Wine Country Ontario, the official Ontario wine promotion agency decided to organize this year’s tasting in the Royal Ontario Museum.
Wine writers were given an opportunity to taste for two hours in a separate room. This was much appreciated, as walk around tastings force superficial evaluations. The benefits of quick sensory evaluations happen to be fleeting and often inaccurate, given environment conditions, i.e temperature, noise, lighting, and luck of comfort to name just a few.
The VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance) rules and regulations introduced a number of years ago are now becoming more recognizable in the glass. The appellation rules recognize three general regions – Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula, and Prince Edward County. Lake Erie North Shore has one sub-appellation South Island. Prince Edward County does not have a sub-appellation.
Niagara Peninsula has three sub-appellations – Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Escarpment, and Niagara-On-The-Lake all of which have sub-appellations as follows:
Niagara Peninsula –Lincoln Northshore, Vinemount Ridge, and Creek Shores
Niagara Escarpment – Beamsville Bench, Twenty-Mile Bench, and Short Hills Bench
Niagara-On-The-Lake – Niagara Lakeshore, Four Mile Creek, St. David’s Bench, and Niagara River.
While Niagara-On-The-Lake appellation wines taste floral and are relatively low in acidity, those from the Escarpment appellations taste more refined, are acid-driven and match food more successfully than those from the lower lying, Niagara-On-The-Lake appellations.
Niagara-On-The-Lake appellation wines are best enjoyed on their own or matched with Oriental foods.
The Ontario appellation system is based on temperatures more than soil composition, vineyard orientation, and other important factors such as grape variety stipulations, yields per hectare have not been taken into consideration, nor are irrigation or capitalization.
The 2016 annual tasting attracted 33 wineries out of more than 100 in the province.
The largest two (Peller Estates and Constellation Brands) decided not to submit any wines, as did Pillitteri, Konzelmann, Vineland Estates, and many others.
Overall red wines offered more depth, and were better extracted. White wines tasted softer than I remember; and many tasted off dry, a reflection of consumer palates and likes.
There were a few ice wines, which were fine but not outstanding.
Here are my recommendations:
Pinot Noir, 2012, 13th Street Winery,
Gamay Noir Sandstone Vineyard, 2013, 13th Street Winery
Queenstone Road Sparkling Wine, 2012, 2027 Cellars
Wismer Vineyard- Fox Croft Block Chardonnay, 2013, 2027 Cellars
Aberdeen Road Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013, 2027 Cellars
Queenstone Road Pinto Noir, 2013, 2027 Cellars
Lowery Pinto Noir, 2014, Bachelder
Cabernet Franc Serluca Vineyard, 2013, Creekside Estate
Iconoclast Syrah, 2013, Creekside Estate
Signature Pinot Noir, 2013, Domaine Queylus
Tradition Cabernet Franc, 2013, Domaine Queylus
Riddled, 2009, Flat Rock Cellars
Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, Malivoire Wine Company
Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, Ridgepoint Wines
Lock, Stock and Barrel, 2013, Rosewood Estate Winery
Growers blend Cabernet Franc, 2012, Tawse Winery
Old Vines Riesling, 2013, Chateau Des Charmes
Equuleus Paul Bosc Vineyard, 2012, Chateau Des Charmes
Red Paw Pinot Noir, 2013, Coyoteès Run Estate Winery
Triomphe Chardonnay, 2014, Southbrook Vineyards
Wild Ferment Chardonnay, 2013, Southbrook Vineyards
Gamay, 2014, Startus Vineyards
Flagship Red, 2011, Stratus Vineyards
Flagship White, 2012, Stratus Vineyards
South Closson Chardonnay, 2014, Closson Chase,
Brock Chardonnay, 2014, Closson Chase
Chardonnay Unfiltered, 2013, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyards
Riesling, 2014, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyards
JCR, Rosehall Run
Ceremony Blanc de Blancs Brut, Rosehall Run
Ceremony Sparkling, Rosehall Run
Cadence, 2011, Nayarai Cellars