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Part II of mega Christmas release at Vintages features a nice selection of Niagara wines to consider

11294113736_6513730e61Here we go, it’s Part II of the mega Christmas release at Vintages on Saturday and you won’t find a bigger bevy of enticing wines this year with price tags soaring into the hundreds of dollars for one single bottle.

All the big boys are included in this release, top Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Rhone and top-drawer Italians.

But don’t overlook the Niagara bounty being released, there are some nice wines that will look mighty fine on your Christmas wish list.

Here’s what to look for Saturday at Vintages.

10840013864_a6bd488e76Union Forte 2007 ($17 for 500 mL, 89 points) — While Port is a widely recognized style of fortified wine it can only be called Port if it comes from Porto in Portugal. That doesn’t stop winemakers the world over from making that style of wine and dreaming up clever names. The folks behind Niagara’s Union Wines, who are well represented at Vintages/LCBO stores, have come up with a Port-style wine called Forte that is a Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend from Niagara with Ontario Brandy spirit added and is finished with 18% alcohol. It has a heady nose of sweet black cherry, cassis, raspberry, bramble, red licorice and an array of spices. It’s sweet and spicy in the mouth and loaded with red fruits, anise and kirsch and all delivered on a bed of smooth tannins. A very enjoyable after-dinner wine.

photo-500x500Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine Estate Blanc de Blanc Carte Blanche 2009, Niagara ($45, 92 points) — Looking for a classic bubbly for the holiday season? Consider this homegrown Ontario sparkler, it’s a beauty. The nose shows lemon, toast, brioche, minerals, green apple and baked bread all wrapped up in myriad citrus notes. It lights up the palate with zesty lemon zing, baked apple, quince with a crisp and laser-sharp beam of acidity. This is an electric sparkling wine that shows youthful exuberance with a tight, energetic mousse. Can age for five or more years. Gorgeous.

11192504914_8daa51395913th Street June’s Vineyard Riesling 2012 ($20, 89 points) — An aromatic Riesling with peach, citrus, buckwheat honey and subtle minerality in the background. It’s made in an off-dry style with ripe peach and some tropical notes to go with underlying sweet minerality. Solid, approachable Riesling for drinking now.

Fielding Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2013 ($22, 89 points) — Aged in 25% French oak with a nose of creamy vanilla, pear, green apple and spice. It shows elegance on the palate with deliciously toasted spices, pear-apple notes and a fresh vein of citrus to keep it all fresh through the finish.

Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2011 ($25, 92 points) — This is the arguably the best “Village” Chardonnay to emerge from the Le Clos portfolio. The Chardonnay grapes were a little less affected by the rains of 2011 and benefited from a near-perfect growing season for Chardonnay. Such an expressive nose of bright, ripe fruit and subtle oak stylings. Look for poached pear, apple, and lemon cream pie on the nose to go with freshness, stony minerality and lightly toasted spices. With the oak in check, the stone fruits shine on the palate to join the subtle minerality all in near-perfect balance.

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2011 ($75, 93 points) — Winemaker Sebastien Jacquey likes to think of his top Pinot as a “Grand Cru” in Niagara. It is made up of the best lots from the Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, generally from the western edge of the vineyard. The nose shows highly extracted black cherry, juicy raspberry, boysenberry, mocha spice, and wet stone minerality. It is highly structured and needs time to fully show its stuff but still reveals concentrated (without being austere) fruit flavours on the palate, firm tannic structure (from the fruit rather than the oak), dry extract and firm acidity, oak spice and minerals. It’s highly extracted, yes, says Jacquey: “Did I go too far? It’s powerful, maybe,” he says, “but I wanted to find out.” Buy, hold and watch this beauty spread her wings.

Also released but not reviewed:

Cave Spring Riesling Icewine 2013 ($50 for 375 mL)
• Henry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 2013 ($40 for 200 mL)
Pondview Vidal Icewine 2013 ($19 for 200 mL)
Reif Vidal Icewine 2012 ($25 for 200 mL)
Tawse Spark Brut Sparkling 2012 ($15 for 375 mL)
Pondview Bella Terra Chardonnay 2011 ($25)
Tawse Daniel Lenko Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 ($45)
Nyarai Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($20)
Calamus Cosmic Red 2011 ($18)
Tawse Laidlaw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 ($45)
Vintage Ink Pinot Noir 2012 ($18)