Showing posts with label cabernet-franc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cabernet-franc. Show all posts

Saturday, September 1, 2018

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  • Saturday, September 1, 2018

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot 2015 (Niagara) - Wine Review



is celebrated every , so I'm a couple of days late in celebrating with wine review of a locally-made Cabernet-Merlot blend from Niagara that honours our Canadian Artists.

Produced by Niagara's Lakeview Wine Co. (a division of Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd.), the McMichael Collection of wines were created in celebration of McMichael Art Collection's 50th anniversary.

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is located in Kleinburg, just north of Toronto and is renowned for its collection of stunning Canadian art, including works by the Group of Seven. This line of Niagara wines were created to pay tribute to the artists that were part of this group. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle helps support the preservation of the art collection.

This red wine is available for purchase at the winery and at your local LCBO. Additionally, it is currently on promotion at the LCBO until , where you will receive 7 bonus Air Miles with every bottle purchased.

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot 2015 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

MCMICHAEL COLLECTION GROUP OF SEVEN CABERNET MERLOT 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#456590) (XD) - $14.95
A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Merlot that was aged in French and American oak barrels for 10 months. Screw cap. It's light on the aromatics, featuring hints of red berry, earth, oak vanillan, and herbs. It's medium-bodied and more savoury on the palate, with hints of black cherry, herbs, and oak flavours. Dusty tannins are well-integrated, with some grip mid-palate. Balanced acids keep everything nice and fresh. Good length on the finish. Simple, easy drinking. Score: 86 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


Saturday, July 28, 2018

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  • Saturday, July 28, 2018

Joseph's Estate Proprietor's Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc 2004 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is from Joseph's Estate Wines, a family owned and operated winery whose history goes back even further than when it first opened its doors in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1996.

Dr. Joseph Pohorly was born in Vineland, Ontario, to a farmer's son and learned how to grow grapes and other fruit crops. With time, he gained knowledge of the land, geography, and climate that makes Niagara's viticultural area special. In 1979, Joseph founded Newark Winery in Virgil, one of the three original wineries in Niagara and helped the lay the foundation for the growth of the Ontario wine industry.

When Dr. Pohorly sold a majority share of Newark Winery in 1982, the new German owners changed the name to Hillebrand and encouraged him to produce Icewine. If you visit the winery, you will get a close look attheir first ever Icewine press stationed outside the front door.

In 1992, Joseph purchased a 20-acre site in the heart of Niagara Wine Country and planted the site with vineyards to become Joseph's Estate Wines. The Niagara winery is known to produce award-winning wines, while also ageing their wines for many years prior to release, such as this current-release 2004 Cabernet Franc (available at winery only and online web store). In addition to table wines, they also produce port-style, sherry, and grape seed oil.

Joseph's Estate Proprietor's Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc 2004 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

JOSEPH'S ESTATE PROPRIETOR'S GRAND RESERVE CABERNET FRANC 2004 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
No review since this bottle seems flawed. However, since I also tasted this wine (and enjoyed it) when I visited the winery a couple of months ago, I am including my tasting note from that visit.

11 years in barrel and only 2 barrels produced. This has a medium+ intensity nose offering tobacco, cherry, and leather aromas in a sour-edged profile. It's medium-bodied on the crunchy palate with supple tannins that are quite smooth, vibrant acids, and an earthy-savoury mid-palate with sweet tobacco flavours. Very good finish length. Tasted May/2018. Score: 89 pts


Sunday, July 22, 2018

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  • Sunday, July 22, 2018

Backyard Vineyards Nosey Neighbour Cabernet Franc 2015 & EastDell Pinot Noir 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Reviews

Lakeview Wine Co. Wines
wine reviews are a pair of wines produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd. Based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this large wine producer has many brands within their portfolio, including EastDell, 20 Bees, FRESH Wines, McMichael Collection, Dan Aykroyd, Lakeview Cellars, and more recently, Backyard Vineyards.

The Backyard Vineyards brand has it's roots coming from an award-winning British Columbia winery that Diamond Estates recently acquired. The label is identical to the B.C. wine, except this wine is VQA Niagara Peninsula and is made using only Cabernet Franc, whereas the B.C. version is a blend. There is a companion White to the Red (reviewed below), and I suspect more wines bearing the Backyard Vineyards name will be coming down the pipeline.

EastDell Estates was founded 1999 by Michael East and the Late Susan O’Dell, and was located on Locust Lane in Beamsville, Ontario. It later merged with Diamond Estates in 2005. EastDell wines are known to be casual in nature and quite easy-drinking. However, they are also crafted with just enough sophistication and style for special occasions.

In addition to finding Lakeview Wine Co.'s wines on premises at their winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, they also have an online web store. Many of their wines can also be found at the LCBO.

Tasting Note:

BACKYARD VINEYARDS NOSEY NEIGHBOUR CABERNET FRANC 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#469247) (D) - $14.95
100% Cabernet Franc. Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose leads with typical herbaceous notes followed by blackberry, spice, peppery aromas, and hints of cedar oak. It's medium+ bodied and a touch sweet with ripe blackberry, dark berry, plum, grilled pepper and oak spice flavours surrounded by juicy acids. It's a touch warm on the mid-palate. Supple tannins offer some structure and grip. The finish length is very good with grilled pepper and oak spice notes. Drink over the next 2-3 years. Coming to LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 87 pts

Backyard Vineyards Nosey Neighbour Cabernet Franc 2015 (87 pts)EastDell Pinot Noir 2016 (87 pts)

EASTDELL PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#613059) (XD) - $13.95
Screw cap. The soft nose has earthy and cherry aromas with hints of beetroot. It's light-to-medium bodied on the dry palate with supple tannins adding nice texture. Fresh acids are well-balanced. Notes of cranberry, cherry and red plum with hints of vanilla on the flavour profile. Good length on the finish with savoury and bitter chocolate notes. Honest Pinot for casual fare. Will be available for purchase next month. Score: 87 pts


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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  • Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Malivoire Guilty Men Red 2016 and Riesling Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Malivoire Guilty Men
wines are a pair of entry-level wines from Malivoire Wine Company - one of Niagara's most respected boutique wineries, renowned for its creativity and use of wine-growing practices. Its carefully crafted VQA wines are made exclusively from grapes grown locally on the Niagara Peninsula.

Malivoire Wine is the magnum opus of Martin Malivoire, and was founded after the purchase of the Moira Vineyard on the Beamsville Bench in 1995. Minimal environmental impact is a foundation block of Malivoire Wine's corporate mission. They subscribe to the Oregon-based “LIVE”, or Low Impact Viticulture and Enology programme, whose guidelines determine their farming practices, including the use of eco-friendly winemaking techniques. Winemaker Shiraz Mottiar was awarded Winemaker of the Year at the 2017 Ontario Wine Awards.

Martin always insisted that he would never focus on Bordeaux varietals and Bordeaux blends, and instead focus on Pinot Noir and Gamay. He also said he wouldn't focus on Riesling. Over the years, many people kept asking for these styles of wines from Malivoire, so Martin said that "If we make these styles of wines, we would be Guilty Men", based on the male group assembled from the winemaking team, and the fact that he had been very vocal about not going down this road for many years. Guilty Men eventually launched in 2010.

Both of these wines are easy-drinking, food-friendly, and made in a crowd-pleasing style that is also fairly light on the wallet. Moreover, both of these wines are widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, and the white wine is currently on sale (save $1) until .

Tasting Notes:

MALIVOIRE GUILTY MEN RIESLING SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#192666) (D) - $15.10 $14.10 until .
A unique blend of 80% Riesling and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Screw cap. This has a fruity medium intensity nose with aromas of ripe apple, citrus zest, peach, along with hints of tropical fruit, white flowers and flinty mineral. The light-to-medium bodied palate is off-dry (i.e some sweetness) with apple and stone fruit flavours that mingle with some tropical fruit notes. Clean, juicy acids are nicely balanced, while apple notes linger on the finish, with very good length.  Clean, easy drinking wine to enjoy on the patio, or with seafood or poultry. Chill well and drink to 2019. Score: 87 pts

Malivoire Guilty Men Riesling Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (87 pts)

MALIVOIRE GUILTY MEN RED 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#192674) (D) - $15.95
From the very good 2016 vintage, this is a blend of 55% Merlot, 20% Gamay, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc, with about 2/3 of the wine aged in tank, while the remainder was in mostly French barrels for 9 months. Screw cap. The medium+ intensity nose offers cranberry, raspberry, dark currant, and black spice with hints of tea leaf and minty cassis. It is medium-bodied on the palate with soft, gentle tannins with just a touch of sweetness that's held in check with the lively acids. Appealing tea leaf and oak spice flavours with hints of raspberry and blueberry on the palate. Good length on the finish. Chill slightly and enjoy to 2020. Score: 87 pts

Malivoire Guilty Men Red 2016 (87 pts)


Sunday, April 1, 2018

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  • Sunday, April 1, 2018

Cattail Creek Estate Series Cabernet Merlot 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine is something I purchased at the winery when I visited Niagara during the Icewine Festival in .

The 2012 vintage in Niagara was an excellent vintage due to the long, hot summer that's a pre-requisite for Bordeaux-style reds to flourish in this region. Looking back at my tasting note, I gave this red wine a score of 89 pts and noted that it would develop well in bottle for another 2 years. At more than 4 years now, let's see how this wine is tasting...

Cattail Creek Estate Series Cabernet Merlot 2012 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CATTAIL CREEK ESTATE SERIES CABERNET MERLOT 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $17.95
Aged in French oak barrels for 1 year. Blend of 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Screw cap. This has a medium-high intensity nose that leads with earth and dried cherry/floral notes, followed by some dark currant, blackberry, oak and a whiff of olive. Tannins are nicely resolving into the medium-full bodied palate, with some grippiness arriving with time. Savoury earthy, dark cherry, blackberry flavours, while the acids are still quite lively. Some dried cherry/red floral notes arrive mid-palate and continue through to the long, earth-driven finish. Should continue to drink well for at least another 2-3 years. Delicious! Score: 89 pts


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


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.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sip and Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake 2017

Grilled Prawn, Shoot and Sprout Salad and Citrus Zest Emulsion with 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc
On this cold, wintry day, let me take you back to when I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake to partake in the annual Sip & Sizzle food and wine pairing event thanks to winning a contest on Foodies on Foot. This excellent event was running on weekends in May at over 20 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule, I was only able to attend on the final day of the event, so I tried to squeeze in as many wineries as I could in a single day.

The first stop was at Château des Charmes for a crisp pairing of their 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc Estate Grown & Bottled ($14.95, 87 pts) with a grilled prawn, shoot and sprout salad and citrus zest emulsion. This was a delicious pairing as the "sip" is an ideal match for seafood, while the green and citrus notes from the salad complemented the flavours from wine. The zesty dressing also added a bit of zip to the overall pairing, really brightening the flavours. This sizzling pairing was quite well done.

My second stop was at Ravine Vineyard to savour the 2016 Ravine Cabernet Rosé ($22, 88+ pts) paired with Rossco’s harissa grilled chicken thigh on a mixed grain salad. This was a nice, balanced pairing where nothing really jumped out, except for the herbally character in the wine that matched some of the herbs in the dish. The chicken was nicely grilled off the BBQ and added subtle smoky flavours to the overall pairing. Portion size was also very good. This was a nice, wholesome and comforting pairing.

Rossco’s Harissa Grilled Chicken Thigh on a Mixed Grain Salad with 2016 Ravine Cabernet RoséGrilled Chicken Taco topped with Mango Salsa with 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer

Our third stop of the day was at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for a mildly sweet 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer ($14, 87 pts) blend that was paired with a grilled chicken taco topped with a mango salsa that was made with some of the Bianco white wine. This pairing was all about matching the sweet, fruity flavours from the wine to the mango salsa. The clean acids from the wine also helped create a balanced pairing. Overall, this was a well executed pairing that I would love to try at home.

At our fourth stop of the afternoon, we visited Inniskillin Wines for another grilled chicken taco, but this time it was spiced with chipotle and topped with avocado. It was paired with their 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz Cabernet ($25, 88+ pts). This was a quality and balanced pairing, with plenty of spiced, peppery notes from both the taco and the red wine complementing each other well.

Grilled Chicken Taco spiced with Chipotle and topped with Avocado and paired with 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz CabernetCherry Cheesecake Flambé with 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir

The fifth stop was at Lailey Vineyard Winery, where the pairing was off the beaten path and a little adventurous by pairing a dessert item with red table wine. It was interesting to try their 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir (89 pts) paired with a dessert item - a cherry cheesecake flambé. The cherry flavours in the wine matched the cherry notes in the cheesecake, plus the wine's bright acidity balanced out the creamy texture from the cheesecake. The cheesecake also wasn't very sweet, which helped allow this to be a good pairing.

Wings are a popular item at Rancourt Winery, our sixth stop of the afternoon. On this day, we were offered BBQ chicken wings braised in Harvest Barn's famous Vidalia onion sauce and paired with their 2013 Rancourt Noble Rouge ($15, 86 pts), a Cabernet Merlot blend. Wings and red wine are always a good pairing in my books, and at Rancourt we had wings in a sweet sauce paired with a wine that also had some sweetness in it, providing for a balanced pairing. Unfortunately, I gobbled it down so fast that I forgot to take a picture.

Lamb Slider with 2014 Trius Merlot

The seventh stop was at Trius Winery where we were supposed to pair the 2015 Trius Merlot with a spiced lamb Merguez sausage, spring slaw, honey, and mint yogurt dressing. However, since we were approaching the end of the day on the last day of the event, it appears as though they ran out of that specific wine and the sausage because we got the 2014 Trius Merlot ($16, 87 pts) paired with a yummy lamb slider. No complaints from me! Bigger red wines with red meats are usually a pretty good pairing, and this was no exception.

Since the brand spanking new Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery was (unofficially) open to the public next door to Trius, we decided to pop-in and check out the new digs. It was crazy busy here, so we only managed to taste a few wines before heading over to our final stop of the day. This is a place I definitely want to come back and taste through the distilled products.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese marinated in Curry Sauce on Naan Wedge and topped with Niagara peach, and paired 2016 Jack Rabbit White

The eighth and final stop of the day was at The Hare Wine Co. for a grilled Halloumi cheese marinated in a mild & creamy curry sauce on a Naan wedge topped with Niagara peach, and paired with the 2016 Jack Rabbit White ($14.50, 86 pts). The wine was off-dry with plenty of floral and citrusy flavours that paired well with the peach, while the acids in the wine helped balance the creamy cheese. A good pairing overall, even though the portions at this winery were a bit on the small side.

This was my first time attending Sip & Sizzle and I was quite pleased with the many sips and sizzling culinary creations. I would definitely recommend this event food and wine lovers, especially those folks who have an affinity for BBQ fare. I hope to attend this lovely event featuring the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake again in 2018, and firmly believe that you should attend too! Wine reviews of some of my favourites wines tasted on this day are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2015 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $18.95
Medium-high intensity aromas of pepper, earth, black cherry, blackberry, and gamey notes that are quite complex with a certain rustic charm. It's medium-full bodied with cherry, oak spice, and brambly fruit flavours lifted by bright acids. There's supple tannins, good fruit concentration, and a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2015 (89 pts)Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2015 (92 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $26.95
Highly aromatic and complex nose of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, pineapple and honeydew melon. The palate is medium-full bodied with bright fruited aroma replays that are nicely balanced. It's lusciously sweet, but balanced with very good acidity. The finish length is excellent and nicely balanced. Score: 92 pts

RAVINE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Aromas of medium-high intensity with rich, oak-influenced buttery, apple, and smoke notes, plus hints of butterscotch, pineapple and caramel. The medium-bodied palate offers nice aroma replays that are well-balanced and supported by nicely articulated acids. Finishes long with caramel, sweet oak, and vanilla notes. Score: 91 pts

Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Ravine Vineyard Reserve Riesling 2015 (90+ pts)

RAVINE VINEYARD RESERVE RIESLING 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $35
Contains 30% botrytis affected grapes, this has medium-high intensity aromatics of petrol, honeycomb, and apricot. The palate is medium-dry (i.e. noticeably sweet) with very nice aroma replays and a light mineral texture. Acids are bright and refreshing. Finish length is excellent. Score: 90+ pts

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity aromas show white pepper, herbaceous, leafy, brambly, blackberry and medicinal aromas that are slightly cooked/stewed. It's medium-bodied with herbally, dark fruited, medicinal, and iodine flavours, plus touches of chocolate mocha. Refined tannins are well-integrated and acids are balanced. Earthy, mocha, and vanilla notes linger on the medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Syrah 2013 (89 pts)

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity nose offers white pepper, blackberry, dark fruits, earthy, and vanilla oak aromas. This is much more open and fruit forward compared to when I tasted this in September 2016. It's full-bodied with pleasing aroma replays lifted by bright acidity. Smooth, refined tannins. Long, earthy-peppery finish. Score: 89 pts

INNISKILLIN NIAGARA RESERVE SHIRAZ CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#225482) (D) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity aromas that are ripe with red cherry, white pepper, currant, cassis, and herbs. It's medium-full bodied and dense on the palate with oak spiced aroma replays that have a touch of sweetness. Acids are bright, tannins a touch grippy, and the finish length is very good. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Niagara Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2015 (88 pts)Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (XD) - $24.95
Clean apple, pear, and butter aromas of medium-high intensity with hints of tart citrus and melon. The palate is medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays plus toasty oak notes. Acids are very good. Long, buttery finish. Score: 88 pts

LAILEY BARREL SELECT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
From four outstanding barrels, this has medium-high intensity aromatics featuring clean apple, butter, pear, sweet oak vanilla and hints of nuttiness. It's mid-weighted with lovely well-balanced aromas replays, crisp acids, while finishing long and clean. Score: 90 pts

Lailey Barrel Select Chardonnay 2013 (90 pts)Lailey Syrah 2013 (90+ pts)

LAILEY SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-high intensity aromas have complex gamey, black peppercorn, oak, olive and earthy notes. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays and fresh acids. Tannins are integrating nicely. Long, balanced finish. Will provide pleasure over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

RANCOURT CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
The complex nose is ripe with sweet oak spice, herbaceous, white pepper, dark fruits and chocolate aromas of very good intensity. The palate is medium+ bodied with fresh acids and nice aroma replays. Refined tannins are integrating nicely. Finish length is very good. Drink over the next 3-5 years. Score: 88 pts

Rancourt Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)

TRIUS SHIRAZ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.75
This new arrival is blended with 5% Viognier. Aromas of medium-high intensity offer black peppercorn, blackberry, gamey, dark currant, and dark berry notes. It's full-bodied with some tannic grip and very nice aroma replays. It has fresh acids and finishes long. This well-made wine should be aged 2+ years for the tannins to soften. Score: 88 pts

Trius Shiraz 2015 (88 pts)Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2012 (91 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE RED SHALE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $45.20
From the Clark Farm Vineyard, this has medium-high intensity and complex aromas of currant, leafy, herbaceous, oak, and forest floor. It's full-bodied and structured with some tannic grip and nicely balanced aroma replays. Very good and juicy acids add freshness and lift. Hints of minerality exist on the long finish. This is a serious Cab Franc to enjoy over the next decade. Score: 91 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY NO. 99 RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#144865) (M) - $14.95
Medium+ intensity aromas feature some mature petrol notes, along with mineral, green apple, citrus and peach aromas. There's a nice mineral texture on the light-weighted palate with appealing off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) aroma replays. Vibrant acids keep things fresh, while the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Riesling 2015 (88+ pts)The Hare Frontier Cabernet Franc 2013 (89 pts)

THE HARE FRONTIER CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
Contains trace amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this has medium-high intensity, oak-influenced aromas of tobacco, cigar, smoke, dark cherry, pepper, and dark currant with very good complexity that continues on the medium-full bodied palate. It has vibrant acids, good tannic structure, and long finishing. Enjoy over the next half decade. Score: 89 pts


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