NewsTop Stories

Generous wine auction bidders coming to the aid of Ontario hospitality industry — but we can do a lot better!

By Rick VanSickle

With less than a week to go before the gavel falls, the Grapes For Humanity Fine Wine Auction in support of Hospitality is beginning to heat up with generous wine lovers up-bidding many of the key lots.

There is wide array of eye-popping items up for bids — from classified Bordeaux, to top Rhone, Burgundy, Napa, Australia, Italy and even Rush front man Geddy Lee’s signed bass guitar — but playing a huge role in this online charity auction (go here to bid on items) is the Canadian wine industry with dozens of spectacular lots donated in aid of hospitality industry workers in Ontario.

Front and centre is a collaborative effort from over 30 Ontario winemakers who donated a portion of their winery’s top Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the 2019 vintage to be created in a historic blend never before attempted. Thomas Bachelder, pictured below, is in charge of the elevage and blending for the four unique barrels that are being auctioned off in 25 separate lots.

The first lots, Lots # 14 and 15, are full barrels of both the pan-Ontario Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which is 23 cases in 750 mL of each variety of top juice sourced from key wineries and made by Bachelder. That’s 276 bottles of amazing Pinot and Chard that’s sitting at $5,000 for each lot with the auction closing on Oct. 7. My quick math puts these historic wines at $18 a bottle at the current bid. Are you kidding me? That’s a steal, come on, people!

Then there are the rest of the 23 lots — two barrels of the Cuvée of The Heart Pinot Noir and Chardonnay split into cases of magnums with each case made up of 3 magnums (1.5L) of Pinot Noir and 3 Magnums (1.5L) of Chardonnay. The top bid right now is $350 for a case. Again, that needs to climb.

It should be noted that each lot comes with a $250 restaurant voucher and, for this auction, the usual buyer’s premium and HST are not applied to the sale of these lots. Thank you, Waddington’s!

I suggest you put together a group and get bidding on these magnificent lots of Ontario wines donated by the wineries, winemakers and time from Bachelder to build the cuvées. It is an incredible opportunity to purchase unique Ontario Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that we will be talking about for decades to come. They can easily rest in your cellar for 10 years or more or throw a massive party when this pandemic is over and enjoy them now.

Over 37 winemakers and wineries donated wines for the final cuvee. Here is the list of winemakers and wineries who contributed to the special barrels (with more to come):

• Keith Tyers, Seaton Chase (Classon-Chase)
• Shiraz Mottiar, Martin Malivoire (Malivoire)
• Thomas Bachelder, Mary Delaney (Bachelder)
• Ann Sperling, Casey Hogan, Bill Redelmeier (Southbrook)
• Chris Frey, Sebastien Jacquey, John Howard (Megalomaniac)
• Amelie Boury, Bosc family (Chateau des Charmes)
• Derek Barnett (Meldville)
• David Sheppard, Ed Madronich (Flat Rock)
• Emma Garner (30 Bench)
• Dan Sullivan (Rosehall Run)
• Kimball and Liz Lacey (Lacey)
• JL Groux, Dean Stoyka (Stratus)
• Richie Roberts, Curtis and Heidi Fielding (Fielding)
• Angelo Pavan, Gaberiel DeMarco, Ilia Suter, Pennachetti family (Cave Spring)
• Gavin Robertson (Niagara College)
• Kevin and Jodie Panagapka (2027 Cellars)
• Adam Lowy, Matt Smith (Cloudsley)
• Lydia Tomek, the Harber Family (Ravine)
• Lawrence Buhler, the Speck brothers (Henry of Pelham)
• Jay Johnston, Harald Thiel (Hidden Bench)
• Kelly Mason, Neudorf family (The Farm)
• Casey Culzyk, Carolyn Hurst, Grant Westcott (Westcott)
• Kelly Mason (Domaine Queylus)
• Rob Power (Creekside, Queenston Mile)
• Alyssa Bator, Pillitteri family (Riverview)
• Ilya and Nadia Senchuk (Leaning Post)
• Levi DeLoryn (Jackson-Triggs)
• Thomas Bachelder (Le Clos Jordanne)
• Bruce Nicholson (Inniskillin)
• Marco Piccoli (Arterra)
• Sue-Ann Staff (Sue-Ann Staff)
• Paul Pender, Jessica Otting, Moray Tawse (Tawse)
• Shauna White (Adamo)
• Ryan Corrigan, Will Roman (Rosewood)
• JP Colas, Doug and Karen White (13th Street)
• Andre Lipinski, Lipinski family (Big Head)

(Note: more names to come)

The idea for the so-called “Tête du Cuvée — From the Heart” was the brainchild of Steven Campbell (of Campbell ‘Kind’ Wines and founder of Lifford Wines and Spirits, and pictured above). The idea pitched to Bachelder from Campbell was “to offer two iconic Ontario wines at an auction along side prestigious lots of fine wines from Europe and around the world in support of the hospitality community in Ontario.”

The mission as set out by Bachelder from the beginning was this:

• Craft two barrels of Ontario Pinot Noir 2019
Craft two barrels of Ontario Chardonnay 2019
• The “Tête de Cuvée – From the Heart” wines will be bottled in Spring 2021
• One barrel of each lot will be sold “in its entirety” to a single high-bidding buyer and bottled for the acquirer in 750 mL bottles, (as in the famous Hospice de Beaune & Nuits charity auctions)
• The other barrel of each lot will be bottled as “magnums-only” and offered in six-packs (3 magnums of Pinot Noir and 3 magnums chardonnay)
• Approximately 23 of these unique 6-packs (9 litres per case) will be auctioned off to the highest bidders across Canada!
• So that — together — we can make a top cuvée, please offer up the ‘heart’ of your best terroir – it can be from new wood, but preferably from one-two-three-year-old used barrels: or from your amphora or cement-élévage wines.
• The barrels will be stored in our cellars until spring 2021 and bottled with minimal intervention.

Campbell, who not only inspired Bachelder for make the four barrels of the Tête de Cuvée – From the Heart, but also was the driving force behind the entire auction in aid of hospitality workers hurt by the pandemic in Ontario, said this about the unqiue wines on offer: “This could be the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ever produced in Ontario and I need some for my cellar.”

Bachelder said he’s “very touched by the whole thing. Everyone sent their best, everyone’s in there.” He said that not only winemakers stepped up to the plate, there were behind the scenes efforts with free bottling, corks and donated new barrels.

There is a lot of bidding left to come, and scanning the over 300 items from around the world, there are currently some outstanding deals to be had for top wines. The auction is a fantastic opportunity to not only purchase some great wines, but also help a community so tragically impacted by the coronavirus.

Other key Canadian lots up for bids:

• Domaine Tawse Musigny vertical and tasting in Burgundy (Moray Tawse owns Tawse and Redstone wineries in Niagara).
• A tasting experience and books from Tony Aspler
• A stay at Villa Viamonte in Mendoza (owned by Anne Sperling and Peter Gamble
• A vertical of Henry of Pelham Cabernet Merlot
• Peller Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine
• Southbrook verticals of both Poetica Chardonnay Poetica Red
• Marynissen vertical of Riesling

• Marynissen Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (incredibly no bids yet on these three magnums from the historic estate vineyard that is the first commercial Cab Sauv in Ontario)
• Hidden Bench Nuit Blanche and Pinot Noir single vineyard verticals
• Stratus Red vertical
• Cave Spring CSV Riesling and Cabernet Franc verticals
• PondView Meritage (12 bottles),Chardonnay (12 bottles) and Cabernet Merlot (12 bottles)
• Nicholas Pearce Rockway 3-litre Syrah and Chardonnay
• Domaine Queylus magnum of Chardonnay
• 6 mags of Charles Baker Riesling
• 6-pack of Fogolar Cabernet Franc
• Foreign Affair mags of Apologetic Red
• 4 bottles of Foreign Affair appassimento

• 5-bottle horizontal of all the Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noirs made in 2014. Donated by Wines in Niagara, this is a rare chance to taste all five winemaker (Bachelder, Ilya Senchuk, Shauna White, Richie Roberts, Wes Lowrey) expressions from one of the finest Pinot Noir terroirs in Ontario … we will get the bottles signed for, if you want.
• Various icewines from Niagara (8 half bottles)
• Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider
• Various icewines from Niagara (6 half bottles)
• Two lots of 3 bottles each of Laughing Stock Portfolio
• Six bottle lot from A Sunday in August, Burrowing Owl and Foxtrot
• 3 bottles of Painted Rock Red Icon
• 3 bottles of La Stella Merlot
• Vertical of Black Hills Nota Bene
• Mag of Mission Hill Occulus