Ontario, and MoreFriday, October 19, 2012 by: Vin Greco
A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Taste Ontario event held in Toronto. 46 wineries were represented, from the Lake Erie region southeast of Windsor across to the easterly end of Lake Ontario with the wineries of Prince Edward County near Trenton.
Most of the wines were upscale and demonstrate that Ontario can keep pace with most of the cool climate regions of the world, and can also put forth a few wines that compete with warmer producing areas as well.
The majority of these wines are not going to be found in our stores, but they can always be purchased directly for the winery. A number of them are also available until November 8 on line through Vintages.com.
One of those, the most impressive Chardonnay, was Thomas Bachelder’s Saunders Single Vineyard Chardonnay, $44.95. Bachelder makes wine in Ontario, Oregon, and Burgundy. The nose had herbal overtones, and the wine came through with mouth-coating elegance and rich flavours.
Bachelder’s Niagara Chardonnay 2010 is at the Great Northern Road store for $29.95. With good body and balance, it carries apple and vanilla on the palate with a persistent finish.
I was quite impressed with the Peninsula Ridge Inox Chardonnay “Beal Vineyard Reserve 2010. Available in Vintages, it is on sale for $15.55., a reduction of $3.00. Though unoaked, it is well made with real depth of flavour, having spent 6 months on the lees (the sediment thrown during fermentation and aging) prior to bottling.
Coyote’s Run 5 Mile White 2011, $14.95, is an aromatic blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer. I was a bit put off with the nose initially, but the bottle had just been opened. Soon peach/apricot aromas came through. With plenty of fruit and a kiss of sweetness, the result is a good tasting wine. It’s available at all three of our stores. Compare this with the Palatine Hills 1812 Chardonnay 2010 at the Great Northern Road store. Only $12.20, it delivers a lot of flavour for the price. Unoaked, it has good length, with a taste that suggests peach, apple, and pear.
Niagara’s Fielding Estate winery offers a mouth-filling Pinot Gris 2011 at $18.95. It has a satisfying gylcerine feel and some spice on the finish.
Among the red wines, the most surprising was from a relatively new player, Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW) on the Lake Erie north shore. In 2008, the winery was blessed with an abundance of grapes - so many, in fact, that they had no room in their fermentation tanks for their Cabernet Sauvignon. It wasn’t until November 20 that they were finally able to pick, and the resulting Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, $20, fermented out at a huge $14.9% alcohol. This is reminiscent of wine from Australia or California’s Paso Robles region. It is loaded with rich dark fruit, and is delicious. It is only available from the winery.
CREW’s Merlot from the same vintage, also $20 is on offer through vintages.com. Aged in American oak, it has a bit of charcoal on the nose, but reveals tasty raspberry, blackberry and strawberry nuances and the impression of chocolate.
At the Great Northern store, you can find the Peninsula Ridge Reserve Meritage 2010 for $22.95. A blend of 50%Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, it is flavourful, carrying some oak on the nose, and has medium weight. On the regular list in all stores, the Peninsula Ridge Cab Merlot, $12.95, is a “superstar” this month. It is said to have a medium full body and smooth tannins.
Vintage Ink Mark of Passion Merlot Cabernet 2010, $17.95, has persistent pleasant dark fruit flavour and surprises with its Aussie style – until you talk to the winemaker, Keith Bown. Keith, from Australia, is VP of winemaking for Constellation Brands Canada, parent company of Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs. So the Aussie style is understandable - but to extract forward, dark fruit flavour in this manner is still unusual for Ontario. Ottawa writer Natalie McLean scored it 90.
There were many other excellent wines, but they are not as yet available except through the wineries. If and when they start to come through the system, I will try to let you know.
Meanwhile there are good wines available through this month’s “Limited Time Offers” (until mid-November) and the regular Vintages releases.
In white wines, Pelee Island Monarch Vidal is $1 off at $9.95. “Light and Crisp” in style, this is a dependable wine, much like a Riesling, though likely not quite as acidic. Compare it with Pelee Island’s Lighthouse Riesling, now $10.95, so you can truly see the difference between the two grapes.
In red LTO’s. The C’est La Vie Pinot Syrah from France is now $10.95. This blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah is a very pleasing medium-bodied red. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you shouldn’t either – just enjoy it.
The Dan Ackroyd Merlot from Niagara will have more heft: $12.95 – a savings of $2. Expect dark fruit or plum, some woodsy notes and a pleasant finish.
Up another notch you’ll find Cousino Macul Antiguas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, now $13.95. This serious Chilean red presents ripe dark fruit and resolved tannins – a lot of wine for the money. Pair it with big grilled or roasted meat dishes.
On the October 13 Vintages release, there are a number of good wines in the $15 to $20 range. In white, The Pinot Grigio from California’s McManis Family, $17.95, is a bronze medal winner and “Best Buy”. It has abundant citrus on the palate, and would be a good contrast to some of the Italian examples.
South Africa’s Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay 2011, $14.95 has been consistently well received. The emphasis is tropical with a creamy texture and toasty vanilla notes.
Fairview Trust from South Africa was able to defend its “Goats do Roam” label when the Cotes du Rhone wine area in France took offence, and it has followed it up with another pun, “The Goatfather” a good $14.95 red based predominantly on Italian varietals including Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera. (There is some Cabernet Sauvignon in there, too, to be honest). It has ripe fruit, tobacco and cedar on the bouquet, and is mid-weight with some cranberry notes and the acidity you would expect with Italian wines.
Paxton AAA Shiraz/ Grenache 2010 , $19.95, a Wine of the Month, received a 90 from erobertparker.com. It is full-bodied , with the suggestion of ripe strawberry and cherry. It actually has more Grenache than Shiraz.
The Rhone holds its own with the Cave de Rasteau La Domeliere Rasteau 2009. at $15.95, it is highly rated with great length and velvety smoothness. I like the style of many wines from the South of France, and this is a fine example of the region.
If you’re looking for the perfect red for Halloween, there are a few bottles left of the Coffin Ridge Back From the Dead Red 2010 at $17. It’s made from Marechal Foch, a French hybrid that can produce very good wines in Ontario. It’s lively and rustic, and would be great with Italian sausages or pizza.
The Beer section is parading a lot of Halloween selections, too. Linus would love the Great Pumpkin Ale – 4 bottles for $9.95. 500 ml. Pumking is $8.95, and Quebec’s Dieu en Ciel has 4 bottles of “Corne du Diable” (the Devil’s Horn) for $11.70. For November 1, there’s St. Peter’s The Saints from England at $4.95