A little bit of everything in terms of Niagara wines is being offered at the Vintages release this Saturday.
Here’s what I can highly recommend from the release.
Fielding Estate Cabernet/Syrah 2012 ($25, 90 points) — Fielding winemaker Richie Roberts (above photo) always does a nice job with his red blends. This combination of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Syrah (30%) and the rest Cabernet Franc was aged separately in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 16 months then combined in tank to integrate before being bottled with minimal filtration. The aromatics are lovely with sweet cassis, blueberry, smoky cedar, bramble, mocha and spice. It already has pretty good balance on the palate with blueberry-cassis-currant fruit, pepper, barrel spices and good texture and verve through the finish. Drink now or cellar for three years.
Cave Spring Cellars CSV Riesling 2012, Niagara ($30, 94 points) — A stunning Riesling from start to finish with a nose of Asian pear, apple blossom, orange rind, lemon, lifted white flowers, stony minerality and beeswax. It is so beautiful on the palate with substance, electricity, and flavours that range from pear and ginger notes to apple, apricot, anise and honeycomb. This beauty grabs you from the first sip with its range of flavours, subtle spices and mouth-watering acidity to the complex array of flinty minerals and nuances that build in intensity.
Featherstone Gewurztraminer 2013 ($20, 89 points) — One of the most consistently well-made Gews in Niagara vintage after vintage. The nose shouts lychee, rose petals, spicy grapefruit, ginger, nutmeg and citrus. It has lovely texture on the palate with grapefruit-citrus and papaya-guava fruits all delivered with a touch of sweetness. A balanced wine with equal parts spice and fruit.
Norman Hardie Chardonnay Unfiltered 2012, Niagara ($39, 90 points) — Prince Edward County winemaker/owner Norm Hardie sources this fruit from the St. Davids Bench in Niagara. The nose shows rich pear and apple fruit, soft vanilla spice and nutmeg. It’s surprisingly fresh, considering the vintage, with orchard fruits, a vein of citrus and underlying acidity and minerality through the finish. An elegant and poised wine from start to finish.
13th Street Merlot 2013 ($18, 87 points) — A funny thing happened to 13th Street when it released this unoaked 2012 Merlot a year ago out of necessity. It flew off the shelves at the LCBO. The reviews were positive with a few even mentioning the “oak” nuances while not realizing it was made completely oak free. Fast-forward a year, and the unoaked version of this Merlot is back. The nose shows pure cherry, raspberry and plum fruit on the nose. It’s bright and cheerful on the palate with non-aggressive tannins, red fruits and racy acidity. Simple, yes, but delicious nonetheless.
Flat Rock Cellars Pink Twisted 2014 ($17, 90 points) — What a crazy concept, as are all the Twisted concoctions dreamed up by the inventive minds at Flat Rock. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Riesling with the Pinot and Syrah skin fermented. The Syrah was aged in oak for a few months and a portion of the Pinot Noir was, as well. Says winemaker Jay Johnston: “We wanted the balance of the slightly off-dry Riesling to work with the structure and tannin from the skin fermented reds.” Crazy as it sounds, it does work. It has a complex nose of lovely apple, spice, citrus, pear and light red fruits such as cherry and raspberry. You can feel light tannins on the palate and it brims with flavours of red fruits, apple and bramble with a touch of sweetness to go with good structure and a juicy finish. Is it a red? A white? I don’t know, it’s kind of twisted, but in a good way. Serve it chilled on warm summer’s day for both red and white fans. This is that happy middle ground.
Also being released but not reviewed:
• Reif Vidal Icewine 2013 ($25 for 200 ml)
• Henry of Pelham Riesling 2012 ($18)