It was a small-ish tasting, featuring 13 wines from their Classic, Elevation, and Reserve Series, with a focus more on licensees as most of the wines presented were only available for purchase direct through the winery (or the Agent).
Vineland Estates is located on the Niagara Escarpment and has been elevating the wine and culinary experience for over 30 years. The site features some very old structures, including the landmark stone tower that stands over a former Mennonite homestead with structures that date back to the 1840s. These structures now encompass a restaurant, retail store and wine tasting bar, underground barrel cellar, and the Carriage House that's used for private events. I have personally visited the winery quite a few times and have also enjoyed dinners at their restaurant.
In more recent news, the winery acquired a high-tech optical sorter to help produce better wines, in particular Cabernet Sauvignon. This grape requires a very long growing season to fully ripen, and is quite difficult to achieve full ripeness in the cool-climate region of Niagara. Every harvest produces exceptional grapes in all varieties, but the challenge is to find the best grapes out of the hundreds (or thousands) of tonnes that are produced. This cutting edge device optically sorts each individual grape according to ripeness levels at a rate of 10 tonnes per hour and discards the grapes that don't meet requirements. Vineland Estates' winemaker Brian Schmidt calls this technology a "game changer", and I fully expect an increase in quality in their wines going forward. Their "Game Changer" Red and White wines are made in reference to this technology.
Wine reviews of my 5 favourite wines from this tasting are provided below, a couple of which are available at the LCBO.
Tasting Notes:VINELAND ESTATES BRUT RESERVE 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (D) - $28.00
Blended with 48.1% Pinot Meunier, 42.5% Chardonnay and 9.4% Riesling and using the Charmat Method to create this fine bubbly. Aromas of medium-high intensity showing citrus, peach, brioche, toasty, yeasty, and lemon/lime nose. It's medium-full bodied with fine, creamy bubbles providing a very next texture. Peach and citrus flavours on the palate are a touch sweet. Acids are juicy and well-balanced. Long, satisying finish. This is very fine. Score: 90 pts
VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (MS) - $19.95
Served much too cold, but hints of orange citrus, petrol, Flintstones vitamins, and golden apple peek through as it warms. It's medium-bodied with nice, brisk acidity to keep things fresh. Pleasing semi-sweet aroma replays on the palate with nuances of apple and honey. Finish is long and minerally. First released into VINTAGES on December 10th. Score: 89 pts
VINELAND ESTATES GAME CHANGER RED 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#457523) (XD) - $14.95
A blend of 92% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium intensity aromas of red and black fruits, subtle oak spice and currant which continue on the flavour profile. Sweet tannins are supple and nicely structured on the medium-bodied palate. Acids are fresh. Some bretty notes on the long finish. Score: 86 pts
VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CABERNET 2014 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $28.00
Blend of 67% Cabernet Franc and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Somewhat closed (but should show well after short decant), this has currant, herbally, cassis and mineral aromas. It's full-bodied with nicely integrated tannins that are refined and smooth. Aroma replays are nicely balanced on the flavour profile. Acids are very good and finish is long. Score: 89 pts
VINELAND ESTATES SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MS) (375 mL) - $24.95
Highly aromatic and appealing nose offers sweet cassis jelly, currant, strawberry jam and liqueur which continue on the medium-full bodied palate. A touch spicy on the mid-palate with balanced acids. Finishes long and a touch dry. Score: 88+ pts