Showing posts with label niagara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label niagara. Show all posts

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  • Sunday, June 21, 2020

Palatine Hills Vidal Icewine 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review



To cap off Ontario Wine Week, I opened this lovely Icewine . I purchased this Icewine from the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake when I visited the region back in during the annual Niagara Grape & Wine Festival. At the time, this 200 mL bottle was on promotion for $20.

It also showed up at the LCBO last year at the same price as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release. Although it is long gone from LCBO shelves, it is still available for purchase at the winery.

Palatine Hills Vidal Icewine 2012 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PALATINE HILLS VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada (#614842) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95
Gorgeous, fragrant nose of apricot, honey, and orange with touches of citrus, burnt orange, marmalade. It is medium-full bodied with lovely apricot, honey, and burnt orange flavours on the palate, albeit fading slightly. Has very good acidity. Notes of orange and honey linger on the finish, with very good length. Enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Friday, April 24, 2020

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

wine review is a lovely organic and biodynamic Chardonnay from Niagara-on-the-Lake's Southbrook Vineyards. I last enjoyed the 2012 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay in and wrote that it should evolve nicely over the next 5-6 years.

The story of Southbrook Vineyards begins in 1941 when William Redelmeier (current owner Bill Redelmeier's grandfather) purchased Don Head Farms on fertile lands north of Toronto. In 1991, with an appreciation of gourmet foods and fine wines, the Redelmeiers created a boutique winery and made their first cases of wine using the region's finest grape varietals.

After much success, an opportunity arose in 2005 thanks to Ann Sperling to acquire a 74-acre parcel of land in the warm Four Mile Creek sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake that was complete with 36 acres of ideally planted, well-selected varieties and top-notch clones. At that time, Bill commenced the creation of a fully biodynamic, organic and environmentally responsible winemaking operation with Ann beginning winemaking at the new facility just a year later, in 2006.

Southbrook Vineyards has evolved into one of Canada’s most innovative and forward-thinking vineyards and wineries. They believe in the importance of organic and biodynamic viticulture and have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, rely on.

This vegan-friendly white wine is from Southbrook's top-of-the-line Poetica collection of wines that are only made only in the best vintages and in limited quantities to ensure the highest of quality. Only 222 cases of this lovely 2012 Poetica Chardonnay were produced.

While this vintage is long gone from shelves, the 2016 vintage is available for online ordering at the LCBO. In addition, the 2016 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay is also available at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake via curbside pickup or delivery with free shipping across Canada until May 1, 2020. Let's see how the 2012 is tasting tonight...

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
Bottle 353 of 2,664. Pours a medium-deep yellow gold colour that seemed to get darker in the glass. Mature, slightly oxidized aromas of almond, nut, biscuity, lemon, and waxy notes elegantly lift out of the glass. It is full-bodied on the rich, creamy palate with lovely beeswax flavours plus almond, nut and biscuit. Comes off a touch warming, while acids are still quite juicy and well-balanced. Savoury, earthy, and honeyed with touches of lemon and saline mineral on the long, long finish. Drink now. Score: 92 pts

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (92 pts) Back Label


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  • Sunday, April 19, 2020

13th Street Gamay 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

red wine review is the latest Gamay from 13th Street Winery in Niagara. I was first introduced to this winery's Gamay nine years ago when I enjoyed their 2008 13th Street Gamay Noir that showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in .

The 2008 vintage would've been current owners John & June Mann's and Doug & Karen Whitty's first vintage as they purchased 13th Street Winery in September of that year, right around harvest time. 13th Street Winery evolved from a desire to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara, while also providing a place for guests to congregate and escape, to relax and discover, and to experience and learn. I have tasted many 13th Street wines over the years and have visited the winery on a number of occasions - always leaving with a smile.

Winemaker Jean Pierre Colas is one of Niagara's champions of Gamay and is known for producing some fine examples and 13th Street Winery has a few Gamay's in their portfolio. Including this wine, there is also the fine Whitty Vineyard Gamay and Sandstone Vineyard Gamay - both are lovely wines. The grapes for this particular Gamay are from select Niagara Peninsula vineyards, with harvest taking place in late September and early October, and vinified separately. The 2018 vintage was hot and humid, but luckily, the rains started in September and a freshened the grapes. Unfortunately, the rains did not stop and put pressure to pick early ripening reds, like Gamay, before disease set in. This meant that the grapes were sorted in the vineyard, as well as on the sorting table to ensure only pristine bunches were kept. The result was intense ripness of the grapes, but with lower yields. After fermentation in tanks, the wines were kept separate until the final blending and bottling which occurred in early June 2019.

This Gamay is a VINTAGES Essential listing at the LCBO and is always available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. In VINTAGES, the 2018 vintage should be on shelves soon - if not already. Having said that, this delicious red wine is available for purchase at the winery via Porch Pickup or contact-less delivery. As an added bonus, 13th Street is currently offering free shipping on any wine purchase (with no minimums!) for deliveries in Ontario. Simply use promo code FREE when you place your order.

13th Street Gamay 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET GAMAY 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#177824) (XD) - $19.95
Fermented with minimal intervention and raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. Screw cap enclosure. This Gamay has a lovely dark plum, cherry, blackberry, and gentle spice nose with some savoury earthy characters and just a touch of floral. It's light-to-mid-weighted on the palate with light tannins and fresh acidity framing the spice, cherry, and red currant, and plum flavours. Nicely textured and well-balanced with very good length on the earthy-savoury finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (Niagara) - Wine Review

For wine review, I have this lovely Riesling from Niagara that I was first introduced to when the 2011 13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling showed up in LCBO VINTAGES nearly 6 year ago to the day. I have tasted this wine on a few occasions since that time, and it has always been delicious.

13th Street Winery was founded by 1998 and purchased in 2008 by the current owners who have deep roots within the Niagara community - John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty. The winery evolved from a desire to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara, while also providing a place for guests to congregate, escape, relax, discover, experience and learn.

The grapes for this lovely Riesling come from a vineyard named after June Mann, one of the owners of 13th Street. June's Vineyard sits at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, located on 5th Avenue, west of Seventh Street Louth, and has a distinctive terroir with significant quantities of decomposed yellow limestone amongst the clay loam soils. The Riesling vines were planted in 1999 with Alsatian clone 49, and combined with the soils on the site impart a stony minerality on top of the ripe fruit and flowery tones that come from this particular clonal variant of Riesling.

The 2019 vintage began slow and wet, but was quite warm during the summer months, allowing for full phenolic maturity. The quality of the grapes was very good to excellent with high acidity and concentrated flavours.

This delicious white wine makes regular appearances to VINTAGES and this latest edition will also be on shelves across Ontario very soon as it arrives as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (D) - $19.95
Screw cap. Fresh, fragrant and pretty with floral aromas surrounding notes lime citrus, white peach, and whiffs of limestone minerality. It's medium-dry on the concentrated, slightly fleshy palate with honeyed, orange citrus, peach, and tangy lime flavours lifted by racy acidity. Chalky textured with touches of minerality on the mid-palate. Very good length on the long, tangy, minerally, and slightly dry finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Friday, March 20, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review

While I'm practising self-isolation and social distancing, wine review is a lovely Malbec from Niagara... yes, you read that right!

Lakeview Cellars was founded in 1991 by Eddy Gurinskas. Today, Lakeview Cellars is the oldest label that forms the group of brands from Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Niagara's Diamond Estates.

Malbec is not commonly grown in Niagara, so I was delightfully surprised to find this delicious wine while visiting Lakeview Wine Co. back in January. This Malbec is produced using grapes from a small, single vineyard called the Southshore Vineyards that is located in the Niagara Lakeshore sub-appellation in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The small block of 1.5 acres has sandy loam soils and is situated on a relatively flat piece of land, with a gentle slope right on the shores of Lake Ontario, ensuring uninterrupted sunlight exposure. Malbec ripens at roughly the same time as Merlot, thus requiring a fairly long growing season. The grape for this vintage were harvested beginning in late October, then fermented in 5,000 L tank, then aged in Hungarian oak barrels (new and older) for 18-24 months.

The 2017 Malbec (which winemaker Tom Green tells me is" dynamite") was just bottled last month and I expect it to hit shelves next month. Meanwhile, this lovely 2016 continues to be available at the winery can be ordered online with free shipping over $50 throughout the month with promo code MARCH. You can order this and a bottle of the 2017 Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc and have them shipped to your door for free.

Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MALBEC 2016 - Southshore Vineyards, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers sweet, ripe red fruits of plum, raspberry, and cherry aromas that are nuanced with stony mineral, smoky, and white pepper notes. The palate is medium-bodied with smooth, well-integrated tannins and food-friendly acidity. Some stewed cherry, black cherry, blackberry flavours come through on the flavour profile, along with smoky and peppery spice notes. Earthy, dark plum, and dark berry notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, March 16, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a yummy Fumé Blanc (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc) from Niagara. The French term "fumé" translates to "smoke", and is derived from a thick layer of fog that would cover the Loire Valley in France. In the new world, as they do at Lakeview Cellars, a wine brand of Lakeview Wine Co., which itself is a division of Niagara's Diamond Estates, they add some mild oak aging to an already delicious Sauvignon Blanc to add some complexity, depth, and smoky characters.

The grapes for Lakeview Cellars wines are sourced from their best vineyards in the Niagara Region, which are kissed by Lake Ontario's offshore breeze. Having tasted many delicious wines from Lakeview Cellars over the years, their reputation is based on their commitment to producing premium VQA wines at affordable prices.

This delicious white wine is only available through their winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake - which is still open for business at the time of this writing. However, due to heightened concerns about COVID-19, I would recommend you shop online through their web store (which is open 24/7) as they are offering free shipping on all orders over $50 this month with promo code MARCH.

Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS FUMÉ BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Screw cap. Ripe tropical fruit and melon aromas are layered over lime zest and subtle smoky characters. It is medium-full bodied on the ripe palate with more tropical fruit flavours like melon and pineapple, plus some leesy notes. The mild oak aging adds some pleasing smoky notes on the mid-palate, along with a very good mouthfeel, all supported juicy, balanced acidity. It's nicely balanced throughout with very good length on the lime citrus and tropical fruit flavoured finish with hints of smoke. Score: 88 pts


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  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice white wine from Niagara that is crafted from the aromatic Kerner grape varietal. I enjoyed the 2017 Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner back in 2018 and am delighted to see Lakeview Wine Co. make this wine again due to popular demand.

Lakeview Cellars was established in 1991 and built a worldwide reputation as a leading producer of premium wines and is now part of the Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. organization. With a passion for creating high quality wines, Lakeview Cellars wines are produced in limited quantities and only from vintages that their winemakers deem fit to bear the Lakeview label.

While the previous vintage of this wine showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in August 2018, the current vintage is available exclusively at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and through their online web store.

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $19.95
From the Morgan Vineyard within the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, the 20+ year old vines are planted on sandy soils. Screw cap. Generous aromas of floral, honeysuckle, orange blossom, and peach waft out of the glass, all of which come through nicely on the balanced, off-dry palate. Racy acids and spice notes keep things fresh on the mid-weighted palate. Adding further interest on the mid-palate are some grapefruit and herbally notes. Clean, crisp, and juicy on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Sunday, January 26, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, plus today's tragic news of Kobe Bryant, so for wine review I feel like having some serenity now with this Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara.

Serenity is that feeling created by quiet conversations, easy smiles, magical moments with friends or simply your personal oasis - and is exactly what this delicious white wine was created to be part of.

The Serenity collection of wines, which also includes the Serenity Baco Noir, is a new addition to the Lakeview Cellars brand. These wines are produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Winemaker Scott McGregor says that he enjoys crafting these premium and approachable Serenity Wines. He also mentions that this Sauvignon Blanc would be a great patio wine.

Given that it is January in Toronto, I have no doubt that this will be a hit on patios come Spring, but I will pass on the patio for now and move indoors to my serene spot on the couch, bundled up with warm slippers.

This white wine is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake or by shopping online.

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SERENITY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#688549) (D) - $16.95
Screw cap. Fragrant nose of gooseberry, green, grassy, and lime zest aromas. It's medium+ bodied with good fruit concentration and gooseberry, kiwi, tropical fruit, and lime citrus flavours supported by bracing acidity. Good length on the finish. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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  • Sunday, December 8, 2019

13th Street Cuvée Rosé Brut (Niagara) - Wine Review

After enjoying the excellent 2013 13th Street Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir last weekend, wine review features another delightful sparkling wine from 13th Street Winery that is a VINTAGES Essential at the LCBO and currently on promotion for $3 off at the LCBO and winery.

13th Street Winery was founded in 1998 in St. Catharines, Ontario, and was purchased in 2008 by the current owners - the Mann and Whitty families. In 2009, current winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas joined the 13th Street team. He is one of the most talented French-trained winemakers in the business. He believes that great wines come from the best grapes grown in the best vineyards, whereas winemaking techniques are only utilized to supplement and capture the very essence of the grapes’ provenance and character. In his home country of France, where Jean-Pierre was the winemaker at notable Chablis house, Domaine Laroche, his have wines garnered many prestigious awards. Between France and his current residency at 13th Street, Jean-Pierre has travelled and worked extensively in vineyards across globe, including Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand, as well as studied under a number of exceptional winemakers.

I discovered 13th Street Winery's sparkling wines a few years ago and have been a fan ever since. The impressive roster of bubbly's at 13th Street consists of 5 wines, including the aforementioned Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir. They are considered to be sparkling wine specialists.

This Brut Rosé is the only non-vintage bubbly they produce. It is a dry sparkling wine made in the traditional method with 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay provides structure and backbone, while the Pinot Noir provides fruit, power and richness. Secondary fermentation took place in the final bottle and it was aged sur lattes (en tirage) for a minimum of 18 months, allowing the bubbles to become smaller and more compact. After dosage of 10 grams of sugar, this sparkling wine was aged a further 3 months prior to release.

13th Street Cuvée Rosé Brut (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET CUVÉE ROSÉ BRUT - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147504) (XD) - $29.95 $26.95 until .
Made in the traditional method with 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir, this has aromas of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry that give way to notes of autolytic, brioche, ginger, leesy, citrus and mineral. The medium-bodied palate is dry with fine, creamy textured bubbles and red berry, brioche, toasty, yeasty-leesy flavours. There's a vague impression of sweetness, but it's essentially dry. Very good length on the finish with red berry, leesy, and mineral notes. Score: 89 pts


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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

13th Street Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

For wine review, I venture into the VINTAGES Classics Collection - a selection of fine wine (and spirits) that are some of the best, most iconic, and most collectible wines from top producers around the world. The VINTAGES Classics program releases new wines on a monthly basis, specifically on the first Thursday of every month.

13th Street Winery produces this lovely sparkling wine on Fourth Avenue in St. Catharines. The winery was founded by amateur winemakers in 1998, and purchased in 2008 by the current owners - John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty. Both families have deep roots in the region and aim to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara. John Mann has been involved in farming for over 30 years, while Doug Whitty is the third generation to be operating the family farm in St. Catharines, which was originally established in 1908.

In all, 13th Street Winery owns seven vineyards in Niagara and produces 85% of their wines using fruit from their own vineyards. The Whitty family has been farming fruit for more than 100 years, and with each new generation they employ a sustainable and minimal interventionist approach to viticulture, respecting the life of the land and ensuring it stays healthy and happy for future generations.

I have enjoyed many table wines from 13th Street over the years, but it was only in the last few years that I discovered their fantastic sparkling wines. The Grand Cuvée is their top traditional method sparkling wine. It is produced only in the best vintages and is made with 100% Pinot Noir from their own Whitty Vineyard (which surrounds the winery itself on Fourth Avenue) in the Creek Shores appellation in Niagara. After careful manual harvest, whole bunches of Pinot Noir were put into the press where the free run juice was separated out and blended with the first gentle press to extract juice, but not colour or phenolics. It was aged on the lees for 60 months and after disgorging, winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas deemed the wine to be perfectly balanced and decided to not add any sugar to the dosage, resulting in a classically dry sparkling wine in the zero dosage style.

This top Niagara sparkling wine will be available for purchase by the bottle at VINTAGES Shop Online as part of the December VINTAGES Classics Collection on Orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's highly advised to shop early to secure your bottles. Unfortunately, this will not be coming to VINTAGES Classics after all. However, it is available at the winery and through their online web store.

13th Street Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir 2013 (93 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET GRANDE CUVÉE BLANC DE NOIR 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#361394) (XD) - $59.95
100% Pinot Noir from the Whitty Vineyard and made only in top vintages, this traditional method sparkling wine was aged for 60 months on the lees. Fine, persistent aromas of brioche, biscuit, lemon curd, and white berries rise out of the glass. On the medium+ bodied palate, it has fresh acidity and fine, delicate mousse that provide a very nice mouthfeel with plenty of finesse. It is classically dry, with slightly oxidative and complex flavours of baked apple, lemon curd, citrus, leesy, brioche, and yeasty with touches of stony mineral that linger through to the long lemony-mineral finish. Really fine bubbly! Score: 93 pts


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  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I first enjoyed the organic, biodynamic and vegan-friendly 2013 Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay back in 2015 and mentioned at the time that it should improve in a couple of years, so I am opening the 2nd bottle, 4 years later, to see how it has evolved.

Southbrook Vineyards, a family-owned winery based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a leader in Ontario in organic and biodynamic viticulture. They have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, relies. Southbrook was founded in Niagara by Bill Redelmeier in 1991 after much success with their farm just north of Toronto. In 2008, half of their 150 acre property became certified organic, while today 100% of the estate property is certified organic, as well as biodynamic. Also in 2008, Southbrook was the first winery building to receive Gold Level LEED status.

This white wine was crafted by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling, who has been Southbrook's consultant winemaker since 2005. Using exclusively estate fruit, only 6 barrels (180 cases) of this wild fermented Chardonnay were produced. It spent 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new).

Of course, the 2013 is no longer available for purchase. However, the 2017 Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay that I loved last December is still available at the winery and through their online web store.

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Highly aromatic nose offers mature, slightly oxidized and complex notes of buttery, baked apple, pear and vanilla with touches of hazelnut, smoke and mushroom that become more prominent with air. It is medium bodied with lovely hazelnut, baked apple, and pear flavours mingling with vanilla and hints of butter on the palate. Some saline mineral notes arrive on the juicy mid-palate. Acids are still quite lively and fresh. Finishes long and succulent with more smoke, mushroom, nutty, and baked apple notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts


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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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  • 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 (#010139) (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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  • 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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