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Another small Niagara wine release at Vintages Saturday, plus Del Rollo honoured, and a note from Chef Crawford on the new Backhouse restaurant

14242951983_04870dbc38It’s yet another limited release of Ontario wines at Vintages this Saturday with only a smattering of new Niagara wines available to consumers.
It’s been a low start at the government monopoly in terms of local wines being released while other regions take the spotlight. But there are some very nice wines in the release for lovers of Niagara wines.

We have some recommendations, plus a few international wines to suggest and news to share on Jackson-Triggs’ Del Rollo’s recent honour and some culinary news about a new restaurant project, Backhouse, in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Here are the Niagara wines being released Saturday:

Redstone Chardonnay 2011 ($19, 90 points) — This Chard, a sourced vineyard blend all from the Beamsville Bench, was made using wild fermentation and aged for 12 months in French oak. When I originally tasted this at Tawse (Redstone is owned by Moray Tawse) with winemaker Rene Van Ede the price listed was $32, so at $19, it seems like a pretty good bargain. The nose shows pear, citrus, juicy apple and stylish oak spice and subtle minerality. Pear fruit and balancing spice dominate on the palate of this elegant and juicy Chard. The new winery on King St. in Beamsville  opens in May.
Coyote’s Run Pinot Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 ($25, 89 points) — The distinctive red Trafalgar clay loam of the Red Paw Vineyard is rather scarce in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region. Formed by the weathering of the underlying Queenston shale bedrock, this soil is particularly old (450 million years). Stony, rich in iron (hence the red color), with little organic content, this soil is particularly infertile, and thus quite good for growing premium wine grapes. The nose shows black cherry, strawberry, and lovely spices. It’s quite rich on the palate with integrated red fruits, a silky feel and ripe tannic structure.

Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2012 ($25, 90 points) — The Speck brothers apply extended maturation and vigorous cap management during fermentation to extract natural and rich fruit. The wine is aged for 15 months in a combination of new and one- to two-year-old American oak. The nose displays spicy raspberry-cherry fruit, a dollop of blueberry jam, wood spices, leather and a touch of smoky black currants. It shows great concentration on the palate with rich cassis and currant fruit to go with rousing spice notes and ripe tannins. Quite a mouthful here and it may need a year or two to better integrate.

Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 ($20 for 200 ml, 92 points) — A sweet and intense nose of bramble, raspberry and strawberry. It’s smooth on the palate, like strawberry shortcake and raspberries in cream with a sweet, exotic edge through the long, luxurious finish. Delicious.

Other wines released but not reviewed:

Featherstone Select Late Harvest Cabernet Franc 2011 ($20, 375 ml)
Celine Dion Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 ($75, 375 ml)

International wines I can highly recommend from the Vintages release (or tfrom he last couple of releases):

photo 5Chateau Belle-Vue 2010, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux ($33, 91) — This is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 20% Petit Verdot. A real bargain at this price, with a nose of ripe cassis compote, currants, a touch of raspberry, forest floor, oak spice and bramble. It is thick and ripe on the palate with dark berries, concentrated cherry-raspberry, toasted spices and soft, rounded tannins. Find it if you can, there is still come kicking around.

photo 4Domaine Galaman Fitou 2013, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($17, 91 points) — This is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah with a lovely nose of meaty/earthy red fruits, forest floor and sweet spices. The interesting dark fruits on the palate are bold, intense and juicy with firm tannins and expressive spice notes.

San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave 2013, Veneto, Italy ($14, 89 points) — Made from organic Garganega grapes, the nose displays refreshing citrus, white flowers, almond paste, melon and soft peach notes. It’s a perfect spring white with flavours of lemon, grapefruit and a slight creamy note on a zesty-zingy frame.

Dominio Dostares Estay Prieto Picudo 2011, Castilla e Leon, Spain ($16, 90) — Concentrated raspberry, cherry, currants and lavish spices on the nose of this very different Spanish red. In the mouth look for full-on red fruit, blueberries, raspberry jam and spices with good tannic grip and length.

Maipe Reserve Bonarda 2012, Mendoza ($16, 88 points) — A rustic nose of anise, smoke, blackberries and violets. It’s quite smooth on the palate with smoky dark fruits, savoury spices and good balancing acidity.

Jackson-Triggs’ Del Rollo honoured

2015.Spirit of Niagara.Del Rollo.(From supplied information)
During the Spirit of Niagara Awards, hosted at the Queen’s Landing Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Del Rollo, Director of Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin Estate Wineries (with his wife Lisa in the above photo), was awarded the evening’s Celia Liu Award for his outstanding commitment to delivering excellence in hospitality.

New to this year’s awards line-up, the Celia Liu Award for Excellence in Hospitality was created in remembrance of Niagara’s most highly regarded innkeeper. She was a member of many Chamber Board committees and a driving force behind the energy that raised the profile of Niagara-on-the-Lake as the number one wine and culinary destination in Canada.

 Rollo was honoured with the award following his 15 years in Niagara’s hospitality industry and his continued positive and unifying influence on various sectors of the community. As Director of Hospitality for both Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin Wineries, Del has raised the bar, not only with his ongoing passion to drive international awareness of the Niagara region, but also his commitment to showcase the hard-work of the areas many growers, wineries, educational institutions and hospitality partners.

In addition, Del has made it a priority to give back to the community, not only by joining efforts with charitable partners like Habitat for Humanity, but by also making a conscious effort to grow his team with local talent , like emerging Niagara College students.

“Del’s passion and admiration for the Niagara region simply emanates in all he does,” said Ben Dollard, President, Constellation Brands Canada Inc., “we are very proud of all he has accomplished over the years and look forward to Del’s continued journey in bringing the Niagara region into the spotlight.”

“I was truly humbled by the award last night. To be surrounded by all of my best friends, family and colleagues it made it truly a life moment, said Del Rollo, Director Niagara Estates and Government Relations. “I am so honoured to receive this award and I was happy to accept this on behalf of my entire team as they are the backbone of what we do every day.”

Chef Crawford getting new restaurant in ship shape

unnamedChef Ryan Crawford and his wife Beverley Hotchkiss posted via their Facebook page that they are happy to announce their new restaurant Backhouse is under construction in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“After two years of searching we have found ourselves back home, in the heart of Niagara on the Lake, where Ryan first honed his skills and cooked for you at the Stone Road Grille. This is where Ryan and I met, fell in love and married. We moved back to Niagara-on-the-Lake in September and shortly thereafter the space of the former Stone Road Grille became available. We will be set to open this spring and we are so thrilled to announce that Chef Crawford is back in the house!  
“We look forward to hosting you in the near future, and thanks for your continued support!

“We couldn’t do this without you!”

— Bev and Ryan