Showing posts with label niagara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label niagara. Show all posts
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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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  • Saturday, February 9, 2019

Rockway 9 Spritz 2017 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is an interesting white wine made by Rockway Vineyards, and is the first of a few wines from Rockway that I'll be writing about over the coming days.

In addition to 75 hectares of vineyards located on premium grape-growing land in the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation in Niagara Peninsula, there is also an 18-hole golf course and restaurant on-site. There is also an antique wine museum, where guests can look into the history of winemaking from the 17th to 19th centuries. With all of these attractions, plus the wine, one could easily spend the better part of a day at Rockway Vineyards.

This particular wine takes me back about 4 years ago, when a small group of us gathered at the iYellow Wine Cave for a Vidal table wine tasting. Although this wine is also considered a table wine, it does have a bit of a spritz thanks to a Chardonnay (4%) component that was harvested for a Sparkling wine base and provides nice acidity to accent the aromatic Vidal. Even though the grapes for this wine are from Niagara, Ontario VQA labelling rules state that you cannot use any Niagara appellation names for Vidal table wines, hence this wine is labelled as VQA Ontario.

The 2017 Rockway 9 Spritz normally retails for $15.95, but is currently on promotion for $14.95, and is available exclusively at their winery in Twenty Mile Bench and through their online web store.

Rockway 9 Spritz 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCKWAY 9 SPRITZ 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (M) - $14.95
A blend of 96% Vidal and 4% Chardonnay that was fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. Screw cap gives off gentle hiss when opening. Effervescent lemon twist, melon, and apple aromas with some grapey character. Spritzy with fresh acids lift the medium-bodied and medium-dry (i.e. fairly sweet) palate with grapey, apple, pear and tropical fruit and citrus flavours. Finish length is very good. 10% abv. Fine casual sipper for the patio that will have wide appeal. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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  • Sunday, January 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Friday, January 18, 2019

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot 2017 (87 pts)
I picked up red wine while visiting Konzelmann Estate Winery back in November during the Taste the Season food & wine pairing event that took place at many wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Konzelmann is Niagara’s exclusive lakefront winery and is heralded for providing one of the most friendly, informative and educational experiences in Niagara's wine country. On a past visit, I had the opportunity to visit their below-ground tasting room, which was dark, yet cozy, and without much in the way of seating. However, they recently renovated this area and it is now bright and airy, and offers seating for structured wine tastings and educational sessions. I can envision this space also being used for small private events.

This Merlot is the winery's most popular red wine. It is a fairly new release, with a new label for 2017, and is currently available for purchase at the winery and online through their web store. This latest vintage has also just recently arrived at the LCBO and is currently on promotion - with every bottle purchased you receive 6 Bonus Air Miles until . The wine review of this highly quaffable Niagara red is provided below.

Konzelmann Estate Winery Private Tasting Room

Tasting Note:

KONZELMANN LAKEFRONT SERIES MERLOT 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#439281) (D) - $14.95
Screw cap. Soft, medium intensity nose offers ripe red berry, cherry, plum, and black currant aromas with wisps of earth and olive adding savoury elements. It is medium bodied with gritty, textured tannins that are just a touch tight. Fresh, lively acids lift the berry, currant, earthy, and cocoa flavoured dry palate. There's good length on the juicy finish with cocoa, vanilla and earthy notes. Highly drinkable now and should improve in 2020. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, January 4, 2019

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Wines

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Wines
I had the opportunity to taste these three lovely wines from Southbrook Organic Vineyards recently and am pleased to report that all of them are delicious!

Southbrook recently launched a new tier of "Single Vineyard" wines with a focus on grapes from single sub-appellations, highlighting their dedicated organic growers. The winery is known for their Connect, Triomphe, Estate, and Poetica wines - some of which I also tasted recently. The wines are produced by internationally-acclaimed winemaker, Ann Sperling.

"Over the years I have worked with several organic growers, and have had the opportunity to get to know the quality of each vineyard nearly as well as our own Southbrook Estate. I felt we were ready to show off these unique and worthy vineyard sites as stand-alone wines," said winemaker Ann Sperling. "So, this year we bottled single vineyard wines from our favourite growers - Laundry Vineyard and Saunders Family Vineyard."

The new Single Vineyard collection from Laundry Vineyards includes a 2017 Riesling, 2017 Gamay, and 2016 Pinot Noir. The Riesling and Gamay come from the Vinemount Ridge vineyard, which shows classic properties of the geological area known as the Vinemount Moraine, featuring some of the steepest slopes in the Niagara Peninsula, and mineral-rich soils that are well-suited for growing Riesling and Gamay. The Pinot Noir comes from Heather Laundry's old vines in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation - an area that is becoming known for producing quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Heather Laundry has been specializing in Chardonnay since she graduated as one of the first Enology and Viticulture students from CCOVI at Brock University in 2000. While most of her classmates went on to become winemakers, Heather had her heart set on being among the vines. She learned from her mentor, Deborah Paskus, that the biggest impact on a wine could be made in the vineyard.

These new Single Vineyard Laundry wines are available at the winery and online at Southbrook.com. The new Single Vineyard Saunders wines will be released in early 2019.

Tasting Notes:

SOUTHBROOK HEATHER'S HOME VINEYARD ORGANIC RIESLING 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#650135) (XD) - $22.95
Clone 21 Riesling. Screw cap. Lovely, linear, medium-high intensity aromatics of lime citrus, white peach, wet stone, and limestone minerality. The palate is medium+ bodied, fleshy and just off-dry with more lime citrus, peach and stony mineral flavours, and a whiff of honey. Nicely balanced with brilliant acidity providing freshness. Lovely wet stone notes linger on the long finish. Score: 91 pts

Southbrook Heather's Home Vineyard Organic Riesling 2017 (91 pts)

SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD GAMAY 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#646323) (XD) - $24.95
Planted on north-facing slopes and hand-harvested. Screw cap. Fresh, highly aromatic and pretty nose offers red berry, spice, black plum and whiffs of earthy and savoury notes. It is light-to-medium bodied on the palate with red berry, currant, herbs, tea leaf, and earthy flavours with dusty tannins adding a nice textural element and some structure. Acids are fresh. Appealing tea leaf notes linger on the long, juicy finish. A lovely expression of Niagara Gamay to enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Gamay 2017 (90 pts)

SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Organically grown Pinot Noir clone 115, hand-harvested. Lovely ruby red colour. Fresh and spicy on the nose with ripe raspberry, wild berry and earthy aromas, along with touches of oak spice. It is light-to-medium bodied on the palate with brilliant, mouth-watering acids supporting the raspberry, earth, and spice flavours with hints of strawberry. Nicely textured and structured, with tight, chalky tannins. Savoury and red berry notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Enjoyable now, but better in a 1-2 years. Score: 91+ pts

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (91+ pts)


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  • Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Wines for Christmas 2018

Wines for Christmas 2018 - Reif Estate Vidal Icewine and Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne

To celebrate , wine is a Champagne that is widely available at the LCBO. It is produced by a house that has been producing champagne for two centuries and has only seen seven Cellar Masters since its founding.

after-dinner drink is an Icewine that is a VINTAGES Essentials listing at the LCBO and always available. This 2012 vintage Icewine was purchased 4 years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Tasting Notes:

PERRIER-JOUËT GRAND BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#155341) (XD) - $70.95
Blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay aged on the lees for at least 2 years. Elegant aromatics of pastry, lemon citrus, and brioche waft from the glass. It's medium-bodied and dry with fine, creamy mousse and nicely balanced lemony citrus, pastry, yeasty, and autolytic flavours with just a kiss of sweetness. Vibrant acids are well-balanced. A touch smoky on the mid-palate. Crisp, clean and dry with some nutty flavours on the finish with excellent length. Really quite lovely. Lot #L1781724021. Score: 91 pts

Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne (91 pts)Reif Estate Vidal Icewine 2012 (91 pts)

REIF ESTATE VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) - $24.95
Honey and orange marmalade aromas from the cork. Highly aromatic with honey, orange marmalade, peach, burnt brown sugar and caramel notes. It is medium-full bodied with a rich and viscous texture. There's just enough acidity here to keep it fresh and not cloying. It's lusciously sweet with lovely aroma replays on the palate, with flavours that continue through to the long finish. Score: 91 pts


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  • Sunday, December 23, 2018

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2015 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice local red wine from Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Having enjoyed the 2012 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc a couple of times in the recent past, I am delighted to try this latest vintage that is currently available for purchase at the winery only (and through their online web store).

This red wine is from Pillitteri's Carretto Series - wines that are crafted with care from quality Niagara grapes under the winemaking philosophy of old world meets new world. The label itself showcases the significance of the Carretto as a cherished heirloom to the Pillitteri family.

A Carretto (or Sicilian Cart) was the only real method of transportation used in Sicily up until the end of the second world war, and their usefulness and smaller design made them popular to navigate the streets of Italy, long after the invention of the motorized vehicle. The Pillitteri Family had four Carrettos that were crafted in the early 1930's and were passed through the generations. The Carrettos were brought to Canada by Gary Pillitteri's mother in 1952, and Gary and each of his brothers received a Carretto as a token of their Sicilian family heritage. The largest and most beautifully decorated of the Carretto's was donated by the Pillitteri family in 1989 to the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and is still on display today. The Carretto that Gary received is intricately painted and on display in the Awards Room at Pillitteri Estates Winery. The Pillitteri Carretto is a cherished family heirloom and to honour that heritage, the Carretto has become a symbol of their winery and their logo.

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PILLITTERI CABERNET FRANC 2015 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $28
Aged in French oak barrels for 19 months. Medium-high intensity nose offers bright red berry fruits with a nice underlying savoury component, along with hints of tobacco, herbaceous, spice and vanilla adding complexity. It is medium-full bodied on the elegant palate with smooth, refined tannins and balanced, juicy acidity. Dark berry, black pepper, tobacco, black plum, herbaceous, and wood spice on the flavour profile, with some flinty minerality showing up on the long finish. Lovely Niagara Cab Franc. Enjoy over the next 5+ years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Thursday, December 20, 2018

Palatine Hills Riesling 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is the latest vintage of a lovely Niagara Riesling. The 2015 vintage of this white wine came through LCBO VINTAGES in , so I wouldn't be surprised if this latest vintage also arrives on shelves in the near future. Nevertheless, the wine is available at Palatine Hills Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and through their website and currently on sale for an astonishingly low price of $12 per bottle.

For over 40 years, the winemakers at Palatine Hills Estate Winery have been blending the history of the artisan grape grower with the modern skill of the winemaker. As co-founder of Palatine Hills, John Neufeld, Sr. has led the way as visionary for the vineyard and an innovator for the Niagara grape growing industry. Palatine Hills is still a family owned and operated winery today.

The wines at Palatine Hills owe their depth and taste structure to the unique topography of the land where their vines grow and our labels are a reflection of this connection.The slight slopes of the landscape and close proximity to Lake Ontario give Palatine Hills a unique climate and terroir ideal for grape growing.

Palatine Hills Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PALATINE HILLS RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#520395) (M) - $13.95 $12
Screw cap. This bottle seems a bit shy, offering glimpses of pear, apple, mineral and petrol aromas. Much more lively on the medium-bodied palate with clean, bracing acids and medium sweet flavours of citrus, waxy, and minerals with just a hint pf petrol. Juicy, clean mid-palate and nicely textured. Complex. Very good length on the mineral and candied citrus finish. Should drink well over the next 5-7 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2018 - Day 2 of 2

Tawse Chardonnay Icewine paired with Butternut Squash Soup
On , I visited Niagara to take in the annual Icewine Festival for the second weekend in a row - read all about my visit on here. Once again, we visited 4 wineries to enjoy an Icewine and food pairing. We also managed to visit a 5th winery and do some fine wine tasting since it was conveniently located next door to one of the other wineries.

Tawse Winery was the first stop of the day. We began with the deliciously sweet 2013 Tawse Chardonnay Icewine ($36, 200 mL, #443739, 92 pts) which was paired with a Butternut Squash Soup topped with rosemary scented sourdough croutons. The soup was thick and more like a purée, and a touch spicy. However, the pairing was quite nice as the spiciness from the soup helped balanced the sweetness in the Icewine. The soup also brought out the apple and stone fruit flavours in the wine. Overall, this was a nice, well-balanced pairing. After the food and wine pairing, we heading into the cellar to taste a lovely array of fine wines from the Tawse portfolio.

Tawse Wine Tasting

The second stop was at Vineland Estates Winery for a balanced diet that featured chocolate in one hand and Icewine in the other. A decadent dark chocolate paté was paired with their 2016 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine and even though both items were individually quite sweet, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pairing wasn't overloaded with sweetness or cloying when paired together. The use of dark chocolate (instead of milk chocolate) was key. Lovely, rich, indulgent, and balanced!

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with Dark Chocolate Paté

Our third stop of the day was Strewn Winery, where they featured a back-vintage release of their 2013 Strewn Cabernet Franc Icewine and paired it with a deconstructed Black Forest Cake. Dark chocolate and red Icewines tend to make good pairings, and it was no different here. This was a nice, balanced pairing because the Icewine was sweeter than the bittersweet character of the dark chocolate cake, plus the red berry flavours in the Icewine were complemented and enhanced by cherries on top of the cake. Lastly, the creamy brownie base in the cake balanced out the acids in the Icewine.

Strewn Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with deconstructed Black Forest Cake

The final stop of the day related to the Discovery Pass Experience was at Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery. We indulged in a mouth watering Double Chocolate Icewine Cupcake paired with delectable 2015 Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Cabernet Franc Icewine ($85, 200 mL, 88 pts). Once again, red Icewine with dark chocolate was shown to be a nice pairing. While the Icewine was sweet (as expected), the chocolate cupcake was not, and paired up together it provided for a well-balanced pairing that was not very sweet, but still very enjoyable. After the cupcake and Icewine pairing, we headed upstairs into the Members Lounge to taste a few wines while also getting a nice view of the vineyards and ice rink below.

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with Double Chocolate Icewine Cupcake

Since we still had some time before wineries in the area close for the day, we walked over next door to Trius Winery to taste a few of their excellent small lot wines in their luxurious private tasting room called "The Loft".

Once again, I had a great time touring Niagara Wine Country during the Icewine Festival. Cabernet Franc Icewine was the pour of choice for the pairings at most of the wineries we visited on this day, as well as on the first day. If you enjoy Icewine and have a sweet tooth, I'm sure you will love attending this annual event too! It will be returning in January, 2019 and I'm sure it will be a great time!

Tasting Notes:

TAWSE QUARRY ROAD ORGANIC RIESLING 2016 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#198853) (M) - $25
Highly aromatic on the nose with limestone mineral driven aromas followed by candy apple, lemon, and subtle hints of stone fruits. It's medium-bodied and has an off-dry palate offering chalky mineral, limestone, and lemon/lime citrus flavours. There's good fruit concentration with bright acids that are well-balanced and the texture is just a touch fleshy. The long finish has a nice mineral aftertaste. A stellar buy. Score: 92 pts

Tawse Quarry Road Organic Riesling 2016 (92 pts)Tawse Beamsville Bench Chardonnay 2012 (90 pts)

TAWSE BEAMSVILLE BENCH CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
The nose is highly aromatic and complex with hazelnut, banana, and toasty oak aromas, while also showing some maturity with some baked apple notes. The medium-bodied palate is lean with a nutty, complex palate and balanced acids. It is well-balanced throughout, with excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

TAWSE MERITAGE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $60
From a very good vintage, this is a blend of 42% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, this will benefit with a decant, but has a medium+ intensity nose of crushed dark berries, currant, cassis, mocha and vanilla oak aromas. It's full-bodied on the palate with fine, structured tannins that are chalky and drying. There's balanced aroma replays to go along with some earthy flavours on the palate. Acids are very good. A big wine that deserves 5+ years to fully reveal itself, and will be best over the next 7-12 years. One of the top wines of the vintage. Score: 92 pts

Tawse Meritage 2012 (92 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers nice strawberry, raspberry, and honeyed nose in a slightly tart profile. On the palate, it's medium-bodied with a smooth mouthfeel and nice red fruited aroma replays with some tartness. Acids are balanced while finish length is very good. A sweet Icewine that also has some tart qualities to it. Score: 88 pts

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine 2016 (88 pts)Vineland Estates BoTeek Cabernet Franc Clone 327 2015 (90 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES BOTEEK CABERNET FRANC CLONE 327 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#621342) (XD) - $35
Fascinating to see a single clone Cab Franc from Niagara, this has a medium+ intensity nose of ripe cassis, currant, blackberry, dark cherry and tobacco aromas, while the medium+ bodied palate is a bit chewy with fine, structured tannins. Bright vibrant acids lift the palate that has very nice aroma replays with some earthy tones on the mid-palate, and finishing long with tobacco notes. Nicely balanced overall, this will drink nicely over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts

STREWN CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $70
Medium-high intensity nose is ripe and lush with strawberry, rhubarb, and sweet red fruited aromas. It's medium-full bodied with a lush mouthfeel and nice aroma replays plus some spiced flavours. Well-balanced with good acids, while the finish is long and spiced, and a touch warming. Score: 90+ pts

Strewn Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (90+ pts)

STREWN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $28
Coming from a very good 2012 vintage. The medium-high intensity nose is inviting and pretty, and already showing some maturity with floral, dried cherry, and some wet forest floor aromas. It's full-bodied with supple, rounded tannins that are resolving nicely. Nicely balanced overall with very nice aroma replays on the palate and supported by very good acids. A touch warm on the mid-palate while the finish is long with hints of oak spice. Ready to drink now. Score: 89 pts

Strewn Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (89 pts)Strewn Clay Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (89 pts)

STREWN CLAY BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $38
From Cabernet Sauvignon grown exclusively on the property on clay soils, this has a medium+ intensity nose with riper, rounded bright red & black fruits, currant and mineral aromas. It's medium+ bodied with tart aroma replays and smooth, supple tannins. Balanced acidity. There's a nice mineral note arriving on the mid-palate and continues on the long finish. A very good mineral-driven Cab Sauv that I would love to see in a better vintage. Score: 89 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES SERIES RED 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Syrah, and 20% Merlot that has a medium-intensity nose of dark plum, dark cherry and musky oak spice in a ripe profile. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with soft, rounded tannins and dark plum aroma replays. It has very good, juicy acidity, while the finish length is medium-long with bitter currant notes. Score: 88 pts

Wayne Gretzky Estates Series Red 2015 (88 pts)Wayne Gretzky Estates Series Cabernet Merlot 2015 (89 pts)

WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES SERIES CABERNET MERLOT 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 18% Merlot has a medium-high intensity nose of ripe blackberry, black cherry, oak spice, and currant with herbal hints. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with firmly structured tannins and nice aroma replays plus tobacco notes. Acids are bright, while the savoury mid-palate lingers on the long finish. A big wine for pairing with red meat now, or age 3-5 years. Score: 89 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATE SERIES SHIRAZ CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
This blend of 62% Shiraz, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc has a medium+ intensity nose that has savoury, meaty, and charcuterie aromas with hints of black pepper, dark plum, cassis, and dark currants. The palate is medium-full bodied with somewhat firm tannins that have some grip and flavours of dark berry, earth, plum and sour cherry. Acids are very good, while the finish is long. Drink over the next 5-7 years. Score: 89 pts

Wayne Gretzky Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet 2015 (89 pts)Trius Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2015 (92 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2015 - Oliviera Vineyards, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#199273) (XD) - $36.75
Medium-high intensity nose is a elegant and really starts to open with some air, offering buttery, apple, and popcorn aromas. It's medium-to-full bodied with nicely balanced aroma replays and very good fruit concentration. Lemony acids are fine and juicy. Elegant spice notes mid-palate with nutty hints. Excellent finish length. Score: 92 pts

TRIUS SHOWCASE RED SHALE CABERNET FRANC 2015 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48.75
The medium-high intensity nose is ripe with cassis, dark cherry, dark berry, vanilla and tobacco aromas. The palate is medium-full bodied with very good fruit concentration and nicely balanced aroma replays. Very good acids are juicy. Spiced mid-palate and some mineral notes on the long finish. Medium-firm tannins have some grip. Will reward with 2-3 years ageing and drink by 2024-2025. Score: 90+ pts

Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2015 (90+ pts)Trius Showcase East Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (89 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE EAST BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48.75
The medium+ intensity nose is smoky with blackberry, cassis, blackcurrant, licorice aromas with a whiff of green pepper. It's full-bodied with subtle green pepper flavours plus the aroma profile coming through on the palate. Structured tannins are grippy, while the acids are juicy and mouthwatering. Long curranty finish. Needs 3-4 years of cellar time, and drink by 2028. Score: 89 pts


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