Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Report from ... Cuvee Media Preview Tasting - February 9, 2011

Here I sit tasting the wines from the fruit of the labour of Ontario winemakers for the 2011 Cuvee media pre-tasting ... It is here we taste what the competition organizers and judges have deemed the best.  Actually let's get more specific, before us is one wine from each winery that entered the competition and we are told "These wines represent each participating winery's top scoring wine from the Cuvee judging held in January".  In other words these are the top scoring wines from each individual winery's submission ... 62 wines in total.  In and amongst these wines are wines I have previously tasted and/or reviewed, while there are also some new wines and many are very good.  The wines I was most looking forward to were some of the Cabs and blended reserves from the 2007 vintage, sadly at least 5 were loaded with volatile acidity (a nail polish-like smell).  The ones that were clean were beautiful, including a Vineland 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc, a Thirty Bench 2007 Small Lot Cabernet Franc, a Peller Signature Series 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Jackson Triggs 2007 Delaine Syrah and a Henry of Pelham 2007 Reserve Cabernet-Merlot ... these were fantastic, well made wines worthy of their price (especially the Pelham which was an absolute steal at $24.95).  But then there were others, whom I will not mention here by name but instead by price: a $45 Reserve Cabernet Franc, a $45 Cab-Merlot, a $55 Red Blend, a $40 Reserve Franc and a $35 Red Blend, that should all be ashamed of themselves for unleashing sub-par quality at astronomical prices.  I'm talking about sub-par wines at above par prices for what the consumer is getting.  This is not just about hurting the individual winery's reputation but also, as one colleague pointed out to me, Ontario's reputation as a whole.  It's time to stop trying to get all your money back at one shot - this is a long term investment people, and a tough one at that.

Some wineries have told me that Cuvee does nothing for them. Sure they still enter (while some others don't), but they really see no benefit to their business, no up-tick in sales, no busting down the door or ringing off the hook of the phone to get the wine(s) that win.  As I sat at my table sipping the best wines of each winery - I began to see why not.  And while it is true what the French say: "chacun a son gout", some of this stuff really was just that, "goo".  Another winemaker, told me confidentially, "These winemakers are judging my wines, while some of the wines they submit are dreadful and loaded with faults.  How can I take this seriously?"

As for some of my highlight whites: Five Rows 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Pondview 2009 Bella Terra Chardonnay and 20-27 Cellars 2009 Foxcroft Riesling.

1 comment:

Dean Tudor said...

My take --

**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Niagara Teaching College Dean's List Chardonnay 2009, $27.95.
-Nyarai Cellars Veritas Red 2007, $24.95
-Palantine Hills Estate Gewurztraminer 2008, $13.75
-Pelee Island Winery Alvar Semillon Sauvignon 2009, $12.95.
-Peninsula Ridge Fume Blanc 2008, $24.95
-Rosewood Estates Chardonnay Reserve 2007, $25
-Thirty Bench Winemakers Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2007, $40

***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Calamus Estate Vinemount Ridge Riesling 2008, $16.20
-Cave Spring Cellars Riesling CSV 2008, $29.95
-Colaneri Estate Pinot Grigio Cavallone 2009, $25
-Dan Aykroyd Winery Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $39.95
-EastDell Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007, $39.95
-Featherstone Estate Bottled Sauvignon Blanc 2010, $19.95
-Five Rows Craft Wine of Lowrey Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009, $25
-Flat Rock Cellars Twisted 2009, $16.95
-Henry of Pelham Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2007, $24.95
-Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007, $44.95
-Konzelmann Estate Merlot Barrel Aged 4th Generation 2007, $25
-Lakeview Cellars Kerner Reserve 2009, $17.95
-Megalomaniac John Howard Cellars of Distinction Sous Terre Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2007, $44.95
-Mike Weir Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009, $14.95
-Peller Estates Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $38
-Pondview Estate Barrel Fermented and Aged Chardonnay 2009, $17
-Ridge Road Estate Gamay 2009, $15.95
-Riverview Cellars Gewurztraminer 2009, $16.95
-Rockway Glen Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $19.95.
-Stoney Ridge Estate Excellence Pinot Noir 2009, no price provided
-Tawse Winery Cherry Avenue Pinot Noir 2008, $57.95
-Twenty Twenty-Seven Cellars Fox Croft Vineyard Riesling 2009, $24.95

*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Alvento Winery Emilie 2007, $29.95
-Angels Gate Winery Angels III 2007, $35
-Casa Dea Reserve Chardonnay 2009, $24.95
-Cattail Creek Estate Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2009, $35.20
-Colio Estate CEV Sauvignon Blanc 2009, $15.75
-Cornerstone Estate Riesling Reserve Barrel Aged 2009, $20
-Creekside Estate Queenston Road Vineyard Reserve Viognier 2009, $28.95
-D’Angelo Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc 2007, $11.99
-Diamond Estates Birchwood FRESH Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay 2008, $11.95
-Fielding Estate Riesling 2009, $15.95
-Good Earth Vineyard Medium Dry Riesling 2009, $20
-Hernder Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $14.95.
-Jackson Triggs Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2007, $29.95
-Ravine Vineyard Reserve Red 2007, $55
-Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007, $40
-Wayne Gretzky Estate Series Gewurztraminer 2009, $18.95