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

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  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir 2017 (Ontario) - Wine Review



wine review is the companion red to the delicious Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc white I opened on .

Like the Sauvignon Blanc, this red wine is produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd., at their property in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Baco Noir makes up half of the Serenity Wines collection, which aims to be part of the feeling of Serenity created by quiet conversations, easy smiles, magical moments with friends or simply your own personal oasis.

Baco Noir is a hybrid red wine grape variety produced by Francois Baco from a cross of Vitis vinifera var. It is grown primarily in cool-climate wine North American wine regions such as Canada and in Northeast USA. Baco Noir has performed quite well here in Ontario, with a few producers growing this varietal and having success.

This particular bottling from Lakeview Cellars uses grapes grown in Niagara. The grapes were harvested in late September, with fermentation lasting two weeks. The wine was left on its skins for three weeks, and after fermentation it was pressed, rough filtered and oak aged for 8 months in new French and Hungarian oak barrels.

The Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as at the winery and their online web store.

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SERENITY BACO NOIR 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#688556) (D) - $16.95
With 8 months of ageing in new French and Hungarian oak barrels, the medium+ intensity nose offers smoky blackberry with toasty oak spice aromas and touches of black cherry. It's ripe fruited with more smoky blackberry and toasty oak flavours joined by some black plum and grapey notes. It's juicy and light-to-mid weighted on the palate with light tannins. Well-balanced throughout, with plummy, blackberry, and touches of smoke on the finish, with very good length. Score: 87 pts


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  • Sunday, January 26, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Sunday, December 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

13th Street Cuvée Rosé Brut (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (PEC) - Wine Review (Bottle 5)

wine review is the last bottle from a case I ordered through the VINI wine app.

Of course, the 2014 is no longer available for purchase, but a newer vintage of this delightful wine from Prince Edward County's Closson Chase arrived in LCBO VINTAGES in August.

The first bottle of this lovely 2014 Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay was opened from in December 2016, while the most recent bottle was opened back in March. I noted in March that I should open the last bottle some time later this year. Well, that time has come...

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#148866) (XD) - $28.95
Pours a mature medium yellow-gold colour. Medium-high aromatics offer mature waxy, lemon oil, and paraffin aromas with hints of oxidized and nutty notes. Gentle acids on the medium-full bodied palate deliver a fleshy mouthfeel. More mature, oxidized flavours mimic the nose, with some lemon citrus notes on the mid-palate. Long finishing with lemon oil and paraffin notes. Still appealing, but definitely on the way down. Drink now. Score: 89 pts


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  • Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 14, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Ontario

LCBO Wine Picks: September 14, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The September 14, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release is a mono-thematic Release that is also the annual focus on local wines. All of these wines will be on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday, and some are part of the VINTAGES Essentials collection that is always available year-round and can be found on shelves today.

The only theme of this Release is titled "Bring Local Home" and focuses on People, Places and Passion in the local Ontario wine scene. Wines from Niagara and its sub-appellations are featured, as well as wines from Georgian Bay and Lake Erie North Shore. Notably absent are any wines from Prince Edward County. Of the twenty wines featured as part of the theme, six are included among my top wine picks. Among the white wines, there is a lovely medium-sweet Riesling, as well as a rich, cool-climate Chardonnay. Among the red wines from Ontario, the majority are Bordeaux style blends. The Calamus is mostly Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Red Tractor is a blend of 45% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, and the rest other varietals. Lastly, the Trius Red is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The fourth red from Ontario is a Cabernet Franc from a top vineyard within the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation along the Niagara Escarpment.

Tawse Quarry Road Organic Riesling 2017 (91 pts)Flat Rock Chardonnay 2017 (89 pts)

Icellars Estate Cabernet Franc 2016 (91 pts)Trius Red 2016 (90 pts)

Calamus Ball's Falls Red 2017 (88 pts)Creekside Red Tractor Cabernet/Merlot 2017 (88 pts)

From my red wine picks, the Rhône red is a blend of Grenache and Syrah, while the Saint Chinian is a blend of mainly Syrah with Grenache, and some Mourvèdre. From Bordeaux, the Lalande consists of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec, while the Carignan Prima is actually 100% Merlot. Lastly, the Chianti Classico is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot.

Cazal Viel Vieilles Vignes Saint Chinian 2016 (89 pts)Volpaia Chianti Classico 2016 (90 pts)

Château Carignan Prima 2015 (91 pts)Château Haut-Lalande 2015 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks from the rest of the Release, all are actually single varietal wines. The Etna Bianco is made with the indigenous Carricante varietal from Sicily. Other highlights from my white wine recommendations include a lovely Chardonnay from Burgundy's Marchand-Tawse, while the Marsanne is always a delicious wine from Australia. For sweet wine lovers, the Riesling mentioned above should be at the top of your list, followed by the Pinot Gris from Alsace.

Marchand-Tawse Viré-Clessé 2016 (91 pts)Tahbilk Marsanne 2018 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CALAMUS BALL'S FALLS RED 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#010527) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#143099) (XD) - $16.95
  • CREEKSIDE RED TRACTOR CABERNET/MERLOT 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#011851) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU HAUT-LALANDE 2015 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux – Blaye, France (#546069) (D) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CAZAL VIEL VIEILLES VIGNES SAINT CHINIAN 2016 - AC, Languedoc, France (#698985) (D) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TRIUS RED 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#303800) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • VOLPAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#953828) (XD) - $28.95  FE  90 pts  wine review
  • ICELLARS ESTATE CABERNET FRANC 2016 - Wismer Foxcroft Vineyard, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#011681) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU CARIGNAN PRIMA 2015 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux – Cadillac, France (#648931) (XD) - $33.95  91 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DROUHIN OREGON PINOT NOIR 2016 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#011263) (XD) - $37.95  91 pts  wine review
  • MASI SEREGO ALIGHIERI VAIO ARMARON AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#462812) (D) - $89.95
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir 2016 (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • CAVE DES VIGNERONS DE BUXY BUISSONNIER BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#010349) (XD) - $16.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • TAHBILK MARSANNE 2018 - Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia (#117945) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • PIERRE SPARR GRANDE RÉSERVE PINOT GRIS 2017 - AC Alsace, France (#983395) (D) - $18.95
  • KONO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#441394) (XD) - $18.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PACO & LOLA ALBARIÑO 2018 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#350041) (XD) - $19.95
  • FLAT ROCK CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#286278) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TORNATORE ETNA BIANCO 2018 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#577676) (XD) - $24.95
  • TAWSE QUARRY ROAD ORGANIC RIESLING 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#198853) (M) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review
  • SPY VALLEY ENVOY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Johnson Vineyard, Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#429308) (XD) - $29.95
  • MARCHAND-TAWSE VIRÉ-CLESSÉ 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#648576) (XD) - $31.95  91 pts  wine review
Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (90 pts)Cave des Vignerons de Buxy Buissonnier Bourgogne Chardonnay 2017 (88+ pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • FAMILLE PERRIN TAVEL 2018 - AC, Rhône, France (#680801) (XD) - $19.95


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  • Friday, September 6, 2019

Red Tractor Wines (Niagara) - Wine Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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


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  • Monday, June 24, 2019

Queenston Mile Vineyard Portfolio Tasting (Spring 2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD BLANC DE NOIRS 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#010139) (XD) - $50
100% Pinot Noir that spent 3 years on the lees. Pretty, light-peach coloured with fragrant aromas pastry, lemon/lime citrus and stone fruits. Honeyed with a kiss of sweetness on the palate with lovely aromas replays. It is creamy textured with bright, vibrant acids and a long, crisp finish. Very fine Niagara bubbly. Score: 91+ pts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

16 Mile Cellar Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  • Saturday, April 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Friday, April 12, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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