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Angels Gate, Ravine and Southbrook lead Vintages release on Saturday

RAV1005011 Meritage750

Call me silly, but with the heat in Ontario lately, if I was running things at our government liquor monopoly I’d be pulling out all stops to load up the wine shelves with every local Riesling I could find.

But, alas, these twice-weekly Vintages releases are pre-determined months in advance so we get what we get.

The release Saturday is led by the Angels Gate Pinot Gris, made in a style that’s becoming more and more popular in Niagara.

The Beamsville Bench winery has crafted its first Pinot Gris using older oak barrels to round out the fruit and give the wine a more elegant feel in the mouth. The Gris being made in Niagara is a far cry from the lighter, crisper Pinot Grigios made in Italy and are more closely aligned with the style perfected in Alsace.

Also in the release is a nice organic-biodynamic Chardonnay from Southbrook on Niagara Stone Road, and a solid meritage red blend from St. Davids’ Ravine Vineyard.

Here’s what to look for Saturday at Vintages:

Angels Gate Pinot Gris 2010 ($19, 89 points) — This is a first-crop vintage for the new estate Angels Gate Gris, made in an elegant style with aging in neutral (older) oak barrels. It shows sweet apple, melon and peach fruit on the nose. I love the creamy feel on the palate with forward and ripe notes of delicious apple and tropical fruits. Soft and delicious white from a very good vintage.

0117572Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2010 ($22, 88 points) — All estate organic-biodynamic fruit and aged in 100% French oak barrels of varying sizes. Very ripe pear, apple, toast and spice notes on the nose. It’s made in a round, expressive style with a nice mineral note to go with light toast, subtle butterscotch and layered fruits through the finish. Nicely balanced Chardy.

Ravine Estate Meritage 2010 ($25, 89 points) — This is a blend of 50% Merlot, and 25% each of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon all from estate, organically-certified fruit. The nose is inviting and bold with wild berry, cherry and sprinkled with spice and oak tones. It shows juicy cherry and plum fruits, sweet spices and fine balance in the mouth. Good value for this quality red blend.

Other wines being released but not reviewed:

Featherstone Gewurztraminer 2011 ($20)

Flat Rock Unplugged Chardonnay 2011 ($17)

Magnotta Limited Edition Sparkling Ice Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2008 ($70 for 375 Ml)

Wildass Red 2008 ($20)

Peninsula Ridge Beal Vineyards Cabernet Rose 2011 ($12)

A rose to take the heat off (only at the winery):

21Reif Estate Fortune Cabernet Rose 2011 ($13, winery only, 88 points) — Reif has added this rose, made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, to its popular Tarot Card Collection that also includes The Magician and The Fool. It offers great value with a nose of raspberries, cranberries and a lovely lime accent. It’s made in a refreshing bone-dry style with crisp red fruits through the finish. A bargain at this price.

Reif Estate Vidal Icewine 2010 ($25 for 200 mL, $8 for 50 mL, LCBO or winery, 92 points) — I know we’re not thinking about icewine in this heat, but I tried this recently and was impressed with the complexities a little age has brought to the table. It has a sensational nose of compoted tropical fruit, peach, apricot, wild honey and caramel-toffee notes. It’s rich, textured, viscous and luxurious on the palate with gorgeous flavours of marmalade, roasted almonds and apricot jam flavours that are perfectly integrated. A totally decadent icewine drinking at its peak right now.