Wine, Wine Reviews

2016 Annual Ontario Wine Tasting

wine tasting

Wine Country Ontario, the official Ontario wine promotion agency decided to organize this year’s tasting in the Royal Ontario Museum.

Wine writers were given an opportunity to taste for two hours in a separate room. This was much appreciated, as walk around tastings force superficial evaluations. The benefits of quick sensory evaluations happen to be fleeting and often inaccurate, given environment conditions, i.e temperature, noise, lighting, and luck of comfort to name just a few.

The VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance) rules and regulations introduced a number of years ago are now becoming more recognizable in the glass. The appellation rules recognize three general regions – Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula, and Prince Edward County. Lake Erie North Shore has one sub-appellation South Island.  Prince Edward County does not have a sub-appellation.

Niagara Peninsula has three sub-appellations – Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Escarpment, and Niagara-On-The-Lake all of which have sub-appellations as follows:

Niagara Peninsula –Lincoln Northshore, Vinemount Ridge, and Creek Shores
Niagara Escarpment – Beamsville Bench, Twenty-Mile Bench, and Short Hills Bench
Niagara-On-The-Lake – Niagara Lakeshore, Four Mile Creek, St. David’s Bench, and Niagara River.

While Niagara-On-The-Lake appellation wines taste floral and are relatively low in acidity, those from the Escarpment appellations taste more refined, are acid-driven and match food more successfully than those from the lower lying, Niagara-On-The-Lake appellations.

Niagara-On-The-Lake appellation wines are best enjoyed on their own or matched with Oriental foods.

The Ontario appellation system is based on temperatures more than soil composition, vineyard orientation, and other important factors such as grape variety stipulations, yields per hectare have not been taken into consideration, nor are irrigation or capitalization.

The 2016 annual tasting attracted 33 wineries out of more than 100 in the province.

The largest two (Peller Estates and Constellation Brands) decided not to submit any wines, as did Pillitteri, Konzelmann, Vineland Estates, and many others.

Overall red wines offered more depth, and were better extracted. White wines tasted softer than I remember; and many tasted off dry, a reflection of consumer palates and likes.

There were a few ice wines, which were fine but not outstanding.

Here are my recommendations:

Pinot Noir, 2012, 13th Street Winery,
89/100
$ 21.95

Gamay Noir Sandstone Vineyard, 2013, 13th Street Winery
89/100
$ 29.95

Queenstone Road Sparkling Wine, 2012, 2027 Cellars
89/100
$ 30.00

Wismer Vineyard- Fox Croft Block Chardonnay, 2013, 2027 Cellars
88+/100
$ 22.95

Aberdeen Road Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013, 2027 Cellars
92+/100
$ 30.00

Queenstone Road Pinto Noir, 2013, 2027 Cellars
90/100
$ 35.00

Lowery Pinto Noir, 2014, Bachelder
88/100
$ 44.95

Cabernet Franc Serluca Vineyard, 2013, Creekside Estate
88+/100
$ 24.95

Iconoclast Syrah, 2013, Creekside Estate
88/100
$ 22.95

Signature Pinot Noir, 2013, Domaine Queylus
88/100
$ 28.60

Tradition Cabernet Franc, 2013, Domaine Queylus
88+/100
$24.95

Riddled, 2009, Flat Rock Cellars
89/100
$ 30.15

Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, Malivoire Wine Company
88/100
$ 34.95

Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, Ridgepoint Wines
88+/100
$ 55.00

Lock, Stock and Barrel, 2013, Rosewood Estate Winery
89/100
$ 34.95

Growers blend Cabernet Franc, 2012, Tawse Winery
88+/100
$ 27.95

Old Vines Riesling, 2013, Chateau Des Charmes
90/100
$ 16.95

Equuleus Paul Bosc Vineyard, 2012, Chateau Des Charmes
89+/100
$ 40.00

Red Paw Pinot Noir, 2013, Coyoteès Run Estate Winery
89/100
$ 24.95

Triomphe Chardonnay, 2014, Southbrook Vineyards
92/100
$ 22.95

Wild Ferment Chardonnay, 2013, Southbrook Vineyards
90+/100
$ 34.95

Gamay, 2014, Startus Vineyards
88/100
$ 29.20

Flagship Red, 2011, Stratus Vineyards
91+/100
$ 44.20

Flagship White, 2012, Stratus Vineyards
89+/100
$ 38.20

South Closson Chardonnay, 2014, Closson Chase,
91+/100
$ 39.95

Brock Chardonnay, 2014, Closson Chase
90/100
$ 22.95

Chardonnay Unfiltered, 2013, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyards
90/100
$ 39.20

Riesling, 2014, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyards
89/100
$ 21.20

JCR, Rosehall Run
88/100
$ 29.95

Ceremony Blanc de Blancs Brut, Rosehall Run
89/100
$ 34.95

Ceremony Sparkling, Rosehall Run
89+/100

Cadence, 2011, Nayarai Cellars
88/100
$ 22.95

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