No preamble today, it’s summer, and who the heck has time to read while all this sunshine and glorious heat surrounds us. Just a few reviews for your consideration from some great Ontario wineries including Niagara’s Vineland Estate, Tawse Winery, Kacaba and Prince Edward County’s Casa-Dea.
Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard 2014 ($20, 91 points) — Winemaker Brian Schmidt draws from the best parcels of his beloved St. Urban Vineyard, planted in 1979, for the Elevation Riesling. With the 2012 vintage all but sold out and the winemaker taking a pass on the 2013 vintage at this level, consumers will nonetheless be impressed with this wine. It has such a beautiful nose of lime, minerals and wisps of grapefruit and honey. It shows complexity on the palate and builds in momentum showing wet stone and citrus/lime zest with a dollop of honey sweetness. But, still, there is the kick-ass freshness from the lively acidity that keeps everything in balance.
Vineland Estate Reserve Riesling 2013 ($30, 92 points) — Winemaker Brian Schmidt takes his inspiration from the Mosel for this top Riesling from the estate. I guarantee no one else comes close to matching this style in Niagara. The nose reveals lime, ginger-jasmine, river-rock minerality, acacia blossoms, quince and a subtle white peppery note. It has some unctuousness to it, some texture, with concentrated and juicy fruits and deep, earthy mineral notes. You get the sense that this wine is just beginning to give of itself and there is much more to come. Buy and hold for 5+ years.
Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 ($36, just released, 92 points) — Consistently one of the finest Chardonnays made in Ontario (and a one-time Wines In Niagara White Wine of the Year). It is always about elegance and finesse even in warmer vintages such as 2012. It’s made with certified organic and biodynamic fruit and aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. The nose shows purity of apple, citrus and pear fruit with subtle oak spice and minerals. It’s layered on the palate with bursts of citrus, soft green apple, quince, wet-stone minerality and integrated spice all lifted by freshening acidity. Perfectly balanced and poised.
Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir 2011 ($27, winery and Vintages, 91 points) – A gorgeous nose of pure and pretty cherry, currants, small wild berries and raspberry with seamlessly integrated spices. Simply delicious in the mouth with rich and savoury red fruits, spice and smooth, silky tannins. A joy all the way through the finish.
Tawse Meritage 2011 ($60, winery, Vintages Classics Catalogue in the fall, 90 points) — The blend is 36% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 32% Cabernet Franc and aged in French oak for 18 months. A complex and full-throttle nose of cherries, cassis, cedar, plums and rousing spice notes. It’s warm and plush in the mouth with an array of fruit flavours, herbs, spice and grippy, structured tannins. Will age well.
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2014 ($18, not released yet, Vintages in the fall, 90 points) — Zingy lime, orange blossom, citrus rind and ginger notes on the nose. It’s a polished Riesling with good balance and a playful tug of sweet-tart citrus and tangerine fruit on the palate with hints of ginger and minerals. Very nice Riesling.
Tawse Limestone Ridge (North) Riesling 2013 ($22, winery now, Vintages in December, 91 points) — This is the second vintage from the organically and biodynamically farmed Limestone Ridge Vineyard on the 20 Mile Bench. It has an interesting and floral nose of distinct river-bed minerality, green apple and racy citrus. The polished apple notes are joined by a range of citrus fruit on the palate with a vein of minerality and honey through a refreshing finish.
Tawse Chardonnay Icewine 2013 ($35 for 200 ml, released in September, 94 points) — Sensational oak-aged sweetie that will have you rethinking icewine. A powerful nose of peach compote, grilled pineapple, tropical fruit and layers of exotic spice. It is thick, rich, complex and silky on the palate with peach cobbler, pineapple, marmalade, caramel and nutmeg-cinnamon spice that’s all balanced out by racy acidity. As noted, just sensational.
Kacaba Vineyards Winery
Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2014 ($14, LCBO, 87 points) — A nose of white peach, apricot and citrus on the nose. It’s quite dry on the palate with lovely and pure citrus, grapefruit and stone fruit in a brisk, fresh style.
Kacaba Rebecca Rose 2014 ($15, winery, 88 points) — A basket of red fruits on the nose of this Gamay-based rose. Refreshingly dry style with bold red fruits and plenty of depth of flavour. Nice summer refresher.
Kacaba Riesling Reserve 2014 ($18, winery, 89 points) — A nose of lemon, lime, Mandarin orange, tangerine and peach. It’s dry on the palate and dripping in citrus with a touch of orange and tropical fruits and subtle minerality.
Kacaba Jennifer’s Pinot Gris 2014 ($18, winery, 90 points) — I love this wine with its obvious skin contact resulting in the darkest copper colour I’ve seen on Pinot Gris in Ontario. The nose shows interesting pink grapefruit, apple skin, cranberry and field raspberry. It’s delicious on the palate with red fruits, apple and citrus fruit with a touch of tannins and good, refreshing acidity.
Casa-Dea Estate Winery
(Prince Edward County)
Casa-Dea Melon de Bourgogne 2014 ($19, 88 points) — A nose that shouts SUMMER with beautiful cantaloupe, melon, spicy pear, lime and guava. In the mouth, it’s a crisp and vibrant wine with citrus, lime and melon fruit balanced by racy acidity.
Casa-Dea Eva 2014 ($45, 91 points) — Made in the appassimento style with 100% of the Chardonnay dried with six months of barrel aging following that. It has a feral, totally wild and funky nose of poached pear, pineapple, apple pie, butter, cream and caramel. It’s creamy, textured and soft on the palate with layers of spicy and concentrated fruit and vanilla/toasty flavours. Interesting wine from winemaker Paul Battilana that is finished with a whopping 15% alcohol.
Casa-Dea Pinot Noir 2011 ($20, 91 points) — Love the nose on this personable Pinot with its kirsch, raspberry, bramble and crunchy spices. The palate shows savoury red fruits, subtle minerality, a nice texture finesse throught the finish.
Casa-Dea Cabernet Franc Reserve 2010 ($25, 92 points) — This big Cab Franc spent 24 months in oak. It has a bold and spicy nose of cherry, raspberry, cassis and currants with savoury herbs, tobacco and cedar notes. It’s juicy and rocking on the palate with rich red fruits, loamy underbrush, and layers of spice on a bed of ripe tannins. Drinking fine right now but can age further.