Niagara Chardonnays

By Rick VanSickle

The wine release at the LCBO’s Vintages stores this Saturday is all about the cool factor, as in cool Chardonnays being poured at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in Niagara July 20-22.

There is a nice selection of Chardonnays from around the world participating at the big i4C wine event plus consumers who can’t make the weekend extravaganza can order over 100 Chardonnays here

Ontario chardonnays

For this report, we have highlighted three Chardonnays from three regions in Canada: Niagara, a Chardonnay sparkler from Prince Edward County and a Chard from the Golden Mile Bench in the Okanagan Valley.

We also highlight the rest of the Niagara wine releases at Vintages Saturday plus review some new releases from Niagara’s Vieni Estate Winery.

Three Chards from across Canada

Niagara wine

Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2016 ($27, 92 points) — This Chardonnay, released as part of i4C in July, represents a barrel selection of estate Chardonnays chosen for their full flavoured richness on the palate. This is absolutely in that vein with a concentrated nose of creamy apple and pear with lemon and spice accents. It is rich and creamy on the palate with quince and citrus notes, flinty minerality, lovely texture and a vibrant, fresh finish.

Ontario wine

Rosehall Run Ceremony Brut Blanc de Blancs NV ($35, 91 points) — This 100% estate Chardonnay has a lovely biscuit note on the nose to go with lemon chiffon, fresh citrus, brioche and toasted vanilla. The tiny, vigorous bubbles are persistent in the glass and the sparkler shows bright acidity that gives a lift to the fresh lemon-citrus and green apple flavours.

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2016 ($28, 89 points) — The nose on this lovely mineral-laden Chardonnay shows tropical fruits, citrus, white peach and lightly toasted oak spices. It has bright acidity on the palate to perk up the citrus and orchard fruits and keep the spice notes in perfect balance. Zippy/zesty finish keeps it fresh from start to finish.

Also recommended from the release:

Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2016 ($20, 88 points) — Sourced from the estate’s Short Hills Bench from vines 30+ years old. The nose shows juicy lime, citrus rind, grapefruit and tangerine notes. There are sublime mineral notes on the palate to go with tangy citrus, pear, apple and racy acidity to keep the sweetness in balance.

Other Niagara wines released, but not reviewed:

• Vieni Riesling 2017 ($20)
• Cave Spring Indian Summer Riesling 2016 ($25 for 375 mL)
• Calamus Crackle 2017 ($19)
• Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 ($30)
• Featherstone Phoenix 2017 ($19)
• Megalomaniac Selfie 2016 ($18)
• Marquis The Silver Line Pink Pinot 2017 ($18)
• Magalomaniac Pink Slip Rosé 2017 ($20)

Vieni Estate Winery

Vieni is situated on a diverse and breathtaking 175-acre estate on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. 

The founder and winemaker of Vieni, Mauro Salvador, brings his passion for wine from Italy and combines it with his love for this distinctly Canadian wine region, and particularly the unique attributes of the rolling hills of Vinemount Ridge.

Salvador takes the best of the many varietals grown on the estate to produce a broad range of still wines, icewines and sparkling wines crafted in the charmat method (Metodo Italiano). Each offering is crafted to reflect the best of the terroir, the varietal, and the winemaker’s skills.
In addition to the wines produced there, Vieni also offers traditional Italian-style grappas and spirits distilled from the many fruits of Ontario.
Here are some recently tasted wines I can recommend from Vieni:

Vieni Classic Brut 2013 ($20, 90 points) — Made in the charmat method, this blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier has a nose of baked apple, pear, pie crust and brioche notes. There are lovely toasty notes on the palate but it still maintains freshness through the finish to go with flavours of bin apple, pear and citrus. Refreshing and well priced sparkler.

Vieni Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($20, 89 points) — A nose of fresh cut grass with dried herbs, lime, gooseberry and grapefruit. A firm acidic backbone keeps this fresh and popping on the palate with notes of gooseberry, lime, subtle tropical notes and zip on the finish.

Vieni Gewurztraminer 2016 ($20, 88 points) — A contemplative Gew with a range of tropical fruit notes on the nose to go with exotic spices, lychee and grapefruit. The palate shows restraint at first than opens up to oily tropical fruits, lychee and nutmeg spice in a fairly dry style. An interesting take of this versatile variety.

Vieni Cabernet Franc Private Reserve 2012 ($23, 91 points) — A beautifully matured Cabernet Franc that is showing quite well right now with a ripe and expressive nose of savoury/smoky red and dark fruits and loaded with spice and dried herbs. The succulent fruit on the palate is held together by smooth, ripe tannins, and a complex array of spices and herbs. Very nice Cab Franc ready to drink or hold for 3+ years.

Vieni Merlot Private Reserve 2012 ($30, 92 points) — A rich, intense nose kirsch, plums, cassis, blackberries, tobacco, cedar and layers of oak barrel spices on the nose. The plush tannins on the palate drive the range of red and dark fruits, lovely barrel spices and length through the finish.