Spring in Niagara means wineries are scrambling to get their wines on the shelves as more and more visitors pour into the region in search of good local wines.
Wines In Niagara has been busy tasting and enjoying the bounty that spring offers.
Here’s a cross-section of wines either released already or coming soon.
Fielding Estate Winery
I caught winemaker Richie Roberts busy on his bottling line recently, as his crew was finishing up the Riesling 2010. It was kind of neat to see this wine finished as I was there during harvest when the grapes arrived at the winery for crushing.
Roberts pulled a bottle right off the bottling line to try.
Fielding Estate Riesling 2010 ($16, LCBO soon) — It’s unfair to rate this wine yet, as it came fresh off the bottling line. This is Fielding’s entry level Riesling with a nose of sweet citrus, lime, peach and a hint of minerality. Decent acid, considering the vintage, with lovely, fresh flavours in the mouth.
Fielding Estate White Conception 2010 ($19, LCBO soon, 88 points) — A blend that varies year to year, with partially barrel fermented and barrel aged Chardonnay along with Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Gewurztraminer. It has a lovely floral nose with peach and citrus fruits and a touch of grassy notes. It’s lightly spiced on the palate with tropical fruits, cream in a ripe style.
Fielding Estate Rock Pile Pinot Gris ($26, winery April 16, 93 points) — In my opinion, the benchmark for Pinot Gris in Niagara. It sells out fast and there are only 110 cases available. Fielding’s successful Gris program now has three tiers: Rock Pile, the estate Pinot Gris ($22) and the entry level Gris ($19). Rock Pile comes from vines at least 25 years or older with 80% of the fruit barrel fermented in neutral oak. This is the best Rock Pile yet. Such an aromatic nose of mango, peach, sweet vanilla oak and a spicy caramel kick. It’s round and textured on the palate with ripe tropical/pear fruit and a long, long finish. Wow.
Fielding Estate Red Conception 2009 ($19, LCBO soon) — Fielding only made two reds in 2009, the Red Conception and Pinot Noir. It made the decision based on overall quality of red grapes in 2009. It usually makes six or seven red wines. The Conception is a 45-45 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with 10% Syrah. It’s not bottled yet so I didn’t give it a score. Smoky berries on the nose with decent balance and berry fruit in the mouth.
Coyote’s Run Estate Wiinery in St. Davids has just bottled a collection of 2010 summer whites that should be on the shelves at the winery and headed for the LCBO by the time you read this.
Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010 ($18, winery, 90 points) — From single vineyard fruit picked on Sept. 3, this Alsatian styled Gris, is finished at 14% alcohol but doesn’t show it. A tropical fruit salad on the nose with melon, spice and light perfume notes. It’s finished dry but has a sweet impression from the super-ripe fruit. Such great mouth feel and depth of flavour in this wonderful Gris from Niagara.
Coyote’s Run Pinot Blanc 2010 ($18, winery, 88 points) — Only 100 cases of this rarely planted (at least in Niagara) grape was made. Soft melon, peach and mango notes on the nose. It shows layered fruits in the mouth and zest on the finish.
Coyote’s Run Five Mile 2010 ($14, winery and LCBO, 87 points) — An unusual blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer at an attractive price. Notes of grapefruit, lychee and peach with subtle spice on the nose. Just a nice, fruity wine for a hot summer’s day.
And a roundup of other wines enjoyed recently.
Jackson Triggs Gold Series Delaine Vineyard Puncheon Pinot Noir 2008 ($45, winery only, 92 points) — A rare and special Pinot fermented with wild yeasts in 500 litre puncheon oak barrels and 12 months of barrel aging in French oak. Only 250 cases were made. A superb nose of warm cherry pie, floral notes, cloves, plum, vanilla and oak spice. A wonderful mouth of ripe cherry accented by cloves, baking spices and elegant oak. Such great length on the palate. A gorgeous Pinot.
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2009 ($18, LCBO, 89 points) — From the Tawse family of wines, this standalone brand represents value for consumers. The 09 Riesling has a nose of grapefruit, lemon-lime and wet-stone minerality. It’s vibrant and with citrus fruit and a playful sweet-tart tug-of-war in the mouth. All in all, balanced, refreshing and delicious.
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rose 2010 ($15, LCBO, 86 points) — A five-grape red blend rose with strawberry and ripe raspberry aromas. It’s made in a dry style with ripe and fleshy red fruits. A perfect reward on a hot, sunny afternoon.
Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir 2009 ($32, Vintages April 16, 90 points) — Made from sourced fruit from Niagara growers, and barrel aged for 15 months. Alluring dark cherry on the nose with clove spice, vanilla, and subtle earthiness from a vintage that is proving to be excellent for Pinot. The palate reveals cherry and rhubarb flavours with balancing spice, earth and length on the finish. Should age nicely for five years.
Reif Estate Winery The Magician 2009 ($20, winery only, 87 points) — Winemaker Roberto DiDomenico used 70% syrah and 30% pinot noir for this unusual blend. Both varieties were vinified separately with 30% of the fruit kiln dried. The nose shows sweet raspberry, cherry, oak and spice. It shows surprising heft on the palate for a 2009, with black fruits, cherry-raspberry notes, black pepper, earth and soft tannins.
Reif Estate White Meritage 2009 ($20, winery, 89 points) — A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the nose shows a fresh, fruity nose of pineapple, melon and peach. Very clean and vibrant on the palate, with just a hint of sweetness. Pure fruit pleasure in a fresh, forward style. Lovely.
Malivoire 2010 Melon ($12 for a half bottle, in short supply at the winery, 88 points) — Martin Malivoire wanted to make a great wine to accompany oysters so he ordered some Muscat grapes and planted them. He quickly realized that it wasn’t Muscat at all, but Melon de Bourgogne. He’s been bottling it and selling it as “Martin’s Oyster Wine” ever since. What a lovely wine to accompany oysters or just for sipping on the porch on a sunny day. Pear, apple, subtle spice and melon on the nose. It all follows to the palate to go with vibrant acidity.