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CB Riesling, Kabang and Twisted highlight Vintages’ Niagara wine release; plus a whole bunch of good vino from around the planet


Oh, boy, a big post today in advance of the Vintages release this Saturday, including recommendations for new Niagara wine releases, a treat from the Okanagan and some special offers.

This report includes a wide-range of Niagara wines, a beauty from Robert Mondavi and some Italian wines hitting the shelves.

So dig in, it’s summer, stock up!


Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Riesling 2015 ($27, 92 points) — Charles Baker sources his Riesling from Bob Nedelko’s 1.1-acre vineyard on the Twenty Mile Bench. The soil there is laden in mineral-rich limestone. Baker hand-picks and sorts the grapes, tosses into a tank and lets them ferment slowly while sitting on the lees. The result is 700 cases destined for Vintages this coming Saturday. It has an interesting and complex nose of lime cordial, tangerine, white peach, honeysuckle, minerals and a lovely salinity wafting from the glass. It’s a drier expression than I am used to from CB with flavours of grapefruit, lime, river-rock freshness and some savoury notes through the finish. Highly personable Riesling.

Kabang Gewurztraminer 2013 ($18, 88 points) — With a bit of bottle age, this Gew from Stratus Vineyards (made under the Kabang label) is rounding into form. It is a restrained Gewurztraminer with a balanced nose of grapefruit, pear, lychee, cloves and nutmeg. It has a dry impression on the palate and lots of exotic spice notes to go with ripe grapefruit and marzipan.

NOTE: See review for Wildass Rose below.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Red Meritage 2012 ($25, 90 points) — A nose of dark fruits, earth tones, smoke, cedar, spice and integrated herbs. It’s gorgeous on the palate with dark cassis, currants, ripe cherry, spice, gritty tannins and long finish. A well-balanced red blend that is aging well.

llSDB-Chardonnay 2012

Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 ($20, 89 points) — A rich and expressive style of Chardonnay with a nose of pear, tropical fruits, vanilla and elegant French oak spices. With lovely mouth-feel, this is a pristine expression of Niagara Chardonnay with well-integrated fruit and spice and balancing acidity.

NOTE: More reviews for Chateau des Charmes wines below.


Flat Rock Pink Twisted Rose 2015 ($17, 88 points) — This is a new blend from Flat Rock with Gamay, Cabernet Franc and a splash of Riesling. The nose shows ripe, vibrant red fruits with subtle earthiness. It’s perfectly gulpable with pure red fruits and lovely freshness on the palate. A delightful addition to the Twisted family.

NOTE: More reviews for Flat Rock wines below.


Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2013 ($30, 91 points) — Grapes are hand-picked from the oldest vineyard on the estate’s Short Hills Bench and fermented in French oak barrels. An elegant nose of pear, stylish oak spices, apple crisp and citrus for balance. It’s rich and and intense on the palate with caressing pear, apple and citrus and lovely oak spices that are just starting to integrate. I want to pair this with lobster from P.E.I. and melted butter and garlic.

Featherstone Rose 2015 ($16, 88 points) — Made from a quartet of red grapes with at least half the fruit Cabernet Franc. The nose is bold with rich red fruits in a bright and cheerful style. It’s made with just a touch of sweetness and shows a basket of red fruits that are ripe and sassy.

Flagship stores only


Pearl Morissette Cuvee Dix-Neuvieme Chardonnay 2013 ($38, wasn’t bottled when tasted, so did not score it) — A completely different expression of Chardonnay from Francois Morissette. Noticeable reduction with citrus, nougat and sweet subtle spices on the nose. The texture is gorgeous with spicy vanilla, pear and a tangy vein of citrus through the finish.

A treat from B.C.

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2014, Okanagan Valley ($20, 89 points) — A nose of pear, citrus, toasted vanilla and subtle minerality. It has youthful vigour on the palate with toasted oak spices, bright citrus, pear and a mélange of tropical fruit notes. Good length through the finish.

A Chianti Classico to look for

Uggiano Prestige Chianti Classico 2010 ($17, arrived at Vintages in June, 90 points) — What a lovely Chianti Classico at a fabulous price. It has a subtle nose of crushed blackberries, cherries, sandalwood and barrel spices. It has wonderful mouthfeel, supple tannins with a perfectly mature array of plums, blackberries and red fruits with well-integrated spices.

Available by special order at Vintages


robert-mondavi-winery-maestro-2013Robert Mondavi 50th Anniversary Maestro Red 2013, Napa Valley ($60, order here, 90 points) — This is a special one-off release from the legendary Mondavi winery in Napa Valley to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Here, in the words of the Mondavi marketing crew, is the reason this wine was made and why it’s named “Maestro.”


“When creating Maestro for our 50th anniversary, we were inspired by memories of Robert Mondavi. To celebrate the 2000 opening of our To Kalon Cellar, Robert Mondavi commissioned a special piece of music. At the gala, when the orchestra began to play, he took the baton and began conducting. We realized that Robert Mondavi was the maestro of our lives. His vision and passion guides us. He will always be the maestro of this winery, and our inspiration.”

RMW_2013_Maestro_NapaValley_lowResIt’s a blend of 59% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. It has a ripe nose of plums, blackberries, earth/savoury spices and jammy red fruits. It is complex with juicy, ripe fruits and elegant oak spices on the palate. It is mouth-filling, with firm structure and an abundance of tannins yet has finesse and elegance through the finish. It will show better in five+ years and come into some sort of balance.

Other Niagara wines released, but not reviewed:

  • Flat Rock The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2013 ($25)
  • Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2013 ($18)
  • Tawse Gamay Noir 2014 ($19(
  • Megalomaniac Selfie 2015 ($18)

Other wines reviewed

228428-ch-teau-des-charmes-cuv-e-d-andr-e-ros-2015-label-1465230126Chateau des Charmes Cuvee D’Andree Rose 2015 ($16, Vintages, 88 points) — A brilliant, deep pink colour that is achieved from soaking the Pinot Noir grapes overnight. This has lovely, fresh aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry that follows to the palate in a relatively dry style.

EastDell Pinot Grigio 2015 ($14, 88 points) — A light, crisp every day white with a nose of melon and fresh orchard fruit. It’s crisp on the palate with a range of apple, pear and peach with just a touch of sweetness.

EastDell Black Cab 2014 ($14, 88 points) — This signature blend of Cabernet and Baco Noir shows aromas of blackberries, licorice, cherry, vanilla, earth and savoury spices. It’s flavour-packed on the palate with medium+ tannins and cocoa notes on the finish.

Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling 2015 ($25, 92 points) — Nadja’s is a statement wine from this Twenty Mile Bench producer that gets better with each vintage. There is lime, peach, honeysuckle and bright citrus on the nose all playing a supporting role to the profound minerality imparted by the vineyard. It’s a beautiful Riesling on the palate. It’s rich and layered with intense lime, peach and apple flavours balanced out by freshening acidity and river-rock minerals.

Flat Rock Red Twisted 2012 ($23, 90 points) — This version of the Red Twisted features Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlot. It’s earthy and peppery on the nose with meaty blueberry, cedar, violets, licorice and boysenberry. An array of red fruit emerges on the palate with spicy-peppery notes, cassis and herbs to go with lovely texture and fine tannins.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280-2Wildass Rose 2015 ($18, winery and Vintages, 89 points) — The assemblage on this Stratus wine is Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The nose shows rhubarb, strawberry, cherry, summer herbs and earthy bits. The palate reveals lovely subtle red fruits and herbs in a balanced style. Great food rose.

BacoSFRLabelShotHenry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir 2014 ($25, winery now, Vintages Sept. 17, 91 points) — This the first Baco Noir to be elevated to the estate’s top tier Family Reserve status. The fruit is sourced from the oldest vines on the Short Hills Bench and aged in premium oak barrels for 18+ months. It has a rich and savoury nose of cassis, blueberry, bramble, licorice and bold spice notes. It’s ripe and big (15% alcohol) on the palate with a heady fruit profile of cassis, currants and blueberry with rich barrel spices and cracked black pepper corns.

Pondview Viognier 2015 ($17, 88 points) — Juicy describes this incarnation of Viognier with a vivid nose of peach, tangerine, mango and apricot fruit. It’s quite tropical on the palate, with soft orchard fruits and a citrus blast on the finish. Interesting Vio.

Burnt Ship Bay Pinot Grigio 2015 ($15, LCBO, 88 points) — A fresh and bright expression of this grape with a nose of tropical fruit, melon and peach. It’s fruit-packed on the palate and juicy acidity to keep it fresh and perky.

Burnt Ship Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2015 ($15, LCBO, 87 points) — A rich and ripe nose of black cherry, raspberry, cassis and moderate spice notes. Well-done at this price point with some structure and evident tannins to go with a range of red fruits and blackberries.

Three Italian wines that we could see at Vintages

Chiorri Zeffiro IGT Umbria Bianco 2015 ($16, 88 points) — A white blend of Trebbiano Procanico (70) and Grechetto (30%). The nose shows pear, citrus, bruised apple and tropical fruits. It’s round and juicy on the palate with easy going flavous of pear and apple for summer drinking.

Chiorri Grechetto Umbria 2015 ($14, 87 points) — Pleasant aromas for ripe apples, pear and lightly spiced. It’s a round and plump offering on the palate for every day drinking.

Chiorri Sangiovese 2015 ($15, 87 points) — A nose of bright cherry, raspberry, mulberry and vanilla/spice. It’s a fruit-packed wine on the palate with licorice, vanilla and toasted spice accents.