Wines In Niagara

A local perspective

Tag: Diamond Estates

The official details on two new Niagara wine (and whisky!) experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Things just a lot better on the showcase Niagara wine country drive into Niagara-on-the-Lake along Niagara Stone Road. Continue reading

A ‘Hip’ new wine from Stoney Ridge, Legislature picks 2015 VQA wines, dine/sip with the King of Riesling, Stuart Pigott … lots of wine news

STONEY RIDGE ESTATE WINERY - The Tragically Hip Release LimitedThe Tragically Hip and Stoney Ridge have teamed up for a VQA red wine that was released Monday and the Ontario legislature has announced its VQA wines for coming year. Continue reading

March Madness at Creekside, plus reviews for Megalomaniac, Chateau des Charmes, Pillitteri, Diamond Estates


As March Madness approaches, not only south of the border but right here in Niagara at Creekside Estate Winery, crazy things take place. Continue reading

Skate with former NHL greats at Diamond Estates Saturday

NOTE: Diamond Estates is holding a ‘Skate with the Greats’ at the winery with
NHL Alumni helping to officially open the outdoor skating rink at the Niagara-on-the-Lake winery. Here is the news release on the event. Continue reading

New labels introduced to ‘value’ Niagara wine segment

By Rick VanSickle

Is it just me or is it getting awfully crowded on the LCBO shelves with Niagara VQA wines in the $12-$14 range?

With wine veteran Allan Jackson just releasing his new red and white blends, called Union, and already a selection of wines including Henry of Pelham’s Sibling Rivalry, Creekside’s Life Is Good, Vincor’s Open and Legends’ Diva series (to name a few), there are now two more new brands set to be released at the LCBO this fall.

The Fresh lineup of wines.

The Fresh lineup of wines.

Reif Estate Winery has partnered with Canadian TV design guys Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman to launch a red and white blend under the name Trend, with Steven and Chris shown prominently on the label. The white will sell for $14 while the red is $16.

Also launching in September is a new brand from Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits called Fresh. The grapes for this five-bottle series of two white blends, two red blends and a rose are sourced from the same vineyards Birchwood Estate wines were made from.

All the Fresh wines will sell for $12 a bottle.

Most of the wines in this price category are blends of various grapes and made in a fresh and fruity style. The whites are generally, but not exclusively, unoaked, while the reds are on the lighter side stylistically. To be honest, it’s getting harder and harder to tell them all apart even though most of these wines are quite delicious and at a price point most people can afford.

On the one hand, I am happy that wineries are bringing affordable wines to consumers, but, on the other, I don’t like to see the Niagara brand watered down in a sea of red and white blends that all appear similar in style, or trying to become part of the new white proprietory blend craze started (and perfected) by Caymus Conundrum in California.

And it just seems to me that winemakers are mixing and matching whatever grapes they have an abundance of. Fresh is blending a Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer with Riesling for the whites, while making a red out of Merlot and Syrah and another red out of Cabernet and Gamay.

Trend is mixing it up with Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio for the white and a more traditional Cabernet-Merlot blend for the red.

Anyway, it’s not my vote that counts here. It’s consumers who matter, and we’ll have to see how they react to all these new wines being put in front of them. Afterall, consumers vote with their wallets and nothing’s more powerful than that.

Here are a few I liked from the new releases coming up this fall:

Fresh Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay.

Fresh Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay.

Fresh Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay 2008 ($12, LCBO, 3.5 stars) — A nose of lime, melon and pear. The fruit is round and ripe in the mouth with a touch of oak and spice.

Fresh Gewurztraminer Riesling 2008 ($12, LCBO, 3.5 stars) — Musk, all spice, grapefruit, citrus and lychee on the nose but gives way to dominant flavours of orange peel and citrus on the palate. A decent amount of acid helps lift the flavours.

Trend Steven and Chris Chardonnay-Pinot Grigio 2009 ($14, LCBO, 3.5 stars) — Both Fresh and Trend have attractive labels and represent well the fun nature of these wines. This white blend has bright notes of tropical fruits and citrus that are clean and ripe on the palate. There’s a touch of sweetness on the finish.

Trend Steven and Chris Merlot-Cabernet 2008 ($16, LCBO, 3.5 stars) — Cherry-berry notes on the nose with a touch of savoury spice. The fruit follows to the palate with added pepper, spice and oak notes.


Stoney Ridge is a winery that has always impressed me, not only from a value point of view but also for the work that goes into these wines that are overseen by one of Niagara’s best winemakers and consultants — Jim Warren.

Stoney Ridge has come out with a new series of wines, crafted by new winemaker Gord Robert, called Excellence, based on experimental work by the winemaker. Each bottle is very limited, numbered and only available at the winery.

Here’s what I liked along with some other new releases:

Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris 2009 ($23, Winery, 4.5 stars) — Such a gorgeous and elegant nose of melon, sweet citrus and apple crisp along the lines of some the great Pinot Gris now being made in Niagara. On the palate it’s a ripe and full-bodied white that grabs your full attention in the mouth with acid-laced juiciness that cuts through the bold and rich fruits. Very fine indeed.

Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($23, Winery, 4 stars) — A grassy, grapefruit and herbaceous/floral nose that turns to lime and citrus fruit on the palate. A nice and zesty, clean and bright Sauvignon that pairs so well with summer patio food.

Stoney Ridge Warren Classic Pinot Noir 2007 ($15, LCBO, Winery, 4 stars) — I have come to trust any wine that says Warren Classic on the label and this is no exception. Bright cherry, raspberry and vanilla notes on the nose. It turns bold on the palate with plush tannins and finished with oak and spice.

Stoney Ridge Warren Classic Chardonnay 2008 ($15, LCBO, Winery, 4 stars) — Tropical fruits, toast, hazelnuts, spice and vanilla make this an appealing Chardy at this price. Creamy citrus-tropical fruits on the palate to go with butterscotch-vanilla and all wonderfully balanced.


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