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Vintages Classics features 3 Niagara wines

Three impressive Niagara wines are listed in the May edition of the Vintages Classics Collection that’s reserved for the finest wines from around the world.

Top wines from Reif, Megalomaniac and Flat Rock are all featured in the release.

The First Growth Merlot 2007 from Reif is now for sale at Vintages Classics.

Limited ordering on these wines begins now with a deadline of 6 p.m. on May 10 for preferred online, fax and mail ordering. Telephone ordering for what’s leftover begins at 9 a.m. on May 20. For more information on ordering go to: Vintages Classics.

Here are reviews of the three wines included in the release:

Reif has a solid reputation for well-made wines right through the entire portfolio. But when you think of Reif, you tend to think of the wonderful red wine program that Klaus Reif and Roberto DiDomenico have presided and fussed over.

And the ultimate in the reds at this winery is the First Growth series that is only made in the very best vintages. The third release is from the spectacular 2007 vintage. The other vintages for First Growth were 2001 and 2002. No First Growth wines were made in either 2008 and 2009.

At a pre-release launch of the four First Growth wines, a cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir and cabernet merlot, DiDomenico explained the concept behind his ultra premium wines.

“We want to produce wines as big and intense as possible,” he said. “We can make world-class reds.”

John Howard's top pinot noir is available at Vintages Classics.

The formula for all the First Growth wines is for low yielding fruit (two tonnes per acre), hand harvested grapes only from estate vineyards, lightly pressed juice straight into oak barrels (U.S., French and Hungarian oak) for two to three years.

For DiDomenico, the end result should show the “terroir” of the Reif vineyard and encapsulate the soil and climate from that vineyard in a superior vintage.

Reif Estate First Growth Merlot 2007 ($50, 91 points) — At the level of First Growth, DiDomenico wants his merlot to show a flinty, earthiness along with minerality and velvety tannins. The wine starts with cherry notes up front followed by vanilla, spice and oak. In the mouth, though a very young wine despite being decanted for two full hours, it’s rich, lavish and displays layers of fruit, minerality and balance.

Megalomaniac Statement Series “Sous Terre” Pinot Noir 2007 ($45, 91 points) — Will prove to be among the top Pinots of the vintage in Niagara. A very fine nose of black cherry, bramble and earth to go with oak (22 months in cigar barrels) and toasted vanilla. It’s slowly coming into balance on the palate with layers of cherry fruit, savoury and cedar cigar box notes, and truffles in a rich, lavish style. For the cellar.

Flat Rock Cellars Reserve Riesling 2009 ($30, 92 points) — This remarkable reserve riesling from Flat Rock is sourced from a small lot within the estate vineyards. This is the first vintage for the new “red label” reserve wines. The wine uses a mix of wild and cultured yeasts and went through partial malolactic fermentation. It’s a a weighty, powerful riesling done in the Alsatian style with vibrant citrus, developing petrol notes and wet stone minerality. It’s complex, bold and has wonderful length on the finish. A real treat that will develop beautifully in the cellar for 10 years or more.