The recently held Sip and Savour event was a big success, with an array of Ontario wineries featuring new releases. David and Mike take a look at some of the wines that were presented that evening.
2008 Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Riesling
Availability: Winery, out at Vintages on December 3rd
This Riesling breaks the bounds of the more common (but definitely tasty) Niagara Riesling that favours lemon and sharp minerals. Instead we get tropical fruit complemented by ripe peach and pleasant, deep acidity. With a strong, long-lingering finish this wine is boisterous rather than austere. Definitely more of a Heidi than an Ursula. $16.95 (Vintage Hotels White Wine of the Year Award).
2009 Rosewood Naturally Fermented Pinot Noir Reserve
The talk at the Rosewood table was largely about their Merlot–the LCBO has snapped up all but five of the cases that were made of this wine–but I couldn't help being drawn back to the Reserve Pinot Noir. This small-batch wine is naturally fermented. It shows a recognisable Pinot nose of red cherries and stewed blueberries. These fruit notes continue on the palate, are enhanced and given impressive length by its earthiness and kept in check by the subtle acidity. (Bronze in Pinot Noir category)
2009 Vineland St. Urban's Vineyard Riesling
Availability: Winery and LCBO.
I like Riesling and Ontario wineries are producing some killer examples at very good prices so, rules be damned, I'm included two in my top three. At $14.95 the two entry level versions (dry and semi-dry) are some of the best value in Ontario wine. The St. Urban's Vineyard version is slightly more expensive but adds steely minerality to the complex, juicy palate. $19.95 at the winery and LCBO.
2010 Vineland Pinot Meunier
Availability: Winery, 2009 in LCBO Vintages #225508
Pinot Meunier is the oft-forgotten grape that gives great Champagne that little extra zip and a hint of juiciness. Not only does it perform magic in sparkling, but it's also capable of making beautifully fruity still reds with naturally high acidity. That's just the kind of food-friendly wine that winemaker Brian Schmidt has fashioned with this 2010. Aromas of sweet cherry, fragrant rose petals and red plums jump from the glass. On the palate that fruit is joined by kirsch, currant and a touch of cookie spice before coming back to those roses on the finish. With a medium mouthfeel, soft barely-there tannins and medium plus acidity this wine is a great choice as we transition into the hardier comfort foods of autumn. It also just might be good enough to make you forget about that other Pinot grape.
2009 Lailey Syrah
Syrah is kind of a prodigy. Although it tends to produce nice results while happily basking in the sun of a warm climate, it just might show its best when it's pushed a bit out of its comfort zone. A few Ontario wineries are doing that and making the compelling argument that Syrah just might be Ontario's raw latent talent.The Niagara River sub-appellation, where Lailey is located, happens to be one of Niagara's warmer areas with an extended growing season. But, make no mistake this is cool-climate Syrah with depth and elegance, not it's jammy doppelganger Shiraz. It's full of black raspberry, plum, and smoky-spicy roasted coffee bean aromas. Those are delivered on the palate along with dark cherry, licorice and a lingering perfumed cracked peppercorn finish. With tannins, acidity and mouthfeel all inline this is a wine that has beautiful balance and finesse.
2009 Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard
Availability: Jackson Triggs Winery, LCBO Vintages #33902
When the Le Clos Jordanne project began in 1999 it really helped move Ontario Pinot Noir from the niche grape of a few passionate growers to one of the region's stars. But, the 2009 vintage may very well have brought things to another level. This single vineyard Pinot from the Le Clos Jordanne vineyard, the winery's warmest site, is a beautifully layered example of why it might the world's most beguiling grape. With your nose to the glass you're greeted with an enticing combination of wild strawberry, cola, summer savory, mushroom and wet leaves. Take a sip and that intriguing combination continue to evolve with red raspberry, cherry, earthy forest floor and a long mineral finish. As nicely as it's drinking now, the minerality, strong acid spine and supple but youthful tannins provide a solid foundation for this wine to develop over the next few years.
Sip and Savour