Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

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  • Friday, September 6, 2019

Red Tractor Wines (Niagara) - Wine Reviews



Red Tractor Wines
wine reviews are a pair of new wines that were recently launched at Creekside last month.

Established in 2011 by Creekside Estate Winery, Red Tractor Wines are new world wines that celebrate the past, present, and future of farming in Ontario. At Creekside, they have an old Massey Harris tractor that serves as a symbol of the hard work that is required to farm the vineyards. Red Tractor Wines were created to honour this hard work and salute their family of growers.

The grapes for Red Tractor Wines are sourced from family farms across the Niagara Peninsula. Paying homage to the vineyards and growers such as the Serluca and Smith families, Red Tractor Wines is proud to work alongside these 2nd generation farmers as they push the boundaries on innovation and lead with sustainable farming practices.

Yvonne Irvine steers the Red Tractor team and crafted these wines to best express their sense of place while honouring old-world winemaking techniques. She has over 12 years of viticultural and winemaking experience and works closely with their family of growers, embracing the honest, hard work required to grow and harvest quality fruit.

Both of these wines are available for purchase now at Creekside Estate Winery, Furthermore, the Cabernet Merlot will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Tasting Notes:

RED TRACTOR CABERNET MERLOT 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#011851) (XD) - $17.95
Composed of 45% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, and other varietals. Screw cap. Vegan-friendly. This bottle shows an herbally, medium+ intensity nose off the top followed by black currant, blackberry, cassis, wood spice and earthy tones. The soft, medium-bodied palate has smooth, rounded tannins and juicy acidity. It has dark fruited, herbal, and oak spice flavours. Earthy and green herb notes linger on the finish, with good length. Coming to LCBO VINTAGES on September 14th and enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 88 pts

Red Tractor Cabernet Merlot 2017 (88 pts)Red Tractor Cabernet Franc 2017 (89 pts)

RED TRACTOR CABERNET FRANC 2017 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (D) - $25
Sourced entirely from the Serluca Family vineyard near the little village of Virgil. Screw cap. Ripe, medium+ intensity nose offers red and black berry fruit with some dusty earth, bay leaf, herbs, and oak spice aromas. The medium-bodied palate is ripe with more red and black fruit flavours mingling with minty herb, barnyard, sweet tobacco, and spice flavours. It has juicy, balanced acidity and supple, dusty textured tannins that become quite grippy on the mid-palate. Long finishing with wood spice, dark berry, and earthy notes. Vegan-friendly. Best enjoyed from 2020 to 2024. Tasted . Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur (Canada) - Review

I enjoyed this delicious herbal liqueur that arrived on LCBO VINTAGES on .

Shámán is a bitter herbal liqueur with origins in Bavarian monasteries. It has been revived with the respect and love of Quebec artisans by Maison Sivó to please the tastes of a new generation. Shámán aims to be nothing less than becoming a legend. Served cold, straight as a shooter, Shámán will surprise you with its powerful, bitter and floral taste. Developed with the assistance of mixologists, Sháman has a relatively high alcohol percentage by volume and a low sugar content that will make it also ideal in cocktails.

The Sivó family was producing remarkable fruit brandies at the outset of the 20th century in their village in Hungary. At the time, their products were recognized for their craftsmanship and quality even though their equipment was rather rudimentary. Today, they use highly refined methods of micro-distilling at their distillery in Montérégie, in southwestern Quebec.

Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur

Tasting Note:

SIVÓ SHÁMÁN HERBAL LIQUEUR - Matured in oak casks, Canada (#653436) (500 mL) - $27.95
Relatively high alcohol (36% alc./vol.) and minimal sugar (7.5 g/L), this is crafted with selective maceration of herbs and spices, realization, and aging in oak casks. Fragrant herbal, bitter, anise seed, licorice, and some floral aromas and flavours. Sticky and richly textured on the medium+ body. Very good length on the smooth, bitter finish. Reminds me of an Amaro. You could serve this lightly chilled on its own, but it will really shine when mixed into a cocktail. I made a slightly simpler version of Cabin Fizz (recipe below) and it was delicious! Other recipes that also look very enticing are provided below.

Cocktail Recipes:


Cabin Fizz
1.5 oz. Vodka
0.75 oz. Lemon juice
0.5 oz. Shámán
0.25 oz. Maple syrup
2 oz. Maple water
2 dashes of Angostura bitter

Add ice, shake and serve in a collins glass. Top off with soda, and garnish with lemon zest.

Lone Wolf
Crush a quarter of lemon in glass, then add:

0.5 oz. Shámán
0.5 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Pineapple juice
Add ice and ginger beer, and garnish with lemon slice

El Shámán
0.75 oz. Shámán
0.75 oz. Mexcal
0.75 oz. Grand Marnier
0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. White sugar
1 dash Agave syrup

Shake and filter, and serve in Marie-Antoinette glass.


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  • Monday, June 24, 2019

Queenston Mile Vineyard Portfolio Tasting (Spring 2019)

Queenston Mile Vineyard Sparkling Wines
In the , I had the pleasure of tasting through the wines of one of Niagara's newest and hottest wineries - Queenston Mile Vineyard.

The 50-acre vineyard and winery are located in St. David's Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake, just 10 kilometres south of the shores of Lake Ontario. This area was formed when glaciers carved out the Niagara Escarpment and arose from the historic shoreline of Lake Iroquois towards the base of the Niagara Escarpment. Today, the escarpment's steep ridge collects winds off the lake and circulates them back over the low-lying plains of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Queenston Mile Vineyard is situated in one of Niagara's hottest sub-appellations, with their Estate Vineyard warming early in the Spring and allowing for an extended growing season. In fact, they have one of the warmest and longest growing sites in the Niagara Peninsula. Soils consist of red sandstone bedrock and rich layers of silty clay and loam.

The people behind Queenston Mile Vineyard are not new to wine. They have also been growing grapes and making wine from this land for over twenty years. For the first ten years, they waited for the vines to mature on this newly planted vineyard so they could see what they truly had to be able to make exceptional wines. During the second ten years, they started to see the special qualities of the vineyard. The result is a house that produces mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir table wines, as well as fantastic sparkling wines.

Rob Power is the man behind Queenston Mile Vineyard. It is a project of passion for him and has been a strong advocate for the advancement of quality and creativity in the Canadian wine industry. He has worked tirelessly to innovate within the Niagara wine industry, producing thought provoking blends and vinifying unique varietals. You may also know him as the winemaker at Niagara's Creekside Estate Winery. During his career, Rob has garnered both critical acclaim and the respect of his industry colleagues as he is widely considered to be one of Canada's top winemakers.

I tasted through the entire Queenston Mile Vineyard portfolio and wine reviews of my favourites are provided below. All of these delicious wines are available for purchase directly from the winery.

Queenston Mile Vineyard Mile Red 2016Queenston Mile Vineyard Sweet Victory Viognier 2017

Tasting Notes:

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD BLANC DE NOIRS 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
100% Pinot Noir that spent 3 years on the lees. Pretty, light-peach coloured with fragrant aromas pastry, lemon/lime citrus and stone fruits. Honeyed with a kiss of sweetness on the palate with lovely aromas replays. It is creamy textured with bright, vibrant acids and a long, crisp finish. Very fine Niagara bubbly. Score: 91+ pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Blanc de Noirs 2015 (91+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#010137) (XD) - $35
From a hot year, this offers subtle ripe apple, pear, and vanilla aromas, with much of the same on the medium+ bodied and fleshy palate. Finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (88+ pts)Queenston Mile Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 (90+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2017 - Barrel Fermented, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Bottled a couple of weeks prior, the 2017 offers a lovely, medium-high intensity nose that is clean and lean, with butter ripe apples, elegant pear and vanilla aromas. It is lifted with vibrant acidity on a medium-bodied palate. Nutty notes arrive on flavour profile, along with lovely aroma replays. Long, clean finish. Reminds me of a Meursault. Score: 90+ pts

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
A hot vintage on a hot site, this has a medium intensity nose of stewed red and blackberry, strawberry, cherry, and a touch of nail polish, all of which come through nicely on the palate. Acids are very good, but the tannins are very drying and chalky. Good finish length. I would hold for 2-3 years to let the tannins subside. Score: 89 pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (89 pts)Queenston Mile Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 (90+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2017 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
Slightly darker in colour and more feminine in style than the 2016. This has a lovely medium-high intensity nose of red currant, black cherry, raspberry, wood spice, and hints of earthiness and tea leaf. It is medium-bodied with some astringency to the soft tannins, but otherwise well-integrated. Lovely tea leaf, beet root and strawberry flavours on the palate. Bright acids and very good finish length. Bottled 1-2 weeks ago. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)
, I had the pleasure of tasting the latest wines from Niagara's 16 Mile Cellar. I was first introduced to 16 Mile Cellar in 2015 and at that time only tasted their Chardonnay wines.

On this day, I was able to taste their Pinot Noir, as well as their more recent Chardonnays. In the four years since, there have been some changes at the winery. Morgan Juniper is the new winemaker at 16 Mile Cellar. She previously worked at a Niagara's Tawse Winery and Pearl Morissette, in addition to gaining winemaking experience in Australia, Germany, and Alsace. While she did help finish some of the wines we tasted, 2018 was her first full vintage at 16 Mile Cellar.

In addition to Morgan taking us through the wines, Susan Barnacal, President of 16 Mile, was also in attendance and told us quite a few stories. 16 Mile Cellar is a small family-owned and -operated winery that was founded in 2010 by Susan and her husband Joseph Groia. It is located on 16 Mile Creek (hence the name) in St. Catharines, at the base of the Twenty Mile Bench. They farm using organic practices and grow only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In the early years, they purchased fruit for their wines. However, as the their own vines matured, they started using estate fruit beginning with the 2015 vintage for Pinot Noir and the 2018 vintage for Chardonnay.

Many thanks to André Proulx for hosting and the opportunity to taste these delicious wines from 16 Mile Cellar. My wine reviews of four of the wines (the fifth was a Pinot Noir barrel sample) are provided below.

Most of these wines are be available for purchase right now. 16 Mile Cellar is holding their annual Spring Open House this Saturday, May 4th at their winery & vineyard and is sure to be an afternoon of fun with complementary tastings, and much more.

16 Mile Cellar Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:

16 MILE CELLAR REBEL CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#485243) (XD) - $22.95
Medium+ intensity nose has buttery, vanilla, pear and slightly mealy notes with air. On the medium-bodied and creamy palate it has nice aroma replays supported by bright acids. Expresses terroir with mineral, earth, and mealy notes with hints of vanilla on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

16 Mile Cellar Rebel Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)16 Mile Cellar Civility Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

16 MILE CELLAR CIVILITY CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
From a few selected barrels, this is a touch mature with pear, apple amd subtle oak aromas, while the palate is medium-full bodied with bracing acidity and minerally, apple, pear, and a touch mealy flavours. Very good fruit concentrations. Long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

16 MILE CELLAR INCIVILITY PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Medium-high intensity nose has earthy, cherry, strawberry, beetroot, and oak spice aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, smooth, and refined tannins to go along with red-fruited raspberry, cherry, strawberry flavours and sweet oak spice notes. Long, oak-spiced finish. Various clones fermented separately prior to blending. Score: 89 pts

16 Mile Cellar Incivility Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2014 (89 pts)16 Mile Cellar Tenacity Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2015 (90 pts)

16 MILE CELLAR TENACITY PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
100% estate fruit from Susan's Vineyard. Medium+ intensity nose is all dark berry, blackberry and dark cherry with oak spice aromas that develop complexities with air. It is medium-bodied with very good fruit concentration and pleasingly spicy replays. Bright acids are juicy, while supple tannins are structured. Long, dark berry notes on the finish. Fairly big Pinot, still somewhat young. Drink over the next 5-8 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Saturday, April 13, 2019

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I last enjoyed 2014 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot back in , and I am opening the 2nd bottle that I have in my possession.

This red wine blend is produced by Southbrook Vineyards with grapes coming from the Saunders Vineyard in Niagara. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and ageing occurred in neutral oak barrels. This certified organic wine is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Although a newer vintage of this wine isn't available, an equivalent in Southbrook's current portfolio would be the 2017 Triomphe Merlot that is available at the winery and through their online web store.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET MERLOT 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95 Sold Out
Stelvin screw cap enclosure. A blend of 69% Cabernet Franc and 31% Merlot from a cooler vintage that began with the infamous Polar Vortex. Generous aromas are mature with savoury, earthy, and forest floor notes, plus some dried cherry, floral, and herbal spice hints. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with refined tannins that offer a nice chalky texture. More savouriness on the flavour profile with dried cherry, spice, and herbs. Juicy mid-palate with acids a touch sour. Earthy notes linger on the finish, with good length. Enjoy over the next 12 months. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Friday, April 12, 2019

Sip and Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake 2018

I had a great time attending Sip and Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake , and this annual event is taking place again this May.

Sip and Sizzle features over 20 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, each offering a unique grilled food item and VQA wine pairing. It is a fun, relaxing, and a great way to discover the Wines of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

In order to attend Sip and Sizzle, purchase your Touring Pass here. This Pass entitles you to one VQA wine tasting and food pairing at each of the 20+ participating wineries during the 4 weekends in May - Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The full list of this year's offerings are now posted and a Designated Driver's Touring Pass is also available.

To have the best experience, I would recommend visiting 6-8 wineries per day. This will allow you to casually visit each winery at a fairly relaxed pace and discover some of their other delicious wines - many of which never arrive on LCBO shelves. This event would also make a great weekend getaway.

Here are some of the highlights from my visit last year:

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CUVÉE D’ANDRÉE ROSÉ 2016 ($16, #333260, 87 pts) paired with house smoked salmon on an herb scone with cranberry compote. The red berry flavours from the wine complemented the cranberry compote well, while the food-friendly acids in the wine allowed it to be paired with the salmon and scone. Really nice done!

Château des Charmes Cuvée d’Andrée Rosé 2016 (87 pts) with smoked salmon on herb scone with cranberry compoteRavine Gewurztraminer 2017 (88 pts) with Harissa grilled chicken thighs on K2 grain salad


RAVINE VINEYARD ESTATE WINERY GEWURZTRAMINER 2017 ($25, 88 pts) paired with Harissa grilled chicken thighs on K2 grain salad. They actually ran out of the salad, so I ended up getting another serving with the salad while at the tasting bar. An off-dry wine with lemon/lime notes that brought out the lemony notes from the grain salad. The tender chicken was well-made, not spicy, and had subtle smoky flavours that meshed well with the wine.

BETWEEN THE LINES WINERY ROSÉ 2017 ($18, 87 pts) paired with grilled lamb brochette with a tangy herb de provence glaze. A fairly substantial darker rose with a slightly tannic backbone that actually held up well against lamb.

Between The Lines Rosé 2017 (87 pts) with grilled lamb brochette with a tangy herb de provence glazeEastDell Summer Rosé 2016 (86 pts) with strawberry & goat cheese bruschetta on grilled focaccia bread

LAKEVIEW WINE CO. EASTDELL SUMMER ROSÉ 2016 ($15, #560243, 86 pts) paired with strawberry & goat cheese bruschetta on grilled focaccia bread. All candied cherry and tangy citrus that was a fun pairing which complemented the strawberry-flavoured bruschetta.

PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 ($23, 88 pts) paired with our house-made lamb and balsamic mint sausage. Nicely done with pepper and spice notes from both the wine and lamb complementing each other, while the full-bodied wine with somewhat big tannins balanced the protein. The sour cream based spread on top was a nice cooling touch.

Peller Estates Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (88 pts) with house-made lamb and balsamic mint sausageJoseph's Estate Proprietor’s Reserve Riesling 2014 (85 pts) with grilled sweet heat chicken satay

JOSEPH'S ESTATE PROPRIETOR’S RESERVE RIESLING 2014 ($15, 85 pts) paired with grilled sweet heat chicken satay. The chicken satay was mildly spiced, however, at the tail end there was some spicy heat which would have been better paired with an off-dry Riesling instead of this dry Riesling.

JACKSON-TRIGGS GRAND RESERVE SHIRAZ 2015 ($26, 89 pts) paired with lamb spiedini with fresh ciabatta, pepperoncini and olive oil. This was a nice, peppery pairing with pepper notes from the wine and the lamb complementing each other, and just enough tannins to balance the protein. The pepperoncini also added a nice spicy kick.

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Shiraz 2015 (89 pts) with lamb spiedini with fresh ciabatta, pepperoncini and olive oilStrewn Gewurztraminer 2015 (88 pts) with Sizzling Sampler Trio: Tandoori chicken, grilled pineapple & vegetable samosa

STREWN GEWURZTRAMINER 2015 ($15, #065359, 88 pts) paired with a Sizzling Sampler Trio: Tandoori chicken, grilled pineapple & vegetable samosa. Very intresting to try all three of these bites with a dry Gewurztraminer. The spicy notes from the wine fared well with the tandoori chicken and the samosa, however, the pineapple citrus flavours were stronger than the wine.

NOMAD AT HINTERBROOK TRAVELLER'S RIESLING 2016 ($16, #445775, 88 pts) paired with grilled shrimp with pickled garden root vegetables, spicy citrus, lime and sweet basil. A nice, fresh pairing with balanced acids and slightly sweet citrusy flavours matching the tangy and spicy salad, while the minerality in the wine complemented the shrimp.

Nomad at Hinterbrook Traveller's Riesling 2016 (88 pts) with grilled shrimp with pickled garden root vegetables, spicy citrus, lime and sweet basilPalatine Hills Vidal Icewine 2012 (90 pts) with S'mores Pie

PALATINE HILLS VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 ($20, 200 mL, 90 pts) paired with S'mores Pie: chocolate cream cheese, chocolate graham and toasted marshmallows. A lusciously sweet pairing where the wine matched the sweetness of the dessert, and the acidity in the wine held it all together.


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  • Sunday, March 31, 2019

Creekside Iconoclast Niagara Syrah 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

wine review is a lovely Syrah I discovered while visiting the winery during the annual Niagara Wine Festival in .

I purchased this red wine for $17.95 and recall that it was on promotion and made available for purchase because their Estate Syrah was sold out. The 2012 is, of course, sold out, but I have tasted a few vintages of this wine now, including the current vintage which is the 2016 Creekside Iconoclast Syrah (89+ pts). You won't find newer vintages at this price, but the current vintage is also a very delicious wine that is available at the winery and may also come through LCBO VINTAGES at some point.

I last tasted the 2012 Creekside Iconoclast Syrah in - basically 4 years ago. Let's see how it is tasting tonight...

Creekside Iconoclast Niagara Syrah 2012 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST NIAGARA SYRAH 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#471797) (XD) - $17.95
Screw cap. Just a tinge of reddish-brown colour on the edge. The medium-high intensity nose has savoury, earthy, meaty, and black pepper aromas with hints of oak spice and dark berry. The medium+ bodied palate is somewhat dense with refined, dusty tannins that fold into the palate very nicely. It is chalky textured with savoury, freshly tilled soil, meaty, dark berry, and black plum flavours with peppery hints. Acids are juicy. Nicely balanced aromas and flavours linger through to the long, earthy finish. Best with a light chill. Drink soon if you have it. Score: 89 pts


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  • Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (PEC) - Wine Review (Bottle 4)

wine review is the 4th bottle from a case of wine that I ordered through the VINI wine app.

I last enjoyed the 2014 Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay in September and noted that it will be best over the next year or so. Given that I had two bottles remaining, I thought it best to open one tonight and save the last bottle for some time later this year.

Of course, the 2014 was sold out a long time ago, while small quantities of the 2016 remain at the LCBO, and the 2017 should be available at Closson Chase Winery in Prince Edward County soon.

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 colour and offers lemon citrus, waxy, paraffin aromatics in a mature profile. The palate is medium-bodied and fairly complex with lovely mature waxy, paraffin, mealy, and lemon citrus flavours plus some butter and vanilla notes in the background. It is nicely textured with some chalkiness on the mid-palate. Balanced acidity. Lemon and waxy notes linger on the long finish. A high-quality, mature Chardonnay to drink soon. Score: 90 pts


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  • Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Pillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

I picked up sweet dessert wine while visiting the winery last month during the annual Days of Wine & Chocolate Event in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

With this wine, Pillitteri Estates Winery is celebrating 25 years of family, quality and tradition. This family winery opened its doors in June of 1993. Pillitteri has successfully grown with 3 generations working in the family business, having received over 1000 prestigious wine awards and sell to more than 35 countries worldwide. The family is thankful and proudly presents the 25th Silver Anniversary Collection of wines for all to enjoy.

Back in February during Days of Wine & Chocolate, they were offering BOGO on this particular late harvest dessert wine - what a great deal! Although this deal is no more, this delicious sweet wine is still available for purchase at the winery and through their online web store.

Pillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2013 (88+ pts)Pillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2013 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

PILLITTERI 25TH ANNIVERSARY SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $25
Fresh red cherry and strawberry aromas waft from the glass with hints of white raisins and chocolate. On the medium-full bodied palate, it is somewhat dense and fairly sweet with just enough acidity to keep the palate fresh. More cherry, strawberry, and raisiny flavours continue through to the finish, with very good length. Enjoy well-chilled. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Saturday, March 2, 2019

Rockway Vineyards Brut Cuvée (Niagara) - Wine Review

sparkling wine review is the latest from a recent string of lovely wines I've enjoyed from Niagara's Rockway Vineyards.

Sparkling wine is a category gaining in popularity as more and more people drink various types of bubbly from around the globe. The biggest reason for this is that people aren't just uncorking a bottle of sparkling wine for special occasions, but also for everyday drinking. There is no celebratory occasion happening at my place tonight, other than opening this delightful Niagara bubbly.

This sparkler is the very first Traditional Method Sparkling Wine crafted by Rockway Vineyards and is indeed a very fine bubbly. David Stasiuk is the talented winemaker at Rockway. He used fruit (67% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir) that was hand-picked in early September during the 2015 vintage. The cuvée was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks without malolactic fermentation. Secondary fermentation in bottle occurred using tirage in March 2016, and lasted 6-8 weeks. It was bottle aged for 32 months on lees before being disgorged. Dosage was with wild barrel fermented estate Chardonnay.

This delicious bubbly is available through their retails store in Niagara, as well as their online web store.

Rockway Vineyards Brut Cuvée (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS BRUT CUVÉE - Méthode Traditionnelle, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
A blend of 67% Chardonnay and 33% Pinot Noir aged on the lees for 32 months. Fragrant lemon citrus, ripe green apple and brioche aromas emanate from the glass. It is medium-bodied with crisp, bright acids, fine bubbles and a slightly creamy texture. A touch honeyed on the palate with more lemon citrus, green apple and brioche notes. Nicely balanced with more green apple and lemon flavours on the long finish. Score: 90 pts


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  • Monday, February 18, 2019

Rockway Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Icewine that I picked up while visiting the winery in Niagara during the Icewine Festival. This wine continues the string of wines I've enjoyed recently from Rockway Vineyards.

This delicious Icewine is produced by Rockway Vineyards and is a wine I've tasted (and enjoyed) on a number of occasions, including back in . The grapes for this Icewine benefited from early and long freeze cycles that started in late November. Grapes were harvested in the early morning hours of , when the average temperature -10°C.

With only 300 Litres produced (approximately 1,500 bottles of 200 mL) and now 6 years from vintage, I am a bit surprised that this lovely Riesling Icewine is still available for purchase at the winery and through their online web store. It is also currently $10 off, making it one of the better value Riesling Icewines out there.

Rockway Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2013 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS RIESLING ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $39.97 $29.97
Gorgeous, aromatic nose offers orange citrus, peach, kiwi, meringue, and honeycomb aromas. It is full-bodied and viscous on the sweet palate with juicy, racy acids balancing the sugar and keeps the wine from being cloying. Sweet, luscious and complex flavours of peach, orange citrus, honeycomb, lime, kiwi, and apple are nicely balanced. Excellent finish length with flavour profile lingering on the long aftertaste. Lots of life in this sweet elixir and will keep for many years. Score: 92 pts


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  • Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2015 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a medium sweet Riesling that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES . There are several bottles of this white wine still available at the LCBO, however, I would suggest you visit the winery in Niagara.

Rockway Vineyards is a unique destination in that it is Ontario's only winery with its own 18-hole golf course. You can enjoy a round of golf, weather-permitting of course, but also visit the on-site winery museum and restaurant, with terrific views of the Escarpment. However, at the center of the experience are the delightful wines produced under of the care of winemaker David Stasiuk.

Rockway grows, crafts, and bottles 99.9% of all the wines they produce. David has a hands-off approach to winemaking, with the goal of capturing the flavours from the vineyard and guiding them into your glass.

This single vineyard Riesling comes from a small block of vines within the VQA Twenty Mile Bench appellation in Niagara. In 2015, the fruit was nearly perfect after two very cold winters. The very dry months from July to September allowed the vines to get back to normal ripening schedule. This lovely white wine normally retails for $21.95, but is currently available for $19.95.

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS SMALL LOT BLOCK 150-183 RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#424176) - $19.95
Screw cap. Lovely, fragrant and perfumed nose of wet stone, lime zest, white peach and floral. On the medium-bodied palate it is a touch fleshy with crisp, lip-smacking acidity and pretty honeyed, tart lime citrus, and limestone mineral flavours in a medium sweet profile. Juicy acids along with a mineral texture on the mid-palate. Nicely balanced overall with lingering wet stone and lime flavours on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 6+ years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Taste the Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake - November 2018

Last , I had the pleasure of attending Taste the Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This annual Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake event celebrates the season’s bounty with exceptional VQA wines and locally inspired food pairings at participating member wineries.

The event ran every weekend (Friday to Sunday) in November from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, Touring Passes costed $55 and allowed us to enjoy a food pairing with VQA wine at each of the 26 participating wineries, while Designated Driver Touring Passes were available for $30.

Of course, visiting all of the wineries in 6 hours would've been impossible, so we picked wineries that aligned most with our palate and ended up visiting 13 wineries. If you wanted to visit each winery (and not rush through), you could probably complete the tour over 3-4 days. Details and reviews from each winery visit are provided below. We had a great time visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake and hope to attend this lovely event again next Fall.

PondView Estate Winery Lot 74 Sparkling Brut 2017 ($25, 87 pts) paired with chicken & waffles topped with a holiday-spiced strawberry Icewine glaze. Generously sized portion with lots of strawberry Icewine glaze. I thought this might end up being too sweet with an off-dry Vidal sparkling wine paired strawberry Icewine glaze, but it was anything but. The wine became quite savoury because of the chicken, and because it was fried, it cut right through the acids and further enhanced the savoury profile.

PondView Lot 74 Sparkling Brut 2017 (87 pts) with chicken & wafflesMarynissen Heritage White 2016 (89 pts) with carrot ginger bisque

Marynissen Estates Heritage White 2016 ($40, 89 pts) paired with a carrot ginger bisque. The stylish white wine is a blend of barrel-fermented and aged Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Viognier and off-dry in flavour profile, while the bisque was thick, almost pureé in style, and a bit on the tangy side. On the down side, I was surprised that they would pour such an expensive (and quality wine) in a plastic cup. On the bright side, it was a delicious and interesting pairing with the wine becoming less sweet and more savoury when paired with the soup.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2017 ($50, 375 mL, #388306, 89 pts) paired with Vidal onion soup topped with Niagara gold crouton. Both the soup and Icewine were delicious. Furthermore, the soup was flavourful and hearty and something I would definitely want to make at home. Together, this was a lovely sweet and savoury pairing which showed that Icewine can be enjoyed not only after dinner, but also before the main course of your dinner.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2017 (89 pts) with Vidal onion soupReif Shiraz 2017 (88 pts) with black pepper, truffle & Parmesan popcorn

Reif Estate Winery Shiraz 2017 ($19, 88 pts) paired with black pepper, truffle and Parmesan popcorn. The popcorn was quite interesting (and delicious) on its own as I had never heard of popcorn with this kind of flavouring before. It worked well because the black pepper notes in the popcorn matched the black pepper notes in the Shiraz, creating a nice complementary pairing.

Lailey Winery Chardonnay Third Curiosity 2013 ($??, 88 pts) paired with butter tarts made at the nearby Harvest Barn. The wine was more stone fruit and citrus with just a hint of vanilla. However, when paired with the yummy butter tarts, the wine became more buttery and vanilla flavoured with some brown sugar notes from the tart also appearing on the palate. In this pairing, it was the tart that added interesting nuances.

Lailey Chardonnay Third Curiosity 2013 (88 pts) with Harvest Barn butter tartsPeller Estates Private Reserve Merlot 2016 (88+ pts) with curried lamb, butternut squash & lentil stew

Peller Estates Private Reserve Merlot 2016 ($24, 88+ pts) paired with curried lamb, butternut squash and lentil stew. Generous portions of stew were provided, however, it was a little inconsistent as my wife got plenty of lamb chunks in her stew, yet I only received a couple of small pieces. Nevertheless, it was a nice pairing as the peppery nature of the wine, along with some grippy tannins provided balance with the hearty lamb stew. An ideal pairing for the season!

Rancourt Chardonnay 2013 ($12, 87 pts) paired with locally made tiramisu. The unoaked Chardonnay paired surprisingly well with the acids in the wine balancing the creamy mousse in the tiramisu that was made by Harvest Barn. The tiramisu also brought out the lemony flavours in the wine. Delighted to see this crafty pairing from the new owners at Rancourt.

Rancourt Chardonnay 2013 (87 pts) with tiramisuPillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Riesling 2013 (88+ pts) with caramel apple crumble parfait

Pillitteri Estates Winery 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Riesling 2013 ($20, 375 mL, 88+ pts) paired with a caramel apple crumble parfait. The wine was semi-sweet, as expected, and paired very nicely with the parfait that matched the sweetness of the Late Harvest Riesling. However, it was the contrasting cinnamon spice in the parfait that really lifted this pairing and showed that spice and sweet makes for a delicious pairing.

Stratus Vineyards Weather Report Red 2014 ($29, #552604, 88 pts) paired with a lemon & chicken tourtière with crunchy roasted mustard seeds. The wine is a fairly easy drinking 7-grape blend led by the two Cabernets, but also showed some structure and elegance. Since this was my first time stepping into Stratus, I was pleasantly in awe at the very modern-looking and chic tasting room. The pairing fit the space as it was all very gourmet, and the roasted mustard seeds provided a kick to the nicely savoury and gourmet pairing.

Stratus Weather Report Red 2014 (88 pts) with lemon & chicken tourtièreJackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Merlot 2016 (88 pts) with wood-fired chicken wings topped with black pepper, sage & Parmesan

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery Grand Reserve Merlot 2016 ($26, #563197, 88 pts) paired with wood-fired chicken wings topped with black pepper, sage and Parmesan. This was a delicious pairing as the black pepper spice and sage herb complemented the black pepper and herbally notes in the wine, while the Parmesan helped balanced the acids in the wine. So yummy that I was tempted to ask for a second serving. Simple, yet delicious, pairing that you could easily try at home.

Strewn Winery Riesling 2017 (88+ pts, $16) is a barely off-dry Riesling that was paired with a seasonal sampler trio of a vegetable spring roll, an edamame spread on a beet cracker, and an orange KitKat. Strewn always seems to do an interesting food and wine pairing, and lately they have been pairing 3 items with a single wine to see how the food & wine interplay changes with each food item. In the case, the vegetable spring roll brought out the green apple notes in the wine, along with a nice savoury element too. With the edamame spread on a beet cracker, the wine became more citrusy. Lastly, the wine actually enhanced the orange flavours in the KitKat while also becoming more creamy and smooth. Really well done!

Strewn Riesling 2017 (88+ pts) with vegetable spring roll, edamame spread on a beet cracker, & orange KitKatKonzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Grigio 2017 (87 pts) with buttermilk brined fried chicken

Konzelmann Estate Winery Lakefront Series Pinot Grigio 2017 ($16, 87 pts) paired with buttermilk brined fried chicken, coated in Louisiana butter sauce, topped with house-made ranch dressing and arugula micro greens. Firstly, the fried chicken here was spicy and delicious and definitely something I would want to make at home. Since the wine was slightly honeyed and a touch sweet, this played towards the classic sweet and spicy pairing that tends to work very well.

Palatine Hills Estate Winery 1812 Red 2017 ($14, 87 pts) paired with Spicy Buffalo Chicken featuring creamy chicken, carrots and celery in flaky pastry drizzled with blue cheese aioli. The wine is a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that is fruit forward and easy drinking. I wasn't too sure how this pairing would fare, but it turned out quite well as the flaky pastry wasn't very spicy and was quite casual in nature. This played perfectly to the wine's character and could be easily be a delicious appetizer & wine pairing at your next dinner.

Palatine Hills 1812 Red 2017 (87 pts) with spicy Buffalo chicken featuring creamy chicken, carrots and celery in flaky pastry drizzled with blue cheese aioli


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  • Sunday, January 20, 2019

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a yummy white wine that is a companion to the 2017 Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot that I opened on .

Not to be confused with the other "Pinot" varietals out there, Pinot Blanc is actually a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, an unstable grape known to naturally mutate. Worldwide, Pinot Blanc isn't grown in large quantities, but it is fairly common in Alsace, Germany, and Austria. In Ontario, Konzelmann Estate Winery, with its German heritage, is one of the very few producers in Niagara growing it, and they have been making Pinot Blanc wines for more than 20 years.

Like the Merlot, this white wine was also picked up at the winery. The 2016 vintage of this wine is currently available for purchase at the LCBO, while the 2017 vintage should arrive in the near future.

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

KONZELMANN LAKEFRONT SERIES PINOT BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#219279) (D) - $14.95
Screw cap. Pale yellow colour. Fairly light on the nose with lemon and mineral aromas, along with hints of melon and floral. Alsatian in style with a medium-bodied and intense palate that is quite fleshy and off-dry with green apple, ripe melon, beeswax, and pear flavours. Nicely textured with well-balanced crisp and refreshing acidity. Very good finish length that's dry with pear, mineral, and floral tones. Score: 88 pts


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