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Queylus reserve Pinot Noir leads the Niagara wines released at Vintages Saturday, plus new wines from Tawse and Redstone


Saturday’s Halloween release of Niagara wines offers some tasty treats from many of the top main varieties that do so well in this climate.

From the exquisite Queylus Reserve Pinot to the baby sister of Creekside’s Broken Press Syrah, there is something here for every taste.

We also offer up a selection of fall releases from both Tawse and Redstone wineries.

Dig in and stock up … winter’s a coming.

Vintages releases Oct. 29


Queylus Reserve de Domaine Pinot Noir 2012 ($45, 91 points) — Queylus wines are made by Pinot/Chard specialist Thomas Bachelder, top photo, and this mid-tier (le Grand Reserve is the top level) Pinot is sure to appeal to the most discerning palate. The 2013 vintage in Niagara delivered a large crop that favoured Burgundian varieties from wineries that employed careful selection and lower yields. This is a more concentrated Pinot with lovely cherry/raspberry aromas with earthy-spicy notes and pretty perfumed nuances. It feels fresh on the palate with ripe tannins that support the range of red fruits, cassis and elegant oak spice that’sl delivered on a long finish. Can cellar five years plus.


Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2014 ($24, 89 points) — The Hidden Bench Estate Riesling is a blend of Locust Lane, Felseck and Rosomel Vineyards from 100% organically certified Beamsville Bench fruit. There is a range of lemon, lime and grapefruit on the nose with a lovely vein of minerality wafting from the glass. It’s fresh and vividly displays the river-rock minerals on the palate with lime zest, peach and a dash of mandarin orange on the finish. Fresh and lively Riesling.


Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2015 ($17, 91 points) — This is the “signature” white wine made at the farm. Out of a 6,000-7,000 case production, up 2,800 cases are Riesling, so “this is a big deal for us,” says co-owner Louis Engels. “We could make Riesling all day long. It is simplicity at its best.” Featherstone’s Riesling has always maintained a style that is consistent vintage to vintage with alcohol below 10%. The nose shows a bright profile of lime, grapefruit, sherbet and apple in a fresh and vibrant style. It is light and refreshing on the palate with a playful tug of sweet and tart citrus and orchard fruit on the palate. Lovely balance and clean through the finish.

Flat Rock Chardonnay 2013 ($19, 90 points) — An attractive nose of toasted oak/spice, pear, vanilla, and hints of citrus. It’s nicely integrated on the palate with oak, spice, pear and mineral notes all coming together (with a citrus zing) on the finish.

Creekside Iconoclast Syrah 2013 ($23, 88 points) — Iconoclast is the result of de-classified Broken Press Syrah from the 2013 vintage (there will be no 2013 Broken Press) and sold at nearly half the price. It has a peppery nose with a range of smoky red fruits and oak spices. Red fruits mingle with black currants, spice and pepper on the palate in a more approachable style.


Rosewood Lock, Stock and Barrel 2013 ($35, 90 points) — A red blend that combines all five traditional Bordeaux grapes. It’s quite dark in the glass with concentrated cherry, cassis, licorice, toasted spices and herbal notes on the nose. It’s rich and spicy on the palate with a melange of red and dark fruit to go with a structured feel on the palate and good acidity for balance.

Also released, but not reviewed:

  • Reif The Magician Shiraz/Pinot Noir 2012 ($25)
  • Cave Spring Riesling Icewine 2014 ($50 for 375 mL)
  • Henry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 2013 ($40 for 200 mL)
  • 13th Street Red Palette 2015 ($16)
  • Cave Spring Cabernet Franc 2013 ($20)



Wines In Niagara recently had the chance to taste through some fall releases from both of Moray Tawse’s properties — Tawse and Redstone. Reviews are by Rick VanSickle (RV) and Michael Lowe (ML).

Redstone Cabernet 2013 ($20, only at Vintages, 87 points) – 72% Cabernet Franc, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. An easy-drinking wine showing red currant and blackberry fruit, anise, some earthiness and just a glimmer of vanilla on the finish. Nice juicy acidity balances the ripe fruit character. ML

Redstone Limestone Ridge “South Block” Riesling 2013 Twenty Mile Bench ($19, winery, LCBO in 2017, 91 points) – Lovely aromatics of mandarin orange, lemon-lime zest and just a touch of petrol combine in this outstanding example from the bench. Tropical notes together with vibrant acidity and focused minerality make this wine a sheer joy to sip. Pair with grilled shrimp or scallops and tropical fruit salsa. ML

aredstone-cabernet_franc_2013Redstone Cabernet Franc Redstone Vineyard 2013 ($40, 89 points) — First vintage for this wine from 3-year-old vines using organic and biodynamic farming. The nose shows black cherries, smoky/herbal notes, rich kirsch, red licorice and floral notes. The palate shows a broth of red fruits, earth, full tannins, licorice bramble on a firm structure. Can cellar five years. RV

Redstone Estate Merlot 2012 Lincoln Lakeshore ($40, winery, 92 points) – Lots to like here with bold raspberry/plum at the fore framed by chocolate, cigar-box and nutmeg spice notes. Firm tannins are beautifully intertwined with the dark fruit on the palate. ML

Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir 2012 ($27, winery, LCBO in 2017, 88 points) — Sourced from various Niagara vineyards, this shows medium weight with a pretty nose of sweet tobacco, cherries, violets, strawberry and fragrant spice notes. The red fruits take a savoury tone on the palate with some structure, polished tannins, earth, bramble and spice. RV

a2013_growers_cab_francTawse Growers Blend Cabernet Franc 2013 ($28, LCBO direct delivery program, 90 points) — Rich and spicy with blackberry, licorice, cedar and savoury dried herbs. Well integrated oak, refined tannins, and balanced acidity make this wine the perfect partner for roast lamb or pasta with rich meaty sauces. Drink now or cellar for up to 4 years. ML

Tawse Van Bers Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2012 ($50, winery in two months, 92 points) — Sadly, this is the last vintage of this wonderful Franc sourced from the Creek Shores sub-appellation. So lovely on the nose with brambly red fruits, forest floor, toasted barrel spices, stewed herbs and red plums. This is serious Cab Franc with rich and savoury red fruits, lovely oak spice, firm tannins and the stuffing to improve for a decade or more. A real treat. RV

a2012-davids-merlotTawse David’s Block Merlot 2012 ($50, winery, 91 points) — From Tawse’s organic/biodynamic David’s Block 11-year-old vineyard and aged 18 months in French oak barrels. It’s thick and rich on the nose with persistent red fruits, elegant oak spices, bramble and subtle cocoa notes. It’s highly structured but nuanced with layers of red and dark berries, loam, barrel spices and a long, long finish. This will reward with five plus years in the cellar. RV