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Vintages release Saturday: Flat Rock, Tawse, Calamus, plus new wines from Chateau des Charmes, Diamond Estates, Sue-Ann Staff


Saturday’s Vintages release features some fine Ontario juice, mostly from Niagara, with an intriguing selection of Prince Edward County wines we rarely see at the LCBO.

I offer my Niagara picks of the release, list the PEC wines and provide a round up of new releases from Diamond Estate’s new McMichael Collection, a pair of premier wines from one of Niagara’s best plots of land — Chateau des Charmes’ Paul Bosc Vineyard, and a new rosé from Sue-Ann Staff’s Fancy Farm Girl series.

From the Aug. 20 Vintages release:

Flat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling 2009 ($30, 91 points) — The base wine is 92% Chardonnay with the rest Pinot Noir and spends four years on the lees before disgorging. The nose shows lovely and inviting brioche, toast, lemon-lime, grapefruit and apple notes. A soft but persistent mousse delivers an array of bright lime, green apple and creamy pear notes in this nicely aged and mature sparkling wine.

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2014 ($18, 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.

Calamus Steely Chardonnay 2013 ($15, 87 points) — It’s made with no oak but partial malo for added texture. It has lovely aromatics of fresh apple, pear, some melon and citrus. It’s all about the fruit-forward flavours on the palate with a crisp, clean finish.

Other Niagara wines being released, but not reviewed:

  • Cave Spring Indian Summer Select Late Harvest Riesling 2013 ($25 for 375 mL)
  • Sunnybrook Estate Series Strawberry Wine 2014 ($23)
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musque 2014 ($17)

Wines from Prince Edward County being released:

  • Lighthall Vineyards Progression Sparkling Wine 2014 ($20)
  • Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 ($29)
  • Trail Estate Riesling 2014 ($20)
  • Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2014 ($45)

Some other Niagara wines recently tasted:


Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Foxy Pink 2014 ($15, LCBO, 88 points) — A different unique blend of 92% Riesling and 8% Cabernet Franc, but it works nicely here under Sue-Ann Staff’s guidance. It has a vibrant, electric nose of raspberry, cherries, grapefruit, apple and brilliant citrus fruit. It’s a touch off-dry on the palate, but well balanced by the racy acidity that highlights a mélange of citrus, apple and red berries. Refreshing and thirst-quenching.

McMichaelVformationMcMichael Collection Group of Seven Chardonnay 2014 ($15, LCBO, 88 points) — Diamond Estates has created this label in support of the McMichael Art Collection in Kleinburg that features artist labels from the Group of Seven. A portion of the proceeds help preserve the art collection. This unoaked Chard has a highly aromatic nose of fresh peaches, pear and citrus notes. On the palate it’s clean, pure and crisp with a range of orchard fruits and citrus all lifted by bright acidity.

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot 2014 ($15, LCBO, 87 points) — Intense nose of cherry, cassis, blackberry, raspberry and subtle oak spice. The fruit is on the darker side on the palate with good acidity and moderate spice notes.


Chateau des Charmes Paul Bosc Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 ($23, winery, boutique stores, 90 points) — Paul Bosc Vineyard is a historic plot of land consisting of 60 acres of vines. It’s a rare south-facing vineyard that was planted in 1983 and 1984 with the first harvest in 1988. This Chard is delicious with a nose of creamy pear, warm apple pie with cinnamon, vanilla and toasted spices. It’s lovely on the palate with a caressing texture and creamy orchard fruit that is both voluptuous and poised through the finish. A comfortable, generous wine.


Chateau des Charmes Paul Bosc Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($35, winery, boutique stores, 92 points) — It’s been a while that this wine has been produced — the fruit was declassified in 2013, 2012 and 2011. It was worth the wait. Let it open up, it will reveal a complex nose of pretty, yet assertive, black cherries, strawberries, licorice, earth, loam, violets, cassis and elegant oak spices. It is silky on the palate with a range of red fruits, beetroot and lovely barrel spices all perked up by that racy cool-climate acidity. A beautiful Pinot.