Showing posts with label icewine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label icewine. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival 2017 - Day 2 of 2



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

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

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

Beer and Cheddar Bisque paired with Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2004 (89 pts)

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

Coyote's Run Estate Syrah 2015 (89 pts)

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

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

Barrel Sampling with Chris Protonentis

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


Thursday, June 14, 2018

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  • Thursday, June 14, 2018

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival 2017 - Day 1 of 2

Pacific Snapper Ceviche and Niagara Apple Slaw with 2016 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling
Last , I visited Niagara to take in the 66th Annual Niagara Grape and Wine Festival that celebrates the harvest season. I have been fortunate to attend this festival many times and have always enjoyed the visit. Once again, I visited Niagara over two days and my review from second day will be posted shortly.

Our tour began in Niagara-on-the-Lake, at Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery for some Pacific snapper ceviche and Niagara Apple Slaw paired with their 2016 Grand Reserve Riesling. This was a nicely crisp, balanced pairing where the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Riesling wine suddenly became quite dry when paired with the slaw due to the high, lemony acids from the ceviche overtaking the sugary elements in the wine. This was really quite well done. Using my Winemaker's Selections' Tasting Passes, we also got to taste their intriguing, and uncommon Entourage Grand Reserve Sparkling Wine made with Sauvignon Blanc, but otherwise did not taste any other wines as the tasting bar is always a zoo. Full wine reviews from Jackson-Triggs and all the other wineries visited on this day are provided below.

Harvest Barn Apple Cinnamon Chicken Wing with 2013 Rancourt Unoaked Chardonnay
The second stop of the day was at Rancourt Winery for grilled chicken wings brushed with Harvest Barn’s signature Apple Cinnamon grilling sauce, and paired with their 2013 Rancourt Unoaked Chardonnay ($14.80, 86 pts). I do wings and wine at home quite often and find it to be delightful. The pairing at Rancourt was also good, with mild stone fruit flavours from the wine meshing well with the mildly flavoured wings.

Moving along to the Beamsville Bench area of Niagara, Cave Spring Cellars was our third stop of the day. They were not participating in the Discovery Pass Experience, so we simply tasted a few wines from their lovely portfolio, followed by a short stroll on picturesque Main Street in Jordan Village.

The fourth stop of the afternoon was at GreenLane Estate Winery to taste their newly released 2014 GreenLane Guts and Glory Blend ($19.95, 87 pts), which is a blend of 55% Unoaked Chardonnay (Guts) and 45% Riesling (Glory), and paired with a Macaroni and Gorgonzola Fritter by Just Cooking. This was a nicely balanced pairing as the high acidity in the wine cut through the deep fried mac & cheese ball, while also providing a nice mouthfeel. The ambience on their outdoor patio is always such a delightful place, we took our time before heading inside and tasting a few of their top wines.

Just Cooking Macaroni and Gorgonzola Fritter with 2014 GreenLane Guts and GloryItty Bitty Pie Company Brie and Caramelized Onions Pie with 2013 Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve

Our fifth and final stop of the day was at Legends Estates Winery. The food and wine pairing here was a mouthwatering, bite-sized pie stuffed with Brie and caramelized onions from the Itty Bitty Pie Company, and paired with their award-winning 2013 Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve and 2012 Legends Estates Shiraz Reserve. Having tasted both of these wines previously, I was curious to see how each wine would the on prior visits to the winery, so I opted to pair the pie with the Chardonnay as the rich, buttery, butterscotch, and vanilla notes in the wine accentuated caramelized flavours in the pie filling, as well as the buttery flavours in the pie crust. Delicious pairing, indeed.

All-in-all, I was quite satisfied with yet another trip to Niagara Wine Country. This is only part 1 of my review, as I ended up visiting Niagara a couple of weeks later to partake in more Discovery Pass Experiences. Stay tuned, as that review will be posted in a few days time.

Tasting Notes:

JACKSON-TRIGGS GRAND RESERVE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#367102) (D) - $21
Fragrant nose of tropical fruits, orange citrus, Flintstone vitamins and mineral waft from the glass, and all of it coming through nicely on the off-dry palate, balanced by clean acids. The finish is long with some bitterness and comes off as dry. Score: 88+ pts

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling 2016 (88+ pts)Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (88 pts)

JACKSON-TRIGGS ENTOURAGE GRAND RESERVE SPARKLING SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#353078) (D) - $29.95
A sparkling wine that is tart and sour with pink grapefruit notes, followed by some brioche, leesy and green stemmy aromas and flavours. It comes off as mostly dry on the palate with frothy mousse and a toasty brioche edge. Nicely balanced with a medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

RANCOURT FOUNDER'S BLEND 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD)
Equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, this is highly aromatic with lots of woodsy, barnyard, brett, and oak spice aromas, with underlying cassis and blackberry notes. It's full-bodied with nice aroma replays on the palate with notable, but well-integrated oak. Ripe tannins are smooth and refined. Acids are very good, while the finish is long. Score: 89 pts

Rancourt Founder's Blend 2012 (89 pts)Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (90+ pts)

RANCOURT GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $30
Tasted a few times now, and still drinking very well. The highly aromatic nose offers sweet honey, pear, stone fruit, peach and some spices. The palate has very nice, balanced aroma replays. It's sweet, but the fresh acids keep everything nicely balanced. Excellent finish length. Score: 90+ pts

CAVE SPRING CSV CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#529941) (XD) - $29.95
From 41-year old vines, 100% barrel fermented and aged for 10 months in French oak barriques and puncheons, this has a richly buttered nose of apple, pear, and lemon aromas of medium-high intensity. It has a medium+ body that is rich and buttery with, apple, vanilla and well-integrated oak flavours. Nicely textured with crisp, balanced acidity. Excellent finish length. Still a bit young - age this 1-2 years. Score: 91 pts

Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Cave Spring Estate Bottled Riesling 2015 (89 pts)

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2015 - VQA, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment,, Ontario, Canada (#286377) (D) - $18.95
This has a medium-high intensity nose of orange citrus, peach, lime, and some limestone mineral aromas. It's medium-bodied with a chalky limestone mineral texture on the off-dry palate. Clean acids are a touch sour. Long finishing. Will age gracefully for many years. Score: 89 pts

GREENLANE OLD VINES RIESLING 2010 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $34.95
The medium-high intensity aromas are quite fragrant and open with orange citrus, mineral notes, and hints of petrol. The palate is medium-bodied with very nice aroma replays in a medium-dry profile and lifted by vibrant acids. Excellent finish length. Lovely! Score: 90+ pts

GreenLane Old Vines Riesling 2010 (90+ pts)GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (91 pts)

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32.95
Ripe, medium-high intensity nose of evergreen, cassis, black currant, cocoa, and chocolate aromas, all of which come through very nicely on the wood-driven, full bodied palate. Balanced acids. Tannins are chalky, yet well-integrated and quite refined. The finish goes on and on. Score: 91 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $18.95
The medium-intensity nose offers rich, buttery aromas with butterscotch, vanilla, and poached apple joining fray, all of which come through nicely on the medium-bodied palate. Acids are still clean, while the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve 2013 (88+ pts)Legends Estates Reserve Shiraz 2012 (89 pts)

LEGENDS ESTATES RESERVE SHIRAZ 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.95
This has a medium-high intensity nose that's very savoury with wood spice, green olive, meaty, and gamey aromas. On the medium-full bodied palate, this has black peppercorn, gamey and charcuterie flavours surrounded by good acidity and refined tannins. The finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

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  • Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

At my wife's request, I opened up this delicious Icewine after dinner to cap off the weekend. I tasted this yummy Icewine numerous times over the years, including in and . This bottle was purchased when I visited the winery in and noticed that it was on promotion for the hard-to-resist price of $25 for the 200 mL bottle.

It's rare to find Icewine made with Gewürztraminer, and this is definitely one of the better ones out there. Surprisingly, the Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine is still available for purchase through the winery.

Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

RANCOURT GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $30
Honeyed orange marmalade aromas with hints of spice from the cork. Complex aromas of peach, apricot, orange marmalade, honey and hints of hazelnut and oak spice waft from the glass. The palate is medium-to-full bodied with a viscous, silky mouthfeel and lusciously sweet flavours of peach preserves, honey, candied citrus, orange marmalade and caramel. Gentle acids provide lift and balance. Excellent finish length with hints of caramel and brown sugar. Starting to show some maturity, but should drink well for at least another 5+ years. Score: 90 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


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

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  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine was opened upon the insistence of my wife, as she wanted to enjoy some Icewine in celebration of the holidays.

This Icewine was purchased at the winery in earlier this year when we visited Niagara to partake in Icewine Festivities. It's rare to see older vintages still available for purchase, so I was surprised when we were offered a tasting of this delicious Icewine back in January. If you're interested in getting your hands on this, I can see that this vintage is still available for purchase at Legends Estates Winery.

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

LEGENDS ESTATES VIDAL ICEWINE 2006 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $49.90
Lovely peach, orange, brown sugar and caramel aromas from the cork. The fragrant nose in the glass offers candied apricot off the top followed by mature nutty, brown sugar and caramel aromas. The medium+ bodied palate is creamy and fairly thick with a viscous mouthfeel and very sweet flavours of apricot and peach followed by some maturing brown sugar and caramel notes. Slightly tart acids are juicy and provide balance. Finishes long with nutty caramel and toffee flavours. Delicious! Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90+ pts


Monday, July 24, 2017

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  • Monday, July 24, 2017

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2017 - Day 2 of 2

Legends Estates Terroir Semillon with Creamy Canadian Lobster Bisque
On , I visited Niagara for the second weekend in a row to partake in Icewine and food pairings during the Niagara Icewine Festival. All of the wineries visited on this day were located in Twenty Valley. You can read all about my visit to Niagara Wine Country from the here.

The first stop on this day was at Legends Estates Winery for a delicious Creamy Canadian Lobster Bisque that was paired with a choice of their 2013 Legends Estates Terroir Semillon ($13.25, 87 pts, #400366) or 2013 Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve ($18.95, 89 pts). I opted for the Semillon based on a recommendation at the winery, as well as the fact that I tasted (and very much enjoyed) their Chardonnay the last time I visited Legends Estates. The Semillon was mostly tropical and citrus in nature with just a hint of savoury characters, but turned very savoury and smoky, in a pleasant way, when paired with the thick and savoury Bisque. Moreover, the fresh acidity in the wine helped balance the creamy texture of the soup. Overall, this was a very intriguing pairing with the wine changing immensely when paired with the Lobster Bisque.

At Vieni Estates, which was our second stop of the day, we had the option of a "The Terrific Two" Layered Flakie Custard Pastry paired with the 2011 Vieni Vidal Icewine ($39.95, 375 mL, 89 pts) or a Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti paired with 2014 Vidal Sparkling Icewine. Since I was there with my wife, we got one of each food item and I opted for the Vidal Icewine while my wife got the non-alcoholic red berry fruit juice. Surprisingly, the Icewine paired quite well with the Biscotti, bringing out the nutty notes in the nicely maturing Icewine. Very few producers make Sparkling Icewine, so I tasted it at the end and was quite pleased with the quality of the sparkling dessert wine - a wine review is provided below.

Vieni Vidal Icewine with Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti and Layered Flakie Custard PastryRockway Vidal Icewine with Salted Caramel Peanut Brittle

Picard's Salted Caramel Peanut BrittleThe third stop of the day was Rockway Vineyards, where we enjoyed a very decadent Salted Caramel Peanut Brittle created by Chef Stefan Olk, and paired with their 2013 Rockway Vidal Icewine. This indulgence was for those with a sweet tooth. On its own, the Brittle was intensely sweet, while the salt and peanuts added some much needed nuance to balance out the sweetness. The wine was also very sweet and paired very well with the Brittle as the sweetness levels from both the wine and Brittle were evenly matched, while the Brittle also brought out some very nice caramel notes in the wine. Enjoyable pairing for sure, but you must have a sweet tooth as a prerequisite.

Our final stop of the afternoon was at Hernder Estate Wines, where I always seem to have an unusual experience - and this time was no different. I won't go into any details as things were rectified quickly, and some of the wines I tasted were top-notch. The pairing here was a Vanilla Bean Cake Pop engulfed in a robe of Dark Chocolate and topped with Gold Leaf Sprinkles, and paired with their 2013 Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine ($50.05, 375 mL, 89 pts). The Cake Pop was fresh and juicy and had just the right amount of sweetness to balance the sweet cherry, strawberry jam flavours in the wine. Berries and chocolate always make for a delightful pairing.

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine with Vanilla Bean Cake Pop

This concludes my report from my visit to Niagara during the annual Icewine Festival. Wine reviews of my favourite wines tasted on this day are provided below. If you're interested in purchasing any of these wines, please contact the winery as none of these wines are available at he LCBO.

Tasting Notes:

LEGENDS ESTATES RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $16.95
Ripe stone and orchard fruit aromas of very good intensity that continue on the palate, joined by grapefruit flavours. Still on the dry side, and balanced with fresh acidity on a medium-bodied frame. Finish length is very good. Score: 88 pts

Legends Estates Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (88 pts)Legends Estates Reserve Shiraz 2012 (89 pts)

LEGENDS ESTATES RESERVE SHIRAZ 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.95
The nose is highly aromatic with meaty, savoury notes, along with touches of sour cherry. It's full-bodied with smooth, velvety tannins and more meaty/savoury flavours. Very good finish length. It has mouth-watering acids and some structure for ageing, but this is quite enjoyable now. Score: 89 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES VIDAL ICEWINE 2006 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $49.90
Highly aromatic and very appealing with aromas of peach, apricot, honeysuckle and some sweet vanilla notes. On the palate, it's medium-full bodied and thick, but well-balanced by vibrant acids. Lovely mature burnt sugar and caramel flavours lead the way on the palate, followed by peach, pineapple, and apricot. Excellent finish length. Enjoy now or hold a few years. Score: 91 pts

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (91 pts)

VIENI CABERNET FRANC PRIVATE RESERVE 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Medium-high aromas that are herbaceous in nature, followed by spice and toasty oak (from 18 months in oak) and ripe red & black fruits. It's full-bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays and has a slightly chalky mouthfeel from the medium-firm tannins. Acids are very good and finishes long. Score: 89 pts

Vieni Cabernet Franc Private Reserve 2012 (89 pts)Vieni Pinot Noir Private Reserve 2012 (89+ pts)

VIENI PINOT NOIR PRIVATE RESERVE 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Medium+ intensity nose offers a lot of dark fruit notes - berry, cherry and plum - along with earth and sweet spice notes. It's medium-bodied with earthy, beetroot, black cherry and savoury flavours framed by good acidity. There's some structure to the tannins. Finishes long. Score: 89+ pts

VIENI SPARKLING VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Rare to find, this has medium+ intensity aromas consisting of apple, green mango, tropical fruits, and pineapple with some tartness. It is sweet on the full-ish palate, with very nice aroma replays and hints of honey. Nice bubbles, juicy, and finishing long. Score: 89+ pts

Vieni Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2014 (89+ pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#498790) (XD) - $19.95
The nose is slightly candied with red cherry, strawberry, beetroot and earth aromas of medium+ intensity. It's light-to-medium bodied with slightly dusty and young tannins. The palate is dry with with nice red fruit, black cherry and black plum flavours, and very subtle oak nuances. Acids are very good and the finish is long and juicy. Coming to VINTAGES on August 8th. Score: 88 pts

Rockway Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014 (88 pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $34.95
Medium-high aromatics offers lemon, pineapple, and a touch of tart citrus notes. The medium+ body is luscious with balanced acids and very nice aroma replays along with hints of caramel flavours. Long finishing. Score: 90 pts

Rockway Vineyards Vidal Icewine 2013 (90 pts)Rockway Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2013 (91 pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS RIESLING ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $29.95
Highly aromatic on the nose, showing lovely mineral, petrol and honeysuckle notes. The palate is sweet, but is balanced by bracing acidity. The aromas come through on the palate and are joined by lemon citrus, orange, apricot and tropical fruit flavours. Excellent finish length. Delicious! Score: 91 pts

HERNDER RIESLING RESERVE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $12.95
Maturing well, this has a medium-high intensity nose that's essentially dry with mineral-driven aromas of petrol, slate and lime. The palate is more of the same with lemon/lime and mineral with just a kiss of sweetness. Delicate acids provide freshness and the finish length is medium-long. Very good value! Score: 88

Hernder Riesling Reserve 2010 (88 pts)

HERNDER DEEP ROOTS CABERNET FRANC RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
This refined, elegant wine has medium-high intensity aromas of dark berry, dark fruit, oak, leafy, along with touches of green, herbaceous notes. The palate is medium-full bodied with nicely extracted fruit offering complex aroma replays and supple tannins that are still a bit tight. It has very good acidity and excellent finish length. Age this another 2 years and drink over the 5-7 years. Score: 91 pts

Hernder Deep Roots Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 (91 pts)Hernder Deep Roots Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012 (91 pts)

HERNDER DEEP ROOTS CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $44.95
The nose seems a bit shy and offers white pepper, cassis, black currant, and evergreen aromas of medium-high intensity. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with flavours of evergreen, currant, and cassis, accented by oak elements. It has smooth, refined tannins that are supported by mouth-watering acids. Long finishing. A powerful Niagara Cab with years of enjoyment ahead. Score: 91 pts


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