Showing posts with label viognier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label viognier. Show all posts

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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  • Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lakeview Cellars Viognier 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review



wine review is a locally made white wine made with Viognier, a varietal not commonly grown here in Ontario.

It is produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd., a large winery based in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake. This particular wine was sourced from high quality Niagara vineyards and gently pressed in pneumatic bladder style presses. It was then cool fermented in stainless steel for 14 days at 16ºC, followed by ageing in stainless steel tanks and cold stabilized and bottled to preserve natural and typical fruit characters.

I picked up this delicious white wine while visiting the winery in the spring, and you can too as it is only available at the winery or through their online web store.

Lakeview Cellars Viognier 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS VIOGNIER 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $18.95
Screw cap. This has a tart and floral nose with orange blossom, lime citrus, and a whiff of anise and herbally aromas. On the mid-weighted palate, it has vibrant, crunchy acids supporting the citrus, floral, and herbal flavours. There's a touch of candied lime giving off an impression of sweetness. Good length on the finish. Score: 87 pts


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

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  • Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Goats do Roam White 2017 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine is an easy drinking white wine with a unique/fun name that you may have come across while browsing LCBO shelves as it's been available in our market for quite a few years now.

It is produced by the Fairview Wine Farm in South Africa, and while the name "Goats do Roam" is considered by some to be a play on "Côtes du Rhône" as it contains the same varietals found in Rhône whites, it is in fact (according to the website) from legend.

The story behind the name goes like this: Some errant members of Fairview’s long-established goat herd once escaped from their paddock into the Fairview vineyards after Charles Back’s young son Jason accidentally left the gate open; The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting some of the ripest berries from the vines; Those berries were then used to make this white blend.

The 2017 vintage is the latest vintage and packaged in an eco-friendly, lighter-weight bottle. It is widely available (if not already, then really soon) at LCBO outlets across Ontario as it is a General List product.

Goats do Roam White 2017 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

GOATS DO ROAM WHITE 2017 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#237313) (XD) - $11.95
Bottled under screw cap, this is a traditional Rhône blend of 49% Viognier, 28% Roussanne, and 23% Grenache Blanc. The medium intensity nose offers widely appealing ripe tropical fruit, orange zest, white peach and white floral aromas. On the medium-full bodied palate, it's got zesty acids with more ripe tropical fruit, melon, and orange peel flavours in an essentially dry profile. There's some bitterness on the mid-palate and good length on the finish. Chill well and serve with hearty fish such as Salmon. Score: 86 pts


Saturday, February 4, 2017

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  • Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mas des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2015 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine was purchased last year from the LCBO VINTAGES Release and only a few bottles of this dry white wine are still available at the LCBO. It's a good one, especially at this price point.

Mas des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION BLANC 2015 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#701094) (XD) - $17.95
A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. Fresh lemon and white floral aromas from the cork. Very good intensity on the nose with earthy/mineral aromas, along with lemon, floral, grapefruit and hints of peach. Full flavoured on the oily, medium-bodied palate with notes of lemon, white peach, and floral. Balanced by fine acidity. Juicy with lovely orange blossom notes that arrive mid-palate and continue through to the finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts


Thursday, August 25, 2016

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  • Thursday, August 25, 2016

Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 2

After a very satisfying Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival experience on , expectations were raised for visit to wineries mostly in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In all, we ended up visiting 7 different wineries on Sunday, a few of which were unplanned stops that were hard to pass up.

Triple Cream Brie Grilled Cheese with Poached Rhubarb and Inniskillin Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé
Our day began in the morning at Inniskillin Wines for a triple cream Brie grilled cheese with poached rhubarb that was paired with their freshly released 2015 Inniskillin Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé ($19.95, 87 pts). Since we were one of the first to arrive at the winery, we had to wait quite a while before the first grilled cheese was prepared. However, we didn't mind because that gave us a chance to enjoy the sun and great weather on their outdoor patio, and also allowed us to sample some wines at their wine tasting bar. The grilled cheese was hot and tasty, with the rhubarb flavours from the sandwich bringing out similar flavours in the rosé. The creamy cheese also helped tame the racy acids in the wine, making for a balanced, yummy pairing.

Niagara Grilled Trout on Flatbread with Smoked Salsa, Charred Feta and Pickled Red Onions with Peller Estates Private Reserve Rosé
The second stop of the day was an unplanned visit to Peller Estates Winery for a mouthwatering Niagara grilled trout on a flatbread with smoked salsa, charred feta and pickled red onions. This was paired with your choice of 2015 Peller Estates Private Reserve Rosé ($16.95, 87 pts, sold out) or the 2015 Peller Estates Private Reserve Muscat ($14.95). It was served on their outdoor back patio facing the vineyards - a very nice setting to enjoy this refreshing pairing. I opted for the rosé and it paired really well with the flatbread - lots of cherry, red berry, herbally, spice flavours complementing the dry rosé that made this pairing quite compelling. Making this experience very memorable was the arrival of more than 50 exotic cars that parked on the grass between the patio and the vineyards.

Exotic cars at Peller Estates

The third stop of the day was at PondView Estate Winery for two stuffed endive boats paired with their 2015 Viognier. Once again, the great weather allowed us to enjoy our pairing outdoors. The first endive boat had grilled pineapple and caramelized shallots in goat cheese and topped with pecans, while the second endive boat had blue cheese and walnuts, and both boats were drizzled with honey. The pairing with the dry Viognier was quite nice with the honey adding some pleasant sweetness. I found the first endive boat to be immaculately paired with the wine - well-balanced flavours that brought out sweet pineapple and honey flavours from the wine. The blue cheese endive made the pairing fall on the savoury side. All-in-all, this was a satisfying experience.

Endive Boats with PondView ViognierCaraway Salmon Burger with Debbie Travis Pinot Grigio

Our fourth stop of the day was an unplanned visit to Pillitteri Estates Winery. We couldn't pass up the chance to enjoy a sumptuous celery and caraway salmon burger that was topped with lettuce, grilled red onion, and lemon remoulade on a brioche bun. Generously sized, this burger was perfectly paired with the newly released 2014 Debbie Travis Pinot Grigio (#457515, $15.95, 86 pts). Knowing what was ahead of us and a little tight on time, I had to skip any wine tasting, including some of the best Icewine in Niagara.

As we moved closer towards direction of home, our fifth stop of the day was at Colaneri Estate Winery for a tangy spring roll from Chang Noi's Thai Restaurant that was paired with the 2012 Colaneri Mistera Gewürztraminer ($19.95). The vegetarian spring roll was topped with a sweet chili sauce that made the spring roll a touch on the hot side, but also allowed it to pair quite well with the sweet Gewürztraminer white wine. Once again, sweet wine paired with spice makes for a delightful combo.

Tangy Spring Roll from Chang Noi with Colaneri Mistera GewürztraminerCreekside Pinot Grigio and Golden Niagara Peach Slushie

More closer to home in Lincoln, Ontario, our next stop was at Creekside Estate Winery for a break from solid foods to enjoy a refreshing slushie on this hot day. The nice and cold slushie was made by blending their 2015 Creekside Pinot Grigio (#083196, $14.95) with golden Niagara peaches that were in season. It had lots of delicious peach flavours to go along with a slight kick from the alcohol. On this hot summer day, this was the perfect way to cool down!

Wood-Fired Strawberry Pizza with Featherstone Rosé
Amazingly, as had happened during the 2015 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival, our day of food and wine concluded at Featherstone Estate Winery for the second year in a row. Once again, the offering was a strawberry pizza topped with balsamic paired with their latest Featherstone Rosé. It was made in their outdoor wood-fired oven by owner/winemaker David Johnson - the same guy that made these pizza's last summer, except I had no clue who he was last year. Ha! Ha! It was great to finally meet and talk to the man behind the wines. It was Featherstone's Cabernet Franc that got me turned on to Ontario Cab Franc many years ago and is still one of my favourite Ontario red wines year-after-year. The pizza was a delicious combination of sweet, savoury and sour, and accentuated the strawberry flavours in the wine.

Overall, we very much enjoyed our trip through Niagara Wine Country and are looking forward to visiting the region again in September for the big, annual Niagara Grape & Wine Festival where we expecting more delicious food & wine pairings. If you're interested in joining us, let me know!

Tasting Notes:

INNISKILLIN DISCOVERY SERIES BARREL FERMENTED SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Barrel fermented for 3 months in new and older French barrels. Medium+ intensity nose showing musky oak notes layered with grassy, hay and green aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with a nice, creamy texture, tart acids balanced by clean lime and gooseberry flavours. Juicy with slight sour notes on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Discovery Series Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Inniskillin Discovery Series Susse Reserve Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN DISCOVERY SERIES SUSSE RESERVE RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $22.95
Generous nose offers clean citrus, orange, peach, Flintstone vitamins, along with hints of mineral and petrol adding complexity. It's medium-bodied with juicy, balanced acids. Off-dry with yummy peach and orange flavours. Good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

INNISKILLIN RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
From a hot vintage, this has a medium+ nose featuring complex spice, blackberry, dark cherry, allspice and clove aromas. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with smooth, supple tannins that are just a touch grippy at the moment. Dark cherry, earth and oak spice flavours. It has very good acids and finishes long. Should be better in 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

PONDVIEW ESTATE VIOGNIER 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#469205) (XD) - $16.95
Offers a medium+ intensity nose featuring clean lime, white flowers, and fresh citrus. The palate is medium-bodied and dry with an oily texture that offers floral, lemon/lime, some herbally notes, and hints of honey. It has bright, fresh acids, while the finish length is medium-long. Score: 88 pts

PondView Estate Viognier 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)PondView Vidal Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

PONDVIEW VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#390351) (S) (200 mL) - $19.95
Very inviting and highly aromatic nose that offers lovely pineapple, orange, caramelized citrus and peach aromas. It's very sweet with lovely aroma replays of citrus, peach and apricot on the medium-bodied palate, with bright acids balancing the sweetness very well. Excellent length on the finish that has notes of poached pineapples. Score: 90 pts

COLANERI STELLUCHA RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $17.95
The 2015 vintage was just released and has a medium-high nose that is effervescent with nuances of green apple, lime, and hints of mandarin orange. It's medium-bodied with crisp, bright, refreshing acids and flavours of Flintstone vitamins, orange and pear. It's off-dry to medium-dry in sweetness with clean minerality on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

Colaneri Stellucha Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)Colaneri Unita Cabernet Franc Reserva 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

COLANERI UNITA CABERNET FRANC RESERVA 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
80% appassimento and 22 months in barrel, this has a medium-high intensity, complex nose offering chestnut, brambly, licorice, candied cherry, currant, and blackberry aromas. It's medium-full bodied with raspberry, sweet oak vanilla, herbal spice and ripe berry aroma replays. Quite spicy. Finishes long. Score: 90 pts

CREEKSIDE BACKYARD BUBBLY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#398628) (D) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity featuring mineral, lemon peel and earthy funk. Bubbles are finely tuned on the medium+ bodied palate, with a nice texture and green, grass, and hints of gooseberry flavours typical or the varietal. Comes off as dry overall, with bright acids and very good length on the finish. It was released into VINTAGES on June 11 and some still available. Score: 89 pts

Creekside Backyard Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

CREEKSIDE BACKYARD BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#341792) (XD) - $18.95
Medium-high intensity, but somewhat restrained nose of tropical fruit, kiwi, passion fruit, and guava. It's medium-bodied with vibrant, juicy acids with more kiwi and grass flavours, along with some gooseberry notes. Quite balanced overall. Medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Creekside Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Creekside Marianne Hill Riesling 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

CREEKSIDE MARIANNE HILL RIESLING 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443572) (M) - $21.95
A medium+ intensity nose offers orange and citrus aromas with a mineral component. The palate is medium-bodied with acids that are juicy and vibrant, while balancing the pleasing aroma replays in an off-dry style. There's a chalky mineral texture on the palate, while the lengthy finish ends with orange notes. Score: 88+ pts

FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117861) (D) - $15.95
Bright strawberry, cherry, ripe red plums on the nose, with sweet aroma replays on the light-to-mid weighted palate. It has balanced acids and good length on the finish. Soft, easy drinking style. Score: 87 pts

FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
Lovely medium-high intensity nose has clean orange, citrus and some tropical fruit, mineral, apple and peach notes add complexity. It's fairly light-weighted with a slatey texture and pleasing aroma replays on the medium sweet palate. Bright acids provide freshness, while the finish length is very good. Was released into VINTAGES on August 6th. Score: 88 pts

Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#064618) (XD) - $19.20
The medium-high intensity nose has an initial bretty/barnyard aroma that gives way to complex raspberry, bramble, spices, black cherry, and blackberry. It's medium-full bodied with complex spice-led aroma replays. Vibrant acids are well-balanced. Long, raspberry-cherry finish with hints of smoke. Tannins a bit tight at this stage - try this in 1-2 years. Score: 88 pts


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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  • Tuesday, March 29, 2016

EastDell Estates Black Label Viognier 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine is a delicious Ontario Viognier that is already available at the winery, but will also be released into VINTAGES on .

EastDell Estates was founded in 1999 and sold to current owner, Diamond Estates, in 2005. The EastDell logo depicts a blue heron, which has a natural migration path across their vineyards. I'm generally not one to comment on labels, but really do like the foil blue heron on this label - it's quite intricately designed and definitely catches the eye when hitting the light. Including tonight's Viognier, the wines of EastDell are typically made in an easy-drinking style that pair well with meals.

The grapes for this wine were sourced from high quality Ontario vineyards and then gently pressed in pneumatic bladder style presses. It was then cool-fermented in stainless steel before being aged in stainless steel tanks.

EastDell Estates Black Label Viognier 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

EASTDELL ESTATES BLACK LABEL VIOGNIER 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#443622) (D) - $17.95
Screw cap. Inviting nose of orange blossom, white flower and peach aromas. The palate is full-ish with vibrant, refreshing acids. It is just off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) with juicy floral, orange peel and white peach flavours. Finishes dry with orange peel and peach notes. Quite well-balanced overall. A fine Viognier with substance that can be enjoyed on the patio, or better yet, with chicken or a mildly spiced dish. Score: 88 pts


Saturday, November 1, 2014

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  • Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Vintage Harvest - 2014 Niagara Wine Festival Review

The 63rd Annual Niagara Wine Festival returned last month, running for three weekends from September 13 to 28. I usually attend one of the first two weekends, but this time decided to attend the final weekend of the festival. Considering the bad luck we had with weather and the annual Fall closing of the Gardiner Expressway last year, I was a little worried what might happen this time around, with no fall back date. Sadly, the Gardiner was once again closed this weekend. Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect - sunny skies and hot - as it felt like the Summer we never had. The weather more than made up for the crappy drive out of the city.

Wine tasting at GreenLane Estate Winery
We began our journey on afternoon at GreenLane Estate Winery. This was my first visit to their "new" location, which they moved to about a year ago, and I must say is quite the step up from their old digs on South Service Road. Our first wine of the day was their 2012 Rosé - an off-dry wine that was a nice prelude to the main course. While our delicious Lake Erie Perch tacos were being freshly prepared on the grill, we were also poured their latest new release - the 2013 Winemaker's White. Slightly off-dry, this crisp, white wine with lively acids paired beautifully with the Perch tacos that were stuffed with sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, and chives, all drizzled with a chili and lime sour cream and wrapped in a soft, flour tortilla. When paired with the taco, the wine's sweet flavours shone through, while the lively acids from both the wine and taco resulted in what felt like a party in my mouth. Very enjoyable overall while sitting on their lovely outdoor patio - we could have sat there all day.

Enjoying Lake Erie Perch tacos on the patio at GreenLane Estate WineryLake Erie Perch tacos paired with 2013 GreenLane Winemaker's White

Our second stop of the afternoon was in the fermentation room at Vineland Estates Winery for pairings of chicken wings and wine. I've paired wine with wings many a time at home, but was intrigued with this winery's Icewine pairing. First, we paired the Kansas City "Big Smoke" Chipotle wings with the 2013 O'Leary Cabernet Merlot (#307744, $14.95) - a fine, comfort pairing that nicely balanced the flavourful wings with the dry, somewhat fruity, red wine that had good tannic structure. The second wine we tasted was their gorgeous Select Late Harvest Vidal (~$19, 90 pts). Very flavourful and with balanced acids, this sweet, dessert wine paired beautifully with the sweet & spicy Habanero Bourbon brown sugar wings. If you've never tried pairing sweet wines with spicy foods, I would highly encourage you to try it - as it is quite the unexpected treat.

Pouring wine at Vineland Estates WineryChicken wings and 2013 O'Leary Cabernet Merlot

The third stop was at a very busy Creekside Estate Winery - so busy that the parking lot was full and we had to resort to parking on the grass (sorry about that!). Likely due to the growing popularity of Niagara's Grape & Wine Festival, waiting for clean glasses seemed to be a developing trend today. After clean glasses finally arrived, we tasted the 2011 Laura's White (#121764, $18.95, 87 pts) while waiting for freshly baked French Onion tarts - caramelized onions and black olives deglazed with red wine and served on a puff pastry. By the time the tarts arrived, we had already moved on to 2011 Laura's Red (#117960, $19.95, 88 pts). This red wine paired well with good acids, medium-level of tannins, and a flavour profile that complemented the tart. I believe the tart would have also paired well with Laura's White.

We then made our way outside to begin a tour of the winery. Our host, David, led us to the vineyards located just west of the tasting room where they grow Sauvignon Blanc for their Reserve line - grapes which we actually got to taste on this day! The tour brought us through their crush pad, grape sorter and de-stemmer, and finishing off in the underground barrel cellar. We returned to the tasting room at the conclusion of the tour to taste a few more wines, including a couple of my favourites of the day - the 2012 Reserve Viognier and 2011 Broken Press Syrah (reviews below).

Freshly baked French Onion tartsWine tour at Creekside Estate Winery

Barrel cellar at Creekside Estate WineryBarrel cellar at Creekside Estate Winery

Our last winery visit of the day was at Konzelmann Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a very festive atmosphere on this day as the winery was celebrating it's own Wine Fest with outdoor live music and food trucks. It was very busy, so we headed straight inside to pick up our generously-sized creamy apple-spiced cheesecake on a graham cracker crust and topped sweet caramel drizzle. This delicious cheesecake was paired with their yummy 2013 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal - a medium-sweet dessert wine with fresh acidity that balanced the sweetness and cut through the creaminess of the cheesecake. Not bad way to finish off a Saturday!

Cheesecake and Konzelmann Late Harvest VidalCreamy Apple-Spiced Cheesecake and 2013 Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest Vidal



Group photo on the patio at PondView Estate Winery
began with a visit to PondView Estate Winery. We arrived before noon, which was the perfect time to enjoy lamb in a creamy curry and savoury spices, combined with potatoes, onion, cilantro and served over basmati rice. It was paired with their 2011 Bella Terra Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ($25.95, 89 pts), the same wine I tasted last September. I approached this food and wine pairing with great enthusiasm, but came away somewhat disappointed. The Chardonnay held up well to the red meat, but the lamb curry was very dry and lacked flavour. Last year's food pairing was much more enjoyable. On the plus side, food portions were once again quite generous.

Caretto at PillitteriPillitteri Icewine Showcase

The second stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery for some comfort food and wine. But first, Jeff Letvenuk - Marketing and Media Manager, took us on a very interesting tour of the winery that traces its roots back to 1965 as a small fruit farm. Our tour began in the Awards Room, where Jeff introduced us to the Caretto - an original Sicilian Cart brought from Italy by (founder) Gary Pillitteri's mother. This Caretto is intricately painted and designed and is now considered a family heirloom as it has been passed down many generations. As we moved outside to the vineyard, we stopped at the Wall of Icewine showcase that displayed the many Icewines that Pillitteri had produced over the years, including their first ever Icewine - a gold medal winning 1988 Vidal Icewine. Today, Pillitteri is the largest Estate producer of Icewine. After walking among the vines, we proceed to the fermentation room and cellar. En route, it was fascinating to see Gary keep one of the original cherry trees that was on this site prior to his arrival in 1965. The wine barrel cellar is a gem of a private space that is used exclusively by the family. All throughout the tour, from the name of the tasting rooms to the intricate details found in the chairs inside the barrel cellar, we could see that family was very important to Gary.

Custom designed chairs in barrel cellarBarrel cellar at Pillitteri Estates Winery

After we finished admiring the cellar room, we headed back upstairs and outside towards the patio to enjoy Chef Collin Goodine's famous 'baked potato' poutine. I paired my poutine with Pillitteri's heavily oaked 2010 Cabernet Franc ($20.20, 87 pts) - a pairing that was comforting in a very comfortable setting. The poutine was delicious, while the red wine's balanced acids complemented the sour cream and fries quite well. We also tasted some fabulous, premium+ red wines from Pillitteri's lineup - reviews and recommendations are below.

Chef Collin Goodine preparing his famous 'baked potato' poutineChef Collin Goodine's baked potato poutine with 2010 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc

Niagara College Teaching Winery was our third stop of the day. Here, we enjoyed a freshly baked Smoked Onion and Upper Canada Niagara Gold Cheese Tartlette, which was paired with their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (#121715, $18.95, 87 pts). The tannins from the Cab helped cut into the creaminess from the cheese and kept everything nicely balanced. Sundays tend to be quieter in Niagara, and today was no exception. We ended up sitting outside on NCT's lovely patio for quite some time, sampling a few wines while the autumn sun basked in the sky.

2010 Niagara College Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Smoked Onion and Upper Canada Gold Cheese Tartlette

Vieni EstatesButternut quash lasagna paired 2012 Vieni Chardonnay

The next stop was an unplanned visit to Vieni Estates. This winery has been on my radar for the last year, but I never quite made it to the site. Furthermore, a conversation with Oenoapp prior to the weekend had me seriously considering a stop, time permitting. Vieni was serving a roasted garlic, butternut squash lasagna, layered with mozzarella, parmigiano and pecorino cheese, which I paired with their tasty 2012 Chardonnay (reviewed below). The lasagne was thinly layered, but tasted great and felt like it was homemade. It was generously portioned and paired well with the Chardonnay, leading to a very satisfying experience overall. Manager Steven DiMora was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the facilities, while giving us some insight into their future plans which include a made-in-Ontario Amarone-style of wine that I am definitely looking forward to tasting.

Enjoying vegetable lasagna cupcakes tops with 2010 Legends Estates Semillon from Lizak Vineyard. VQA Niagara Peninsula
Our final stop of this trip was at Legends Estates Winery for a different take on lasagna - homemade vegetable lasagna cupcakes that were creamy and colourful. These lasagna cupcakes were a good size and really did look like cupcakes, topped with cheese and crunchy vegetables. It was savoury and paired well with a variety of their white wines, including the 2013 Semillon ($16.95, 87 pts) and a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve ($19.50, 86 pts) that is holding up quite well at 4 years old.

Aside from waiting for clean glasses and treats to be freshly baked, it was a very enjoyable weekend in Niagara with no hiccups and great weather. I noticed that portion sizes for nearly all the food items were generously (and appropriately) portioned. By the end, my stomach was joyously satisfied and did not feel the need to stop at a Tim Horton's. As for the wine, the quality keeps getting better and better. Red wines from the 2012 vintage are showing great structure and complexity, with very good ageing potential. I was pleasantly surprised by Creekside's Syrah and Viognier, as well as some of the higher-end wines from Pillitteri.

Lastly, thank you to all the wineries for your excellent hospitality - it was very much appreciated!


Tasting Notes:
GREENLANE WINEMAKER'S WHITE 2013 - (D) - $16.95
This white wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Riesling with floral, lime and green apple aromas of medium intensity. It's light-bodied with crisp, refreshing acids, and tropical fruits notes on the palate, along with pleasing, mineral-driven aroma replays. Finish is lightly spiced. Score: 86 pts

GREENLANE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - (XD) - $23.95
Medium+ intensity aromas showing a very complex nose of red berries, currants, bramble, coconut and vanillan. Medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays and light brettyness. Very good acids, while firm tannins are silky smooth, yet could use some softening. Finish is medium-long. Score: 88 pts

CREEKSIDE RESERVE VIOGNIER 2012 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (XD) - $29.95
Aromas of medium intensity with notes of elderflower, honeysuckle, and elegant peach and mineral. Full-bodied palate that is creamy and slightly oily, with very nice aroma replays. Acids are nicely balanced, while the spiced mid-palate continues on the lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2012 Creekside Reserve Viognier from Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's BenchWine Review of 2011 Creekside Broken Press Syrah from Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench

CREEKSIDE BROKEN PRESS SYRAH 2011 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#202127) (XD) - $39.95
Includes 5-8% Viognier. Highly aromatic with meaty, black peppercorn, and blackberry aromas with hints of floral and mushroom. It's palate is medium+ bodied, showing elegant aroma replays and taut tannins. Very nicely balanced, mouth-watering acids and long finishing. Would cellar this 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts

KONZELMANN SPECIAL SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2013 - (#359216) (MS) (375mL) - $20.95
Highly aromatic nose of apricots, peach, and honey which replay on the medium-sweet palate, along with some lime zest. It's medium-bodied with balanced, fresh acids and excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Pillitteri Exclamation Cabernet Sauvignon from VQA Niagara-on-the-LakeWine Review of 2005 Pillitteri Family Reserve Trivalente from VQA Niagara PeninsulaWine Review of 2012 Pillitteri Reserve Cabernet Franc Icewine from VQA Niagara, Peninsula

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake (#) (XD) - $50.20
Highly aromatic with plenty of cassis, blackcurrant and camphor notes. On the palate, it's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays joined by some wood flavours. Has mouth-watering acids, and smooth, sinewy tannins that are very nicely integrated. Lengthy finish has dark chocolate and wood nuances. Score: 91 pts

PILLITTERI FAMILY RESERVE TRIVALENTE 2005 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $98.20
Blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Merlot that is highly aromatic with a savoury nose of barnyard, tilled earth, dark berries and plum. It's full-bodied with crushed red & dark berries, dark chocolate, and elegantly balanced (French) oak on the palate. Very good acids, smooth integrated tannins and lengthy finish. Score: 92 pts

PILLITTERI RESERVE CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (S) - ~$70?
Gorgeous, highly intense aromas of strawberry, cherry and hints of caramel with very nice aroma replays. Crisp, balanced acids keep the sweetness in check. Long, smooth finish. Score: 92 pts

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY (NCT) DEAN'S LIST CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA St. David's Bench (#040659) (XD) - $27.95
Nose somewhat closed but showed interesting butterscotch, sweet pear, bubblegum and pineapple aromas. Medium-to-full bodied and creamy mouthfeel with pineapple, bubblegum, and oak spice flavours on the palate. Good acids, while the finishing long, smooth, and toasty. Score: 89 pts

NCT CABERNET FRANC 2010 - Donald Ziraldo Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#) (XD) - $19.15
Medium intensity nose showing elegant oak, bramble, mulberry and pomegranate aromas with good fruit/oak balanced on the palate. It's full-bodied with astringent tannins that could use at least 2 years in cellar. Finish is long and warming. Score: 88 pts

NCT DEAN'S LIST CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA St. David's Bench (#) (XD) - $28.15
Aromas of medium-high intensity with elegant oak, crushed red berries, black cherry and plummy notes. It's medium-to-full bodied with crushed red & blue fruits, tilled earth, and vanillan spice flavours on the palate. Good acids and a long, warm finish. Score: 89 pts

VIENI CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#) (D) - $22.95
Low-to-medium intensity nose featuring pear and apple aromas, along with a whiff of smoke. Full-bodied with sweet ripe fruits, apple, coconut, butterscotch and pineapple flavours. very good acids. Spiced mid-palate continues on the long finish. Score 88 pts

VIENI CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2010 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#373308) (XD) - $22.95
Medium-high intensity aromas with savoury notes of barnyard, tilled earth and black currant. It's full-bodied with nice aroma replays. Balanced acids to go along with smooth, integrated tannins and long finish. Score: 89+ pts

LEGENDS ESTATES PETIT VERDOT RESERVE 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#002776) (XD) - $22.95
Aromas of medium+ intensity with crushed blackberries, mint/eucalypt and earthy nose. It's full-bodied with lovely aroma replays and good balance throughout. Has very good acids and firm tannins. Finish is elegantly spiced and lengthy. Score: 89 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore (#) (XD) - $21.90
Highly aromatic nose showing grilled pepper, earthy, black cherry, and cassis notes, while the flavour profiles echoes the aromas very nicely. The palate is full-bodied with firm tannins and mouth-watering acids. Will be better in 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Legends Estates Cabernet Sauvignon from Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore


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