Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Report from ... Fiesta Buckhorn - July 18, 2009

The morning threat of rain actually turned into a nice day, 20° partly cloudy with enough sun and breeze to make it comfortable. "This place is usually blisteringly hot this time of year," one patron said to me, "but because and this lousy summer …” his sentence trailed off as he took a sip of wine, “… delicious” he concluded. I suspect he wasn't talking about the summer. On the other hand, it was a delicious day full of wine, food, beer and a variety of other distractions at this year's 14th annual Fiesta Buckhorn. "I found the crowd to be lighter than last year," said one winemaker; while another winery owner said he thought they had the same traffic as in previous years. Just to break the tie I checked in with another winery principal who said, "I wasn't here last year and truth is I can't remember; seems about the same - but people come in waves ... here comes one now." She said walking to the center of her booth to greet a gaggle of glass toting folks (a gaggle is more than five but less than twelve).

I started my day off right, with a pulled pork sandwich at noon, from Archibald Estate Winery and a glass of their hard cider (apple). I asked Fred Archibald if he makes it himself and he told me it was with the help of a place called Buster Rhino’s in Whitby - a southern barbecue restaurant whose menu looks very tasty, especially for all those pork lovers.

There was a couple of new wineries on hand, Ridge Road from Niagara, who will be opening in a couple of weeks, were pouring four wines, or which the best was the 2007 Vineridge Blend ($12.95), a Traminette, Guissenheim, Vidal Riesling blend which was quite the peachy-appley summer sipper with a nice pear finish (***), followed closely by the 2007 Riesling. The other newbie at the show was Nyarai Cellars, a venture started by winemaker Steve Byfield. He was pouring his four wine line-up. I have previously reviewed his Sauvignon Blanc (flagship wine) and Cabernet-Merlot - today I got a taste of his Syrah and 2007 Chardonnay ($16.00). The Syrah was a late in the day sip and by that time my palate had been overwhelmed by everything else, but the Chardonnay was earlier in the day and proved to be a great buy at only sixteen bucks.

Steve's winemaking partner (at Calamus), Arthur Harder, showed he’s still the master of Riesling with the 2008 Ridgepoint Dry Riesling ($15.25), a simply gorgeous wine on a hot day.

Heavy red of the day goes to Marynissen’s 2007 Solstice ($22.00), a wine with plenty of bite and tannic punch that, on its own, overwhelmed but would pair nicely with many of the grilled meats and savory dishes being served in Buckhorn today.

Vineland is up to their old tricks again, producing a delightful Cabernet Franc at an “I can't believe the price" of $12.95 … this was my first taste of the 2008 Cabernet Franc and once again Brian Schmidt is doing wonders with this wine at this price point. Also be on the look out for the new label and bottle design.

Shame on Buckhorn

Speaking of old tricks, and this one I'm not kidding about, it would seem that Vincor was up to some of their old ones. I was about to compliment them for having an all VQA table featuring Inniskillin wines and their new “Open” line for tasting; but right beside it was Naked Grape wine and spritzers. They also had their incredibly misleading “go local” sign that shows a bottle of Cellared in Canada, white label Jackson-Triggs wine. So why is this a black eye for Buckhorn? Because at an all Canadian wine event, meaning that every winery is pouring either a VQA or 100% product of Ontario wines, to allow one company to bring in foreign product (namely Cellared in Canada – that has only a minimum of 30% Ontario wine and the rest foreign juice) is downright shameful, and so is that sign. This is an all Ontario event and there is no room for that kind of deception. It was also pointed out to me that Corona beer should not have been there either (the beer is made in Mexico), amongst all the 100% Ontario based breweries ... Buckhorn, get your act together!

Ending on a high note

I don't like leaving on a downer so here are two things to be proud of: the Ontario Viticulture Association (OVA) was in attendance with a slew of their members wines -they also had a table devoted to the facts about the Ontario wine industry in the hopes of educating the assembled and interested public. "I think we're starting to get through to people," an OVA representative said to me, "it will take some time but there’s a groundswell building." He too was offended by the Naked Grape in attendance. The OVA was also pushing for of petition to celebrate the bi-centennial of the Ontario wine industry – their sign read: “Did You Know? In 1811 Ontario’s first commercial winery was established in Cocksville. This year, OVA will be petitioning the Ontario Legislature to declare 2011 as the bi-centennial of the Ontario wine industry.” 200 years of Ontario winemaking … while not always the most impressive wines that kind of history is impressive. It would be nice to do something positive for this ailing industry … to focus on the positive. This recognition is a step in the right direction; but it seems that as the wine improves government support dwindles - figure that out.

Finally … Wine of the Day

The honor goes to Thirteenth Street Winery for their 2007 Gamay Noir … which I gave the full 5 stars to in my most recent newsletter (Newsletter #113 - online July 23, 2009).

1 comment:

Nemesis said...

I read the newsletter that followed up this article first--and I think that as industry promoters, the responsibility of eliminating the confusion that comes with the entire "Cellared in Canada" category would have been Buckhorn's.

The whole point of Ontario wine events is to get people enthusiastic about what we've got. It shouldn't be a chance to shovel out the oh-so-cute or popular labels for extra coin.

I liked this article, massive kudos, and if I were at the event as an Ontario wine lover I know I'd have expected more from an "All-Ontario" event.