Taste Ontario – the annual 'taste and buy' event run by Vintages is on tonight at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. With a new venue and a lot of excitement behind new releases, nearly 600 industry professionals showed up to sample. The public tasting event runs tonight from 6:30pm to 9pm. We've put together a tasting list to help you navigate through the tasting floor.
It's easily one of the best tasting events in Toronto, and it gets bonus points because all the wines are local and all the wines can be purchased directly through the Vintages program. Tickets are sold (some are still available) through Vintages, and are very affordable at $55. Hosting the event at the Ritz-Carlton's Salon has also allowed for a better flow of patrons as guests are able to escape from the tasting room and take a break in the foyer with food prepared by chef Tom Brodi and his crew. We spent the afternoon and worked our way through an army of Ontario wines.
What to look for?
The talk of the town seems to be Pinot Noir wines from the 2009 vintage, which are just starting to get released. There is a lot of excitement behind this vintage and the role the growing season has played on Pinot Noir. The new Rieslings and Chardonnays are also winning over crowds. Here's your shopping list.
Michael Di Caro's Picks
2009 Cattail Creek Pinot Noir
Talk to a winemaker about 2009 Ontario Pinot Noir and suddenly his or her eyes widen like a kid on Dec. 24th anticipating Christmas. Overall it's probably the best vintage Ontario has ever produced, so that means there's not only plenty of truly exceptional examples to cellar, but there's also many great value picks. At under $20 this 2009 Cattail Creek is one of the latter. Full of sour cherry, beet and
strawberry notes this hits all the classic Niagara Pinot marks. On the finish a touch of spice and cranberry come out and blend beautifully with the sour cherry. It also manages to hint at that silky feel that makes Pinot such a coveted grape amongst wine lovers.
2009 Thirty Bench Red
Cold and wet, 2009 was a tough vintage for lovers of full-bodied Cabernets. But for those that like a wine with little more finesse this is a vintage to watch out for. When the work was put into the vineyard, the results in the glass show. This red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon is full of juicy black raspberry, currant and berry notes. The fruit is also joined by some vanilla, cocoa and oak spice before the black raspberry comes on strong for the finish. Just uncorked it's still a little tight with some tannins, which indicate it will benefit from a bit of short-term cellaring. But if you just can't wait decant while you're preparing dinner and you'll be rewarded.
2007 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot
Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing. With a lot of hot and dry weather 2007 may very well have been one of those years. It turns out that maybe a bit more of a deft hand in the vineyard and cellar was needed than people intially thought from the former best Ontario vintage ever. This 2007 Triomphe is a great example of the potential of that vintage. It strikes a beautiful balance between intense juicy fruit and structure. There's ripe blackberry, black cherry and black raspberry, but they're joined by violet, tobacco and cocoa notes as well. There's just enough tannins and food friendly acidity under all that to handle your oldest dry-aged steak, but they aren't so overpowering that they distract and linger. In other words it's a wine that knows how to let its companion on the plate shine.
David Ort's Picks
Coyote's Run Winery 2009 Red Paw Pinot Noir
The red paw pinot is a perennial favourite. The '09 has a bit more spice than usual on the nose and a bright refreshing palate with great length.
Vineland Estates Winery 2010 Chardonnay Musque
This chard-musque contains the usual melon nose and delivers peach, banana and firm acid on the palate.
Rosehall Run 2009 Cuvee County Chardonnay
This chardonnay has an aroma of peach jam on buttered toast. It's lemony acid qualifies it for service with food.
Suresh Doss' Picks
Fielding Estate Winery 2009 Pinot Noir
Lots of earthy tones on this pinot noir with a little bit of funk. I like the balance of luscious fruit on the palate, it's light on the tongue with a little tartness and some enjoyable tannins. Drinking well right now and will get better with a little time.
Tawse Winery 2010 Riesling
One of my favourite Rieslings from the 2010 vintage. A ton of citrus on the nose, with a literal explosion of fruit on the palate cut by a great amount of acidity. It's a very food friendly wine with a formidable amount of acidity and fruit. I want a case.
The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery 2008 Brut
A combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes have produced this fresh sparkling wine that smells of brioche and apple. More apple on the palate with underlining minerality and citrus fruit. It's a fun, and lean sparkling wine with very little sweetness.
Taste Ontario is organized by Vintages
For more info, please click here.