A monthly look at New & Noteworthy wines, the latest video reviews and more

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Ontario Wines: 

Taste Ontario Edition

New & Noteworthy Wines, the Latest Video Reviews, Podcasts and more

March 2016 - Volume 6
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Must Watch ...
The Most Recent
Ontario Wine Videos
Ontario Wine Review Video #167: Pillitteri 2010 Riserva Famiglia Cabernet Franc

Pillitteri 2010
Reserva Familia

Cabernet Franc

Ontario Wine Review Video #166: Creekside 2011 Broken Press Syrah
2011 Broken Press
Ontario Wine Review Video #165: Strewn 2013 Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer
2012 Unappreciated

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On The Road Articles
Tastings and more:
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Chianti Classico
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Anteprima Vernaccia
Double the Fun of France
Our Fifth Anniversary Wine
Recent Podcasts
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Episode 4:
From Italy
A Few Words Before We Begin
Hello <<First Name>>,
On Leap Day 2016 at the Royal Ontario Museum, 33 wineries and their principals gathered to showcase Ontario wines called “Taste Ontario” – not to be confused with Cuvee, held 4 days later in Niagara. Wineries came from Lake Erie North Shore (2) to Prince Edward County (6) – and of course Niagara (27).  There were some excellent wines for tasting – my top five are below … but before we look at those I have a couple of comments that would make the next year’s event better.

The Glassware … Absolutely the worst glassware since The Icewine Gala 2011, when we were drinking ALL the wines out of Chardonnay glasses – you would think that better glassware could be rented that would showcase that wines much better, these glasses were basically cut off Champagne flutes – even an ISO glass would have been a better choice. I know we wanna class up the tasting, but lousy glassware, no matter how good they look, just detracts from the enjoyment of the wines – and anybody who deals with wine, or even drinks wine, regularly, should know that.

Media Room … As much as I, and many of my colleagues, appreciate a place to taste the wines away from the pushing and shoving of a crowded table; wineries want to see media, wines have a story to tell and so do the winemakers.  Most wineries were pouring 4 wines, maybe holding back one per winery so that media had to go downstairs and interact would have been very beneficial to all ... or, instead of a devoting a costly Media Room on another floor, how about a one or two hour media-only time slot downstairs with the producers?

Now that that is off my chest, here are my top five wines tasted at Taste Ontario – plus a couple of special mentions for those still in tank / barrel.


Michael Pinkus -Grape Guy

The Tasting Bar ...
20-27 Cellars 2013 Chardonnay,
Aberdeen Road Vineyard

($30.00 - On-Line or Restaurant Only)
Kevin Panagapka created two Chardonnays in 2013: a Niagara-on-the-Lake version from Wismer and a Beamsville Bench version from the Aberdeen Road Vineyard, and while Wismer is a lean, mineral driven affair Aberdeen is the creamy more luxurious of the Chardonnays. 18 months in French oak, 30% of which was new, and using indigenous yeast (aka: wild) for fermentation ... read more
Rating: ****+
Cave Spring 2013 Cabernet Franc, Estate
($29.95 - Winery Only)
If I were looking for a textbook Cabernet Franc from a cool vintage this would be it … vineyard management must have played a crucial part in this wine because the balance is amazing especially for this cooler vintage: gentle sweet tobacco notes seem to run from beginning to end along with raspberry and sour cherry caressed by a little vanilla on the finish.  Angelo Pavan and his team have done a great job on this wine and it was easily the best Franc tasted on the day.
Rating: ****+

N.B. Cave Spring 2011 La Penna
was also a standout
Henry of Pelham 2014 Chardonnay,
Speck Family Reserve

($49.95 - Winery Only)
Seeing the word “Reserve” with “chardonnay” makes me cringe … I always see too much oak in my future … but here Henry of Pelham has shown a deft hand with the use of the oak; delicate on the nose and palate, but mid-palate really shows a robustness with butter, apple and Bosc pear skin which runs all the way to the finish. 
Rating: ****

N.B. Henry of Pelham 2012 Speck Family Reserve Cabernet Merlot was also a standout
Ridgepoint 2012 Cabernet Appassimento
($55.00 - Winery Only)
The use of Appassimento methods in winemaking here in Ontario is a controversial one, but one that shows real merit and promise, especially with wines like this.  Naturally dried over a 60 day period, before being fermented (that’s the old world way) this blend of hard harvested Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was then aged 34 months in oak.  The result is a wine with promise now and for the future ... read more
Rating: ****+
Stratus 2014 Gamay
($29.00 - Winery Only, late 2016)
In the past Stratus Gamays have been a huge punch in the mouth of flavour backed by an overblown alcohol content – not exactly your sit-on-the-patio afternoon sippers, but still very enjoyable wines … but here comes the 2014 which seems to offer up a more restrained and delicate version of Stratus Gamay ... (read more)
Rating: ****+
Special Mentions:
Barrel / Tank samples that I could not score but I think will be excellent wines once bottled:
Closson Chase 2014 The Brock
new winemaker same great results, maybe better
Malivoire 2015 Moira Rosé
 another dry, serious take on the pink stuff
Nyarai Cellars 2015 Viognier
Byfield’s virtual gets back to basics and succeeds
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