So my birthday is tomorrow, and it is also the next Vintages release! The focus of this release is all about Ontario wines. I am a huge fan of Ontario wines, however I will heading out to the Niagara Wine Festival at the end of the month (September 28 - 30) so I'm a little reluctant to purchase many Ontario wines - I know I will have all the wines available to me, and I'm going to blow my budget! However, I will show restraint while still fantasizing about what I will buy (and if someone reads this and wants to buy one for my birthday, I won't stop them!)
The release is filled with the grapes that are done very well here; Riesling and Chardonnay for the whites, and Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc for the reds. These are all wines that can excel in our climate, and the skillfull hands of our winemakers.
Riesling is a very versatile grape, making wines in the range from bone-dry aperatif wines to rich and sweet icewines. However, it needs a cooler climate like Niagara to keep a balanced acidity that makes it lip-smacking good and keeps it from being cloyingly sweet. The 2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling at $18.95 is the signature balance of peach, citrus, minerality, and petrol that makes Niagara Riesling so great and has some cellar-ability as well.
An even more versatile and adaptable grape would be Chardonnay, which can flourish in almost any climate. In warm climates, the result is a more powerful wine filled with tropical fruit and usually a heavy-handed dose of oaking. In Niagara, we produce a more elegant Chardonnay that can be both refreshing and complex at the same time. To me, Lailey Chardonnay 2010 sounds delicious: apple, peach, and lemon with a light oak adding aromas of sweet spices. $19.95.
I am a fan of Cabernet Franc. It is original fame is as the third in line in red Bordeaux, or a more prominent red grape in the white-wine dominated Loire region. In Niagara it is gaining popularity, but it has a bad rap. It does need a longer time to ripen than Pinot Noir or Merlot, but less time than Cabernet Sauvignon. If under-ripe, Cab Franc has some harsh tannins with aromas and flavours of including tart cranberry, bell pepper, and pencil shavings. But in a good year, it can rival the other Cabernet for richness and depth of flavour. I'm excited to try 2 wines: Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010 at $16.95, which is a rich and intense style that is featured as the "Local Find"; and the Burning Kiln Harvest Party Cobernet France 2011 at $17.95, which is actually made in an "appassimento" style using grapes partially-dried in old tobacco kilns. Should be very rich and smokey!
Finally, the king of grapes, Pinot Noir can be very finicky. With the right soil, weather, and winemaking, it can be show-stopping. However, it can easily be a flat and lifeless wine. Prince Edward County has been making some very impressive Burgundian-style Pinots, but they don't usually come cheap. So, my last Ontario pick is a splurge (for me, anyways): Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2010 at $35. I had to pick this one, because I have had to pleasure to visit the winery earlier in the spring and reading the reviews brings it all back to me; it was juicy, fruity, earthy, and smokey. Deliciously delicate and complex.
2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling 2011 - Niagara - $18.95 - 294041
Lailey Chardonnay 2010 - Niagara - $19.95 - 193482
Burning Kiln Harvest Party Cabernet Franc 2011 - Niagara - $17.95 - 301515
Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010 - Niagara - $16.95 - 064618
Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2010 - Prince Edward County - $35.00 - 125310
Full Vintages September 15th release
I promise to give my favourites when I return from Niagara at the end of the month!
Birthday wine to come...