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Niagara wine recommendations for Saturday’s Vintages release; plus new release reviews for Tawse, Cuddy, Foreign Affair, Rockway Vineyards


The Vintages release this Saturday, July 23, features no less than five wines from the excellent 2012 vintage across a range of varieties. It’s hard to believe these wines keep popping up. Will we ever get to the end of this vintage?

They are delicious, to be sure, but at some point we have to move on.

I’ve highlighted a couple, both from 2012, and listed the full range of Niagara wines being released. As well, there are full reviews for new wines from Tawse (including the new Cuddy wines), Foreign Affair’s excellent appassimento Cab Franc, and a selection from Rockway Vineyards.

First, the Vintages releases:

Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2012 ($19, 89 points) — From the estate’s Limestone Vineyard South on the Twenty Mile Bench. The fruit from the Riesling in this vineyard is split between north and south with half going to Tawse and half going to Redstone. The nose shows penetrating notes of lime, grapefruit, quince and a lovely floral note. It’s round and succulent on the palate with honey-kissed grapefruit and lemon-lime flavours that find balance from the acidity.

13th Street Cabernet Merlot 2012 ($20, 90 points) — The hot, near-perfect growing season of 2012 provided the backdrop for some very fine Bordeaux red blends in Ontario. 13th Street has done just that and they have done it an attractive price. The nose shows rich black currants, black cherry, ripe plums, bramble bush undertones and an array of spices. It possesses lovely texture on the palate with chewy tannins, rich, opulent fruit that’s highly extracted to go with layers of spices, a hint of licorice and a fairly long finish. Can age this nicely for a few years.

Other Niagara wines released Saturday, but not reviewed:

• The Organized Crime Fume Blanc 2012 ($17)
• 16 Mile Cellar Rebel Pinot Noir 2011 ($23)
• Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2012 ($28)
• Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 ($30)
• Megalomaniac Almost Grounded Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($19)
• Pondview Cabernet Franc Rose 2015 ($15)
• Reif Vidal Icewine 2013 ($25 for 200 mL)
• Fielding White Conception 2013 ($19)
• Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($20)
• Megalomaniac Savvy Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($17)

New releases from Tawse:


Cuddy by Tawse Cab Merlot 2013 ($25, winery, Vintages Sept. 17, 88 points) — A nose of cherry, raspberry, violets and subtle spice notes. It’s vibrant on the palate with rich red fruits, herbs and spice with moderate tannins and good acidity.


Cuddy by Tawse Chardonnay 2013 ($25, winery, Vintages Sept. 17, 90 points) — A nose of Bosc pear, apple, elegant oak spices and toasted vanilla. It is nicely put together on the palate with bright orchard fruit, lovely balancing spice and plenty of freshness through the finish.

Tawse Spark 2014 ($25, winery, 88 points) — This sparkler is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris that’s made in the traditional method with 12 months of lees aging. It’s always made as a fun wine for sharing with friends on a nice summer day. The nose shows ripe orchard peach, lemon and grapefruit. It’s fresh and fruity on the palate with plenty of orchard fruits and delivered on a soft mousse with a brisk, lively finish.

Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Riesling 2014 ($24, winery, Vintages, 91 points) — The high content of limestone in this vineyard offers profound river-rock minerality to go with lime, peach and pure, fresh apple aromas. It lights up on the palate with brilliant tension between sweet and tart fruit. The lovely lime, citrus and orchard fruits play nicely with the minerals and salinity of this juicy Riesling.

2015 Redfoot Pinot GrisTawse Redfoot Vineyard Pinot Gris 2015 ($25, winery, 88 points) — A nose of apple crisp, peach and citrus that’s fresh and bright. It’s a touch off-dry on the palate but balanced out by the racy acidity and highlights a range of peach and apple notes. Good summer sipper.

Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2014 ($25, winery, 91 points) — A highly aromatic nose of lychee, cloves, talc, rose petals and spicy grapefruit notes. It is off-dry in the mouth with an oily texture, exotic spices and concentrated grapefruit and pear through a long, long finish. A beautiful match with savoury cuisine.

2015 Unoaked Chard

Tawse Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 ($20, winery, 89 points) — A pure and attractive nose of pear, nectarine, apple and mineral. It’s bright and sassy on the palate with lovely texture and verve to go with a healthy basket of orchard fruit and bright acidity.

Tawse Sketches Chardonnay 2013 ($20, Vintages Essential available when 2012 runs out, 90 points) — Interesting Chard that’s barrel fermented and barrel aged for 12 months in French oak. The nose has a floral note to open with apple skin, pear, mineral and subtle citrus. The palate reveals fine oak spice with juicy and rich pear and apple fruit that’s all perfectly balanced with vibrancy through the finish. Very good value here.


Tawse Sparkling “Strong” Cider ($13 for 750 mL, winery, 88 points) — This sparkling version of Tawse’s cider program (a slightly sweeter style is available at Redstone Winery on tap) is made unfiltered and unpasteurized and finished at 8% abv. It’s not for everyone, only those who enjoy a little adventure with their tipples. It has a vigorous mousse and pours a hazy, cloudy golden golden hue. The nose shows bin apples, pear, citrus and a sublime, almost tropical/mango note. It is made completely dry, a rustic style with a mellow, bitter-crisp feel on the palate. The fruit is all about the muted apple with an earthy, smoky note on the finish.

A new release from Foreign Affair:


Foreign Affair Apologetic Red 2013 ($70, winery, Vintages Sept. 16, 92 points) — Winery owner Len Crispino released this wine (appropriately) on Canada Day as a humorous nod to Canadians and their apologetic nature. Called Apologetic with “sorry” written on the front label and “not sorry” written on the back label, Crispino believes it is time from Canadians to stop apologizing and start celebrating the “plethora of excellence” that is all around them. “Our dream and belief is that Canadians can compete with the rest of the world, and win,” he says.

This is 100% Cabernet Franc with 52% of the grapes dried for 125 days in the appassimento style. It is a beautiful thing with a thick and rich nose of cassic, black currants, fine herbs, plums, gorgeous oak spice and sweet cedar undertones. The dark, juicy fruits are joined by kirsch, rousing spice notes and electric acidity on the palate. It has texture and elegant tannins and the stuffing to improve for 10 years or more. It’s a big wine made with 15% abv but shows poise and balance.

New releases from Rockway Vineyards:

Rockway Vineyards Patio 9 Pink 2015 ($14, 87 points) — A perky, spritzy rose-style patio wine made from Vidal and Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose shows strawberry, watermelon and cotton candy. It’s off-day on the palate, but not overly, with a gentle spritz and an array of red fruits and tangy acidity.

Rockway Vineyards Patio 9 White 2015 ($14, 88 points) — The Patio 9 wines from Rockway are made with only 9% alcohol and are always enjoyable sippers in between nines at the golf club or simply passing the time with friends in the backyard on a hot summer’s day. The white version is made from 100% Vidal with a nose of peach, lime and apple aromas. It has lovely flavours of citrus, white peach and green apple with a refreshing finish.

2013 rieslingRockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2014 ($20, 91 points) — A gorgeous nose of fresh-squeezed lime, grapefruit, wet-stone minerality and summer peach. This is loaded with juicy fruit on the palate and made in a less austere style than previous vintages and combines citrus, apple and pear with a touch of wild-flower honey all balanced by fairly healthy acidity. Great job here.

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block Merlot 2013 ($22, winery, 88 points) —A spicy/earthy red with cherry, cassis and leather notes on the palate. The red fruits are more evident on the palate to go with a range of savoury spices and balanced by firm acidity.

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Grand Reserve Meritage 2011 ($40, 92 points) — A blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Cabernet Franc and the rest Merlot, this is an excellent job from the cooler 2011 vintage. The nose rocks with ripe blackberry, thick, rich black cherry pie, loam, leather, pepper and a range of elegant spice notes. The fruit is nicely integrated on the palate with a full range of ripe fruits and hearty mix of earth and spice all bolstered by the racy acidity of the vintage. Bravo!

2013cabfranc (165x640)Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc 2013 ($23, 91 points) — A nose of concentrated black cherry, licorice, raspberry, herbs, cedar and a range of savoury spice notes. It’s lush and quite rich on the palate with structured tannins and penetrating red fruits, stylish oak spices and generous acidity.