If you're heading down to the Ritz-Carlton for the Vintages Consumer tasting at this year's Taste Ontario we'd like to offer a helping hand that may guide you to some of the bright spots.
I have three wines that all retail for under $25 that I think deliver good value for their price. But, also visit the folks at Tawse (they weren't here earlier in the day) and try what they're pouring.
Flat Rock Chardonnay 2009
Recognising how close I am to the too-precious line I'm still going to describe the nose on this wine as like a late summer ride down one of Niagara's back roads: all bicycle tires and stony gravel. On the palate, honeydew and green apple are amply supported by a complex acid structure and a clear, crisp finish. The toasty barrel notes linger shyly in the background.
Availability: At Vintages starting January 19, 2013. 286278
Fielding Riesling 2011
For this wine I have made peace with whites that express a floral aroma. Those notes are joined on the nose by honey and white peaches. The flavour replaces the lighter, feminine notes with tangerine, citrus and the counterpoint of plenty of residual sugar against mouth-watering acidity. As with other off-dry Rieslings this wine would stand nicely as either a sipper or with food.
Availability: At Vintages starting February 16, 2013. 251439
Coyote's Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010
The Red Paw Pinots from Coyote's Run are an old favourite of mine but things get a little confusing in 2010. As well as the usual Black Paw cousin for the Red they also made a third version, called just a Pinot Noir (and made with Black, Red and outside, bought fruit), and a fourth "Rare Vintage" version that hasn't been released. Dipping my nose into the glass tons of raspberries and cherry aromas pop out. With a sip the tart cherry is joined by strawberry, a faint hint of vanilla and moderate structure of tannins. This award-winning wine is definitely worth the $25.
Availability: At Vintages starting November 10. 79228
An event like Taste Ontario is a great opportunity to taste some pricier wines that aren't always open at the tasting bar. It's also the perfect setting to taste from all over wine country and all without having to battle any traffic. So I focused on over $20 bottles and wines that are exclusively available for order through Vintages at the event.
Closson Chase 2010 Pinot Noir
This Prince Edward County pioneering winery is known more for its Chardonnays than its reds but it has been quietly making some interesting Pinot Noir for the last few vintages. This 2010 manages to capture some of the bright ripeness of that vintage without loosing the delicacy that Pinot Noir is all about. It has a beautiful combination of sour cherry, candy cane beets, red currant, red raspberry, spice and strawberries. Tying it all together is some great tension provided by that Prince Edward County minerality and some razor sharp acidity. It's beautifully light bodied and delicate, which is what a Pinot should be, and that acidity makes this a racy wine that should shine during a special meal. It's still a little tight and taught right now, but it should be an interesting one to watch develop.
Availability: LCBO Vintages 310474 Taste Ontario event exclusive
2010 Peninsula Ridge Meritage
This is a very well made and appreciable red blend and it's drinking just beautifully right now. For those that crave a bold ,fruit-forawrd red that still retains that Niagara cool climate elegance this is one to try tonight. It delivers layers of bright black raspberry, black cherry, blackberry and black plum. Underneath that is a supporting hint of dark cocoa, vanilla and oak spice. With a nice supply and plush feel and just enough acidity and tannin to provide some structure and provide contrast, this would be a fantastic red to pair with a hardy braised lamb shank.
Availability: LCBO Vintages 299180 beginning Sept. 29th, 2012
2010 Lailey Syrah
Winemaker Derek Barnett consistently crafts a great Syrah from Lailey's warm Niagara River vineyard and the 2010 was no exception. It has the classic hallmark of Tellicherry peppercorn, black cherry and black raspberry. There's also an intriguing smoky note and a good bit of blood orange, likely owing from the Canadian Oak barrel which made it into the blend. What excites most about this Syrah is that it isn't too big, fat and round and retains that signature cool climate verve that makes Niagara wines so refreshing. It also retains a good bit of structure with some chewy tannins which bodes well for aging.
Availability: LCBO Vintages 184523 Taste Ontario event exclusive
2010 Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay Saunders Vineyard
This is what Niagara Chardonnay is all about and should not be missed tonight. There won't be too many other opporunities to taste this wine publicly so make a beeline to the Bachelder booth tonight. This particular bottle comes from a single vineyard, organic farm right by Thirty Bench and it produces some great fruit. It's complex and distinctive with notes of: white lily, white peach, Meyer lemon peel, golden apple , sweet cream and that bench minerality. That creaminess provides a beautiful rich roundness that's red wine-like, but it still retains a a great liveliness thanks to the acidity and minerality that runs thorough it like an electric current.
Availability: LCBO Vintages 310516 Taste Ontario event exclusive
Written by David Ort
As one of Spotlight’s contributing editors, David enjoys turning his mind (and keyboard) to a wide variety of topics ranging from recipes to restaurants to craft beer. When he’s not writing for Spotlight Toronto, David shares his thoughts on new restaurants and beer at PostCity.com and all things food and drink on his own site, Food With Legs.