Summer Solstice: a celestial event where either the Northern or Southern Pole is closest to the sun and is thus marked by the longest day on that respective hemisphere. This year, that moment happened at 5:04 am on June 21st and sprung the Northern Hemisphere into the first day of summer.
To celebrate it, the energetic Angela Aiello (founder of iYellow wine club) organized ‘1 Summer Solstice’ event and as she mentioned, this was the 4th iYellow event to feature 26 wineries of the Niagara on the Lake and their 54 wines, though it was only the 2nd Solstice event. The premise of this event was for the wineries to introduce new wines entering their retails stores and more importantly to introduce Torontonians to wine country that lies just two hours away on the other side of the lake.
The event kicked off with two-hour, private, media tasting at the Origin Liberty Village Restaurant (which I was able to attend), followed by a public, late afternoon-evening event that more than 700 people attended (which unfortunately I was not able to partake in) and that took place in the Galleria and parking lot adjacent to Origin Restaurant in the trendy ‘Liberty Village’ downtown Toronto.
Fortunately, the first day of summer was blessed with weather that could not have been better – sunny and warm with low humidity.
Platters with cheese, fruit and crackers
were strategically placed throughout the restaurant.
As I learned during the media tasting, featured wines were poured by the winery owners, winemakers or most-knowledgeable winery representatives that were able to attend this occasion. Seeing the list of the 26 wines, my eyes lit up when I saw a 1991 Trius Red and just by chance it was the first wine that I was to taste. Michelle Brisebois, the Estate’s Manager, poured me a glass and told me the story behind the wine.
The 1991 Trius red, a 22-year-old wine that is composed of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot that was aged in French Oak for 12 months, is the most awarded Trius wine to date. My tasting notes deem it to be intensely aromatic with cigar box, clove, subtle anise, leather and dried cranberry and pomegranate aromas. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, aged wine, with balanced acidity, still grippy tannins and a long to extra-long finish. Still having at least few years of life left, this wine should be sipped in the company of very special people. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92+ pts.
Next, I tried the 2007 Riverview Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, composed of 100% Sauvignon, this wine has appealing aromas of oak, red currant, dates, subtle vanilla and leather. It is a light to medium bodied, integrated wine that is on the acidic and tannic sides and has a medium to long finish. It is food friendly to be combined with salty meals and should be good for another 5+ years. My impression: NICE, 88 pts.
Palatine Hills featured their 2007 Merlot that had deep aromas of cigar box, toasted oak, vanilla, dusty black cherry and cranberry. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine with good acidity, refined tannins and a long, silky finish. Though this wine can go well with food, I recommend sipping it on its own; drink now – 2018. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts.
Pausing at the Joseph’s section, I met Gusta and Anthony, who brought with them not only the featured 2002 Cabernet Franc Icewine but also the 2010 Baco Merlot and 2010 Pinot Grigio. (Picture courtesy of Angela Aiello)
The 2010 Joseph’s Pinot Grigio has appealing aromas of citrus, green apple and light notes of sweet honey. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry wine with good acidity and a medium finish. It is food friendly or can be enjoyed on its own. My impression: NICE, 89 pts.
The 2010 Joseph’s Baco-Merlot has intense aromas of figs, prune, light honey and dates. It is a medium bodied, fruity wine with good acidity, refined tannins and a medium finish. It is food friendly; drink for the next 3+ years. My impression: NICE, 88 pts.
The 2002 Joseph’s Cabernet Franc Icewine has intense aromas of apricots, mandarins and honey. It is a full-bodied, lightly syrupy, sweet wine with good forward acidity and a long finish. This desert is best to be enjoyed by itself; drink now and for the next 5+ years. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts.
Another great treat was the Chateau des Charmes 1993 NV Brut Sparking Wine that was not advertised. This wine was “discovered” couple of months ago and since it was made using the ‘Methode Tradicionale’, it was disgorged (dead yeast was removed and topped off with fresh wine, adding a bit of freshness to an old wine) before being offered to us. This wine has intense notes of minerality, light gooseberry with stems and light citrus. It is a medium bodied, dry wine with fine effervescence (busting on the tongue), checked acidity and a medium finish. If one can get a bottle, this should be enjoyed while toasting a special occasion/ anniversary. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 93 pts.
Stopping over by the Cattail Creek section, I sampled the 2008 Cattail Creek Riesling. It has intense aromas of mouth-watering green apple and wet stone minerality. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with forward, drying acidity and a clean finish of medium length. Enjoy with food or drink by itself; drink now to 2020. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 89 pts.
Finally, the last wine I was able to taste was presented to me by Fabian Reis, the winemaker and a grandson of the Herbert Konzelmann, owner and founder of the Konzelmann Estate Winery. The 2011 Konzelmann Gewürztraminer, harvested from 30 year-old vines and crafted by Fabian as his first vintage; is an intensely aromatic wine with passion fruit, flowers and honey notes. It is an off-dry, medium bodied, fruity wine, with good acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food or enjoy by itself; drink while young for the next 3-5 years. My impression: NICE, 89 pts.
After the media tasting, I promenaded through what was to turn into ‘THE PLACE TO BE’ in Toronto that eve and again ran into Angela Aiello and Mandy Schnurr, who were setting up for the public event.
Though I was not able to attend the evening event, I made the best of the two hours, by meeting nice people in the industry and sampling great wines some of which were twenty-years-old or older. Moreso, I got the feel of how the late afternoon/evening was to progress and for sure will be back next year to experience the whole event.
Lastly, one should always be aware of their surroundings.
For other EVENTS in the wine country or in Toronto, please link here.
I would like to thank Mandy Schnurr and Angela Aiello for the formal invitation.