On April 25th 2013, second annual ‘County in the City’ wine-tasting took place inside of the Berkeley Church, downtown Toronto. The event’s aim was to introduce wines of Prince Edward County to ‘us’, the city dwellers, without ‘us’ having to venture out. This year, 14 out of the 26 Prince Edward County wineries (several more wineries are to open this year) featured their products and who better to represent them than the winery owners and wine makers themselves. The cost of $40 (at the door) included all the tastings, some cracker/cheese/fruit nibbles and a performance by a live band. Variety of on-site prepared food was also available for purchase and its juicy, meaty smells were competing with the wine’s aromas. As many of the wines are not available at the LCBO, purchasing ANY 6 or more wines warranted free delivery directly to customer’s door – promotion only available at the event itself.
The venue was held at the historic Berkeley Church, a place of worship built-in 1871 by the Wesleyan Methodists and utilized until the 1950’s, at which point it ceased to serve its original purpose and was subsequently converted into an event facility. Though renovated to fill its new role, the few remaining neo-gothic, religious, wall structures and tall, stained glass windows that allow the afternoon’s sun to seep in, provided a sense of history and ambiance that is perfect for this kind of venue.
The County in the City is an offshoot of a larger event – ‘Terroir’ that takes place on May 25th 2013 starting from noon to 6 pm and is held at the Crystal Palace in Picton more info. Just like the County in the City, people running this event are the hands-on people, the wine makers and the winery owners, who are able to answer any and all questions and add the personal feel that large expo-style events are just not able to provide.
During the last year’s event, I focused on tasting Pinot Noir wines. Though I was looking forward to tasting Pinot Noir again, this year’s spotlight was taken by the white grape varieties namely Chardonnays and Rieslings. Out of the 42 wines that I tasted, of which I have 35 complete review notes, I list the ones that made an impact on me, either due to their quality or their uniqueness. Due to space constraints, unfortunately I am not able to list all 35 reviewed wine though most of them are well made.
Unique/hard to find wines
Keint-He 2012 Voyager Vidal
This Vidal has intense aromas of honey, pear, hawthorn as well as other floral notes. It is a dry, light to medium bodied, fruity wine with crisp acidity and a short to medium length, clean finish. This wine is refreshing, food friendly with palate cleansing properties, and should be consumed in the next 2-4 years. Rated at 88-89 points, this hard to find, dry style wine is one to be recommended based on uniqueness and quality. Tasted April/13.
Score 88-89 pts. $17.00
Lighthall Progression Sparkling Vidal
This sparkling Vidal has captivating notes of light apricots, honey and wet stone minerality. It is a dry, medium bodied, fruity wine with fine effervescence, checked acidity and a medium finish. Pair with creamy cheeses – as a palate cleanser; drink young for the next 2-3 years. Tasted April/13.
Score 88 pts. $20.00
Exultet 2012 Mysterium
This white, made entirely of 100% Pinot Noir that was aged in used French Oak barrels for 5 months, has concentrated aromas of honey-dew melon, ripe pear and very subtle wood influence. It is a full-bodied, off-dry, fruity wine with good acidity and a medium finish. Though food friendly, this wine can be sipped by itself; drink young for the next few years. Rated 89 points and recommended for its quality and uniqueness. Tasted April/13.
Score 89 pts. $30.00.
Traditional, well crafted wines
Devil’s Wishbone 2012 Pinot Grigio
This Pinot Grigio has intense aromas of ripe honey-dew melon and apricots. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry (though ripe fruit gives off-dry impression), fruity wine, with nicely refreshing acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food or as a summer afternoon sipper; drink while young in the next 2-3 years. Tasted April/13.
Score 89 pts. $23.00
Huff Estates 2011 Off-Dry Riesling
The Riesling has intense aromas of washed stone minerality, petrol, yellow apple and lightly floral notes. As its name reveals, it is an off-dry (12 g/l), medium to full-bodied, fruity wine with good acidity and a medium finish. Drink as an aperitif, with or without food; drink for the next 2-5 years. Tasted April/13.
Score 89 pts. $17.95
Closson Chase 2010 Chardonnay
Sourced from Steve Kocsis’s vineyard located in the Beamsville Bench Sub-appellation, this Chardonnay, aged in French Oak barrels for 16 months, has intense aromas of ripe apricots, pears, subtle vanilla and light butter. It is an extra-dry, medium bodied, integrated wine, with soft tannins, refreshing acidity and a long, lightly oaked, clean, finish. Drink it as a sipper or with protein dishes that can take some fruit and oak; drink now and for the next 5 to 8 years. Tasted April/13.
Score 90 pts. $34.95
Stanners 2010 Chardonnay
This Chardonnay, sourced from the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation of Niagara Peninsula, has intense aromas of honey, floral notes, pear, oak and subtle buttery-ness. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with balanced acidity and a pleasant, long finish. Its restrained woody notes pair well with buttery fish, or can be enjoyed by itself. Rated at 90 pts, this wine is recommended based on its quality and value. Tasted April/13.
Score 90 pts. $25.
Lighthall 2010 Chardonnay Reserve
This Chardonnay that spent 8 months in French Oak barrels, has intense buttery-pear and light oak notes. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine with refreshing acidity and a long, oaky and light vanilla finish. Pair this wine with salty/acidic foods of your choice or enjoy on its own; drink now-2018+. Rated at 90-91 pts, this wine is highly recommended due to its quality and value. Tasted April/13.
Score 90-91 pts. $25.
Exultet 2011 Chardonnay
This Chardonnay spent 12 months in French Oak barrels giving it concentrated aromas of buttery oak, coconut and buttery pear. It is a full-bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with good acidity and a long, smooth, buttery oak, finish. This wine will complement BBQ’d meats as well as will reward simply on its own. Rated 91-92 pts and recommended based on quality. Tasted April/13.
Score 91-92 pts. $40.
Devil’s Wishbone 2011 Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir spent 5 months of aging in 2-year-old Canadian and French oak barrels. It has intense aromas of rosehip, raspberry, smoked meat and subtle barnyard. It is a medium bodied, fruity to integrated wine, with forward acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long finish. This wine will go well with lightly seasoned foods; drink now to 2018. Tasted April/13.
Score 89 pts. $28.00
Lighthall 2010 Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir has intense aromas of rosehip, smoked/cured meat, smoke and subtle vanilla. It is a light to medium bodied, integrated wine, with forward acidity, chewy, refined tannins and a long finish. It is food friendly, but will reward as a standalone sipper; drink now though cellaring to 2015-18 will have its rewards. Tasted April/13.
Score 89 pts. $25.00
Exultet 2010 Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir was aged in French Oak for 12 months. It has lifted, captivating aromas of rosehip, red currant, smoke, subtle cedar and vanilla. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with forward acidity, refined tannins and a long finish. Enjoy this wine by itself; drink now to 2020. Scoring 91 pts, this wine is recommended due to its quality to price ratio. Tasted April/13.
Score 91 pts. $29.95
Norman Hardie 2011 County Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir has intense aromas of pomegranate, raspberry, subtle cedar and smoke on the nose and strawberry, raspberry and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry (though perceived as dry), fruity wine, with good acidity, refined tannins and a long, silky finish. Although food friendly, enjoy this beauty by itself; drink now and watch it evolve for the next 5-7 years. Rated at 92 pts, this is a highly recommended (based on quality and value) wine. Tasted April/13.
Score 92 pts. $35.00
Though the event’s objective is wine exploration, equally as important are the social interactions – whether it be with the winery’s representatives, acknowledging old encounters or forming new acquaintances. I must describe one such encounter:
I recognized a gentleman, whom after few minutes I realized that I sat with at the same table during Luxury-line Penfolds tasting and whom I have seen on many occasions at many other events. Though I spoke to him briefly during the Penfolds dinner, our conversation was solely pertaining to the wine itself and had no personal aspect to it. Knowing that he is not a critic, nor he appeared to work in the world of wine; my curiosity pushed me to come up to him and ask him how come he attends these events and what sort of relationship he has with wine. Recognizing me, he simply stated “I enjoy fine wine and I come to these events to find great value wines”. What I found fascinating about this gentleman was the harmony of his wine passion and his real life; knowing a great deal about wine, he simply came to find great wines and enjoy himself while searching – no more, no less.
For other EVENTS in the wine country or in Toronto, please link here.
The participating wineries included:
Casa Dea Estates Winery; Closson Chase Vineyards; Devil’s Wishbone Winery; Exultet Estates; Harwood Estate; Huff Estates Winery; Karlo Estates; Keint-He Winery & Vineyards; Lighthall Vineyards; Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard; Rosehall Run Vineyards; Sandbanks Winery; Stanners Vineyard and The Grange of Prince Edward winery.
I thank Mandy Schnurr for the invitation to the Media and Trade as well as the Public tasting portions.
This event was organized by Scott Rondeau and WineAlign.