Monday, February 26, 2018

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  • Monday, February 26, 2018

Wine Tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake - August 2017



In , I toured Niagara-on-the-Lake and visited a some fine wineries with a few friends. It was a day trip, and with fine weather in tow, this was a fantastic day of wine tasting!

We visited four wineries in all, beginning at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery - a family-run organic and biodynamic winery for a tasting of some of their very fine, premium wines. They also have a nice bakery in the back where they make various types of freshly baked bread. Also on-site is a restaurant with an ever-changing menu where the focus is on using fresh, local ingredients. I definitely want to come back and dine here as they also have a hearth wood oven for baking pizza.

The second stop was at another family-run winery - Riverview Cellars Estate Winery. This winery is adjacent to the Niagara River and has vineyards with special terroir. The topsoil offers subtle differences across their property - from pliable, silty loam, to denser, clay loam, and to fertile sandy loam. In 1992, the family planted their first vinifera - Gewürztraminer, followed by Vidal Blanc in 1993, and Cabernet Sauvignon in 1998.

Crush pad at Inniskillin Wines
Our third stop of the afternoon was at nearby Inniskillin Wines. I had been to this winery numerous times over the years, but this was my first time doing a tour of the facility. The tour began outside, overlooking the vineyards as we were told about the history of Inniskillin and, in a sense, winemaking in Canada. Inniskillin was founded in 1975 by Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser (1941-2017) and became Canada's original estate winery and an industry pioneer committed to the production of premium wines made from quality grapes grown in Canada. From grapes harvested in 1984, Innikillin produced their first Icewine and eventually put Canada on the global wine scene when their 1989 Vidal Icewine was awarded the highest accolade at Vinexpo in Bordeaux.

Barrels at Inniskillin Wines
We proceeded to move around the property, eventually finding our way to the crush pad, where sorting, de-stemming and crushing took place. We then made our way through an informational walkway (previously used for self-guided tours) and then into the cellar room to watch a video and learn more about Icewine production. While in the cellar room, I couldn't help but notice that they still had quite a few older bottles, including the 1984 Icewine. Following the tour, we tasted a few wines, including a delicious, one-of-a-kind Vidal Sparkling Icewine.

The final stop of the day was at Southbrook Vineyards - Canada's first estate winery to earn both organic and biodynamic certification. We ended up tasting only a few wines, but their Poetica Chardonnay ended up being one of the top wines of the day, while their Orange Wine was the most polarizing. Upon completion of the tasting in the central room at their LEED-Gold Standard tasting pavilion, we ventured outside and took a stroll along the vineyards, all the while noticing the grid of solar panels that sat beside the vines.

Once again, I tasted some very fine wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most of these wines are only available at the winery or online through their website, while a few could be found in LCBO VINTAGES. Full wine reviews of my favourite wines tasted on this day are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

RAVINE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA St. Davids Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $55
The highly aromatic nose has lovely rich, buttery, toast, smoke, lemon, apple and stone fruit aromas. It's very refined and nicely textured on the medium-full bodied palate with very nice aroma replays. Acids are well-balanced and the finish length is excellent, albeit a touch warm. Score: 92 pts

Ravine Reserve Chardonnay 2014 (92 pts)Ravine Cabernet Franc 2016 (90+ pts)

RAVINE CABERNET FRANC 2016 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Bottle in June from a solid vintage, this has a medium-high intensity nose that's ripe with dark currants, chocolate, and cassis, along with herbally hints and tobacco. This should open up further with some ageing. It's medium-bodied on the palate with refined tannins and very nice dark fruited aroma replays. Oak is well-integrated and acids are fresh. There's some bitterness mid-palate. Finishes long. Still young and should flesh out nicely in 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts

RAVINE BOTRYTIS-AFFECTED RIESLING 2016 - VQA St. Davids Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $48
Highly aromatic and open on the nose with fruity, peach, apricot honeycomb, Flintstone vitamins, orange and a hint of petrol, all of which come through in a very appealing fashion on the sweet palate. Acids ere crisp and clean, providing much freshness. Excellent finish length. Score: 92 pts

Ravine Botrytis-Affected Riesling 2016 (92 pts)Riverview Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer 2014 (88 pts)

RIVERVIEW ANGELINA’S RESERVE GEWURZTRAMINER 2014 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#511642) (M) - $17.15
From vines planted in 1992, this has medium+ aromatics offering honeyed lychee, lemon, and ginger aromas with an earthy component. It's medium sweet on the medium-bodied palate with appealing tropical and floral fruit tones joining the aromas on the flavour profile. Acids are fresh with some sourness. Finishes crisp and on the dry side with some bitterness. Overall, very pleasing Ontario Gewurz. Released into VINTAGES on . Score: 88 pts

RIVERVIEW SALVATORE'S RESERVE SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Third time tasting this in 2017, this bottling is highly aromatic with savoury, meaty, black pepper, earth, and bretty notes with a sprinkle of baking spice. It's full-bodied and savoury on the palate with olive and oak spices joining the aroma replays. It has good acidity and medium-level tannins that are integrating well. Very good finish length. Seems to be getting better with every tasting. Score: 90 pts

Riverview Salvatore's Reserve Syrah 2013 (90 pts)Riverview Cabernet Franc Icewine 2016 (91+ pts)

RIVERVIEW CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $70
Lovely medium-high aromatics have candied strawberry jam, caramel, butterscotch and a hint of lemon. The palate is medium+ bodied and smooth and richly textured with very nice raspberry-driven aroma replays on the sweet flavour profile. It has nicely balanced acids and a long finish. Score: 91+ pts

INNISKILLIN RIESLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#558288) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
Aromas are of medium+ intensity, somewhat muted, and feature bright lemon and peach notions with some earthy minerality. It's light-to-medium bodied with a delicate mouthfeel that's lifted by bright acids. Pleasing lemony citrus and orange, plus aroma replays shine through on the palate and continue through to the long finish. Seems a bit simple now, this should gain complexity with age. Score: 90 pts

INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388306) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Highly aromatic aromas of honey, apricot, ginger and sweet Meyer lemon waft from the glass. The palate is medium-full bodied and lusciously sweet with honeyed aroma replays. There's good, balanced acidity in here to keeps things fresh and not cloying. Fine length on the finish. Score: 90+ pts

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2015 (90+ pts)Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2015 (89 pts)

INNISKILLIN VIDAL SPARKLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#560367) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
Made using the Charmat method, this has yeasty, earthy and bready with underlying apricot, honey and candied ginger aromas and flavours. It's sweet on the palate with fine mousse, high acids and very good finish length. A unique wine, to be sure. Score: 89 pts

SOUTHBROOK SMALL LOT ORANGE WINE 2016 - Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Made using Vidal (white wine grape) that was naturally fermented with skins and stems for 25 days (just like a red wine), this a medium-high intensity nose that has floral, grapefruit, orange zest and tea nuances. It's medium-bodied and bone-dry on the palate with complex notes of bergamot, sage, tea, citrus peel and some savoury herbs and bitterness. Acids are balanced and the finish length is very good. A unique wine to try once. Score: 89 pts

Southbrook Small Lot Orange Wine 2016 (89 pts)

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
Showing a lovely, highly aromatic nose that's rich and buttery with golden apple, pear, and smoke notes, and has notable wood influence that's nicely integrated. It's medium-bodied with nice, clean fruit, impressive depth and very nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. Acids are finely tuned and well-balanced. The long finish is smooth and rich. Exquisite! Will continue to sing a poem for at least the next half dozen years. Score: 93 pts

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2013 (93 pts)Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot 'Witness Block' Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc 2013 (90 pts)

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT 'WITNESS BLOCK' CABERNET SAUVIGNON / CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot. Aromas of medium-high intensity with notes of currant, herbaceous, red berry, resinous oak, woody, and hints of violet, with much of same on the full-bodied palate. It has good acidity and a long finish. Still young, with chalky tannins suggesting a few years in bottle are needed for optimum drinkability. Score: 90 pts


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Meldville Wines Tasting with Derek Barnett

Meldville Wines

At the end of last , with thanks to André Proulx, I had the opportunity to taste through some of the latest releases from a relatively new virtual winery called Meldville Wines. This is the project of renowned winemaker Derek Barnett, formerly of Lailey Winery and currently the winemaker at Karlo Estates (tasted his lovely Cabernet Franc here), and the focus is on small batch, limited edition, VQA wines.

Meldville Wines with Derek Barnett
The story begins with Derek's childhood home back in Swinford, England, named Meldville. He was always encouraged to be true to his nature growing up, and has adopted the same philosophy in winemaking. Each of his wines are crafted in a time honoured way with little intervention, a key to open the narrative and allow the vines to tell their own story.

Continuing the "story" theme on is the artwork of the label and the naming of the wines. The label features an old book cover, while the key also represents the keys to the back door of his home in Swinford. Some of Meldville's current wines use the term "Second Edition" to denote the fact that this is the second time that this wine was made - I assume this naming convention will continue with future vintages. I tasted a couple of Meldville "First Edition" wines in 2016 and, quite frankly, wasn't really impressed. However, the Second Edition wines are a marked improvement and just lovely!

After tasting through each of the seven wines presented on this day, I can tell you that all of the wines are delicious and come in at very reasonable price points. Full wine reviews of my top five are provided below. Meldville Wines can be ordered online or by visiting Legends Estate Winery in Beamsville, Ontario.

Tasting Notes:

MELDVILLE SAUVIGNON BLANC SECOND EDITION 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
Medium-high intensity aromas with pungent gooseberry, hay, and grassy notes, along with some tropical fruit and melon nuances, that meld together to form a very appealing profile. It's medium bodied with crisp, bright acids and ripe fruited aroma replays mildly oak influenced (due to 20% neutral French oak barrel fermentation). The finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Meldville Sauvignon Blanc Second Edition 2016 (89 pts)

MELDVILLE CHARDONNAY CANADIAN OAK 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $27
The nose is rich and buttery with stone fruit, golden apple, pear, vanilla and oak aromas of medium-high intensity. On the palate, it's medium-full bodied with pleasing nutty and coconut flavours joining the aroma replays. Acids are bright and fresh, while the finish is long, clean and nutty. Score: 90 pts

Meldville Chardonnay Canadian Oak 2016 (90 pts)Meldville Chardonnay Barrel Select 2015 (90+ pts)

MELDVILLE CHARDONNAY BARREL SELECT 2015 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
From two barrels specially selected for this Chardonnay. The medium-high intensity nose is ripe with butterscotch, tropical fruit, pineapple and banana aromas. It's medium bodied and fruit forward on the palate with citrus, strone fruit, and pear flavours with a slight impression of sweetness, but it's essentially dry. It's clean with crisp acids and a long finish. Score: 90+ pts

MELDVILLE CABERNET FRANC SECOND EDITION 2015 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $27
This has a medium+ intensity nose that leads with an herbaceous note, followed by ripe fruited black currant, cassis, and some savoury-woodsy aromas. The palate is medium bodied with nice aroma replays and fresh acidity lifting the palate. Tannins are crunchy, yet refined, and add a nice textural character to the wine. The finish is long with dark currant flavours. It's lean and tight and should well up to 2024. Score: 89 pts

Meldville Cabernet Franc Second Edition 2015 (89 pts)Meldville Syrah Barrel Select 2016 (90+ pts)

MELDVILLE SYRAH BARREL SELECT 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $27
Aged in one French and one Hungarian oak barrel. The medium-high intensity aromatics are sour edged with meaty, gamey, black pepper, dark cherry, savoury and smokey notes. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays and supported by fresh, bright acids. Medium-firm tannins are chunky, while the finish length is excellent. Should age nicely for 6-10 years. Score: 90+ pts


Friday, February 16, 2018

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  • Friday, February 16, 2018

VINTAGES Release February 17, 2018: Rising-Star Regions + Winning Ontario

LCBO Wine Picks: February 17, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines from Rising Star Regions as its main theme, while the mini-theme features award-winning wines from Ontario. All of these new wines will be on shelves this .

We'll begin with the main theme that features 10 wine regions that tend to make super wines at stellar prices. Just 11 wines are featured in this section, and the only wine included among my top wine picks is a white wine blend consisting of Sauvignon Blanc & Assyrtiko from Drama, which is located in the northeastern end of Macedonia in northern Greece.

From the mini-theme that features wines that took top honours at the 2017 National Wine Awards of Canada, there are only (!) four wines listed, but three of them are included among my top wine picks from this release. Wines with top honours include a Vidal Icewine, an oaked Chardonnay, and a Gamay Noir. All of these wines are from Niagara and are typically well-made year after year.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2015 (90+ pts)

Among my red wine picks, the Douro dry red wine is a steal at $13 and consists of 30% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 15 Tinta Roriz and 5% Tinto Cão, grapes typically used to make Port. From Bordeaux, the Recougne is a blend of  90% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Carmenere, while the Sénéjac is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with splashes of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. From the Languedoc, the Mosaique is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Mourverdre, while the Gigondas is a Grenache-led blend that also contains Syrah. Lastly, the Gattinara is made with Nebbiolo.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • VALE DO BOMFIM 2015 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#167676) (XD) - $12.95
  • CHÂTEAU RECOUGNE 2014 - AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#368167) (XD) - $15.95
  • S. DELAFONT MOSAIQUE 2016 - AP Languedoc, France (#482455) (XD) - $17.95
  • MALIVOIRE GAMAY 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#591313) (D) - $17.95
  • LORNANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#211599) (XD) - $17.95  90 pts  wine review
  • HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE BACO NOIR 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#461699) (D) - $24.95
  • ANZIVINO GATTINARA 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#534909) (XD) - $29.95
  • CHÂTEAU SÉNÉJAC 2015 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#962977) (XD) - $29.95
  • DOMAINE DU GRAPILLON D’OR GIGONDAS 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#981787) (XD) - $32.95
  • SORDO GABUTTI BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#530485) (XD) - $68.95
Lornano Chianti Classico 2013 (90 pts)

White Wine:

  • PIATTELLI RESERVE TORRONTÉS 2016 - Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#536672) (XD) - $14.95
  • SNAPPER ROCK MARLBOROUGH PINOT GRIS 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536185) (XD) - $16.95
  • THEMA WHITE 2015 - PGI Drama, Greece (#178442) (XD) - $18.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $18.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE MONEY SPIDER ROUSSANNE 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#656710) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLA MARIA RESERVE WAIRAU VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Wairau Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536201) (XD) - $24.95
  • REDSTONE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#511428) (XD) - $25.70
  • BERINGER LUMINUS CHARDONNAY 2015 - Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California (#395699) (XD) - $44.95
  • DOMAINE TAUPENOT-MERME SAINT-ROMAIN BLANC 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#522177) (XD) - $53.95
  • PATZ & HALL CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#200808) (XD) - $64.95  FSE

Sparkling Wine:

  • COLVENDRA GRAN BRUT PROSECCO CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#517862) (D) - $19.95

Dessert Wine:

  • INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388306) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95  90+ pts  wine review

Fortified:

Dalva Colheita Port 1995 (92 pts)


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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  • Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2011 (Spain) - Wine Review

As the world comes together in a few days to celebrate their top athletes and diversity, PMA Canada is celebrating the diversity of its international portfolio with award-winning wines that have received high accolades on the global stage.

wine is from Bodegas Montecillo is the third and final wine in the series. This red wine has received high scores ranging from 90-92 points from internationally-acclaimed critics and publications. Having tasted and enjoyed the 2011 Montecillo Crianza last year, I am expecting similar (if not higher) quality levels with this wine, but with a more noticeable oak component as Spanish Reserva wines are required to spend at least 1 year in oak.

Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2011 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

MONTECILLO RIOJA RESERVA 2011 - DOCa, Rioja, Spain (#621003) (XD) - $17.90
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Mazuelo, and 2% Garnacha from the excellent 2011 vintage and raised in French and American oak casks for 24 months. This has a medium intensity nose of sandalwood, savoury, umami and earthy nose with hints of blackberry, dark currant and dried cherry, along some sweet spice notes at the tail end. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with sneaky tannins that are refined and smooth, yet build steadily in the mouth. Acids are mouthwatering. The mature palate doles out licorice, dark currant, wood, and some dried fruit characters in a savoury profile. Some sourness mid-palate. Finishes savoury and woody with hints of very appealing sweet spice and dried cherry flavours. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 89 pts

This red wine is a General List product and widely available in-store at the LCBO. It can also be purchased online at LCBO.com.


Monday, February 5, 2018

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  • Monday, February 5, 2018

Château Timberlay 2014 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

This wine review is the second in the series celebrating the internationally-acclaimed, award-winning, and high-scoring wines from the PMA Canada portfolio.

As the world comes together in a few days to celebrate diversity and cheer on their top athletes, PMA Canada is celebrating it's diverse portfolio of high quality and high-scoring wines, such as this red wine from Bordeaux that was opened during Superbowl Sunday.

Château Timberlay is produced by Robert Giraud and is Terra Vitis certified, while regularly receiving top scores in its long history, with the most recent vintage receiving scores of 87-88 points. The property's origin dates back to the 14th century, during the 100 Years' War, when Aquitaine was under English domination. More recently, the château was destroyed during the French Revolution, later rebuilt, and was completely renovated after the Second World War.

Château Timberlay 2014 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU TIMBERLAY 2014 - AOC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#030072) (XD) - $16.95 $14.95
A blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Ripe blackberry, plum and earthy aromas from the cork. In the glass, the nose is subtle with ripe red cherry, raspberry, and blackberry with a tinge of prune. On the palate, this has more prune notes followed by dark cherry, cedar oak, and peppery nuances. Dry overall with fresh acids, structured tannins that drying on the mid-palate. Good length on the dry, woody, earthy, and dark berry finish. Pair with big meats like lamb or steak. Score: 87 pts

A General List wine at the LCBO, this red wine is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as online at LCBO.com. Buy now and save $2 off the regular price until February 25th.


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