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Show a little love for these Niagara wines caught in middle of LCBO strike

By Rick VanSickle

Well, now that the LCBO union, for the first time in its history, has gone on strike, it’s time for consumers to map out their booze-buying for the foreseeable future.

The LCBO has announced that no wine, cider, liquor, coolers or beer will be available at its stores for at least two weeks and there will be limited sales beyond that at only 30 stores in the province. But, of course, that does not mean you won’t have access to alcohol in the messed hybrid retail system that Doug Ford has created.

You can get anything you want through local bottle shops, grocery stores, agency stores, wine agencies and, most importantly, local wineries, cideries, distilleries and breweries. You have two viable options — show up in person or buy online.

Niagara wine
Graphic by Pillitteri

As I posted on my Facebook page earlier today, here’s how to can help the local booze industry while the LCBO is on strike, and quite frankly, far beyond that:

1) go online and order wine, cider, spirits and beer from your favourite Ontario winery, cidery or distillery

2) take a drive to your nearest wine region in Ontario. Stock up. Support local.

3) take advantage of local bottle shops in your community, especially those that sell VQA wines, ciders and beer.

4) order Ontario wine from agencies such as Savvy Company and Crushable, which specialize in Canadian wines.

5) and finally, remain calm. You’ve got this.

A casualty of the strike are the Niagara wines that were due to be released at Vintages Saturday. Local wineries work hard for these sporadic listings and jump through hoops to be deemed worthy of the monopoly to get their shot at glory.

With the strike, these listings will likely not recover all the work and effort that has gone into getting the listing. Wines in Niagara urges consumers to show all Ontario products some love during the strike (and always!) but maybe show these wines a bit more love by ordering them online. Here’s what was supposed to hit the shelves tomorrow, some reviewed by Wines in Niagara and some not. Just click the winery name to order online.

Featherstone Pinot Grigio 2023 ($18, new review, 91 points) — I just tasted this very expressive Pinot Grigio yesterday. It gets its rosy glow from extended skin contact and has penetrating notes of melon, peach, strawberry tart and watermelon on the nose. On the palate it shows mouth-filling orchard fruits, pink grapefruit, a touch of ginger in a rounded, ripe style with vibrance on the finish. Delightful.

Westcott Brilliant Sparkling Rosé 2021 ($40, 93 points) — This is a traditionally made sparkling wine made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Home Farm. It was hand riddled and disgorged and had 12 months of lees aging. Like many in Niagara, I’ve been stopping regularly at my favourite roadside fruit stand on Lakeshore Road to pick up cherries, raspberries and strawberries picked fresh every morning. This lovely, fresh and expressive sparkler smells and tastes just like those fresh-picked berries. It shows a lovely light salmon colour in the glass and is loaded with all those aforementioned red berries, a pinch of rhubarb, a touch of toastiness from light lees aging and subtle citrus notes with a lively bubble. It’s perfectly dry (dosage was from its own base wine, RS is hovering around 2 g/L) and refreshing on the palate with summer strawberries, raspberries and red cherries, a lively bubble and a bright, lifted finish. It’s a well-crafted, fresher style of bubbles for optimum summer sipping. Go get it!

Malivoire Estate Grown Chardonnay 2022 ($22, 92 points) — The estate Chardonnay is a blend of both the Mottiar Vineyard (owned by Malivoire GM Shiraz Mottiar on the Beamsville Bench) and estate fruit that’s aged in a combination of new and older French oak barrels. Such gorgeous elegance and poise on the nose with salinity and wet stones to go with pear, apple, toasted almonds, lemon/citrus and just a pinch of spice. It’s harmonious on the palate with the ripe, layered orchard fruits and citrus folding seamlessly into the flinty/stony/nutty accents, elegant spices, and fresh, lively finish. A beauty of a wine at this price.

Henry of Pelham Painted Wagon Estate Pinot Noir 2020 ($28, 91 points) — This estate Pinot Noir is a blend of four different clones grown in the estate’s Short Hills Bench vineyard. It has a robust nose of earthy red berries, anise, savoury notes, dried tobacco, and baking spices. It’s velvety on the palate with some structure in support of ripe dark cherries, black raspberries, anise, smoky cedar, rich spices and a long, lifted finish. Can cellar until 2028.

The Tragically Hip Flamenco Rosé 2023 ($20, 91 points) — This is the 5th vintage in the successful collaboration between Stoney Ridge and The Tragically Hip. It’s a blend of 95% Gamay Noir from the Bucknall Vineyard in the Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation and 5% Pinot Gris from Four Mile Creek. It shows a bright pink colour in the glass with a nose of dark cherries, strawberries, cranberries, citrus and subtle herbaceous notes. It’s generous on the palate with mouth-filling red berries, a touch of earth and herbs, rhubarb and a bright finish. Fans of the more robust style of rosés will absolutely love this.

Other Niagara wines that were supposed to be released, but were not reviewed by Wines in Niagara: