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A pair of Niagara sparklers lead the pack at the Vintages release on Saturday


A couple of lovely sparklers — one complex, rich and nicely aged, the other refreshing and offers good value — are the stars of the Niagara wine releases at Vintages this Saturday.

Here’s what to look for.

showcaseTrius Showcase 5 Blanc de Noirs 2009 ($65, 93 points) — This was so new when I tasted it a year ago with winemaker Craig McDonald that he wasn’t even sure what it would be called. It is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir from the Lawrie Vineyard (Four-Mile Creek) and 30% Pinot Meunier. It spent five years on its lees with only a tiny amount of sugar added to the dosage. It has a gorgeous light copper colour and an expressive nose of melba toast, light red fruits, violets, loam, brioche and strawberry cream. It has a lively mousse and an array of complex red fruits with touches of earth and creamy notes that are silky and delicate through the palate. Such a beautiful sparkling wine made in a near bone-dry style.

Tawse Limestone Ridge Riesling Spark 2013 ($20, 89 points) – A single-vineyard Riesling sparkler made in the traditional method. A toasty-yeasty nose of bright lemon-citrus and baked apple. It is brilliantly refreshing and feels quite dry on the palate despite 12 grams/litre of residual sugar. The flavours are all about the lemon and grapefruit, which is juicy in the mouth and lifted by racy acidity.

Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2011 ($32, flagship stores only, 91 points) — Laundry Vineyard is in the Lincoln-Lakeshore sub appellation and home to some of the oldest Cabernet Franc vines in Niagara. The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak. The nose shows bramble, wild raspberry, savoury cherry, cassis and mocha spice. It’s bursting with red fruit flavours on the palate and backed up by roasted herbs, wet tobacco leaf and mint spices on a highly structured frame. Could hold this for a couple of years. Classic Niagara Cab Franc.

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2013 ($20, 90 points) — There is no question winemaker David Stasiuk likes his Rieslings on the taut and racy side; even in an acid-rich vintage such as 2013 he’ll add a little extra to give them a razor-sharp finish. I’m not entirely convinced Niagara Rieslings need the extra “help” but it’s a style this winemaker prefers, and that is his prerogative. The Small Lot is a little less severe than his Jenkins Riesling with a mass of citrus fruit and minerals on the nose. “This tastes like the property to me,” says Stasiuk. The palate reveals peach, lemon, confectionery fruit and mineral notes in a rounder, plusher style with just a touch of sweetness.

Other wines released Saturday but not reviewed:

  • Megalomaniac Grounded Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 ($35 for 200 ml)
  • Flat Rock Chardonnay 2012 ($19)
  • Burning Kiln M-1 Merlot 2013 ($35)
  • Smoke and Gamble Reserve Cabernet/Merlot 2013 ($20)
  • Wildass Red 2012 ($20)
  • Fiedling Estate Rose 2014 ($16)
  • Pondview Cabernet Franc Rose 2014 ($15)
  • Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rose 2014 ($16)
  • Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut 2011 ($25)