDIE PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#208702) (XD) - $39
Smoky, meaty and vegetal aromas that are of high intensity. Sour cherry, mineral and clove spice flavour on the palate. Very good acids. Medium-bodied with firm tannins and long, silky smooth finish. Very well balanced overall. Part of LCBO General List and readily available. Score: 91 pts
NORMAN HARDIE RIESLING 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (MD) - $21
Blend of 70% Twenty Mile Bench (Niagara) fruit and 30% County fruit. Highly aromatic with petrol, stone fruit, mineral and beeswax aromas. Light-bodied with clean minerals, citrus and peach on the palate. Medium-dry in the sweetness, but balanced acidity keeps everything in check. Long, clean finish. Very nice! Score: 90+ pts
ROSEHALL RUN JCR CHARDONNAY 2011 - Rosehall Vineyard, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#326512) (XD) - $30
Medium+ intensity nose featuring orchard fruits, apple, pear and oak that is all nicely balanced. Medium-bodied with nice aroma replays, balanced oak and hints of tropical fruit. Slightly oily texture with very good acids and a lengthy finish. Very nice! Score: 90 pts
ROSEHALL RUN JCR PINOT NOIR 2010 - Rosehall Vineyard, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#326504) (XD) - $39
Highly aromatic with cherry, strawberry, beetroot and oak on the nose. Medium-bodied with nice aroma replays and mouth-watering acids. Tannins are firm, yet feel light. Finish is long and spicy. Score: 90 pts