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Charles Baker’s Picone Vineyard Riesling leads the Niagara wine release at Vintages Saturday


A small, but interesting, release of Niagara wines at Vintages stores throughout Ontario on Saturday as we inch closer and closer to the Christmas rush.

The Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2010 leads the pack and this should be drinking beautifully right about now. If you haven’t had a chance to try Baker’s Rieslings this is a good opportunity to taste what all the fuss is. You only get them through the retail store at Stratus or the LCBO.

Also in the release is Fielding’s Estate Riesling, a smart buy, the lovely Featherstone Red Tail Merlot and the cellarable Henry of Pelham Cab Merlot 2010.

Here’s what to look for Saturday:


Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2010 ($35, 91 points) — The grapes for this Riesling were picked late despite the heat of the vintage, but is finished with less residual sugar (10 grams per litre compared to 27 g/l for the 2009). It still shows ripe grapefruit, green apple, floral and mineral notes on the nose. It’s technically less dry on the palate but the ripe fruits give it a rounder, sweeter impression in the mouth. Charles Baker says aside from a little less residual sugar the wine is made virtually the same. “It’s just vintage variation, pure and simple.” I love the texture in Baker’s Rieslings and even though it’s from a warmer vintage it still shows classic tension and acidity through the finish. I sense the 2009s and 2008s will outlast the 2010 vintage in the cellar, but this is a beauty for drinking now. A must for that CB vertical.

0251439Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling 2012 ($19, 90 points) — From the home Fielding Vineyard surrounding the winery, this has an expressive nose of ripe apple, citrus, white peach, lemon-lime and minerals. The fruit is succulent on the palate but balanced by a healthy dose of acidity that hides the 30 g/l of RS. You can lay this down to further develop the mineral core.

Featherstone Red Tail Merlot 2011 ($20, 88 points) — The nose on this 100% French-oak aged Merlot displays bright raspberry-cherry fruit and soft red plums, currants and spice. This is a mellow Merlot with lovely red fruit flavours and sweet oak notes.

0395855Henry of Pelham Estate Cab Merlot 2010 ($25, 89+ points) — From the ripe and hot 2010 vintage, Henry of Pelham has created a juicy and age-worthy blend of Cab Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose displays lovely cherry, plum, red currants, smoke, leather, oak vanilla toast and spice. It’s nicely structured on the palate with earthy fruits, mocha spice, bright acidity and a smooth texture through the finish. This will get better if you lay it down in your cellar for a couple of years.

And also being released but not reviewed:

Konzelmann Vidal Icewine 2010 ($25 for 200 ml)

Pillitteri Riesling Icewine 2011 ($30 for 200 ml)

Featherstone Joy Premium Cuvee Sparkling Wine 2009 ($35)

Chateau des Charmes Brut Rose 2010 ($29)