Showing posts with label vidal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vidal. Show all posts

Monday, November 19, 2018

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  • Monday, November 19, 2018

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review



wine is a very interesting natural, organic and biodynamic orange wine produced by Southbrook Vineyards. Technically, orange wines are now known as a skin-fermented white wines. Southbrook has produced this style of wine under the guiding hands of winemaker Ann Sperling for several years now, with latest rendition being the 2017 vintage that was bottled in January and released for sale in June.

The grapes for this wine were hand-harvested from Southbrook's Estate in the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Small lots of grapes, including stems, were cluster-sorted and foot-trodden before undergoing wild yeast and malolactic fermentation over 30 days. After gentle pressing, the wine was naturally chilled outdoors, settled, and bottled without any filtration or additives, and is free of sulphites.

This orange wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and available for purchase through the winery and soon at the LCBO.

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK VIDAL SKIN FERMENTED WHITE ORANGE WINE 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#628065) (XD) - $29.95
Stelvin screw cap enclosure. Cloudy orange colour. Highly fragrant nose offers aromas of citrus and black tea leaves with hints of floral and sage. More pronounced tart citrus, floral, and black tea flavours are well-balanced on the nicely textured, medium-bodied palate. Dry mouthfeel with some chalkiness. Acids are bright and balanced. Some tea, sage and earthy notes linger on the long finish. I'll be honest, I have tasted previous vintages and never really been a big fan of this wine, but this latest vintage is very compelling and engaging. Highly recommended. Best with a light chill. Score: 91 pts


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival 2017 - Day 2 of 2

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

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

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

Beer and Cheddar Bisque paired with Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2004 (89 pts)

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

Coyote's Run Estate Syrah 2015 (89 pts)

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

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

Barrel Sampling with Chris Protonentis

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


Monday, February 26, 2018

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  • Monday, February 26, 2018

Wine Tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake - August 2017

In , I toured Niagara-on-the-Lake and visited a some fine wineries with a few friends. It was a day trip, and with fine weather in tow, this was a fantastic day of wine tasting!

We visited four wineries in all, beginning at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery - a family-run organic and biodynamic winery for a tasting of some of their very fine, premium wines. They also have a nice bakery in the back where they make various types of freshly baked bread. Also on-site is a restaurant with an ever-changing menu where the focus is on using fresh, local ingredients. I definitely want to come back and dine here as they also have a hearth wood oven for baking pizza.

The second stop was at another family-run winery - Riverview Cellars Estate Winery. This winery is adjacent to the Niagara River and has vineyards with special terroir. The topsoil offers subtle differences across their property - from pliable, silty loam, to denser, clay loam, and to fertile sandy loam. In 1992, the family planted their first vinifera - Gewürztraminer, followed by Vidal Blanc in 1993, and Cabernet Sauvignon in 1998.

Crush pad at Inniskillin Wines
Our third stop of the afternoon was at nearby Inniskillin Wines. I had been to this winery numerous times over the years, but this was my first time doing a tour of the facility. The tour began outside, overlooking the vineyards as we were told about the history of Inniskillin and, in a sense, winemaking in Canada. Inniskillin was founded in 1975 by Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser (1941-2017) and became Canada's original estate winery and an industry pioneer committed to the production of premium wines made from quality grapes grown in Canada. From grapes harvested in 1984, Innikillin produced their first Icewine and eventually put Canada on the global wine scene when their 1989 Vidal Icewine was awarded the highest accolade at Vinexpo in Bordeaux.

Barrels at Inniskillin Wines
We proceeded to move around the property, eventually finding our way to the crush pad, where sorting, de-stemming and crushing took place. We then made our way through an informational walkway (previously used for self-guided tours) and then into the cellar room to watch a video and learn more about Icewine production. While in the cellar room, I couldn't help but notice that they still had quite a few older bottles, including the 1984 Icewine. Following the tour, we tasted a few wines, including a delicious, one-of-a-kind Vidal Sparkling Icewine.

The final stop of the day was at Southbrook Vineyards - Canada's first estate winery to earn both organic and biodynamic certification. We ended up tasting only a few wines, but their Poetica Chardonnay ended up being one of the top wines of the day, while their Orange Wine was the most polarizing. Upon completion of the tasting in the central room at their LEED-Gold Standard tasting pavilion, we ventured outside and took a stroll along the vineyards, all the while noticing the grid of solar panels that sat beside the vines.

Once again, I tasted some very fine wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most of these wines are only available at the winery or online through their website, while a few could be found in LCBO VINTAGES. Full wine reviews of my favourite wines tasted on this day are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

RAVINE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA St. Davids Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $55
The highly aromatic nose has lovely rich, buttery, toast, smoke, lemon, apple and stone fruit aromas. It's very refined and nicely textured on the medium-full bodied palate with very nice aroma replays. Acids are well-balanced and the finish length is excellent, albeit a touch warm. Score: 92 pts

Ravine Reserve Chardonnay 2014 (92 pts)Ravine Cabernet Franc 2016 (90+ pts)

RAVINE CABERNET FRANC 2016 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Bottle in June from a solid vintage, this has a medium-high intensity nose that's ripe with dark currants, chocolate, and cassis, along with herbally hints and tobacco. This should open up further with some ageing. It's medium-bodied on the palate with refined tannins and very nice dark fruited aroma replays. Oak is well-integrated and acids are fresh. There's some bitterness mid-palate. Finishes long. Still young and should flesh out nicely in 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts

RAVINE BOTRYTIS-AFFECTED RIESLING 2016 - VQA St. Davids Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $48
Highly aromatic and open on the nose with fruity, peach, apricot honeycomb, Flintstone vitamins, orange and a hint of petrol, all of which come through in a very appealing fashion on the sweet palate. Acids ere crisp and clean, providing much freshness. Excellent finish length. Score: 92 pts

Ravine Botrytis-Affected Riesling 2016 (92 pts)Riverview Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer 2014 (88 pts)

RIVERVIEW ANGELINA’S RESERVE GEWURZTRAMINER 2014 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#511642) (M) - $17.15
From vines planted in 1992, this has medium+ aromatics offering honeyed lychee, lemon, and ginger aromas with an earthy component. It's medium sweet on the medium-bodied palate with appealing tropical and floral fruit tones joining the aromas on the flavour profile. Acids are fresh with some sourness. Finishes crisp and on the dry side with some bitterness. Overall, very pleasing Ontario Gewurz. Released into VINTAGES on . Score: 88 pts

RIVERVIEW SALVATORE'S RESERVE SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Third time tasting this in 2017, this bottling is highly aromatic with savoury, meaty, black pepper, earth, and bretty notes with a sprinkle of baking spice. It's full-bodied and savoury on the palate with olive and oak spices joining the aroma replays. It has good acidity and medium-level tannins that are integrating well. Very good finish length. Seems to be getting better with every tasting. Score: 90 pts

Riverview Salvatore's Reserve Syrah 2013 (90 pts)Riverview Cabernet Franc Icewine 2016 (91+ pts)

RIVERVIEW CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $70
Lovely medium-high aromatics have candied strawberry jam, caramel, butterscotch and a hint of lemon. The palate is medium+ bodied and smooth and richly textured with very nice raspberry-driven aroma replays on the sweet flavour profile. It has nicely balanced acids and a long finish. Score: 91+ pts

INNISKILLIN RIESLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#558288) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
Aromas are of medium+ intensity, somewhat muted, and feature bright lemon and peach notions with some earthy minerality. It's light-to-medium bodied with a delicate mouthfeel that's lifted by bright acids. Pleasing lemony citrus and orange, plus aroma replays shine through on the palate and continue through to the long finish. Seems a bit simple now, this should gain complexity with age. Score: 90 pts

INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388306) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Highly aromatic aromas of honey, apricot, ginger and sweet Meyer lemon waft from the glass. The palate is medium-full bodied and lusciously sweet with honeyed aroma replays. There's good, balanced acidity in here to keeps things fresh and not cloying. Fine length on the finish. Score: 90+ pts

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2015 (90+ pts)Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2015 (89 pts)

INNISKILLIN VIDAL SPARKLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#560367) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
Made using the Charmat method, this has yeasty, earthy and bready with underlying apricot, honey and candied ginger aromas and flavours. It's sweet on the palate with fine mousse, high acids and very good finish length. A unique wine, to be sure. Score: 89 pts

SOUTHBROOK SMALL LOT ORANGE WINE 2016 - Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Made using Vidal (white wine grape) that was naturally fermented with skins and stems for 25 days (just like a red wine), this a medium-high intensity nose that has floral, grapefruit, orange zest and tea nuances. It's medium-bodied and bone-dry on the palate with complex notes of bergamot, sage, tea, citrus peel and some savoury herbs and bitterness. Acids are balanced and the finish length is very good. A unique wine to try once. Score: 89 pts

Southbrook Small Lot Orange Wine 2016 (89 pts)

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
Showing a lovely, highly aromatic nose that's rich and buttery with golden apple, pear, and smoke notes, and has notable wood influence that's nicely integrated. It's medium-bodied with nice, clean fruit, impressive depth and very nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. Acids are finely tuned and well-balanced. The long finish is smooth and rich. Exquisite! Will continue to sing a poem for at least the next half dozen years. Score: 93 pts

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2013 (93 pts)Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot 'Witness Block' Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc 2013 (90 pts)

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT 'WITNESS BLOCK' CABERNET SAUVIGNON / CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot. Aromas of medium-high intensity with notes of currant, herbaceous, red berry, resinous oak, woody, and hints of violet, with much of same on the full-bodied palate. It has good acidity and a long finish. Still young, with chalky tannins suggesting a few years in bottle are needed for optimum drinkability. Score: 90 pts


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

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  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (Ontario) - Wine Review

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

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

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

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


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sip and Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake 2017

Grilled Prawn, Shoot and Sprout Salad and Citrus Zest Emulsion with 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc
On this cold, wintry day, let me take you back to when I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake to partake in the annual Sip & Sizzle food and wine pairing event thanks to winning a contest on Foodies on Foot. This excellent event was running on weekends in May at over 20 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule, I was only able to attend on the final day of the event, so I tried to squeeze in as many wineries as I could in a single day.

The first stop was at Château des Charmes for a crisp pairing of their 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc Estate Grown & Bottled ($14.95, 87 pts) with a grilled prawn, shoot and sprout salad and citrus zest emulsion. This was a delicious pairing as the "sip" is an ideal match for seafood, while the green and citrus notes from the salad complemented the flavours from wine. The zesty dressing also added a bit of zip to the overall pairing, really brightening the flavours. This sizzling pairing was quite well done.

My second stop was at Ravine Vineyard to savour the 2016 Ravine Cabernet Rosé ($22, 88+ pts) paired with Rossco’s harissa grilled chicken thigh on a mixed grain salad. This was a nice, balanced pairing where nothing really jumped out, except for the herbally character in the wine that matched some of the herbs in the dish. The chicken was nicely grilled off the BBQ and added subtle smoky flavours to the overall pairing. Portion size was also very good. This was a nice, wholesome and comforting pairing.

Rossco’s Harissa Grilled Chicken Thigh on a Mixed Grain Salad with 2016 Ravine Cabernet RoséGrilled Chicken Taco topped with Mango Salsa with 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer

Our third stop of the day was at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for a mildly sweet 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer ($14, 87 pts) blend that was paired with a grilled chicken taco topped with a mango salsa that was made with some of the Bianco white wine. This pairing was all about matching the sweet, fruity flavours from the wine to the mango salsa. The clean acids from the wine also helped create a balanced pairing. Overall, this was a well executed pairing that I would love to try at home.

At our fourth stop of the afternoon, we visited Inniskillin Wines for another grilled chicken taco, but this time it was spiced with chipotle and topped with avocado. It was paired with their 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz Cabernet ($25, 88+ pts). This was a quality and balanced pairing, with plenty of spiced, peppery notes from both the taco and the red wine complementing each other well.

Grilled Chicken Taco spiced with Chipotle and topped with Avocado and paired with 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz CabernetCherry Cheesecake Flambé with 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir

The fifth stop was at Lailey Vineyard Winery, where the pairing was off the beaten path and a little adventurous by pairing a dessert item with red table wine. It was interesting to try their 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir (89 pts) paired with a dessert item - a cherry cheesecake flambé. The cherry flavours in the wine matched the cherry notes in the cheesecake, plus the wine's bright acidity balanced out the creamy texture from the cheesecake. The cheesecake also wasn't very sweet, which helped allow this to be a good pairing.

Wings are a popular item at Rancourt Winery, our sixth stop of the afternoon. On this day, we were offered BBQ chicken wings braised in Harvest Barn's famous Vidalia onion sauce and paired with their 2013 Rancourt Noble Rouge ($15, 86 pts), a Cabernet Merlot blend. Wings and red wine are always a good pairing in my books, and at Rancourt we had wings in a sweet sauce paired with a wine that also had some sweetness in it, providing for a balanced pairing. Unfortunately, I gobbled it down so fast that I forgot to take a picture.

Lamb Slider with 2014 Trius Merlot

The seventh stop was at Trius Winery where we were supposed to pair the 2015 Trius Merlot with a spiced lamb Merguez sausage, spring slaw, honey, and mint yogurt dressing. However, since we were approaching the end of the day on the last day of the event, it appears as though they ran out of that specific wine and the sausage because we got the 2014 Trius Merlot ($16, 87 pts) paired with a yummy lamb slider. No complaints from me! Bigger red wines with red meats are usually a pretty good pairing, and this was no exception.

Since the brand spanking new Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery was (unofficially) open to the public next door to Trius, we decided to pop-in and check out the new digs. It was crazy busy here, so we only managed to taste a few wines before heading over to our final stop of the day. This is a place I definitely want to come back and taste through the distilled products.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese marinated in Curry Sauce on Naan Wedge and topped with Niagara peach, and paired 2016 Jack Rabbit White

The eighth and final stop of the day was at The Hare Wine Co. for a grilled Halloumi cheese marinated in a mild & creamy curry sauce on a Naan wedge topped with Niagara peach, and paired with the 2016 Jack Rabbit White ($14.50, 86 pts). The wine was off-dry with plenty of floral and citrusy flavours that paired well with the peach, while the acids in the wine helped balance the creamy cheese. A good pairing overall, even though the portions at this winery were a bit on the small side.

This was my first time attending Sip & Sizzle and I was quite pleased with the many sips and sizzling culinary creations. I would definitely recommend this event food and wine lovers, especially those folks who have an affinity for BBQ fare. I hope to attend this lovely event featuring the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake again in 2018, and firmly believe that you should attend too! Wine reviews of some of my favourites wines tasted on this day are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2015 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $18.95
Medium-high intensity aromas of pepper, earth, black cherry, blackberry, and gamey notes that are quite complex with a certain rustic charm. It's medium-full bodied with cherry, oak spice, and brambly fruit flavours lifted by bright acids. There's supple tannins, good fruit concentration, and a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2015 (89 pts)Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2015 (92 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $26.95
Highly aromatic and complex nose of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, pineapple and honeydew melon. The palate is medium-full bodied with bright fruited aroma replays that are nicely balanced. It's lusciously sweet, but balanced with very good acidity. The finish length is excellent and nicely balanced. Score: 92 pts

RAVINE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Aromas of medium-high intensity with rich, oak-influenced buttery, apple, and smoke notes, plus hints of butterscotch, pineapple and caramel. The medium-bodied palate offers nice aroma replays that are well-balanced and supported by nicely articulated acids. Finishes long with caramel, sweet oak, and vanilla notes. Score: 91 pts

Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Ravine Vineyard Reserve Riesling 2015 (90+ pts)

RAVINE VINEYARD RESERVE RIESLING 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $35
Contains 30% botrytis affected grapes, this has medium-high intensity aromatics of petrol, honeycomb, and apricot. The palate is medium-dry (i.e. noticeably sweet) with very nice aroma replays and a light mineral texture. Acids are bright and refreshing. Finish length is excellent. Score: 90+ pts

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity aromas show white pepper, herbaceous, leafy, brambly, blackberry and medicinal aromas that are slightly cooked/stewed. It's medium-bodied with herbally, dark fruited, medicinal, and iodine flavours, plus touches of chocolate mocha. Refined tannins are well-integrated and acids are balanced. Earthy, mocha, and vanilla notes linger on the medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Syrah 2013 (89 pts)

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity nose offers white pepper, blackberry, dark fruits, earthy, and vanilla oak aromas. This is much more open and fruit forward compared to when I tasted this in September 2016. It's full-bodied with pleasing aroma replays lifted by bright acidity. Smooth, refined tannins. Long, earthy-peppery finish. Score: 89 pts

INNISKILLIN NIAGARA RESERVE SHIRAZ CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#225482) (D) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity aromas that are ripe with red cherry, white pepper, currant, cassis, and herbs. It's medium-full bodied and dense on the palate with oak spiced aroma replays that have a touch of sweetness. Acids are bright, tannins a touch grippy, and the finish length is very good. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Niagara Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2015 (88 pts)Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (XD) - $24.95
Clean apple, pear, and butter aromas of medium-high intensity with hints of tart citrus and melon. The palate is medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays plus toasty oak notes. Acids are very good. Long, buttery finish. Score: 88 pts

LAILEY BARREL SELECT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
From four outstanding barrels, this has medium-high intensity aromatics featuring clean apple, butter, pear, sweet oak vanilla and hints of nuttiness. It's mid-weighted with lovely well-balanced aromas replays, crisp acids, while finishing long and clean. Score: 90 pts

Lailey Barrel Select Chardonnay 2013 (90 pts)Lailey Syrah 2013 (90+ pts)

LAILEY SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-high intensity aromas have complex gamey, black peppercorn, oak, olive and earthy notes. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays and fresh acids. Tannins are integrating nicely. Long, balanced finish. Will provide pleasure over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

RANCOURT CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
The complex nose is ripe with sweet oak spice, herbaceous, white pepper, dark fruits and chocolate aromas of very good intensity. The palate is medium+ bodied with fresh acids and nice aroma replays. Refined tannins are integrating nicely. Finish length is very good. Drink over the next 3-5 years. Score: 88 pts

Rancourt Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)

TRIUS SHIRAZ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.75
This new arrival is blended with 5% Viognier. Aromas of medium-high intensity offer black peppercorn, blackberry, gamey, dark currant, and dark berry notes. It's full-bodied with some tannic grip and very nice aroma replays. It has fresh acids and finishes long. This well-made wine should be aged 2+ years for the tannins to soften. Score: 88 pts

Trius Shiraz 2015 (88 pts)Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2012 (91 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE RED SHALE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $45.20
From the Clark Farm Vineyard, this has medium-high intensity and complex aromas of currant, leafy, herbaceous, oak, and forest floor. It's full-bodied and structured with some tannic grip and nicely balanced aroma replays. Very good and juicy acids add freshness and lift. Hints of minerality exist on the long finish. This is a serious Cab Franc to enjoy over the next decade. Score: 91 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY NO. 99 RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#144865) (M) - $14.95
Medium+ intensity aromas feature some mature petrol notes, along with mineral, green apple, citrus and peach aromas. There's a nice mineral texture on the light-weighted palate with appealing off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) aroma replays. Vibrant acids keep things fresh, while the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Riesling 2015 (88+ pts)The Hare Frontier Cabernet Franc 2013 (89 pts)

THE HARE FRONTIER CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
Contains trace amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this has medium-high intensity, oak-influenced aromas of tobacco, cigar, smoke, dark cherry, pepper, and dark currant with very good complexity that continues on the medium-full bodied palate. It has vibrant acids, good tannic structure, and long finishing. Enjoy over the next half decade. Score: 89 pts


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