Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A week of Ontario wine…day 4

Originally posted at http://ontariowinediva.blogspot.com

Day four of tastings found the combination of Thirteenth Street Winery and Huff Estates together at the Fine Wine Reserve. With all of the previous tastings, we had done one winery and then moved on to the second winery but the staff from these two wineries decided to take a tag team approach so that we could try all of the wines in the order they would be served if you were doing a wine dinner for example. In the previous blog entries I had been listing the wines according to price but, in keeping with the manner I tasted these wines, I am going to list the outstanding wines in the order they should be consumed. Enjoy…

13th Street Winery 2006 Cuvee 13 Rose
$25.00 per bottle
This is a 55/45 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively which is a traditional blend for pink bubbly in France and around the world. The colour on this is this slightly orangey peachy colour and what looks like a million bubbles rising in the glass. There is a faint whiff of citrus in a mostly toasty nose accompanying a very pleasant palate. Bubbly is one of those types of wines that is very hard to distinguish flavours and aromas in but this one has perfect balance, not a lot of acidity, and some decent toasty, almond flavours.

Huff Estates 2007 South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay
$29.95 per bottle
This has a very powerful nose with major pear and apple aromas. There is just a kiss of oak in the palate, the apple and pear translated into the palate but there is also a tropical fruit component to the flavours which is a pleasant surprise. That slight kiss of oak in the front palate translates into a hint of caramel in the finish. Yummy.

Huff Estates 2008 South Bay Vineyard Rose
$16.95 per bottle
A blending of three different red grapes – 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. The aromatics on this wine are stellar – berry fruit and this interesting little kick of citrus which is not typical for an all red grape rose. The palate is great – it is crisp, has perfect acidity and an almost effervescent feel to this bone dry wine with a lingering finish. I have had several vintages of Huff Estate’s Rose in the past and this does not disappoint.

13th Street Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
$28.00 per bottle
There is a small amount of Merlot blended into this wine to give it some extra diversity but it is very hard to detect as the major aromas and flavours are typical Cabernet Sauvignon. The major aromas are tar and cigars – it reminds me of my boyfriend’s cigars on the patio in the summer heat – with some vegetal and berry components to round it out. There is a small hint of kalamata olives in the aromas which translate seamlessly onto the palate which is silky smooth, has a hint of mint and almost barely detectable tannins.

If you want to order any of these wines, feel free to check out their websites for ordering information:

13th Street Winery
Local Phone: (905) 984-8463
Facsimile: (905) 562-8766

Huff Estates
Telephone: (613) 393-5802
Facsimile: (613) 393-2428

A week of Ontario wine…day 3

Originally posted at http://ontariowinediva.blogspot.com

The third day of wine tastings featuring Ontario wineries saw a new type of winery and the furthest south winery in Prince Edward County meeting in one room. Nyarai Cellars (pronounced na-rye) is a virtual winery – they do not have a tasting room and all of their sales come from their online store through their website. Long Dog Winery, in Prince Edward County, is the furthest south in the County making some great wines with interesting names.

Nyarai Cellars 2007 Chardonnay
$16.20 per bottle
This was the first wine Nyarai Cellars produced and unlike most Chardonnay’s it has a very quiet yet pleasant aroma. It is mostly tropical fruit but there is an apple component to it underlying the predominant banana aroma. There is a slight creaminess to the flavour mixing in with apple and a toffee caramel finish. A very pleasant alternative to typical Chardonnay’s coming from Ontario wineries.

Nyarai Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc
$18.20 per bottle
Nyarai Cellars is gaining a name for their Sauvignon Blanc and it is easy to see why. Already an award winner, you can see the real potential this wine has to become one of the best Sauvignon Blanc’s being produced by an Ontario winery. There are great aromatics on this wine – tons of tropical fruit but with a hint of citrus. The flavours are not too strong but definitely not weak either. Loads of honey and roasted fruit with a slightly lingering finish. All around, this is a very pleasant, easy drinking wine and it shows the real potential this winery has over the years to come.

Long Dog Winery “Tumbling Stone” Gamay/Pinot Noir
$22 per bottle
This wine is technically a non-vintage due to the fact that it is a combination of the 2007 Gamay Noir and the 2006 Pinot Noir from Long Dog Winery. What intrigued me the most from this wine is the really intense colour – it is almost a tourmaline pink. The aromatics are barely there but when they come through they are interesting – spice, herbal and very faint fruit are the main components. When you take your first sip, you can tell that this is a very, very quiet wine – the flavours are barely there. Where it hits is your mid palate where the main flavours are vegetal and spicy. This is definitely one of those wines that will improve with age – say 2-3 years.

Long Dog Winery “Francesca” 2007 Pinot Gris
$34 per bottle
This is possibly one of the most unique Pinot Gris wines I have tasted from an Ontario winery. They tell me that it had extended skin contact which may account for the lovely aromatics going on in this glass. The aromas are a combination of peach, nectarine, lemon, lime and slight orange. The flavours sneak up on you – it is watery first but then major minerality and lemony crispness jump up and bite you soon after that first sip. There is a hint of spice on the finish which is long and lingering.

Long Dog Winery “Otto” 2007 Pinot Noir
$50 per bottle
This is Long Dog’s signature wine and with what I just tasted it is not much of a surprise that it is. There is an absolutely gorgeous dark purple colour in this glass and wonderful aromatics pouring out. Mostly vegetal and herbal in nature but with some floral all of which continue on to the palate where you also find a spicy backbone from the time the wine spent in oak barrels. The palate is silky smooth, has a good backbone and a lingering finish. I do not normally describe a Pinot Noir as yummy – normally that would be a Shiraz or Zinfandel – but this wine definitely fits into the yummy category.

If you are interested in getting your hands on any of these wines, please contact the wineries using the ordering information below:

Nyarai Cellars
Phone: (905) 562-5214
Fax: (905) 562-3999

Long Dog Winery
Phone: (613) 476-4140

A week of Ontario wine…day 2

Originally posted at http://ontariowinediva.blogspot.com

Okay, now for day two of tastings featuring great Ontario wines. Today – Monday – featured Closson Chase Vineyards from Prince Edward County and The Organized Crime Winery from Beamsville in the Niagara Peninsula. Whenever anyone hears the name Organized Crime Winery, it almost immediately conjures up visions of Mafia and other organized crime entities but that is not even remotely the case with this winery. With The Organized Crime Winery, it is not Mafia but Mennonite who are behind the story of how this winery got its name. Straight from their website, here is the story behind the winery’s name…

Sometime in the early to mid 1900's there were two quarreling Mennonite congregations who disagreed about the acquisition of a pipe organ.
The feud resulted in one congregation breaking into the other church, stealing the organ, and then tossing it down an embankment. Hence the Organized Crime Winery name.

Before we get into the main tasting, I need to make one honourable mention. Winemaker, Andrzej Lipinski, has done something intriguing with Cabernet Franc. Normally he just says the wine has been oaked in Eastern European oak but due to the general conversation at the table that day, Andrzej indicated to me that the oak for the barrels he used came specifically from Poland. I do believe this is the first time I have ever heard of a Canadian winery using Polish oak. I was not even aware that Polish oak existed in winemaking circles but it certainly made for an interesting and intriguing wine. Unfortunately, for me and for those of you reading this, others have discovered how great this wine is and Krystyna, owner of the winery, informs me that the 2007 vintage is currently sold out. Hopefully the 2008 vintage will be available soon and we will be able to get our hands on it now that we are aware of its existence.

Now onto some amazing wines that really impressed me at the tasting…

The Organized Crime Winery 2006 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
$15.00 per bottle
This wine spent six months in new barrels developing some major tropical fruit aromas and a slight smokiness in the flavours. There is not much to say about this wine except that it has great complexity and a long, lingering finish. Absolutely yummy would be the way I describe this wine…

The Organized Crime Winery 2008 Sauvignon Blanc
$16.00 per bottle
Sauvignon Blanc is generally a fairly clear coloured wine but in this particular case, it is so clear it could be mistaken for water. However, that is the furthest one could ever imagine this as being water because one smell of this wine and one taste from this glass makes it very clear that this is Sauvignon Blanc. It has the typical aromas of gooseberry and lemongrass and a rather tart tasting palate. While it is very in your face at the beginning it almost immediately mellows out with some lovely, fruity undertones. This is definitely an EXTREME Sauvignon Blanc and one not to be missed.

The Organized Crime Winery 2008 Viognier
$16.00 per bottle
Like most Viognier, this wine has a very aromatic nose – figs, honey and some lemon make up the majority of the aromas. The palate has a major fruit component – tropical and stone fruit mostly – with a base of tartness to give it complexity. Although most Viognier go with a variety of fish and seafood dishes, if you want to pair this particular example with fish or seafood I recommend you go with a heavier fish or spicier version to make a good pairing.

The Organized Crime Winery 2007 Pinot Noir
$22.00 per bottle
This wine spent thirteen months in the barrel and has developed a great set of aromatics. There is a large fruit component to those aromas – berry, black cherry and a bit of earthiness to round it out. The palate has almost perfect balance between the earthy and vegetal flavours and the smooth tannins making this a bottle of wine that is ready to be drunk in the next year.

The Organized Crime Winery 2007 Download
$25.00 per bottle
Their version of a Bordeaux blend, this wine contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot, which gives the wine some added complexity that most Ontario Bordeaux blends do not contain. The aromas are mostly cherry, plums and other black fruits and the palate is just amazing. There is great complexity in the flavours which is mostly the same as what is in the aromas with an intermingling of spice working its way through the wine. It is silky smooth, has slight tannins and a great backbone making the aging potential on this wine anywhere from one to four years.

The Organized Crime Winery 2008 Riesling Reserve
$28.00 per bottle
Personally, I love really aromatic, flavourful Rieslings and this is definitely one to add to that list. The aromatics encompass honey, figs, citrus and tropical fruit while the palate just fills up your mouth with similar flavours. It is seamless, with just a little bit of residual sweetness and it is a very food friendly wine. It is definitely one of the best wines to finish the day with.

Having completed the wines from The Organized Crime Winery, we now move on to the wines from Closson Chase Vineyards.

Closson Chase Vineyards 2007 County Pinot Noir
$38 per bottle
The aromas on this wine do not really do justice to the wonderful flavours you find when you take that first sip of this wine. Some minerality with fruity undertones and slight hint of barnyard are the main aromas here but the flavours elevate this wine to a new level. The tannins are firm and there is a good fruit base to this wine. This wine definitely still needs some time to develop but it should really be shaping up in the next 2-3 years.

Closson Chase Vineyards 2007 CCV South Clos Chardonnay
$39.75 per bottle
To make this wine, Deborah Paskus selected ten barrels that held wine from the south side of Closson Road. The result was a wine that had wonderful aromatics of fruit, toastiness, cedar and a slight hint of taffy. There is a slight thread of spice in the backbone of this wine, a slight hit of creaminess and a slight minerality which comes from these vines being deep in County soil for the last ten years.

That brings this blog to a close…stay tuned for more entries on the other great Ontario wines I tasted this week. If you are interested in getting your hands on any of these wines, please see below for ordering information:

The Organized Crime Winery
(905) 563-9802

Closson Chase Vineyards
(613) 399-1418

A week of Ontario wine…day 1

Previously posted at http://ontariowinediva.blogspot.com

Have you heard the radio commercials or seen the TV commercials lately promoting the wines of Ontario? This is the Government of Ontario’s attempt to promote the wineries of Ontario as we head into our very busy harvest season. There is just one problem with their attempt…less than one quarter of the wineries in Ontario are receiving promotion time as a part of their attempt.
Now, the goal of my blog and of my business interests is to promote all Ontario wineries so I would be remiss if I did not go to all of the wine tastings that were featuring Ontario wineries. I did manage to go to most of them – I missed one due to a scheduling conflict – but this blog is going to be dedicated to the various outstanding wines I had a chance to try from all of these tastings. The first day of tastings featured Tawse Winery from the Beamsville Bench and Rosehall Run Vineyard of Prince Edward County.

Tawse Winery 2008 Foxcroft Block (Wismer Vineyard) Riesling
$22.00 per bottle
The aromatics on this particular wine are not strong but they are pleasantly there. Strong minerality and stone fruit make up the aromas of this particular wine with a good concentration of flavours on the palate. Mostly stone fruit with a slight hint of lemon on the palate, the finish has some substance to it…not quite long but definitely medium in length.

Rosehall Run Vineyards 2007 Rosehall Vineyard Chardonnay
$29.75 per bottle
Dan used mostly new barrels to make this barrel fermented Chardonnay and you can tell from its powerful nose and creamy texture. Stone fruit, pears and a hint of lemon make up the aromas and flavours with just a slight hint of butterscotch in the creamy palate. This wine is still developing in the bottle so what you taste one week could be enhanced a couple of weeks later. A pleasant, lingering finish makes this one of the most appealing Chardonnay’s I have tasted in recent months. Well done Dan.

Rosehall Run Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Cold Creek
$29.75 per bottle
The aromas one this wine can only be described as WOW! Almost pure berry but with a thread of cedar weaving throughout, this wine is filled with equally powerful flavours. Raspberry, Cherry, Cedar smoke are just a few of the key players in your mouth when you sip this wine. The tannins are smoothed out making this a very enjoyable wine to drink now but, if you have the patience, there is no reason why you cannot age it for a year or so.

Rosehall Run Vineyards 2007 Rosehall Vineyard Pinot Noir
$37.75 per bottle
This wine is just very powerful – it’s the only way it can be described. Prince Edward County has become known for making phenomenal Pinot Noir in recent years and this is definitely one to add to the list of great examples using the Heartbreak Grape. This wine is an absolute medley of flavours and aromas – violets, cherries and cedar are the predominant notes but there is also the presence of kirsch, more floral and mineral.

Tawse Winery 2007 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay
$42.00 per bottle
This wine was made spending six months in tank and then twelve months in oak. The oak was all French oak and twenty percent of the barrels were new. The twenty percent new oak translates into a wine that has a slightly creamy palate but it does not have that strong, over powering, licking the side of a barrel, over oaking that Chardonnays of the past became known for. This is more of a kiss of oak with some smoky complexity along with apple and pear flavours. Although I have never been a huge fan of Chardonnay, this is one of the few Chardonnay’s from Niagara that I have always enjoyed. The current vintage definitely does not disappoint and I highly recommend picking up a bottle or two of it.

Now, in order to not make these blog entries too massive, because there were a number of outstanding wines tried this week and the next, I am dividing the entries up to the days that the wines were tasted. If you are interested in ordering any of these wines, please visit the wineries’ websites for ordering information.

Rosehall Run Vineyards
(613) 399-1183
Visit the tasting room and retail shop at 1243 Greer Road, Wellington

Tawse Winery
Phone: 905 562 9500
Fax: 905 562 9600
Email: info@tawsewinery.ca

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Day in The County

Originally posted at http://ontariowinediva.blogspot.com

Growing up, my parents loved to do the Sunday drive thing – without driving like Sunday drivers I promise – so, at this point in my life, I seem to really like just having a quiet, peaceful nothing day. Sundays, for me, have been about kicking back and relaxing these days. I try to take it easy, have dinner with my boyfriend and, on the odd occasion, a birthday party pops up. It is a way of life that I really enjoy and can wrap my head around. So, when a friend invited my boyfriend and I to go on a road trip to Prince Edward County last Sunday, we knew it would be a change to our weekends and, in the end, we decided to pile into the van and head for Prince Edward County.

Now, it is not like this is my first trip to Prince Edward County – far from it as I am a regular visitor to the newest wine region in Ontario. We had only one “must stop” winery and were going to leave the rest of the day open to whatever happens so we made our must stop the first stop of the day. Lacey Estates Vineyard and Winery has long been a favourite of all of ours. They are the one winery I guarantee I will go and help out in at harvest time every year and the family is like a second family to me. Since opening in May of 2009 they have been consistently selling out of their opening release. Their Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are sold out, the number of available bottles of their Baco Noir are rapidly diminishing and their Gewurztraminer – their most recent release – is down to less than 80 bottles now. Check out the review below to get a real sense of just how great the Lacey Estates Vineyard and Winery 2008 Gewurztraminer really is…

“With their 2008 Gewurztraminer, Lacey Estates has hit another one out of the ballpark. Done in a true Alsatian style, the 2008 Gewurztraminer is a great balance of acidity and fruit. Aromas of stone fruit, slight rose petals with a very clear, refreshing, clean palate of lemon, quince and slight minerality. Spice is always a key component in any Gewurztraminer and you can detect it here but it is not predominant. It blends perfectly with the other flavours and aromas making it a nice base for the flavours, but not the overpowering big brother that some flavours are in wines. Kimball, the winemaker, has already been praised by some wine writers for “finally creating the perfect Alsatian style Gewurztraminer” in Prince Edward County and that is definitely an opinion I agree with whole heartedly.

This is definitely one of those wines that you need to get your hands on immediately. With only 80 bottles left as of the last weekend in August, you can be guaranteed that it will be sold out by the time harvest hits in a few weeks. To order contact Cynthia@laceyestates.com. $22 per bottle includes the bottle deposit and it is worth every penny.”

After a light lunch we decided to make our next stop Karlo Estates down on Danforth Road. Unfortunately, Karlo Estates is not yet open – that is coming this fall – but we had heard some great things about their Chardonnay and wanted to see if we could give it a try. Maybe the next time we’re out in The County. Since we were at the west end of The County, we decided to drop in on some old friends – Rosehall Run Vineyards – and boy, are we ever glad we did. You see, our company (Ontario Wine Guy Enterprises) is in the midst of planning a Cabernet Franc tasting and Rosehall Run makes some amazing Cabernet Franc, amongst other wines. Now, if you want to find out how their Cabernet Franc’s tasted, you will have to be sure to attend our Cabernet Franc tasting which will be later this year. However, Rosehall Run’s wines are so tasty that we enjoyed their Chardonnays, their Rose, most of the Cabernet Francs and all of their Pinot Noirs before making our purchases and leaving. If you want to check out a great review on their 2007 Estate Pinot Noir, go on over to TJ’s blog at http://ontariowineguy.blogspot.com and check out his most recent blog entry. I’ve added a few vineyard pictures from the trip as well. The Pinot Noir is almost completely done going through veraison (the ripening stage for grapes) and are getting ready to be harvested in the next few weeks. Cheers,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Off to the Races Again…Ontario Wine Society’s Bin End Dinner

Originally posted at http://ontariowinediva.blogspot.com

We are a group of people who like our wine but, for the last four years, the Ontario Wine Society has gathered at Woodbine Race Track for an evening of horse racing. Now, make no mistake, there has been great food and even greater Ontario wine but with the way we get once the horses hit the track, there is no mistaking the electricity in the air. Hopefully we had a bunch of winners in our picks for each race but, from the sounds of the evening, some people definitely knew how to pick their horses well. Instead of being in our usual Trackside Tent, this year, we were high above the action in the Northern Dancer Room. Up on the fifth floor, high above the Slots area at Woodbine Race Track, the Northern Dancer room is just as it sounds – a tribute to the famed Canadian Thoroughbred Racehorse who was also named as “one of the most influential sires in Thoroughbred history” by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The food, as usual, was spectacular with a buffet lining one long wall and a dessert table that several people (myself included) went back for seconds to. We enjoyed a Riesling reception followed by white and red wines on the table and, in the end, some delicious Icewines, late harvests and even a Port style wine or two to nosh on.

So, for those of us who attended, which do you prefer – Trackside Tent or Northern Dancer Room? For those who could not attend, would you prefer a different venue? Since pictures are worth a thousand words, perhaps it would be better if we simply showed you what you missed…