Cuvee started as a charitable event, 26 years ago.
Participating Ontario wineries submit their best wines, and all winemakers collectively judge, blind, all the wines, selecting the tastiest in a number of categories.
Some years ago wine writers were invited to the gala event of the year in a Niagara-on-the-Lake hotel to experience how the selected wines tasted. For a number of years now, organizers have decided to bypass inviting us.
Then The Wine Council Of Ontario arranged a tasting of award winning wines in Toronto for us to taste. That was also discontinued.
This year we were lucky to have the chance to taste 37 of the ward-winning wines.
The quality improvement over the last ten years has been remarkable, mostly due to improved, and more careful viticulture practices, global warming, winemakers applying their newly gained knowledge, and use of new equipment.
Here are the wines I thought were best:
Wismer Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Peninsula Ridge Winery
Pale straw colour. Subdued gooseberry aromas, peasant and smooth. Good balance and long finish.
Viognier, 2012, Nyarai Vineyards
Viognier, a native of Rhone Valley, offers explosive peach/apricot aromas. These Ontario grown fruit offer all those, but in more subdued hues. A well made wine with a long finish.
Winemaker’s White, Whimsy, 2011, Southbrook Winery
Pleasant deep yellow colour. Aromatic, with good depth. Smooth and well balanced.
Singing Moon Pinot Blanc, 2012, Pelee Island Winery
Very pale straw colour. Off dry, light, balanced, pleasant, with a long finish.
Reserve Gewurztramier, 2012, Reif
Golden colour, off dry, exotic fruit aromas. Some of the fruit may have been botrytis affected judging from the moth feel. Long aftertaste.
Pinot Gris, 2013, Calamus
This small winery produces consistently fine white wines. This pinot gris smells of fruits, and perfumes, is intense with good acidity. Pair with light foods, i.e chicken salad with lemon, thyme and olive oil dressing, pastas, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken supreme.
Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay, 2011, Bachelder
Old gold in colour. Pear/apple aromas waft out of the glass, Finely nuance mouth feel with noticeable oak flavour. Well balanced with a long aftertaste.
Clean Slate Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, Hillebrand Winery
Most winemakers prefer to ferment their wines with cultivated yeast. Yet, the yeast on the skin of grapes pending on the environment, impart intriguing aromas and flavour. This sauvignon blanc smells of mildly of gooseberries. It is fruity with a very appealing flavour and “juicy” texture. Pair with creamy foods.
Rare Vintage Meritage, 2010, Coyote’s Run Winery
Vibrant red in colour. Fruity, medium-weight, with good acidity and balance.
Pinot Noir , 2011, Domaine Queylus
An elegant and refines wine. Fruity, medium-bodied with an impressive finish.
Pinot Noir, 2011, Hidden Bench Winery
Strawberry aromas greet the nose. Light red in colour, Good acidity and medium bodied.
Pair with pates, veal stew, roast lamb, marinated and skewered, and grilled lamb
Reserve Merlot, 2012, Inniskillin Winery
Plum aromas emanate from the glass. A well extracted wine. Intense. Cellar for three to four years for extra smoothness and finesse.
Terrace Vineyard Syrah, 2011, Kacaba Winery
A soft, intense, satisfying wine with a long finish.
Village Reserve Pinot Noir, 2011, Le Clos Jordanne
Aromas of cherries waft out of the glass.
Lively mouth feel, medium bodied.
Pair with veal pâté, pan-fried veal chops, veal stew.
Exclamation Cellar Series, Winemaker’s Reserve Red, 2010, Pillitteri Winery
Dark purple, vibrant colour. In the mouth the wine’s intensity becomes evident. A powerful wine that needs to pair with deeply flavoured foods.
Stratus Red, 2010, Stratus Winery
This is the flagship red wine of the winery. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, and cabernet franc. This masterfully blended, fruity, full bodied well balanced and intense wine should be cellared for five to six years for extra depth and to reach its potential.
Benchmark Red, 2010, Thirty Bench Winery
Cabernet franc stands out in the blend. A `juicy`, acid driven and intense wine.
Cellar for three to five years.
The Conspiracy, 2012, Foreign Affairs
Grapes were subjected to appassimento.
The wine is dark red, full bodied, high in alcohol, intense, and nuanced in the mouth.
Well balanced with a long and memorable finish.
All above wines are produced in limited quantities and only available at the winery or by mail in Ontario.