Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Report from … Strewn 5 Wines from 4 Vintages White Wine Release – June 13, 2010

Winemaker Joe Wills personally invited me to this event, so how could I refuse – plus it was a chance to taste 5 new whites (actually 4, because 1 was a dessert red) and 5 foods from 5 of the premier restaurants of the area.  In attendance were Terroir la Cachette, The Epicurean, Ginger Restaurant, Deluca’s Wine Country Restaurant and Willow Cakes and Pasteries.  As is always the case there are some things you like better than others – and today there was no exception.

The Best of Food …
Normally it would have been a no-brainer for me to blindly go with the Braised Berkshire Pork Shoulder Sliders (pulled pork is a weakness of mine) from Deluca’s, but instead it was Ginger’s Summer Roll of Locally Smoked Trout with Saki Soy Dressing that stole the show.

And the Best Wine …
We have a tie here, you can click on the links below for the full reviews of the wines – one sticks to the format of the day, a white wine, but it’s also hard to beat those sweeties:
2009 Sauvignon Blanc Terroir - $16.95
2007 Winter Red - $24.95

Report from … The Portugal A9 Lunch and Tasting – June 10, 2010

A9 is a group that represents 27 associated wineries, more than 15,200 wine producers or about 20% of Portuguese production.  They produce an average of about 110 million liters per year (but if you read the brochure is says “110 million litters” – so I am not sure if they make wine or do animal husbandry, I’ll assume the wine for now).  Lunch was served at C5 restaurant, which is located at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) in Toronto.  The acoustics were lousy so what I gleaned the group I got from my press pack (see above).  7 wines were served with a 4 course lunch, which included reception hors d’oeuvres and dessert.  Just for fun I took some pictures of lunch:

B.C. Wild Halibut Cheek & Scallion Pancake

Cumbrae Farms 60 Day aged ribeye, potato hash, green beans and piri piri (no picture – liked it so much I forgot to take one.)

Chocolate & Rhubarb Cheesecake

After Lunch Tasting …

After the dry, somewhat rustic, wines at lunch my sweet tooth kicked in and I decided to taste the Ports and Muscats on offer, like the line up from Adega Cooperativa de Favaios who has six delicious Moscatels, from a light, chillable aperitif version to an 1980 aged version – each one showed a different amount of complexity and thrill on the tongue.  The Favaios 10 Year Old was smooth and elegant; the 1989 was creamy smooth in the mouth with hints of spice on the finis; and the 1980 was full of honeyed spiced apricots, while on the palate dry fights with sweet for dominance – what a taste sensation.

Tried Cave Santa Maria’s Late Bottled Vintage 2000 Port which was very cherry, chocolaty and delicious.

The Caves Vale do Rado Tellu’s Moscatel was loaded with flavours reminiscent of caramel coated orange peel.

Pegoes’ Nucho de Pegoes (sweet Muscat) had lots of orange peel and ginger coated in wild flower honey.

All the above dessert style wines were scrump-diddly-icious (as mary Poppins would say).

My favourite dry red was Udaca Irreverent Red with its nice red and black fruit mix.  Made from 4 indigenous Portuguese varieties, this wine was smooth and fruity with very good mouthfeel.

Report from … South Africa, Let’s Celebrate – June 8, 2010

South Africa has a lot of celebrating to do.  They are currently hosting the “world’s game” in the form of the FIFA World Cup plus they celebrated their 350th birthday (1659-2009) of winemaking history … not being a soccer fan that’s the one that most interests me.  They were also here in Toronto promoting wines that will soon be, or are now, in the LCBO system.  18 wines were tasted, plus a couple others that were snuck in by the producer (they were only suppose to bring one).  As usual I boil it down to a handful of must have / get wines.  This time I give you the top 7, six of which are great value wines, the seventh is very tasty:

Cloof 2007 Inkspot Vin Noir ($14.00) – a red blend of Pinotage / Shiraz / Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% of the wine aged in small French oak barrels; there’s nice fruit here with coffee and mocha notes backing it up. (****)

Graham Beck 2009 GB Chardonnay/Viognier ($11.95) – an 80/20 blend of Chard to Vio creates this tropical fruit monster, with good balancing acidity, refreshing and tasty, crisp and delicious.  Buy it by the case and open a bottle for any and all occasions this summer.  Great before dinner all on its own. (****½)

Juno 2007 Arthouse Shiraz / Mourvedre ($14.95) – 14 months of age goes into making this 85/15 Shiraz to Mourvedre.  Lots of sweet dark fruit, easy on the palate.

Slent Farms 2008 Ayama Cabernet Sauvignon
($13.95) – this unoaked Cab could fool even the most astute wine drinker into believing a barrel or two was used.  3 months on lees has added great complexity and intensity to this wine, then it is further aged in stainless steel for 1 year.  Rich red fruit with chocolate and mocha – tannins are fairly gritty and intense.  Outstanding value. (****½)

Tokara 2007 White ($24.95) – not the best value of the bunch but quite a tasty wine.  This Sauvignon Blanc (85%) and Semillon (15%) aged in oak is creamy smooth with tropical, vanilla and citrus notes.

The Winery of Good Hope 2009 Pinot Noir ($14.95) – another excellent value and a tasty specimen to boot.  Nice raspberry and vanilla notes on the nose; this Pinot is more Californian (fruity) than Burgundian (earthy) with a South Africa twist to it. (****½)

Vinimark Boekenhoutskloof 2009 Porcupine Ridge Syrah ($14.95) – a nice peppery chocolate number with black fruit nuances. (****)

Keep your eyes open for …
Lammershoek has a new blend on the horizon, a Chenin / Viognier summer sipper with fresh fruit flavours that has the potential to blow you away both on the nose and palate.  Now, I did say ‘summer sipper’, but you’ll have to wait till summer 2011 … I know I’ll be looking for it.


Report from … Stratus Preview Lunch with JL Groux – June 8, 2010

Today’s preview tasting was held in a bombed out building in the west end of Toronto.  Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I did feel that I should be wearing a hardhat in this unfinished building / art studio.  We were assembled to taste the new wines from Stratus and listen to veteran Ontario winemaker JL Groux talk mainly about the 2007 vintage, from which most of these wines were from (three icewines were from the ’08 vintage).  2007 marks the most extensive single varietal vintage in Stratus’ short history.  Their focus has been on blends (red and white), their second label (WildAss) and the occasional (read: in a really good vintage) single varietal offering,  Well 2007 signal one of those “really good vintages”.  As well as the Stratus Red and White this winery is known for producing in 2007, they also cranked out a Gamay, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc – quite the array from the assemblage masters.

Today’s tasting comprised of 13 wines, I have previously reviewed the 2007 Gamay and the 2007 Cabernet Franc (you can click on the wine for the full review).  So today it was about the other 11 I had yet to try; I picked my top 3 and full reviews of each are linked to my website, www.ontariowinereview.com:

Stratus 2007 Merlot ($42.00) - ****½
Stratus 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($TBD) - ****½
Stratus 2007 Stratus Red ($44.00) - ****½

Special mention should also go to the Stratus 2007 Chardonnay ($38.00) - ****

Choice Quotes from JL Goux …
I always find that JL is good for a few quotes – here are my favourites from this afternoon:

About Malbec in Ontario – “Four years ago I would have told you to forget about it, can’t be done … [but now I see] we can grow with this grape in the assemblage.”

“Syrah is the variety of the future.”
*Stratus’ oldest vines of this variety date back to 2001.

“We are currently growing 18 varieties.”

“I’m from the old school where there are only three grapes in the world: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.”

“4% of the assemblage can make a big difference.” Referring to the Petit Verdot added to the 2008 Stratus Red.

When discussing the 2010 vintage (so far) – “overall picture is good news, we are currently two weeks ahead.”

Talking about last year’s vintage:
“2009 was the worst year since 1992.”
“Crop levels were half of 2007” – about the 2009 vintage.

When asked about the case production of a certain wine, JL replied:  “I used to be stuck on numbers (ph levels, barrels, bottles …) but realized that people don’t care about this.”

The Aforementioned Lunch …
As for the lunch it was catered by some upstart named Jamie Kennedy, maybe you’ve heard of him.  The food was quite good.

Report from … Merry Edwards Tasting and Lunch – June 2, 2010

Merry Edwards came to town, do-dah do-dah.  We drank wine and it was fine, oh-do-day-day.  Could have drank all night, the wine tasted good today.  Merry Edwards came to town, oh-do-dah-day.

Don’t usually sing a winemaker in or out of town but Merry Edwards seems a different sort and might even enjoy the serenade.

Merry has been a winemaker for over 37 years (and yes that is how to spell her name and the name of her eponymous winery – I checked the business card, twice, and the website).  She started her own winery in 1998 after years of toiling for others – though to this day she still does consulting work for other wineries.  Merry is one of those “focused” winemakers who specializes in a single grape … in this case it’s Pinot Noir.  And the care she puts into the wine starts in the vineyard, “terroir includes the vintner,” the tutorial video told all assembled, and Merry repeated it personally a few times, “so that when the grapes get to the winery 75% of my work is done.”

In 2001, something funny happened on the way to making Pinot Noir; Merry and her husband Ken decided they needed a starter wine for winemaker’s dinner, so they did a one off of 120 cases of Sauvignon Blanc.  People went crazy for it and so did restaurateurs who tried it.  This was not something Merry or Ken expected, nor did they really want to get into the Sauvignon Blanc business, so they told people, when they were asked the price, the most outrageous price they could think of for a Sauvignon Blanc.  As fate would have it people started to snap this wine up by the case, so their initial 120 cases didn’t last too long.  Today they produce some 8,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, and it truly is delicious, and pricey.  The rest of their wines are Pinot Noirs, except for one dessert wine which failed to make the journey to T.O. – hopefully next time.

The Wines …
We tried 8 wines, six current releases and two back vintages – here are my top three wines of the afternoon:

2007 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($67.99)
Smells: lovely red berry fruit with blackberries and cranberries.
Flavours: earthy, mineral with lovely sour and red cherry – the acidity is very cleansing, allowing the wine to be pretty and delicate on the palate. (****½)

2007 Russian River Valley – Coopersmith Vineyard Pinot Noir ($94.99)
This vineyard is now planted exclusively to a specific clone of Pinot Noir known as UCD37, which produces smaller berries with almost no seeds, therefore there is almost no chance for bitter tannins because of the seeds.  This vineyard was purchased in 1999 and is named after Merry’s husband Ken Coopersmith; as is the case there is a friendly rivalry between the wines designated as the Merry Edwards Vineyard and the Coopersmith Vineyard.  When I told Merry I liked the Coopersmith better she said with a smile, “I guess I’ll have to be a little less careful next time.”  Ken laughed too.
Smells: you can pick out some pencil shavings but this one is still a little closed – let it breathe and you’ll find cocoa notes, dried blueberries and dried cherries.
Flavours: robust tannins currently carry the wine through the mouth, good acidity with lots of dark fruit, a touch of spice and good mouth feel.  The complexity of flavours will have you tasting it again and again and again. (****½)

2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($55.99)
42% of the wine is made from vines aged 30 years or older, another part of the wine is made with the Sauvignon Musque grape – think Chardonnay Musque with more Sauvignon Blanc qualities.  It is barrel fermented, 18% of which is new French oak; then it is aged 6 months in barrel with twice a week lees stirring.
Smells: pretty and mainly tropical in nature.
Flavours: floral, kiwi, mango, sweet fruit with nice balancing acidity, a nice hint of minerality and some vanilla notes; the finish is long, lovely and lingering. (****½)

Report from … The Bolla Relaunch Dinner – June 1, 2010

Bolla is not a new winery, not by a long shot.  It was established in 1883 and was the Italian wine to the stars in the 1950’s.  It was mainly a family operation up until the year 2000 when the winery was bought by the U.S. based company Brown-Forman.  In 2008 Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV) bought part of the winery and in 2009, acquired it all – finally putting 100% of Bolla back into Italian hands for the first time since the late 60’s.

GIV, represented tonight by Stefano Puppini, has 14 wineries under their umbrella, of which Folonari is the most recognizable.  GIV produces some 80 million bottles a year of which Bolla accounts for 15 million, that’s a sizable chunk.

So now, it’s time to bring handcrafted wines back to one of Italy’s most prestigious wineries – at least that is the message that GIV brings to dinner at Donnatello’s in the Yorkville area of Toronto tonight.

Now I could tell you all about the new direction being taken by the new Bolla owners, their philosophy and style differences, from their American counterparts, but it’s about what’s in the bottle that counts here, so let’s look there.

We started with the welcome wine, a Bolla Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore ($17.95) a bubbly with some real good flavour.  Fresh green apple and sweet lemon drop on the nose; the palate is toasty and tasty with lovely apple, lemon and hazelnut nuances. (****)

The Pinot Grigio 2008 ($10.95) was fresh and fruity with good acidity (***½); while the 2008 Pinot Noir is a good $12 bottle of wine, easy drinking and fruity, but tastes more like Cabernet Franc than Pinot Noir. (***½)

Interesting story about how the Pinot Noir got on the shelves of the LCBO (in Ontario).  The board wanted to get rid of the Bolla Soave (white wine) because Soave was not a popular category.  They decided to swap it up for the more trendy Pinot Noir; but if the folks at the board had any brains they’d replace this characterless Pinot for the Ripasso (more on that wine below).

Next up, Bolla 2008 Valpolicella Classico ($12.95) – this is one tasty Valpolicella that has a boosted amount of Rondinella (grape) in the blend for added softness – and it works.  The wine has lovely red fruit a cherry nose and flavour profile with good palate cleansing acidity – perfect for sipping or with food, great value too. (****)

Which brings us to the wine of the evening, the 2007 Le Poiane Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore ($17.95), this wine had a certain creaminess to it with black cherry, vanilla, a little dark chocolate and enough acidity to bring it all together. (****½)

The final wine was the 2006 Amarone which was made under the old guardian of the Bolla name, Brown-Forman, so we’ll have to wait a few years to see what GIV does to improve this wine.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Report from … Cono Sur Lunch and Tasting – June 1, 2010

I find myself at Far Niente Restaurant, in downtown Toronto, starring at 4 glasses of Cono Sur wine on my way through an 8 wine tasting and lunch.

What’s in a Name …
For years I have thought “Cono Sur” was a play on the word connoisseur, and I’ll bet most of you have too.  But Cono Sur is one of the wineries under the Concha Y Toro umbrella and was owned by the Tocornal family – Vina Tocornal – but Concha Y has a Tocornal vineyard, so to avoid confusion they changed the name in 1997 to Cono Sur, meaning South Cone, which is exactly what South America looks like on the world map. Huh, now you know.

The Wines …
The lunch and tasting was led by chief winemaker Adolfo Hurtado, whose passions lie with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling – not exactly the typical grapes you think of when Chilean wines are mentioned.  When you think Chile you think of those big, full-bodied reds that blow your mind with their intense flavours and bold aromas; you don’t think Chardonnays, Rieslings or Pinot Noirs … do you?  But Adolfo is insistent that these wines can be made, and made very well.  I have previously reviewed a few Cono Sur wines on my What I’m Drinking Tonight blog – including the current releases of the Riesling and the Viognier.  Over lunch I tried 2 Syrahs, 2 Pinot Noirs, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a red blend, the Riesling, a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc … I found all to be appealing in their own right and their value for quality ratio is almost too good to be true (I guess we’ll have to wait for them to hit shelves to see if those prices stay unbelievable) – here are my top three wine selection of the tasting:

#3 – 2008 Vision Pinot Noir ($16.95) – production for this wine is 15,000 cases and it’s made using the first planting of Pinot Noir in Chile (40+ years old, planted in 1968) – written on the label is the designation that is wine is from old vines and showcases the single vineyard.  The nose has lots of raspberry while the flavours are sweet cherry and raspberry, nice acidity balances that fruit with a little spice on the finish – there’s also a nice mineral component to this wine. (***½)

#2 – I was torn between two whites here, both garnering 4-stars.  The $11.95 Cono Sur 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from the organic vineyard Campo Lindo Estate (meaning: beautiful state) comes from young vines (4 years old).  Nice citrus notes, fresh, crisp and clean with a touch of tropical in the mouth.  But if I have to be perfectly honest with myself (and to you) the 2008 ‘20 Barrels’ Chardonnay ($24.95) beat it out by a hair.  Sourced from a vineyard 7-8 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, this wine shows some real finesse.  First produced in 2002 with a production of only 20 barrels (500 cases) this wine has grown to 2000 cases but still retains the ’20 Barrels’ name.  Aged 11 months in new French barrels (and fermented in the same) the wine lacks that heavy, new wood seasoning you’d expect – and that’s a good thing.  The reason is the pre-filling process Adolfo goes through with all his new barrels: 14 days filled with a water and salt mixture to soften.  Slight vanilla on the nose with some tropical fruit.  Good mineral notes on the palate with a salty character, one would think it comes from salted barrels, but Adolfo claims it is from the salted-fog that comes in off the Pacific and coats the grapes.  Good fruit character with a nice lengthy finish.

#1 – My top tasted wines were others from the 20 Barrels series: the 2008 Syrah and the 2008 Pinot Noir (there are six single varietal wines in the series).  The 2008 ’20 Barrels’ Syrah ($27.95) is the newest addition to the line-up, made from 5-year-old vines, this wine was never really ever made in 20 barrels, its initial production is 1500 cases.  Lots of dark fruit with real elegance, pretty while still spicy and bold. (****½)  Although it achieved the same 4-and-a-half star rating as the Syrah, the Cono Sur 2008 ’20 Barrels’ Pinot Noir ($27.95) is the wine that most sticks out in my mind.  First produced in 1996, in 20 actual barrels, the wine is now produced in more barrels and has a total production of 4000 cases.  The Pinot comes from the first planting of the grape in Casablanca (1989) and spends 12 months in new French barrels.  Other interesting notes about this wine: the grapes are foot trodden and natural yeasts are used for fermentation, which is why you get such wonderful and interesting smells and flavours.  Smells of floral/violets lead the charge with sweet cherry, raspberry and a little hint of vanilla.  The taste is very focused on the tongue with earthy, spicy notes; along with spiced raspberries and cherries.  To finish it off there’s a lovely long finish that has white pepper nuances. Delicious and memorable. (****½+)

Report from ... French Wine Connection – May 4, 2010

Yup, we all know the French make good wine (still).  Through the bad publicity, the strange reports of country gone crazy when it comes to new wine laws being passed and news of their wines continuing to be beaten in competitions by New World wines – France can still make a more than decent drop of wine.  Today, in Toronto’s Roy Thompson Hall, the French Wine Connection came to town to showcase their regions and 41 producers.  Here are the best wines of the day …

4½ Star Wines:
Domaine Bott Freres 2008 Gewurztraminer Reserve Personnelle (Alsace) – a pretty floral nose leads to a fruity palate, this one doesn’t hit you over the head with its rose petals; it’s delicate and subtle with a hint of spice on the finish.

Chateau Fongraves Vignobles Tabbacchiera 2007 Chateau Julien Du Pey (Aquitaine) – leathery nose leads the charge here followed on the palate with leather, vanilla, cedar, spice and nice fruit.

Chateau Montdoyen (2) …
2005 Chateau Montdoyen (Aquitaine) – raspberry and spiced cherry on the nose, leather, licorice, chocolate and nicely spiced red fruit on the finish.
2005 Monbazillac (Aquitaine) – a nice white sweetie here with sweet pears and apricots on the nose, a subtly honeyed palate with lovely pear and floral nuances.  Great wine to end a meal on a high note.

Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre 2008 Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent (Bourgogne) – this Chardonnay delivers a full on fruit assault to the senses: fresh apple, vanilla and lemon-mineral notes with a lovely fruit driven finish and lemony linger.

Domaine de Bellevue 2009 Sauvignon AOC Touraine (Centre) – hints of New Zealand-style tropical fruit with good acidity, finish is fresh and fruity – this is a lovely sip.

4 Star Wines:
Baronne Guichard 2006 Chateau Vray Croix de Gay (Aquitaine) – good black fruit and cedar along with a sprinkle of cinnamon make this one quite enjoyable.

Chateau Donjon de Bruignac Premium, AOC Bordeaux Superiore (Aquitaine) – very smooth with white pepper and spice cherry.

Chateau Vieux Mougnac 2005 (Aquitaine) – good fruit here, mainly black, with black licorice and nice spice.

SARL Vignoble Dubard (2) …
2009 Chateau Laulerie, AOC Bergerac Sec (Aquitaine) – nose of pure fruit while the palate delivers pineapple and peach with a citrus splash.
2008 Clos de L’Eglise, AOC Lalande de Pomerol (Aquitaine) – licorice and black cherry take charge of the round and supple mouthfeel, nice white pepper notes on the finish.

Scodex Wines 2005 Moulin Galhaud, AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru (Aquitaine) – sweet succulent black fruit (mainly cherry) with a touch of sweet licorice on the finish.

Domaine familial Louis Duponot Cidre Dupont Bouche de Normandie (Basse-Normandie) – talk about storming the beaches, this is a very good apple cider to rally the troops around.  Good acidity balances the apple sweetness making this a pleasure to drink by the boat load.

Kovo-France Champagne Haton Brut Classique et Brut Reserve (Champagne-Ardenne) – an equal blend of all three traditional Champagne grapes, this bubbly has a nice toasted apple and yeasty note with a vanilla biscotti finish.

Earl Domaine la Prada Mari 2006-2007 Conte des Garrigues (Languedoc-Roussillon) – black fruit, plum, chocolate, vanilla bean, more black fruit, there’s even a hint of spice by way of nutmeg – tasty.

T.O. Terroirs d’Occitanie (2) …
2008 Terrasses du Rieutor, AOC Faugeres (Languedoc-Roussillon) – lots of tannins and firmness in this wine, there was also red licorice, black fruit and cocoa notes.
2007 Mas Olivier Grande Reserve, AOC Faugeres (Languedoc-Roussillon) – pretty nose, good red fruit flavour with a touch of pepper.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Report from ... Ontario Wine Awards Lunch and Winners – June 17, 2010

The 15th Annual Ontario Wine Awards was held Thursday afternoon at the Pantages Hotel in downtown Toronto. This year 499 wines were in search of the coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze medals that were to be handed out. Five other categories were also doled out: Winemaker of the Year, Red and White Wine of the Year, the Wine Journalism Award and the Label Design Award. Thirsty Traveler Kevin Brauch hosted for the second year in a row and chances are he used many of the same jokes he did last year – like wanting to rename the Ontario Wine Awards “the Tonys” after founder Tony Aspler – good thing is that Kevin recognized that he might be re-treading over the same territory, “I’m hoping to make it so it’s not three times” he joked.

Big winners this afternoon were Jackson-Triggs with 4 medals (3-Gold, 0-Silver, 1 Bronze); Thirty Bench (2-1-1); Henry of Pelham (0-3-1); and Rosewood (0-2-2). Chateau des Charmes picked up 2 Golds on their way to 3 medal and Hillebrand picked up the Gold for best Sparkling (always a coveted prize). Hauling the most hardware home was Inniskillin who took home 8 medals without winning a single gold (0-5-3). Wine of the Year honours found their way to Vineland (for the second year in a row) for their 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc (Red) while the Year’s Best White wine headed East down the 401 to Prince Edward County where Huff Estates 2007 South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay took top honour.

Winemaker of the Year turned out to be a little bittersweet this year as Hillebrand’s Darryl Brooker was in town to accept the award before heading back to British Columbia and his new job at CedarCreek. Finally, the Wine Journalism Award went to Linda Bramble for her book about Niagara Wine Visionaries.

And the Gold Medal winning wines are …
Wines highlighted in blue are linked back to www.ontariowinereview.com for a full review … the rest of the winners, in the silver and bronze categories, can be found at www.ontariowineawards.ca.

Sparkling Wine –
Hillebrand Winery NV Trius Brut

Dry Riesling –
Thirty Bench 2008 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard

Semi-Dry Riesling –

Dry White Varietal –
Reif Estate 2008 Chenin Blanc

Gewurztraminer –
Thirty Bench 2009 Small Lot Gewurztraminer

Pinot Gris –
Peller Estates 2008 Private Reserve Pinot Gris

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon –
Lakeview Cellars 2009 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Oaked Chardonnay (under $20) -
Jackson-Triggs 2008 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Chardonnay

Oaked Chardonnay (over $20) -
*winner of the White Wine of the Year Award.

Unoaked Chardonnay –
Tawse 2009 Chardonnay Musque

Rosé / Blanc de Noir -
Magnotta Winery 2008 White Merlot Special Reserve

Gamay –

Pinot Noir –

Red Hybrid –
Malivoire Wine Company 2008 Old Vines Foch
*Malivoire won for the 2007 version of this wine last year.

Cabernet Franc –
Vineland Estates 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve
*winner of the Red Wine of the Year Award.
**second year in a row they have won this award.

Cabernet Sauvignon –
Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Merlot –
Jackson-Triggs 2007 Delaine Vineyard Merlot

Syrah/Shiraz –
Creekside Estate 2007 Broken Press Shiraz

Meritage and Cabernet/Merlot Blends –
Wayne Gretzky Estates 2007 Estate Series Cabernet / Merlot

Late Harvest –
Chateau des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Late Harvest Riesling, Paul Bosc Vineyard
*second year in a row they have won for this wine.

Vidal Icewine –
Jackson-Triggs 2007 Proprietors’ Reserve Vidal Icewine

Vinifera Icewine –
Chateau des Charmes 2007 Riesling Icewine, Paul Bosc Vineyard

Blended Red Award –
*second year in a row they have won for this wine

Blended White Award –
Pelee Island Winery 2009 Monarch Vidal

Best Label Design Award –
Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2008 Baco Noir

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pictures from the Wine And Herb Festival NOTL - May 22-23, 2010

Welcome to the photgraphic evidence of the 2010 edition of the Wine and Herb Festival put on by the 22 wineries of Niagara on the Lake - if you want to read the full review of the wine and food pairs please visit the June 10th Newsletter.

I have to admit looking at this picture, these Rosemary BBQ Burgers at Palatine Hills don't look all that appetizing but man they were good.

Every winery had an herb 'plant' on display to show off their particular herb, you could pick off a leaf and taste the actual herb to get a better sense of what that herb tasted like - and you could give a shot to those you didn't recognize (like cinnamon-basil).  I took this picture while we were spending thyme at Konzelmann.

At Strewn they called it a "Tomato and Cheese Pinwheel" but it looked like a mini pizza to me, and tasted like it too.

Jackson Triggs probably had the hottest temperature food with this Chevre and Arugula Tart, if you were too enthusiastic about eating it your tongue paid the price - thank goodness for the cooling effects of Gewurztraminer.

Niagara College had a great French Sorrel Vicyssoise, which could have been served hot or cold, but it didn't photograph well (what soup does?), so instead you get a look at their pretty stemware.

Keep in mind that I don't like tomatoes and you'll realize what a coup this was for Chateau des Charmes (Goat Cheese Tart with Oregano Marinated Grape Tomato), because I really liked this one - maybe I'll start with little pieces of tomato and work my way up.

You couldn't go wrong with this pairing at Maleta:  Lavender Infused Honey, Organic Cheddar Cheese on Wood Fired Pullman Bread - the bread was fresh and came from Ravine's (a winery on York Road) own bakery ... what a treat.

Here's your winner ladies and gentlemen.  It doesn't look like much (Asian Wontons topped with Lemon Basil Pesto paired with 2007 Chardonnay Musque) but this paired well with the wine and the herb just popped in the mouth.  I'm sure when you pull Lemon Basil out of a hat you wonder what the heck to do with it, well Cattail seems to have pulled off what many would have thought impossible.

To see the full story of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine and Herb Festival check out Newsletter #135.