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Rainbow of pink splashes into Vintages stores Saturday, plus: CCOVI honours top VQA promoters, and EastDell’s shatterproof single-serving wines

Niagara wines

By Rick VanSickle

It will be a rainbow of pink at Vintages stores on Saturday, with no less than 15 different rosés in all styles and hues being released from around the world.

Niagara is well represented in the 40 shades of pink department with a third of the rosés coming from local wineries in what is most definitely the fastest growing style of wine in Ontario.

One winery that is not surprised one bit about the surge of popularity of rosés is the Beamsville winery Malivoire Wine Company. Afterall, they’ve been making the popular Ladybug Rosé since 1998 and it has grown to become the No. 1 rosé in Vintages … and that includes ALL rosés in the world. That’s some feat.

Wines in Niagara will have a full report on the Malivoire rosé program (plus other wines) in an upcoming post after sitting down with winemaker Shiraz Mottiar and marketing manager Stephen Gash (very top photo) to taste through the entire portfolio.

The winery’s Vivant Rosé leads the Vintages release this Saturday and is a perfect example of the pretty, delicate, light pink style of rosé consumers are crushing this spring and will continue to crush all summer long.

Here’s what to look for Saturday from the Vintages releases:

Also in this report: We missed the April 28 release of Niagara wines, so playing catch up with that, and we run down the VQA Promoter Awards that were handed out last week at Brock University.

Niagara wines released at Vintages Saturday

Ontario winesMalivoire Vivant Rosé 2017 ($20, 91 points) — The most important thing you need to know about Malivoire’s rosé program is this: They grow all the grapes that go into the top rosés specifically for rosé. It’s not an after-thought or a fad; Malivoire is as much about the rosé as it is about the Gamay, its two most treasured varietals. If the grapes for the rosé are not up to the quality they want for the rosés they want to make, they will de-classify the grapes to make something else. It’s that simple. The Vivant, which is part of the rosé team that includes the Moira Rosé and Ladybug, is a 100% expression of Pinot Noir from the Mottiar and Malivoire vineyards. “We’re looking for delicacy, layers and complexity but also balance,” says winemaker Shiraz Mottiar. “I want the acidity to carry that fruit.” It has a lovely pale pink colour and a nose of freshly crushed red berries, subtle earthiness and just a squirt of citrus. It’s bright, bone dry and expressive on the palate — delicate yes, but also complex with a range of pretty red fruits, pink grapefruit and minerality all carried by lively acidity through the finish.

Ontario rose

Henry of Pelham Three of Hearts Rosé 2017 ($20, 90 points) — This pale salmon blend of Pinot Noir (62%) and Pinot Gris (38%) hits all the right notes for the more subtle and refreshing style of rosé consumers seem to be attracted to. Just the tapered bottle and labeling alone is enough to make a great first impression. Look for aromas of cherries, strawberries, peach, melon and wet hay. It has lovely texture, only a kiss of sweetness, and a whole lot of red berries and melon notes on the mid palate with citrus zest on the finish.

Other Niagara rosés and rosé style wines released Saturday:

• Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé 2017 ($17)
• Featherstone Rosé 2017 ($16)
• Contraband Sparkling Rosé NV ($21)

Other Niagara wines released Saturday that we can highly recommend:

Canada wine

Flat Rock Cellars Riesling 2016 ($18, 89 points) — A nose of gushing lime, grapefruit and minerals in a fresh, vibrant style. There’s classic Niagara tension on the palate between sweet and tart fruit but ultimately feels dry and fresh with waves of citrus and limestone minerality.

Lakeview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($18, 88 points) — A balanced approach to SB here with a nose of grapefruit, citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruits with hints of grass and herbs. There is a savoury note on the palate to go with tropical fruits, herbs and fresh-cut citrus with tingling acidity on the finish.

Plus, these Niagara wines, not yet reviewed by Wines in Niagara:

• Cuddy by Tawse Sparkling NV ($25)
• 13th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 ($22)
• Cave Spring Estate Gewurztraminer 2014 ($18)
• Featherstone Four Feathers 2017 ($15)
• The Tragically Hip Fully completely Grand Reserve Red 2016 ($25)
• Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Noir 2016 ($19)

Flagship stores only:

• Stratus Gamay 2014 ($29)
• Bachelder Wismer Foxcroft N. 2 Chardonnay 2015 ($45)

May Classics Collection

13th Street Essence Cabernet Franc 2011 ($45, 92 points) — The Essence series of wines at 13th Street was designed with winemaker J-P Colas in mind, a “signature series” of wines that would capture the heart and soul of the vineyards and vintage from which they came, with Colas’s special signature style evident in the finished product. The wines were developed to clearly express Colas’s winemaking philosophy — one of minimalist intervention, natural and patient winemaking with wines crafted based on aroma, taste and texture not numbers from a lab report. These wines are made from only those varieties that showed exceptional potential in the vineyard and cellar and only in those vintages that permitted such excellence.

The nose of this Cab Franc is a treat — smoky, swirling spices to go with sweet cherry pie, plums, blueberry, black currants, cigar leaf and violets. It’s ripe and concentrated in the mouth, a big wine to be sure, with meaty, lavish fruit and grippy tannins but the lush fruits and spice are never overshadowed by the oak. A well done Cab Franc that will need time to be fully appreciated.

Niagara wine releases
at Vintages from April 28

We missed publishing this release from two weeks ago (sorry, must have been enjoying the first sun of the entire year in Niagara!).

Wines we can highly recommend:

Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay 2016 ($20, 90 points) — Anyone who thinks Niagara can’t make great wines at affordable prices needs to take a drive up to Flat Rock Cellars where value isn’t just a buzz word, it’s a way of life. This mid-tier Chardonnay from the warm 2016 vintage in Ontario is a perfect example. Made from 100% estate fruit on the Twenty Mile Bench and fermented and aged in French oak, the nose is expressive and rich with a foundation of orchard fruits, minerals, toasted oak and spice. It is a rich and comforting Chard but also shows vibrancy and finesse on the palate with pear, apple, cream, minerals and a wide range of oaky spice notes. Really nice wine.

Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2014 ($35, 90 points) — Pinot Noir fared much better than many red varietals in the difficult 2014 vintage in Niagara. This Pinot from Flat Rock (a reserve in made in rare vintages) shows a complex nose of earth, bramble, dark cherry, cassis and toasted oak spices. It has velvety tannins on the palate and a range of tart red fruits, cassis, anise, earth and spice notes.

One from B.C.

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($20, 90 points) — This is from the Okanagan Valley and a nice treat to see it here in Ontario. A nose of citrus, lime, creamy Asian pear and lush tropical fruits with a subtle herbal note. It’s creamy on the palate with zesty lime freshness, bold tropical fruitiness and underlying herbs.

Niagara wines released but not reviewed by Wines in Niagara:

• Tawse Chardonnay Icewine 2013 ($29 for 200 mL)
• Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 2015 ($30)
• Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2016 ($24)
• Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2017 ($19)
• Organized Crime Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($19)
• Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2015 ($19)

Shatterproof wine bottles from EastDell
coming to a patio near you

Ever wished you could sip your favourite local wine on the golf course or on a patio without the worry of breaking glass? Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd. is making a splash this summer, with the introduction of single-serve, PET plastic 200mL wine bottles under one of its flagship brands, EastDell Wines.

Not only are these bottles convenient, they boast significant environmental advantages too.  At 1/6th the weight of glass, they reduce freight costs, reduce the need for secondary packaging and almost eliminate breakage on bottling lines & store shelves.

They are 100% recyclable, with a vastly lower carbon footprint versus glass counterparts — requiring much less energy to make and transport. The innovative Amcor Stelvin aluminum enclosure has an oxygen seal to protect and preserve your wine, giving it up to 12-months shelf life.

“Us Canucks like to spend as much time as possible outdoors, soaking up the summer months and these plastic wines bottles are a natural fit for having fun in the sun,” says Fiona Buchan, Director of Marketing for Diamond.

Available for purchase now, EastDell has produced Pinot Grigio, Summer Rosé and its signature red blend, Black Cab in this 200mL format (equivalent to a 6-ounce glass of wine).  EastDell Wines are VQA Ontario, meaning they’re crafted using 100% Ontario grown grapes. These 200mL bottles can be found at Diamond’s new wine boutique & tasting centre, The Lakeview Wine Company in Niagara-on-the-Lake for $4.95 each or $118.80 for a case of 24 bottles and can be shipped anywhere in Ontario.

Available for purchase online through

VQA promoters honoured at experts tasting

2018 VQA Promoters award winners (from left): Tim Coons, retail; Andrea Kaiser on behalf of Karl Kaiser’s family, lifetime achievement; Jim Willwerth, education; Magdalena Kaiser, promoter-at-large; Brittany Gregory, LCBO; Sarah Scott, hospitality. Absent from the photo are André Proulx, media, and Ian D’Agata, out-of-Ontario promoter.

More than 125 wine writers, educators and industry professionals gathered at Brock Wednesday, last week for the 29th annual Experts Tasting.

Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the tasting promotes Ontario VQA wine and celebrates individuals who have made contributions to growing and promoting the grape and wine industry.

The 2018 tasting focused on Cabernet Franc and examined the 2013 to 2016 vintages. Five flights showcased a total of 33 wines with industry experts guiding the attendees through the tasting.

“The Experts Tasting has become a pivotal educational opportunity for guests to taste and learn alongside their peers in the industry,” said Barb Tatarnic, organizer of the event and Manager of Outreach and Continuing Education at CCOVI. “Cabernet Franc is considered one of the core varietals for this region and having the tasting showcase multiple vintages clearly showed what this variety can bring to the Ontario industry year after year.”

The event also honours individuals who help raise the profile of Ontario wine with VQA Promoter Awards, which acknowledge individuals who celebrate, through promotion and/or education, the Ontario VQA wine industry with unselfish enthusiasm, constructive input and unsolicited promotion.

The lifetime achievement award was presented posthumously to Ontario wine industry pioneer and winemaker Karl Kaiser by CCOVI director Debbie Inglis.

“There would be few in this room who would not recognize the pivotal contributions that Karl made to our VQA wine industry,” Inglis said. “From putting Canada on the map as a wine- producing nation to changing the landscape of agriculture in Niagara, he showed us what could be crafted with the grapes that we grow here. He helped drive this industry forward to be what it is today.”

Kaiser’s daughters Andrea and Magdalena accepted the award on behalf of his family. Magdalena was also recognized for her own contributions to promoting and raising the profile of VQA wines in the promoter-at-large category, marking the first time a father and daughter have been recognized in the same year.

Brock alumnus Ivone De Marchi presents CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis with the portrait he created to honour his former classmate Karl Kaiser, which will hang in Inniskillin Hall.

When Brock grad Ivone de Marchi learned of the passing of his former lab partner Kaiser last fall, it struck a chord with him. He wanted to honour Kaiser with a portrait, and last Wednesday the painting was unveiled and then gifted to Brock to hang in Inniskillin Hall.

CCOVI Viticulturist Jim Willwerth was recognized in the education category for the opportunities he provides grape growers and winemakers in support of Ontario VQA wines through his outreach and research work.

The 2018 VQA Promoter Award winners in each category are:

• Education: Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Scientist, Brock University
• Hospitality: Sarah Scott, Manager of Dining Operations, Benchmark Restaurant
• LCBO: Brittany Gregory, Product Consultant, LCBO Store #381, Kitchener
• Media: André Proulx, Radio Producer and Wine Writer
• Out-of-Ontario: Ian D’Agata, Wine Writer and Director of the International Wine 
• Promoter-at-Large: Magdalena Kaiser, Director of Public Relations – Tourism and 
Marketing, Wine Marketing Association of Ontario
• Retail: Tim Coons, Estate Manager, Trius Winery and Restaurant and Wayne Gretzky 
• Lifetime Achievement: Awarded posthumously to Karl Kaiser, winemaker and wine 
industry pioneer 

Note: News release provided by CCOVI