This Saturday’s Vintages release of Niagara wines offers wine lovers an interesting opportunity to explore single-vineyard expressions of Chardonnay and Riesling.

The distinct June’s Vineyard, St. Urban Vineyard and Chateau des Charmes’ “Old Vines” from the estate St.Davids Bench vineyard all show distinct aromas and flavours that have a consistency and uniqueness from vintage to vintage.

Three expressions are being released Saturday, along with a fairly robust selection of other Niagara wines. I have also included a big Italian red that should not be missed in the next Vintages release April 30.

Here’s what to look for April 16:

cq5dam.web.1280.128013th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 ($22, 90 points) — Such an interesting expression of unoaked Chardonnay from the personable, distinct June’s Vineyard. A nose of pear, apple and lovely wet stone minerality. There’s a creamy feel on the palate with apple and pear fruits bolstered by subtle notes of almond paste, stony minerality and refreshing, mouth-watering acidity. Good job by winemaker JP Colas (top photo).

Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2013 ($17, 90 points) — A lime, citrus, mineral bomb on the nose with subtle notes of quince and grapefruit. The Davids Bench minerality defines this lovely Riesling on the palate with swirling citrus, grapefruit, spiced apple and a kiss of honey. Quite lovely.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280-1Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2014 ($20, 91 points) — Winemaker Brian Schmidt draws from the best parcels of his beloved St. Urban Vineyard, planted in 1979, for the Elevation Riesling. With the 2012 vintage all but sold out and the winemaker taking a pass on the 2013 vintage at this level, consumers will nonetheless be impressed with this wine. It has such a beautiful nose of lime, minerals and wisps of grapefruit and honey. It shows complexity on the palate and builds in momentum showing wet stone and citrus/lime zest with a dollop of honey sweetness. But, still, there is the kick-ass freshness from the lively acidity that keeps everything in balance.

Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay 2013 ($19, 90 points) — An attractive nose of toasted oak/spice, pear, vanilla, and hints of citrus. It’s nicely integrated on the palate with oak, spice, pear and mineral notes all coming together (with a citrus zing) on the finish.

Henry-Of-Pelham-Estate-Chardonnay-2013-LabelHenry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2014 ($20, 88 points) — Quite expressive on the nose with ripe apple, peach, citrus and toasted spice notes. It’s round and ripe on the palate with orchard fruit flavours, barrel spices and lifted acidity through the finish. Delicious.


Foreign Affair Enchanted 2014 ($18, 90 points) — As far as owner Len Crispino is aware, this the “first white Ripasso made in Canada.” It’s a blend of two-thirds Riesling and one-third unoaked Chardonnay with the Chardonnay grapes passed over appassimento Chardonnay grapes to add complexity and texture. The nose shows pear, peach, grapefruit, sweet spice notes and grilled pineapple. It’s fleshy and bold on the palate with a rich broth of orchard fruits and lifted lime and grapefuit notes to keep it fresh and lively.


Henry of Pelham Estate Pinot Noir 2010 ($25, 90 points) — Quite pretty and feminine on the nose with alluring cherry and raspberry with integrated spicy accents. It’s medium bodied with bright red fruits, silky tannins and subtle earth and tobacco notes. A nicely mature Pinot.

Kacaba Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($25, winery, 88 points) — A nose of concentrated blackcurrants, cherry-raspberry, cocoa and lavishly spiced. The tannins roar on the palate with darker fruits and savoury-spicy notes emerging. It is firmly structured, with a touch of herbs, but needs to time to round out, or serve with rare red meat now.

Other Niagara wines being released, but not reviewed:

  • Contraband Sparkling Rose ($21)
  • Contraband Sparkling Chardonnay ($20)
  • Contraband Sparkling Riesling ($19)
  • Featherstone Rose 2015 ($16)

 A featured Italian beauty released April 30:


Falconeri Cabernet Sauvignon di Toscana IGT 2008, Uggiano, Italy ($42, Vintages April 30, 93 points) — A chance to buy an incredibly bold and complex Italian red that has some age on it. The nose is intense with notes of blackberries, currants, cloves, toasted vanilla, bramble and roasted herbs. It’s a full-bodied red that reveals a range of ripe, delicious dark fruits on the palate with a plush bed of tannins on a structured frame. It is that lovely depth of spice that will enthral, all derived from long barrel aging in a combination of French oak barrels. A beauty.