Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Niagara Wine Tasting - Get Fresh in the Valley 2017



Redstone Limestone Riesling with Fried Shrimp Slider
On , I travelled to Niagara Wine Country to visit some wineries I had never been to before, as well as participate in some of Twenty Valley's Get Fresh in the Valley food & wine experiences.

The day began at Rosewood Estates Winery, an award-winning winery and meadery. And even though I had tasted the wines from this winery before, as well as driven by many, many times, this was my first ever on-site visit. Unfortunately, I missed taking the tour which would have included an opportunity to see the apiary (beeyard), tank cellar and barrel room. On the bright side, I did get to taste through some delicious wines and mead from their current portfolio - wine reviews of my favourites are provided below.

The next stop of the day was nearby in Beamsville at Redstone Winery. The property was formerly the Thomas and Vaughan Estate Winery and purchased by Moray Tawse (of his namesake in winery in Vineland, Ontario) in 2009. In June 2015, they opened up their beautiful hospitality centre, retail tasting room, and restaurant. The Get Fresh pairing here was their very delicious 2013 Redstone Limestone Riesling with a Fried Shrimp Slider with a Buttermilk Ranch & Iceberg Slaw. The brilliant acidity in the wine complemented the Fried Shrimp very well, while the Buttermilk Ranch sauce and sweetness in the wine balanced out the touch of heat from chili powder that was added to the batter. Overall, this was very well done. This was my first ever visit and I definitely want to come back for a dining experience as the restaurant menu looks delicious! In hindsight, I wish I had picked up a bottle of the Riesling (because it's THAT good!), but hopefully it will show up in VINTAGES this Summer.

GreenLane Cabernet with Lil' Lamb Slider
My third stop of the day was a short drive away along King Street at GreenLane Estate Winery for a Lil' Lamb Slider with Mint & Caper Mayo that was paired with their 2013 GreenLane Cabernet (60% Cabernet Franc & 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, $16.95, 87 pts). The green flavours coming from both the wine and mint dominated the flavour profile in this pairing, while the tannins in the Cabernet blend offered enough structure to balance the protein. This was a very well balanced and delicious Get Fresh pairing that I would be happy to enjoy again at home since I have the recipe.

Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery was the fourth stop of the afternoon. Amazingly, in all my years of visiting Niagara, I had never been to Henry of Pelham - until this day. After tasting a few wines, I enjoyed a quick tour of Canada's largest underground barrel cellar room which houses more than 1500 barrels. The winery was founded in 1988, but the heritage of the property goes back to circa 1778 when it was deeded to the Speck Brothers great, great, great Grandfather, Nicholas Smith, and has been in the family ever since. In 1842, Nicholas' youngest son Henry - for which the winery is named - built an inn, tavern, and carriage house which now serves as the tasting room and wine boutique.

Henry of Pelham Barrel RoomHenry of Pelham Sparkling Wine Disgorging

Henry of Pelham Barrel RoomHenry of Pelham

As it was quite late in the day by the time everything wrapped up at the previous winery, the final few stops on Saturday were rather quick. I popped into Aure Wines (my first ever visit and now known as London Born Wine Co.) for a Get Fresh pairing of their delicious 2011 Aure Wild Ferment Pinot Noir and a Red Wine Cupcake Bite that was topped with Cherry Swirl Icing. The Pinot itself was quite nice, maturing well and paired nicely with the cupcake, bringing out sweet cherry flavours and baking spice notes from the wine. One wouldn't normally think of pairing Pinot with dessert, but this worked out quite well because each offered just a hint of sweetness. Aure Wines is known for their Marechal Foch and White Gamay, but unfortunately (for me) neither one was available for tasting as they were sold out. I'll have to make a point to visit again.

Aure Wild Ferment Pinot Noir wih Red Wine CupcakeFielding Rosé with Sweet Pepper Bruschetta

The next stop was at Fielding Estate Winery for a Get Fresh pairing of Sweet Pepper Bruschetta with Feta Cheese on a Focaccia, and paired with their 2016 Fielding Estate Rosé (#053421, $15.95, 86 pts). This was a very flavourful pairing with lots of interesting piquant, herbally, tart and sour flavours from the Bruschetta competing with somewhat sweet melon and herbally notes in the wine. I would call it a flavour explosion, but in a very pleasing and appealing way that still worked well together. If I get my hands on the recipe, I would definitely try this at home. If you plan to be in Niagara over the next few weeks, Fielding will be releasing the latest vintage of quite a few wines.

Angels Gate Pinot Noir with Spring Salad
My last stop of the day was at Angels Gate Winery, a winery I have known about for many years, but I recall this being my first ever visit to the site. The Get Fresh food & wine pairing here was a Spring Salad with Strawberries, Goat Cheese, Candied Pecans and Strawberry Balsamic Dressing paired with their 2014 Angels Gate Pinot Noir (#308486, $17.95, 88+ pts). The strawberry salad was delicious and really brought out the strawberry flavours in the wine, while the creamy goat cheese helped balance the acids in the balsamic dressing and the wine, leading to a very enjoyable pairing overall. Since this was my last stop, I managed to squeeze in a few tastings from a list that featured many delicious wines that had some age on them.

Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Niagara Wine Country this time around. It was especially nice to check out some wineries that I had never visited before. It was also really great that the wineries provided recipes of their food pairings - I can't wait to enjoy them at home. If anyone would like the recipe of the Fried Shrimp Slider or the Lamb Slider, please let me know and I'll send it to you.

Wine review of my favourite wines tasted at each winery are provided below. Most of these wines are only available at the winery. However, some might be available through the VINTAGES section at the LCBO.

Tasting Notes:

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ORIGIN MIMA'S BLOCK RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (D) - $15.95
Medium-high intensity aromatics offer nice petrol, orange citrus, lemon/lime and some green apple. Ripe lemon/lime flavours on the off-dry palate are balanced by tart and gentle acids. The finish length is very good. Coming to VINTAGES later this month. Score: 88 pts

Rosewood Estates Origin Mima's Block Riesling 2014 (88 pts)Rosewood Estates Origin Cabernet Franc 2014 (89 pts)

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ORIGIN CABERNET FRANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Highly intense aromas that are herbaceous with green pepper, black cherry, blackberry, toasty oak, and earthy barnyard notes. The palate is medium+ bodied with ripe fruited dark cherry, dark berry flavours, along with some bitterness. Acids are bright, while the tannins somewhat tight at the moment. The finish length is very good. Drinkable now, but should improve in 2-3 years as tannins integrate. Score: 89 pts

ROSEWOOD ESTATES MEAD ROYALE HONEY WINE 2015 - Ontario, Canada (#296178) (S) - $16.95
Barrel-aged for 6 months in French oak, this honey wine has a medium-intensity nose of honeysuckle, citrus and floral, all with honeyed overtones and much of the same on the chalky textured, light-to-medium bodied palate. Long, satisfying finish. It's sweet, but not as sweet as one might expect. Score: 88 pts

Rosewood Estates Mead Royale Honey Wine 2015 (88 pts)

REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $38.95
This Chardonnay was barrel-fermented and aged for 12 months in French oak, 30% new, and offers ripe tropical fruits, golden apple and buttery aromas that continue onto the lush, medium-bodied palate. Nicely balanced overall, textured, and lifted by bright, refreshing acids. The finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $18.95
Lovely aromatics of medium-high intensity features a nice mineral, petrol, peach and candied orange citrus nose. The palate is medium-bodied with intense, sweet fruited citrusy aroma replays along with hints of lemon/lime and limestone minerality. Acids are bright and a touch sour. Nicely balanced overall and finishes with more minerally notes and excellent length. Sold out at the winery, but some still available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2013 (90 pts)Redstone Meritage 2012 (90 pts)

REDSTONE MERITAGE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $45.95
A blend of 60/20/20 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this has medium-high intensity aromas notes of dark berry, toasty oak, black currant and cassis that should open up further with air. It's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays, structured tannins, and very good acidity adding freshness. Satisfying on the long finish with some bretty, barnyard, and earthy notes. Score: 90 pts

GREENLANE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (D) - $15.95
A blend of estate fruit that's combined with their old vines, this has medium+ intensity aromas of peach, apricot, and orange citrus that continue on the off-dry palate with additional flavours of Flintstones vitamins. Tart acids provide freshness, while there's a hint of mineral texture on the palate. There's good length on the finish. Score: 87 pts

Greenlane Riesling 2014 (87 pts)Greenlane Dry Riesling 2013 (89 pts)

GREENLANE DRY RIESLING 2013 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
This bone dry Riesling has an austere, medium intensity nose with notes of honeysuckle and slate. The palate is medium+ bodied with mineral-driven flavours of lemon/lime, citrus and a hint of apricot. Fine chalky mineral texture, balanced acids and long finishing. Score: 89 pts

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32.95
Highly aromatic on the nose with appealing cassis, dark currant, black cherry, blackberry and floral aromas. It's full-bodied with smooth, velvety tannins and very nice aroma replays along with hints of earth and barnyard. There's some alcohol warmth, but good depth of fruit supports it well. Acids are mouth-watering and the finish length is excellent. Will age 5-6 years, but highly enjoyable now. One of the favourite wines of the day! Score: 90+ pts

Greenlane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (90+ pts)

HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#643361) (MD) - $24.95
From vines planted in 1984, this has delicate, elegant, and fruit forward aromas of peach, apricot, orange citrus, and Flintstones vitamins. It's medium-dry on the palate with nice aroma replays, juicy acids, and medium-long finish with hints of mineral. Score: 89 pts

HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE BLANC DE BLANC 2012 - Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (XD) - $44.95
100% estate grown Chardonnay, partially barrel-fermented and then aged for 5 years in bottle before being disgorged, this has medium-high intensity aromas that are bready, nutty and lemony. On the palate, it's medium-full bodied with citrus and biscuity flavours, a hint of sweetness that's balanced by lively acids and bright mousse. The finish is long, clean, and dry with hints of mineral. Score: 91 pts

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc de Blanc 2012 (91 pts)Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2014 (91 pts)

HENRY OF PELHAM RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#430561) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Highly aromatic, gorgeous nose that's honeyed with apricot, sweet lemon, mango, and tropical fruit aromas. It is full-bodied with very nice aromas replays and supported by high acids adding freshness and texture, while also balancing the sweetness very well. Finish length is excellent. Score: 91 pts

AURE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40?
Open, fine nose of red cherry, strawberry, truffle, earth and subtle oak spice with very good intensity. The palate is light-weighted with light tannins that gain texture and volume in the mouth, with lovely aroma replays and fine acidity. Nicely balanced with a bit of old and new world in this Pinot. Finish length is excellent. Score: 90 pts

FIELDING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2016 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#251439) (M) - $20.15
Ripe apple, citrus, and melon aromas of medium+ intensity. The medium-bodied palate is fleshy with tightly wound acids, medium sweet flavours that follow through from the aroma profile, plus some herbally hints. The finish length is very good. Will be better after 1-2 years of cellaring. Score: 89 pts

Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling 2016 (89 pts)Angels Gate Archangel Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2009 (89 pts)

ANGELS GATE ARCHANGEL PINOT NOIR BRUT ROSÉ 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $28.95
Medium-high intensity aromas feature ripe cherry and strawberry compote notes. On the medium-bodied palate, it has finely balanced mousse and pleasing aroma replays. Flavour profile is off-dry, but finishes on the dry side with some yeasty and bready notes, with very good length. Score: 89 pts

ANGELS GATE MOUNTAINVIEW CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $19.95
This mature Chardonnay spent 14 months in French oak and has medium-high intensity aromas that are nutty and buttery, with hints of vanilla on the nose. The palate is medium-full bodied with a somewhat creamy texture and very nice aroma replays joined by some apple notes. Well-balanced overall thanks to the very good acidity. Finish length is excellent. Score: 89 pts

Angels Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2009 (89 pts)Angels Gate Mountainview Riesling 2008 (91 pts)

ANGELS GATE MOUNTAINVIEW RIESLING 2008 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (D) - $16.95
Lovely, highly aromatic nose is showing mature notes of mineral, petrol, lemon, and hints of white peach. The palate is medium-bodied with still bright and lemony acids. It has an off-dry flavour profile that's mineral-driven with lemony citrus notes. Finish length is excellent. Score: 91 pts


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