Showing posts with label 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2014. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

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  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mauro Molino Barolo (Piedmont) Wine Tasting



Mauro Molino Barolo Wine Tasting

At the , I was invited to a special tasting of some very fine Barolo wines from Piedmont's highly acclaimed Mauro Molino. The tasting was held at the Fine Wine Reserve on King St. W. in downtown Toronto.

Mauro Molino was born in Piemonte and graduated from Alba Winemaking School in 1973. After a few years of making wine in Emilia-Romagna, he returned to start his own winery in the Langhe following the passing of his father in 1979. His father left him some vineyards, which Mauro then envisioned as an opportunity to embark on a new winemaking career in his beloved homeland. After spending a few years improving his vineyards and cellar, which is built in Annunziata of La Morra, he began producing wines such as the top-end Conca in 1982, one of the Barolo area's smallest and unique single vineyards.

In 2003, Mauro's son, Matteo, joined the company as winemaker, and in 2009 his daughter Martina began working with the commercial aspect of the company. Both graduated from Alba Winemaking School and are an integral part of the winery today.

The family winery continues to produce wines in Annunziata of La Morra, with the utmost respect for traditions. In total, they have 14 hectares of vineyards, 50% of which is planted to Nebbiolo destined for Barolo.

Fernando Burani, Export Manager

Representing the winery at this tasting was Export Manager, Fernando Burani. He graciously poured the first few of the 10 wines that were available for tasting.

Wine reviews of my top 5 wines are provided below. All of the wines available at the tasting can be ordered online via lcbo.com. Thank you Le Sommelier for the invite and the opportunity to taste these fabulous wines.

Tasting Notes:

MAURO MOLINO ROERO ARNEIS 2017 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#588755) (XD) - $27.95
Medium-high intensity nose offers appealing notes of papaya, white peach, orange citrus and hints of Flintstone vitamins. It's medium-full bodied on the structured palate with lovely mineral and savoury character joining the ripe fruits. Clean acids and excellent length with a nice minerally finish. Score: 90+ pts

Mauro Molino Roero Arneis 2017 (90+ pts)Mauro Molino Dolcetto Langhe 2017 (89 pts)

MAURO MOLINO DOLCETTO LANGHE 2017 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#588763) (XD) - $21.95
Nice dark berry, floral, mint and tobacco aromas and flavours, with a touch raisiny character on the medium intensity nose. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with supple tannins offering nice structure and texture. Very good fruit concentration and a long, balanced finish. Score: 89 pts

MAURO MOLINO BAROLO BRICCO LUCIANI 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#588714) (XD) - $82.95
From vines located 270 metres above sea level on compact clay and limestone soils, this has a gorgeous, highly aromatic and pretty nose featuring rose florals, dried cherry, clove, and sweet vanilla oak. It is full bodied with softened tannins that have presence. Very nice aroma replays and well-balanced overall. Classy, elegant, long-lasting finish. My favourite of the tasting. Score: 93 pts

Mauro Molino Barolo Bricco Luciani 2014 (93 pts)Mauro Molino Barolo La Serra 2014 (92 pts)

MAURO MOLINO BAROLO LA SERRA 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#604065) (XD) - $96.95
From vines located in the highest part of the municipality of La Morra, at 370 to 400 metres above sea level, on calcareous/clayey soils, this has a generous nose of dark berry, blackberry, and oak spice aromas with leafy hints. It's medium-full bodied on the crunchy palate and balanced acids. Nicely balanced tannins gain presence with time. Curranty flavours add complexity on the mid-palate. Excellent finish length. Still youthful, will be better in 3-4 years. Score: 92 pts

MAURO MOLINO BAROLO CONCA 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#604073) (XD) - $125.95
The nose seems shy at the moment, offering glimpses of oak spice, dark cherry, cassis and berry aromas. The palate is structured with firm tannins and flavours of mocha, chocolate and red berry notes wrapped around fresh acidity. A big wine that needs 3-4 years to integrate. Score: 92+ pts

Mauro Molino Barolo Conca 2014 (92+ pts)


Saturday, September 22, 2018

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  • Saturday, September 22, 2018

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review (Bottle 3)

Diving into my cellar, tonight's wine review is bottle #3 from a case I ordered in 2016 through VINI - a wine app that no longer seems to be available. This cool-climate Chardonnay was also came to LCBO VINTAGES this summer on July 8th.

The 2014 Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay was drinking exceptionally well when I opened a bottle back in July 2017. Fast forward to this year, I tasted this lovely wine at a trade tasting in the spring and it was showing considerable reductive qualities, albeit still quite pleasing. Let's see how this white wine from Closson Chase Winery - one of my favourite wineries in Prince Edward County, Ontario - is tasting tonight...

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#148866) (XD) - $28.95
Pours a medium yellow gold. Subtle, reductive aromatics offer apple and pear notes, with layers of buttered popcorn, smoke, vanilla and hints of caramel coming through with air. It is elegant on the medium-bodied, maturing and complex palate, with cooked apple, smoke, butter, and pear flavours, along with some stony minerality and hints of lemon. Acids are still quite fresh and lift the palate. Very good length on the stony-lemony finish. A maturing wine to be enjoyed over the next year or so. Score: 90+ pts


Thursday, September 13, 2018

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  • Thursday, September 13, 2018

Pure Chablis Escape Room Experience - May 2018

Pure Chablis Wine Lineup

Earlier this , I was invited to a very interesting Escape Room Experience that was all about Chablis. The event was held on a fine spring day at Brassaii Restaurant and Lounge in the King West neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, and our team consisted of approximately a dozen members from the local wine community.

After a brief introduction and going over the rules of the game, we were led inside the wine-themed Escape Room. Inside sat a large table with various wine paraphernalia, books, jigsaw puzzles, and other items resting upon it. There were also clues on the walls and around the rest of room to help us in our quest. The end goal was to unlock the combination lock on the bottle of Chablis and reveal the message inside to escape the room. The clock started and we had about 1 hour to solve the puzzle. Solving one clue took us to the next stage of the game, and the previous clue often helped in solving the next puzzle. We did ask for assistance on a couple of occasions - which we were allowed to do as per the rules. A combination of wine knowledge and excellent team work prevailed, as we were able to solve the puzzle with about 15 minutes to spare.

Pure Chablis Escape Room ExperiencePure Chablis Escape Room Experience

Pure Chablis Escape Room Experience

At the conclusion of the game, we "Escaped" to the main dining hall and got to the business of tasting some very fine Chablis, beginning with the 2015 Bouchard Pere & Fils Petit Chablis ($24.95, #051466, 88 pts) as an apertif. We sat down at the long dining table and were led through the tasting by Christian Moreau from Domaine Christian Moreau Père & Fils, one of oldest and most respected names in Chablis.

Christian actually lived in Canada for 11 years, before returning to Chablis with his Canadian wife and their three sons in 1972. Under the guiding hand of his father Guy, Christian began to learn and master the art of winemaking, and we got to taste an excellent Grand Cru Chablis that bore his name.

After we tasted all the wines, we were offered a lovely spread of appetizers that paired very nicely with Chablis. My favourite was the jumbo garlic shrimp - so yummy that I can't recall how many I had and almost felt like I could skip dinner at home.

In all, we tasted seven wines, and wine reviews of my four favourites are provided below. Thank you to everyone involved with putting on such a fun event with some lovely wines! Santé!

Pure Chablis Wine Tasting

Pure Chablis Wine Tasting

Pure Chablis Wine Tasting

Tasting Notes:

LA CHABLISIENNE CHABLIS LES VÉNÉRABLES 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#215525) (XD) - $26.95
Pleasant medium-high intensity nose leads with limestone mineral aromas followed by clean lemon/lime, citrus zest, and herbally notes. It's medium-to-full bodied on the palate with brightly lit acids and very nice aroma replays. There is some creaminess mid-palate, but is balanced with clean acids. Nicely balanced overall with a long, elegant finish. Classy and refined. Agent: Vinexx. Score: 90 pts

La Chablisienne Chablis Les Vénérables 2014 (90 pts)Domaine de la Motte Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2015 (91 pts)

DOMAINE DE LA MOTTE CHABLIS 1ER CRU BEAUROY 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#524306) (XD) - $42.95
Highly aromatic and richly concentrated aromas of lemon, lime, herbs, and stony mineral. Acids are lively on the full-bodied palate with very nice aroma replays. Mineral character comes for the fore on the mid-palate and lingers on the long finish, with excellent length. Will be even better in 2-3 years. Agent: The World Winery. Score: 91 pts

DOMAINE PINSON CHABLIS 1ER CRU MONT DE MILIEU 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#700914) (XD) - $52.95
This is a rich and highly aromatic wine with elegant, refined and rope aromas of lemony, stony mineral, lemon oil and citrus. It is full-bodied with bright acids. The palate is a touch on the nutty side, with delicate use of oak. Terrific complexity with flavours of lemon oil and hazelnut that continue through to the very long finish. Should drink well for nearly a decade. Agent: Connexion Oenophilia. Score: 93 pts

Domaine Pinson Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2015 (93 pts)Domaine Christian Moreau Pere & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2015 (92 pts)

DOMAINE CHRISTIAN MOREAU PERE & FILS CHABLIS GRAND CRU LES CLOS 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#042366) (XD) - $82
Highly aromatic on the nose with all kinds of nutty, hazelnut aromas with lemon oil and herbs adding complexity. It's full-bodied on the palate with lovely aroma replays lifted with bright and lively acids. Subtle use of oak is well-balanced. The nutty mid-palate continues through to the long finish with some herbally hints. Agent: Rogers & Company. Score: 92 pts


Friday, August 17, 2018

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  • Friday, August 17, 2018

Wine Tasting in Prince Edward County - Oct 2017 (Day 2 of 2)

Huff Estates
Last , I visited Prince Edward County for the very first time. Winery visits occurred over two days, and while the in The County included only visits to two wineries, the featured visits to five wineries. All of the wineries on the second day were situated near the village of Hillier in Prince Edward County. I was very excited to taste the County minerality that the region is so well-known for.

The day began with heavy rains during the visit to Huff Estates. A quick run from the car to their modern, state-of-the-art facility that also includes an Inn, and I was inside their tasting room ready to taste the first wines of the day. One of the more interesting things I discovered here was a delicious Riesling "Verre de Vin" - a single glass of wine enclosed by screw cap in a clear container. Huff Estates is known as a premium, quality wine producer and the wine I was most looking forward to trying was their elegant South Bay Chardonnay, but unfortunately it was sold out. It also seemed like the harsh winters of 2014 and 2015, plus a frost in May 2015 hit them hard as the shelves seemed a little bare, with quite a few wines bearing the VQA Ontario appellation. The wines I did taste were very good, and since this post is focused on Prince Edward County wines, I can tell you that the Cuvée Peter F. Huff (reviewed below) is a lovely sparkling wine from The County. For those heading to Prince Edward County this summer, they have now added a wood-fired pizza oven to their restaurant.

Huff Estates Riesling "Verre de Vin"Norman Hardie Wood-Fired Pizza

The rains continued as we visited the second winery, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard. My research revealed that the pizza at Norman Hardie's is delicious, so we stopped here for lunch and enjoyed the wood-fired pizza inside among the barrels and tanks (instead of on the outdoor patio) because it was still raining. After lunch, I moved upstairs to the tasting bar and tasted some of Norm's latest wines. Once again, not many VQA Prince Edward County wines here as they were sold out, while newer vintages were not yet bottled. However, the quality of the wines I got to taste was very good, as expected.

Stanners Vineyard

Our third stop of the was at Stanners Vineyard, a small family vineyard and boutique winery that was started by Cliff and his son, Colin Stanner. As I headed inside through the side door of the homestead, I found winemaker Colin pouring his delicious wines at the tasting bar. Not many wines were available for tasting, but I was delighted to see mostly County fruit being poured. I tasted through the lineup and was really impressed with The County wines - a Pinot Gris and a pair of Pinot Noir wines.

Lacey Estates

I'd heard many good things about Lacey Estates, the fourth winery of the day, so we made an unplanned stop because we were driving along and it happened to be en route. On this day, they were pouring four wines, and only one was VQA Prince Edward County. However, as I learned, even though the some of the bottles were labelled as VQA Ontario, all of the wines contained 100% Prince Edward County fruit. I really liked a couple of wines, as they were quite delicious, but I had tasted these before. Since I visited at the end of a very busy season, they were sold out of most of their wines, but I do think they have some quality wines worth seeking out.

Closson Chase Vineyards

The last visit of the day was at Closson Chase Vineyards, one of Prince Edward County's wine industry pioneers. I've tasted many delicious wines from their portfolio over the years, but on this day I decided to try only their lineup of Pinot Noir wines. Closson Chase was one of the few wineries in Prince Edward County to use only County fruit in all of their wines that I tasted. The three Pinots I tasted on this day were all top-notch wines. This quality-driven winery, with winemaker Keith Tyers at the helm, produces fine wines across their range and is a must visit for any Pinot Noir or Chardonnay fan.

Closson Chase Pinot Noir Lineup

All-in-all, I was quite satisfied with my first ever visit to Prince Edward County while visiting 7 wineries. However, given that there are more than 40+ wineries in the region, and growing every year, another trip to The County is definitely in order. After years of procrastinating about visiting Prince Edward County for many years, I think I want to visit this up-and-coming wine region every year.

Tasting Notes:

HUFF ESTATES CUVÉE PETER F. HUFF 2011 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#198754) (XD) - $40
A sparkling wine made with 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, this has terrific aromatic intensity with lemon curd, brioche, and pastry aromas in a honeyed profile. It's medium-full bodied with honeyed lemon, grapefruit, and ginger flavours that are lifted by crisp, lively acids. Mousse is very fine and well-balanced. Off-dry flavours linger on the long finish. Score: 91 pts

Huff Estates Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2011 (91 pts)Huff Estates South Bay Merlot 2015 (88 pts)

HUFF ESTATES SOUTH BAY MERLOT 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
This Merlot spent 20 months in French oak, and it shows with oak-driven, bretty, tobacco, cigar leaf notes sitting atop blackberry and dark fruit aromas of medium+ intensity. On the palate it's medium-full bodied with grippy tannins. It has dark fruits, blackberry, earth, and forest floor flavours along with hints of cola and brambly fruit. It has very good acidity and a long finish. Age this 3+ years and drink to 2024. Score: 88 pts

NORMAN HARDIE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#131169) (D) - $21
The medium+ intensity nose is fresh with citrus, lemon/lime, orange and peach aromas. It's medium-bodied on the palate with very good acids and nice aroma replays and touches of beeswax and honeysuckle. There's a nice mineral note throughout. Off-dry and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Norman Hardie Riesling 2016 (89 pts)Norman Hardie Calcaire 2016 (89 pts)

NORMAN HARDIE CALCAIRE 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23
With grapes sourced from both Prince Edward County and Niagara, this is a blend of nearly 50/50 Riesling and Chardonnay, plus minute amounts of Pinot Gris, that was co-fermented on the lees. It has elegant, medium-high intensity aromas of orange, lemon citrus, mineral and white peach that also shows up in appealing fashion on the dry palate with a chalky texture. Delicate acids. Nice mineral aftertaste on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

NORMAN HARDIE COUNTY CABERNET FRANC 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
Highly aromatic and ripe with herbaceous, dark currant, dark berry, blackberry aromas along with leafy, barnyard and oak nuances forming the complex aroma profile. The palate is medium-bodied with very nice, complex aroma replays surrounded by chalky, drying tannins. Acids are clean and well-balanced, while the finish is long and juicy. Score: 90 pts

Norman Hardie County Cabernet Franc 2015 (90 pts)Stanners Pinot Gris Cuivré 2016 (90 pts)

STANNERS PINOT GRIS CUIVRÉ 2016 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $28
Bottled just three weeks prior to my visit, this has pretty tropical fruit, melon, floral, and orange blossom aromas that continue very nicely on the palate. It's dry, focused, well-balanced and has fresh, vibrant acids. Finish length is very good. Score: 90 pts

STANNERS PINOT NOIR 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#490359) (XD) - $35
Released two months ago, this has a complex medium intensity nose of cherry, currant, raspberry with hints of tea leaf, earth and mushroom. It's light-weighted with smooth, fine tannins and flavours of currant, cherry, beetroot and earth. It has energetic acids and a long, curranty finish. Score: 90 pts

Stanners Pinot Noir 2015 (90 pts)Stanners Barrel Select Pinot Noir 2014 (90+ pts)

STANNERS BARREL SELECT PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39
This has a medium-high intensity nose with earthy, cherry, strawberry, beetroot, and whiffs of herbal leaf and limestone minerality, all of which show up on the nicely balanced palate. The smooth, refined tannins have some structure, while the acids are bright and the finish is long and juicy. Age this another year and drink to 2022. Score: 90+ pts

LACEY CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
Medium-high intensity and complex  aromas of dark currant, herbally, blackberry, tobacco leaf, and smoke. It has bright acids on a medium-full bodied palate with very nice aroma replays and tannins that are a touch grippy. Pleasantly savoury on the mid-palate, while the finish is earthy with very good length. Drink over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

LACEY DORLAND RESERVE 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, this has a medium+ intensity nose of cassis, currants, red & black fruits, cedar oak, and a whiff or dried fruit. It's full-bodied with olive and aroma replays, chalky tannins, and bright acids. Very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Lacey Dorland Reserve 2012 (88 pts)Closson Chase Hillier Pinot Noir 2013 (90+ pts)

CLOSSON CHASE HILLIER PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Colour turning garnet orange. Highly aromatic and complex with cherry liqueur, oak spice, nutmeg and beet root aromas. It's medium+ bodied with very nice beetroot and cherry dominant aroma replays. Tannins are silky smooth. Still has bright acids. The finish length is excellent. This is showing some maturity, but should continue to drink well over the next few years. Score: 90+ pts

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#145888) (XD) - $29.95
The nose is highly aromatic and fragrant with cherry, strawberry, beetroot and freshly tilled earth notes. On the medium-bodied palate, it has very nice aroma replays that are nicely balanced and lifted by fresh acids. It has fine tannins and a very long finish with lingering currant, cherry, raspberry notes with hints of oak spice. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90+ pts

Closson Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 (90+ pts)Closson Chase Churchside Pinot Noir 2014 (91 pts)

CLOSSON CHASE CHURCHSIDE PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
This is a dark Pinot with a highly aromatic nose of dark berries, blackberry, complex oak spices, tea leaf and earthy forest floor nuances that continue on the palate with great complexity. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with supple, crunchy tannins that have some grip and partnered with juicy acids. The lengthy finish ends with earthy-minerally nuances. Drink to 2024. Score: 91 pts


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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  • Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Marynissen Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

white wine review is an oaked Chardonnay from Marynissen Estates Winery in Niagara. While a previous vintage has shown up in LCBO VINTAGES, this wine is currently only available through the winery.

Marynissen Estates Winery was founded after the property - which is located in the Four Mile Creek sub-Appellation at the base of the Niagara Escarpment and contained an existing vineyard - was purchased in 1953 by viticulture pioneer John Marynissen and his wife Adrianna (Nanny) who immigrated to Canada from Holland.

In 1975, they began planting European vinifera grape varietals. John was one of the first grape growers in Canada to plant vinifera grapes, at a time when most people thought it could not be done. Cabernet Sauvignon was added to the vineyard in 1978 is now the oldest commercial planting in Canada and the pride of the estate.

The vineyards rich history was born out of a strong devotion to the land, pioneering spirit and passion for excellence. The Marynissen family spent decades watching over the vines, hand farming and harvesting to craft award-winning wines. Sadly, John passed away in January 2009, while his daughter, Sandra, retired. However, their family legacy and vision for the winery remains intact.

Marynissen Chardonnay 2014 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARYNISSEN CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#907683) (XD) - $15.95
Binned apple and lemon aromas from the cork. In the glass, the medium intensity nose has buttery, binned apple, lemon, and tropical fruit aromas, a touch reductive, and hints of butterscotch and earth. On the medium-bodied palate, it is clearly an oaked Chardonnay with buttery, baked apple, lemon peel, and sweet oak flavours. Food friendly acids lift the palate, while the finish is juicy with good length. Shows best with some aeration and only a slight chill. Score: 86 pts


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival 2017 - Day 2 of 2

Vineland Estates Bo-Teek Vineyard
Last , I visited Niagara twice over the course of the month to partake in the 66th Annual Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. You can read all about the activities here.

The fun-filled began at Vineland Estates Winery where we were given a guided tour of the property and facilities by David Hulley. The tour began on the patio over looking the prized Bo-Teek Vineyard with a gorgeous view of the Bench, and in the distance Lake Ontario, followed by a visit to the St. Urban Vineyard where some of Niagara's oldest Riesling vines (late '70's / early 80's) can be found. The winery is housed in picturesque structures that date back to the 1840's, including a former farmhouse, century barn, and a charming Carriage House. The tour concluded with a visit to the production facility, where I had the opportunity to get a closer look at their state-of-the-art optical sorting machine. This game changing machine accurately sorts up to 2,000 berries per second, separating lower quality grapes from the higher quality grapes. Vineland Estates is the only Canadian winery to have such technology.

Vineland Estates - New TanksVineland Estates - "Game Changer" Optical Sorting Machine

Beer and Cheddar Bisque paired with Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc

Following the tour, we headed downstairs to the tank room to enjoy their Discovery Pass Experience, which featured a Beer and Cheddar Bisque paired with their 2016 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc (#594127, $14.95, 88 pts). The soup was made using Shawn & Ed's LagerShed Beer and Cow's Creamery 2-year-old Cheddar. It was creamy, if a touch sour, but offered nice balance when paired with the wine. A comfort pairing perfect for cooler months. After the food and wine pairing, we went to the tasting room to taste through some wines from their delicious portfolio. Wine reviews of some of these wines, plus others tasted on this day are provided below.

The second stop of the day was at Megalomaniac Winery. The wine pairing here was the 2016 Megalomaniac Selfie (#453506, $17.95, 86 pts), an easy-drinking, off-dry blend of Chardonnay Musqué, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling that paired very nicely with the small-proportioned Japanese-style buttermilk and panko-crusted chicken tenders, finished with a local freestone peach and ginger root glaze. The chicken tenders were very tasty, a little spicy, and when paired together with the off-dry white wine, the chicken tenders became even spicier and really enhanced the ginger flavours from the root glaze. A lively pairing that was really well done! Megalomaniac sits atop a hill, and relaxing on their outdoor patio while enjoying the view really enhanced the whole experience.

Megalomaniac Selfie paired with Japanese-Style Buttermilk and Panko-Crusted Chicken TendersPillitteri Estates Winery celebrating Canada 150 Potato Skins

Our third stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where they were celebrating Canada's 150th birthday by offering potato skins topped with ingredients from every province and territory in our great nation. With 13 ingredients making up this potato skin, you can bet there were going to be many flavours vying for your attention. Some of the ingredients included potatoes from Prince Edward Island (obviously), cheese from the three other Atlantic provinces, honey from Ontario, juniper berries from British Columbia, and Ox tail from the Yukon. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of this food item, and the fact that Pillitteri was very busy on this day, they weren't able to customize my potato skin. This led to me trying only a couple of bites before discarding it. Two wines were offered with this pairing - a choice of either the Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Riesling Fusion (#349126, $13.95) or the Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot ($20). I opted for the heartier Cab Merlot, thinking that it should go well with the starchy and complex, loaded potato skin. The Discovery Pass Experience was a bit of downer here for me, but I did get to taste some really special Icewines afterwards, which made the visit to Pillitteri worthwhile.

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery with Jamaican Jerk Glaze ChickenCoyote’s Run Estate Winery Barrel Room

The fourth and final stop of the day was a very interesting one at Coyote’s Run Estate Winery. The culinary creation here was a farm-raised chicken, slow-cooked in a Jamaican jerk glaze and topped with Your Farm Gate’s fresh Ontario peach chutney, while served on a bed of basmati rice salad. Once again, two wines were offered - the 2016 Coyote's Run Lambert Vineyard Riesling ($19.95, 87 pts) and the 2015 Coyote's Run Estate Cabernet Franc ($24.95, 88 pts). However, here at Coyote's Run we were encouraged to try both wines with the food pairing to see how they fare. The Jerk chicken was mildly flavoured and not spicy, while the Riesling was bordering on off-dry, bringing out peach flavours from the chutney and wine. With the Cab Franc, the pairing became earthier and comforting, along with some of the jerk spice flavours becoming more prominent. While this pairing was quite interesting, our visit went to a whole other level after we met Assistant Winemaker Chris Protonentis. He was able to give us a quick tour of the facility before heading to the cellar for some barrel sampling of a few wines coming down the pipeline.

This was another fine day spent touring Niagara Wine Country during the annual Grape and Wine Festival. And just like on the first day, I was able to bring home recipes of some of the food items so we could try them at home. Get in touch with me if you would like a copy of any of the recipes.

Tasting Notes:

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CHARDONNAY 2014 - Bo-Teek Vineyard, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#164459) (XD) - $25
The medium+ intensity aromas offer golden apple, pear, and butter notes with hints of hazelnut. It's medium-bodied on the somewhat creamy palate with balanced acids and nice aroma replays. The nutty finish has very good length. Score: 89 pts

Vineland Estates Elevation Chardonnay 2014 (89 pts)Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2008 (91 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2008 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (MD) - $30
The highly aromatic nose is showing some maturity, offering lemon citrus with whiffs of petrol and hints of minerality. It's medium-bodied and nicely textured on the palate with acids that are still quite lively. Off-dry flavour profile with lovely lemon/lime citrus, honeyed peach and floral flavours. Excellent finish length. Will easily age another 10 years. Score: 91 pts

VINELAND ESTATES CABERNET FRANC RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
From a very good vintage, this has highly aromatic aromas of ripe blackberry, herbal, currant, cassis, mocha chocolate, and barnyard, all of which come through in appealing fashion on the medium+ bodied palate with smooth, refined tannins supported by very good, energetic acids. The smooth finish has excellent length. Score: 91+ pts

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 (91+ pts)Megalomaniac Bespoke Pinot Noir 2015 (90+ pts)

MEGALOMANIAC BESPOKE PINOT NOIR 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $49.95
Highly aromatic on the nose with elegant candied cherry, floral, raspberry, baking spice, and hints of minerality aromas. Fine tannins are light on the light-bodied palate with pretty aroma replays plus some oak spice elements that are lifted by fresh, bright acids. There's some structure to the palate and it's very well balanced. Great tension between fruit and oak. The long finish is a touch bitter. Score: 90+ pts

MEGALOMANIAC BESPOKE MERLOT 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $59.95
The intense aromas reveal lovely forest red berry, dark cherry, mocha, forest floor aromas with hints of bay leaf and evergreen. On the medium-full bodied palate, this offers layers red and black forest fruits, chocolate, blackberry, cedar oak and some floral nuances. Medium-level tannins offer some structure and is balanced with fresh acids. Textured, classy, and long finishing. Age 3-4 years and drink to 2027. 91 pts

Megalomaniac Bespoke Merlot 2015 (91 pts)Megalomaniac Bespoke Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (91+ pts)

MEGALOMANIAC BESPOKE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $59.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers lush cassis, blackcurrant, and hints of olive, game and earthiness. The palate is full-bodied with smooth, silky, and structured tannins. It has very nice aroma replays, followed by an earthy mid-palate. Bright acids provide lift, and the finish is long and smooth. Drink or hold until 2027. Score: 91+ pts

PILLITTERI VIDAL RESERVE ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $65
Fragrant and open with peach, apricot, lychee, orange citrus, honey and marmalade aromas. The palate is medium+ bodied and lush with delicate acids providing balanced freshness to complement the sweet aroma replays. The long finish is accented with some oak spice. Score: 91 pts

Pillitteri Vidal Reserve Icewine 2013 (91 pts)Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Icewine 2000 (90 pts)

PILLITTERI GEWURZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2000 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $35
The medium-high intensity nose has a mature character, showing notes of molasses, burnt brown sugar, earth, and orange peel, in a slightly reductive style. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with smooth, silky, voluptuous and velvety mouthfeel with sweet, honeyed aroma replays. Palate still has some freshness. Excellent finish length. Such a treat to taste an Icewine at this age. Score: 90 pts

PILLITTERI CABERNET SAUVIGNON ICEWINE 2004 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $70
This has a medium-high intensity nose of dried cassis, dried red fruit and blackberry aromas. The palate is full bodied and sweet with raisiny, dried fig flavours lifted with very good acids, Long finishing with nice aroma replays. Score: 89 pts

Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2004 (89 pts)

COYOTE'S RUN ESTATE SYRAH 2015 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
From the red soil vineyard and matured for 18 months in an even split between Hungarian and French oak. The medium intensity nose seens closed, but offers complex glimpses of white pepper, meat, gamey, dark berry, earth, and savoury aromas. On the medium+ bodied palate, this offers crunchy tannins and very good acidity with balanced aroma replays that lean more towards fruit forward, with some savoury elements. The finish is long and clean. Very drinkable now, but I would age this for 2 years. Score: 89 pts

Coyote's Run Estate Syrah 2015 (89 pts)

COYOTE'S RUN ESTATE SYRAH 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Barrel sample. A mix of sweet and savoury bouquet with ripe dark berry, white pepper, sweet oak spice, and gamey notes. It's full-bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays. fresh acids, touch grippy tannins, and long finishing. Score: 89+ pts

COYOTE'S RUN RED PAW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#079228) (XD) - $35
Barrel sample. Aged on the lees. This has floral, cherry, and earth aromas and flavours. It's light-weighted on the palate with structured tannins that are a touch grippy. Clean acids and a balanced, long finish. Score: 89 pts

Barrel Sampling with Chris Protonentis

COYOTE'S RUN BLACK PAW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#116442) (XD) - $35
Barrel sample. This has a medium-high intensity nose featuring dark fruit, dark berry, tea leaf, and mineral aromas. It's light-to-medium bodied with more dark berry and dark fruit flavours lifted by fresh acids. It has grippy tannins and a long finish. Needs at least a couple of years to come together. Score: 90 pts


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