49030325798868006851-0582059001465315522

By the time you read this, grape pickers and mechanical harvesters will be circling the vineyards in Niagara for the first pick of what will be Vintage 2016.

There’s plenty of optimism out there (isn’t there always!) for a gorgeous grape harvest across the spectrum of what Ontario does best. It was a hot season with drought-like conditions until some rain spiced things up in August, but the long-range forecast looks like more hot, sunny weather yet to come with plenty of time to concentrate those sugars for a robust red vintage and more opulent whites then what we seen in recent vintages.

The first grapes off the wine, of course, will be for the various sparkling programs out there. I know of at least one winery gung-ho to pick as early as Friday.

It’s a fairly healthy haul of local wines hitting the shelves at the LCBO’s Vintages stores Saturday. If looking to stock up, remember, stores will closed on the holiday Monday, because, well, we live in Ontario.

Here’s what I can recommend from the Niagara selection of wines.

47905940095903079677-0776907001461254287Fielding Estate Cabernet Franc 2013 ($22, 89 points) — A savoury nose of earthy red fruits, herbs and spice with touches of cassis and blueberry. It’s rustic, old-school Franc with savoury spices, bright red and dark fruits with an earthy feel through the finish.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling 2014 ($20, 88 points) — Organic and biodynamic farming, traditional method and aged 12 months on the lees, the nose shows creamy/toasty notes of citrus and lemon, ripe apple and some swirling mineral notes. It’s bright and juicy on the palate with a lively mousse and leans toward citrus fruit and minerals through a fresh finish.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280-1Henry 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.

2014-SDB-GamayDroit

Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2014 ($18, 91 points) — A single-vineyard, unoaked beauty with a lovely smoky, savoury nose of black cherries, plums and underlying spice notes. It’s soft and silky on the palate with rousing red and dark berries all nicely integrated. Serve slightly chilled, turn on the BBQ and viola! A perfect late summer sipper.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280-2Peller Estate Signature Series Ice Cuvee Classic ($35, 92 points) — Peller has perfected the art of blending in a dosage of about 15% of Vidal icewine to traditional method sparkling wine (made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes). The result is a decadent bubbly with crisp apple, tropical fruits, bread yeast, vanilla and sweet aromas. It’s lovely on the palate with a smooth texture, apricot fruit, apple and citrus all delivered with a nice, sweet wet kiss of wild honey. This is a non-vintage wine that maintains the style vintage to vintage.

2015-Rose_-1000px-600x600Featherstone Rose 2015 ($16, 88 points) — Made from a quartet of red grapes with at least half the fruit Cabernet Franc. The nose is bold with rich red fruits in a bright and cheerful style. It’s made with just a touch of sweetness and shows a basket of red fruits that are ripe and sassy.

Other Niagara wines being released this weekend, but not reviewed:

  • Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 ($30)
  • Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rose 2015 ($17)
  • Cave Spring Estate Gewurztraminer 2013 ($18)
  • Featherstone Four Feathers 2015 ($15)
  • Frogpond Farm Organic Vidal 2014 ($14)