Showing posts with label ontario. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ontario. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2019

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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


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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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


Saturday, February 9, 2019

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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


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, January 20, 2019

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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


Friday, January 18, 2019

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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


Friday, January 4, 2019

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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 (#581603) (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 (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)


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

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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


Sunday, December 23, 2018

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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


Thursday, December 20, 2018

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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


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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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


Monday, December 17, 2018

First image of this post
  • Monday, December 17, 2018

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2018 - Day 1 of 2

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine with Salted Caramel Chocolate Brittle
On , I visited Niagara to taste a few food & Icewine pairings as part of the Discover Pass Experience that was available at participating wineries throughout Niagara during the annual Icewine Festival. The weather turned out to be great on this day - mostly sunny, albeit a little on the chilly side. In all, we visited four wineries across the region and enjoyed some very tasty food & Icewine pairings, as well as tasted a few other wines at the tasting bar.

We began the day at Hernder Estate Wines for their award-winning 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with a generous bag of salted caramel chocolate brittle. The pairing was delicious and really showed how well chocolate can be paired with Icewine. The bright acids in the Icewine helped balance the creamy chocolate, while the salted caramel added interest to the pairing. It was a sweet pairing, but the salt in the brittle and the lively acids in the Icewine together helped keep the pairing from being cloying on the palate. This was very well executed!

For our second stop of the day, we went to Niagara College Teaching Winery for a delectable S'More Fudge Brownie that was filled with marshmallows and paired with their 2013 Niagara College Dean's List Savant Icewine (88 pts, $40 / 200 mL). The fudge brownie square was of generous proportions and very flavourful, with hidden marshmallows offering a nice element of surprise. The Icewine was luscious and sweet, but the fudge brownie was even sweeter and actually overpowered the wine, leaving only chocolate and marshmallow flavours in the mouth.

Niagara College Dean's List Savant Icewine with Fudge Brownie SquareInniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine with Southern Fried Chicken

Our third stop of the day was at Inniskillin Wines to enjoy Southern Fried Chicken on a Vanilla Waffle topped with Cocoa Icewine Hot Sauce and paired with their 2016 Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine (reviewed below). First off, the Sparkling Icewine was delicious and sweet, but not cloying due to it's effervescence. The fried chicken was served a bit cold, but otherwise tasty, and combined ith the waffle made for a delicious treat. However, it was the Cocoa Icewine Hot Sauce that really brightened up this pairing as it helped balance the Icewine and made the pairing complete. I would love to try this culinary creation at home!

The fourth and final stop of the day was at Peller Estates Winery, where at this time of the year they always seem to do Icewine Marshmallows paired with one their delicious Icewines. This year, Winery Chef and CityLine personality Jason Parsons is pairing his famous Icewine Marshmallows with Cabernet Franc Icewine. Although the Icewine is (always) delicious, this pairing is really about the experience, as you are outside on the patio, overlooking the vineyards amidst the cool air while roasting your own marshmallow over an open fire. This can be a somewhat messy experience, and you might smell like smoke afterwards, but it was a lot of indulgent fun! After the marshmallow & Icewine pairing, we headed inside for a private tasting of a few Peller Estates wines. Tip: Do any wine tastings first, then head outside to roast your marshmallow.

Peller Estates Signature Series Cabernet Franc IcewineIcewine Marshmallows

All in all, I was very satisfied with my first trip of the year to Niagara to celebrate Icewine Fest. Tasting notes of some of my favourite wines tasted on this day are posted below. The stop that was the overwhelming favourite was our visit to Hernder Estate Wines, where we sampled a variety of quality wines that were also very good value, including the Hernder Caluroso fortified wine that everyone brought home with them.

I also visited Niagara on the , the final weekend of Icewine Fest, and a full review from that day will be posted tomorrow is posted here. This lovely event runs every January and I am looking forward to attending again in 2019.

Tasting Notes:

HERNDER CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $50.05
The medium-high intensity nose offers typical strawberry and rhubarb in a honeyed profile, followed by a touch interesting orange marmalade aromas. The pleasingly sweet aromas continue on the palate, which is a touch hot on the mid-palate. Acids are good, while the finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (89 pts)Hernder Caluroso (89 pts)

HERNDER CALUROSO - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $24.95
This fortified wine is highly aromatic on the nose with complex orange, burnt sugar, nutty, and caramel aromas. It's medium-dry (i.e. fairly sweet) on the medium-full bodied palate and very smooth, with a long, velvety smooth and nutty finish. Score: 89 pts

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#040659) (XD) - $23.15
This has a medium-high intensity nose of sweet vanillin oak with butter, baked apple and pear aromas. It's medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays and a toasty mid-palate. It has balanced acidity and very good length on the finish. Score: 88+ pts

Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Chardonnay 2012 (88+ pts)Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Meritage 2012 (90+ pts)

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST MERITAGE 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $25.15
This is a blend of 43% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon from the very good 2012 vintage. It has a medium-high intensity nose that is pretty with ripe blackberry, cherry, sweet oak spice, earth, cassis, and a hint of sweet herbs. On the medium-full bodied palate, it has smooth, fine tannins with some structure, while the acids are mouth-watering. Flavours offer curranty, earth, and forest floor notes. The finish length is excellent. Drink over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

INNISKILLIN KLOSE VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (D) - $24.95
Single vineyard. Medium-high intensity nose has fine mineral, wet stone, Flintstones vitamins, lime citrus, honeyed peach, and herbal aromas. It's off-dry on the palate with light aroma replays, juicy acids, and good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Klose Vineyard Riesling 2016 (88 pts)Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2016 (91 pts)

INNISKILLIN VIDAL SPARKLING ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#560367) (S) - (375 mL) - $80
Open, fragrant honeyed, apricot, lemon citrus aromas flow into the palate nicely with fine mousse and lemon tart and peach flavours joining the party. It's sweet, but very good acidity keeps things fresh and balanced. Excellent finish length. Nicely balanced overall. Score: 91 pts

INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388306) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Medium+ intensity nose featuring apricot, honey and peach aromas. It has a voluptuous mouthfeel with honeyed melon flavours that are very sweet. Gentle acids offer some freshness, while the finish length is medium-long. Score: 89 pts

PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURE SERIES RIESLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $82.95
The medium-high intensity aromas offer ripe pineapple, lemon citrus, orange rind, and apricot notes. It's medium-full bodied with bright acids lifting the palate and very nice aroma replays. Excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

Peller Estates Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2015 (90 pts)Peller Estates Signatures Series Vidal Icewine 2016 (89 pts)

PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURES SERIES VIDAL ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $41.95
Medium-high intensity aromas featuring peach, honey, apricot and lemon citrus. It's full-bodied with balanced acids and a concentrated, voluptuous mouthfeel. Nice aromas replays, and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts


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