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Bring on summer! Niagara wine releases from Chateau des Charmes, Coyote’s Run and the Good Earth


It’s nearly summer and the wineries of Niagara are pumping out the new releases at a feverish pace.

I’ve been tasting a lot of wine lately and here are some I can highly recommend.

The Good Earth

2012BBThe Good Earth Wine Betty’s Blend 2012 ($18,, Vintages, winery, 88 points) — A blend of 57% Chardonnay, 29% Riesling and 14% Sauvignon Blanc, this lovely white shows ripe peach, Mandarin orange and candied citrus notes on the nose. The palate reveals a peachy, ripe mélange of flavours including lime, apple and creamy pear notes through the finish.

The Good Earth Wine Riesling 2010 ($20,, winery, 87 points) — From the get-go a sweet whiff of petrol has begun to emerge in this fully mature Riesling with added citrus, pear, peach and almond notes. It’s likely in its prime now with the fruit slightly muted to give rise to the minerals and petrol but a fine example of aged Riesling.

The Good Earth Wine Cabernet Franc 2011 ($22,, winery, 88 points) — A pretty good effort here from the 2011 vintage in Niagara with classic red fruits, herbs, cedar, leather, sweet cherry pie and spice notes on the nose. The ripe and savoury red fruits on the palate are joined by sage and other dried herbs and is delivered along a racy spine of acidity. Great food wine for spicy dishes and game meat.

Coyote’s Run

imageCoyote’s Run Cabernet-Merlot 2011 ($17,, winery, 87 points) — This classic Niagara red blend starts with ripe cherry fruit and adds raspberry, cassis, spice and herbs in a balanced approach on the nose. The red fruits on the palate get a boost from earth-spicy notes to go with good tannins and balancing acidity.

Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Meritage 2010 ($40,, winery, 91 points) — This winery only makes the Rare Vintage wines in the finest vintages. This is a very fine wine with a bold nose of plump, juicy blackberries, currants, black cherry-kirsch, plums and fine oak spices swirling about. Beautiful fruit concentration on the palate with ripeness but not overly aggressive tannins. The mélange of fruit is joined by Espresso bean, earth, sweet spices and a touch of minty herbs. Good energy and verve through the long finish. Drink or cellar this for a few years.

Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($32,, winery, 91 points) — About as ripe a Cabernet Sauvignon as you will find in Niagara with bold and expressive dark fruits, spice and plum accents. This shows firm tannic structure on the palate, but it’s balanced by ripe dark fruits, toasted oak and a variety of complementary spices. This is one you’ll want to cellar for a few years to let the tannins and acid integrate a bit. Can’t wait? Serve with a big juicy steak.

rare vintage pinot

Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Pinot Noir 2009 ($50,, Vintages, 93 points) — Winemaker David Sheppard and winery owner Jeff Aubry identify special barrels that make up the blend from parcels of Pinot of the property. They hit the nail on the head with this Pinot. A nose of bright black cherry, sweet vanilla spice, toast and persistent, elegant aromas that is absolutely beautiful. The palate shows ripe cherry and raspberry fruit with kirsch and bramble notes chiming in. It’s rich, stylish and harmonious in the mouth. Among the best Pinots tried from the 09 vintage. I originally scored this wine in August, 2011 and when retrying it recently found even better integration of fruit and spice. Good now, but still improving.

Chateau des Charmes


Chateau des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot Old Vines 2010 ($20, winery, Vintages July 6, 90 points) — A well-priced classically styled Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot that has been aged for nine months in French oak barrels. The inviting nose shows rich cassis, blackberry, summer-ripe black cherries and raspberries with lovely spice accents. Like all CdC Bordeaux-style reds, it shows structure on the palate with evident tannins and polished oak stylings to go with rich cassis-currant fruits, chocolate, a touch of eucalypt and supporting spice. Still youthful on the palate and will continue to develop for five-plus years.

img_3964Chateau des Charmes Estate Chardonnay Musque 2010 ($17, Vintages July 20, winery now, 89 points) — Such a lovely, pure white wine with lemon, citrus, honeysuckle, peach and white flower notes on the nose. It’s clean and delicious on the palate and still fresh with ripe fruit flavours of apple, peach, citrus, and a tiny kiss on honey on the finish. Nicely aged and ready to drink.

Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir “Droit” St. Davids Bench Vineyard 2010 ($15, Vintages July 6, winery, 89 points) — CdC has the patent to grow and bottle this unique Canadian vinifera grape they call Gamay Noir Droit. It is made without oak aging of any sort. Such an earthy and unique offering on the nose with roasted meats, wet loam, dark fruits and rustic aromas that take a different turn in the mouth. Lovely currant, blackberry, cherry, savour-smoky flavours that are supported by well-defined tannins in the mouth of this personable, quirky varietal.