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Dig Our Roots returns to Niagara-on-the-Lake in April (plus Vintages highlights and Niagara icewines at auction)

Dig Our Roots — the annual celebration of the Niagara-on-the-Lake appellation — is set to return for the third year on April 17-19.

Over the course of the three-day weekend, more than 20 partner wineries will offer unique and immersive experiences that showcase the wines, winemakers and terroir of Niagara-on-the-Lake like never before.

Dig Our Roots will offer wine enthusiasts an exclusive opportunity to discover the rich history and unique terroir of an iconic wine growing region known for being the birthplace of modern Canadian winemaking and home to some of the oldest and most established premium wine producing vineyards in Canada. Wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake appellation have been growing and producing world-class wines from premium vinifera varieties for more than four decades. Grape growers have a deep knowledge of what grows best in different areas and winemakers understand how to treat the grapes in the winemaking process to capture the best expression of terroir in their wines.

Niagara wine

Niagara-on-the-Lake has been identified and recognized internationally as a distinct place for grape growing. The wineries within the appellation share a climate moderated by the Niagara Escarpment, Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. A unique set of geographical elements create a specialty crop area where tender vinifera grapes thrive. This expanse of land is comprised of four unique sub-appellations – Niagara River, Niagara Lakeshore, Four Mile Creek, and St. David’s Bench – with distinct elements of terroir (geology, soil, elevation, temperature, precipitation) that result in wines of exceptional quality and surprising diversity. The wineries span across these four distinct areas and produce wines that reflect the unique terroir of their vineyards.

“The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are so fortunate to be located in the heart of wine country, home to prime agricultural lands for grape growing,” says Andrea Kaiser, chair of wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. “The vineyards and wines are a source of pride for winery members who are opening their cellars in celebration of our winemaking appellation.”

During the Dig Our Roots weekend, guests will discover what makes Niagara-on-the-Lake and its wines so special through exclusive winery experiences that have been carefully developed to offer an in-depth look at our appellation, terroir and the passionate winemakers who have been instrumental in positioning Niagara-on-the-Lake as a premium wine region (see weekend at a glance, above(. Wineries are offering experiences in a variety of formats to cater to diverse preferences – from special library tastings, vertical flights of signature varietals, vineyard focused and behind the scenes experiences and much more. All experiences are individually priced and guests will book them a la carte. For a complete list of experiences offered and to purchase tickets click the ad on this page or go here.

Niagara wines (and one Cali Chard)
released Saturday at Vintages

Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir ‘Droit’ 2017 ($20, 89 points) — This Gamay Noir Droit is from Canada’s first (and only) native vinifera vine discovered by Paul Bosc in the estate’s St. David’s Bench Vineyard. Once discovered in the early 1980s, Bosc was interested in potential of the vine that was different than the Gamay grapes surrounding it, so he took cuttings and propagated the vine and eventually made wine from only those specific grapes. The wine was different enough from standard Gamay that Bosc thought he actually had a different clone on his hands. Once the genetic testing was done, the estate found out that Canada’s first vinifera vine was indeed born in the Chateau des Charmes vineyard. The winery was granted International Plant Breeders’ Rights, a sort of patent, so no one else in the world can grow this vine or make a wine called Gamay Noir ‘Droit.’ How’s that for unique! The nose shows some classic Gamay characteristics with a nose of savoury raspberries, dark cherries, forest berries, cassis and herbs with subtle peppery/spicy notes. It’s mouth-filling on the palate and shows more complexity than Gamay with a burst of red berries, red currants, anise and mulled herbs with soft tannins and smooth finish. The wine is made without oak and nearly 14% abv. A lovely treat that’s truly a unique Niagara treasure.

Flat Rock Cellars Sparkling Twisted 2018 ($25, 89 points) — Winemaker David Sheppard combines Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir for this Charmat-style sparkling wine that is finished with the estate’s signature crown cap for easy access (and zero chance of cork taint). It shows a gentle mousse in the glass with aromas of creamy pear, peach and lemony accents. It’s fresh, ripe and has a touch of sweetness that highlights the juicy peach, pear, citrus and creamy notes through a vibrant finish. Seriously good fun.

Flat Rock Cellars Good Kharma Chardonnay 2018 ($17, 88 points) — A portion of the sales from this Good Kharma wine goes to Feed Ontario, formerly the Ontario Association of Food Banks, which to date, has provided over 120,000 meals for Ontarians in need. This unoaked style of Chardonnay has pure and fresh aromas of pineapple, peach and loaded with tropical fruits and just a hint of creaminess. It’s clean and fresh on the palate with tropical fruits, peach and vibrancy through the finish. Good, honest Niagara Chardonnay.

Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2017 ($25, 91 points) – Highly perfumed with lots of lemon-lime, wet stone mineral notes and just a tinge of petrol. The off-dry style is intriguing on the palate, with sweet Mandarin orange and lime backed by zesty acidity and a clean, precise mineral finish. (Michael Lowe)

Other wines being released, but not reviewed:

• Cave Spring Estate Chardonnay Musque ($18, no vintage given)
• Kew Old Vine Riesling 2015 ($16)
• Southbrook Triomphe Organic Chardonnay ($25, no vintage given)
• Stratus Tollgate Chardonnay 2018 ($25)
• Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2018 ($35)
• Peninsula Ridge Estates Falcon’s Nest Pinot Noir 2017 ($20)

A lush Chard from California

Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay 2018 ($20, Vintages Saturday, 89 points) — Here’s a great value Cali Chardonnay that will appeal to lovers of fuller bodied white wines. It has a voluptuous nose poached pear, baked apple pie, nectarine, citrus accents, cloves and toasty vanilla. It’s caressing on the palate and loaded with ripe pear, apple, butterscotch cream and baking spices. There’s just enough acidity to keep it fresh in the finish.

More Ontario icewines
hit the auction block

There are two more lots of nicely aged Ontario icewines on the auction block in the March online auction — and bidding has already begun.

You may recall a story posted here about the poor prices aged Canadian icewines were getting via auction, with bottles and lots selling for dimes on the dollar. A few factors were cited for the low prices — mainly, that no one knew they were included in what is largely a collection of rare and collectible international wines and undesirable placement at the very end of an extremely large number of lots.

Again, there have been no alerts on the new lots of icewine and, again, they are right at the end of the auction.

For what it’s worth, here are the two lots of icewine being auctioned off. Bidding has already started and there are no bids on the two lots as of today. You can see the lots here and register to bid if interested. Bidding ends March 10

Lot 516

• Black Prince Vidal Icewine 1999 (1 200 ml.)
• Black Prince Vidal Icewine 2009 (2 hf. bt.)
• Black Prince Vidal Icewine 2009 (2 200 ml.)
• Creekside Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 1998 (1 hf. bt.)
• Creekside Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 1999 (2 hf. bt.)
• Creekside Estate Winery Vidal Select Late Harvest 2000 (2 hf. bt.)

7 hf. bts. & 3 200 ml.
Estimate per lot: $300 – $500
Reserve: $200

Lot 517

• Strewn Vidal Icewine 1998 (1 hf. bt., OC)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 1999 (1 200 ml.)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 2001 (1 200 ml.)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 2002 (1 200 ml.)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 2005 (1 200 ml.)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 2006 (1 hf. Bt.)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 2006 (1 200 ml.)
• Strewn Vidal Icewine 2008 (2 hf. Bt.)

4 hf. bts. & 5 200 ml.
Estimate per lot: $300 – $500
Reserve: $180