Taste Ontario 2013

 

Geographically, all of Ontario’s vine growing appellations are thought of as cool-climate regions – meaning that vines which thrive here, produce wines naturally higher in aromatics and in acidity, hence adding to their complexity and challenging their structure, respectively. Though home to many different varietals, Ontario is well-known for its Vidal and Cabernet Franc Icewines; Rieslings and Chardonnays – the whites; Pinot Noirs, Merlots and Cabernet Francs – the reds, and one must not forget the sparkling roses, just to highlight a few. Most Ontarian vines grow in the province’s four regions also known as appellations – the Niagara Escarpment, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore (listed from highest to lowest area under cultivation); but vine is also grown in other, non-classified regions – namely Toronto and York area and Bruce County.
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Beautiful Sue Sterling enjoying the event – visit www.suesterling.com
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To raise more awareness in hope to increase Ontarian wine consumption locally, the Wine Country Ontario organizes “Taste Ontario” – a function where patrons can taste Ontarian wines from the above mentioned regions and chat with the winemakers. This annual occasion, held this year in Ottawa on October 7th and in Toronto on October 10th, had 43 wineries participating and showcasing their products. The event usually commences with a seminar, followed by trade and media tasting and concludes with a public tasting.
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Some Interesting Facts:
As we are all affected by what happens in this province, especially if you are wine enthusiast and moreover if you are a Ontarian wine lover like myself, it is good to know some facts pertaining to the industry. In 2012/13, the sales of Ontarian wine reached a mere 40-41% market share of all wine sold within the province, while other wine-producing regions enjoy a steady 70% or higher market share [1]. Numerically, sales of Ontarian wine bring in $654 million dollars in revenue [1], of which $259 million is from VQA wine sales and the rest coming from sales of International Canadian Blends (ICB) that translate into 15.7 million and 45.7 million litres, respectively [2]. Annually, the Ontarian wine industry brings in more than 1.8 million tourists [3], has a total economic impact of $3.3 billion dollars (entire Canadian wine and grape industry contributes $6.8 billion dollars [5]) and generates 14,000 local jobs [2].
Interestingly, the wine reaches the customer through three main outlets – the LCBO accounts for 58% of all Ontario wine sold (1,155 different Ontario VQA wines were sold [4]); the winery retail stores sell 36% of all Ontarian wine and the remaining 6% get sold through direct delivery [2]. These numbers vary slightly when only VQA wines are considered [see 3], showing that LCBO preferentially sells VQA, or 100% Canadian wines.

 

The Toronto event was held at the Peter F Bronfman Hall, Royal Ontario Museum.

 

Thought I only attended the trade and media tasting, I enjoyed it and the wines immensely. The more-than-a-handful of wines that I was able to taste and review are summarized below.

 

White Wine Reviews
The 2008 Viewpointe Estates Winery Ideal Pointe Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, aged in French Oak for 18 months, has intense aromas of smoked meat, oak, vanilla and butter. It is medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine with good acidity and a long smooth finish. Drink with food; drink now – 2020. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – though some might find the woody notes overpowering, this is a must buy.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $24.95 Vintages 274712
The 2010 Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s list Chardonnay, aged in French, Hungarian and American oaks for 10 months, has intense aromas of cured/smoked meat, oak and vanilla. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with forward/slightly tart acidity, subtle tannins and a long and smooth finish. Drink with food or by itself; drink now till 2018. My impression: NICE, 90 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $28.15 Available from winery
The 2010 Organized Crime Chardonnay has intense aromas of white pear, butter and subtle oak, toasted nuts and coffee bean. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry wine, with good acidity and medium to long, fruit driven finish. Sip on its own; drink now – 2018+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 90 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $31.65 Available from winery
The 2012 Hidden Bench Bistro Chardonnay has intense aromas of pear, unripe gooseberry and light oak and vanilla. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with good acidity, and a medium to long finish. Sip on its own; drink now – 2018. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 90 pts – recommended for its quality and value, well priced.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $21.50 Available from winery
The 2011 Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay has appealing aromas of white pear and subdued oak and vanilla. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruit forward wine, with forward acidity and a medium to long finish. It is food friendly, drink now and for the next few years. My impressions: NOTHING SPECIAL, 88-89 pts.
Score 89 pts. $34.95 Vintages 111989
The 2012 Dover Vineyards Frisky Beaver White has sweet, intense aromas of citrus and green apple as well as it has subtle mineral notes. It is a medium to full-bodied, dry, fruity wine; with tart acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food; drink now – 2016+. My impression: NICE, 88 pts – great value wine, hence recommended.
RECOMMENDED Score 88 pts. $13.95 LCBO 345629
The 2012 Cooper’s Hawk Riesling has appealing aromas of apricots. It is a medium bodied, med-sweet, fruity wine, with good acidity and a medium, sweet finish. Drink with food; drink now – 2018. My impression: NICE, 88 pts.
Score 88 pts. $15.95 Vintages 318402
The 2010 Niagara College Teaching winery Gewürztraminer has intense aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit and forest flowers. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with good acidity, and a medium, fruity finish. Drink on its own or with food; drink now – 2016+. My impression: NICE, 88 pts – recommended for both quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 88 pts. $14.15 Available from winery
The 2012 Colio Estates Winery CEV Sauvignon Blanc has intense aromas of tropical fruit – leechie and passion fruit. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with good acidity and a long fruity finish. Drink with food or sip on its own; drink now – 2016. My impression: quite NICE, 88 pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 88 pts. $15.95 Available from winery
The 2012 Pelee Island Chardonnay Vinedressers has appealing aromas of gooseberry and other white fruit. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with good acidity and a medium, woody finish. Drink with food; drink now – 2016. My impression: NICE, 87 pts.
Score 87 pts. $17.95 Available from winery
The 2011 Dover Vineyards Smoke & Gamble Reserve Chardonnay has appealing aromas of light pear and subtle wood. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with forward acidity and a lingering, woody finish. Drink with food, drink now – 2017. My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL to NICE, 87 pts.
Score 87 pts. $17.95 Vintages 345637
The 2012 Colio Estates Winery CEV Pinot Grigio, of which 10% was oak aged, has light aromas gooseberry, light vanilla and subtle wood. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with good acidity, subtle tannins and a medium to long finish. Drink with salty foods; drink now – 2016. My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL, 86-87 pts.
Score 87 pts. $15.95 Available from winery

 

Red Wine Reviews
The 2010 Norman Hardie Unfiltered Pinot Noir has intense aromas of anise, smoked meat, clove on the nose and pomegranate, red currant and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine, with checked acidity, refined tannins and a long finish. Though food friendly, drink this wine on its own; drink now – 2018. My impression: BEAUTIFUL to DIVINE, 92-93 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 93 pts. $39 Vintages 208702
The 2010 Tawse Grower’s Blend Pinot Noir has intense, lifted aromas of prune, pomegranate and vanilla. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with good acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long finish. It is food friendly, but enjoy it on its own; drink now – 2018+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended buy for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $31.95 Vintages 328070
The 2011 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir that was aged in French Oak for 18 months has intense aromas of raspberry, toast and subtle wood + vanilla. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with checked acidity, refined tannins and a long finish. It is food friendly or sip on its own; drink now – 2018+. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 89-90 pts.
Score 90 pts. $29.95 Vintages 1560
The 2011 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, aged in French Oak for 12 months, has intense aromas of toast, rosehip, dates, prune and subtle vanilla. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine, with forward acidity, notable tannins and a medium to long finish. Drink this wine with food; drink now – 2018. My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts – good value wine
Score 89 pts. $19.95 Vintages 1545
The 2010 Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir has intense aromas of rosehip, pomegranate and smoked meat. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine, with forward acidity, subtle tannins and a medium finish. It is food friendly; drink now – 2016+. My impression: NICE, 89 pts.
Score 89 pts. $38.40 Available from winery
The 2010 Château Des Charmes Old Vines Cabernet/Merlot is composed of roughly equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot, all hand-picked from 20 – to 30 year-old vines that after fermentation aged in seasoned French Oak barrels for 9 months. This wine has intense aromas of lifted cedar, Earth, pomegranate and dates on the nose and toasted wood shavings, dates and Earth on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine, with dusty tannins (decant for 1+ hours), forward acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food or enjoy by itself; drink now and for the next 3-5 years. My impression: NICE, 89 pts. I didn’t try this wine at the show, instead I had the priviledge to enjoy a full bottle in the comfort of my home May/13.
Score 89 pts. $19.95 Vintages 222372
The 2012 Dover Vineyards Smoke & Gamble Reserve Cabernet Merlot has intense aromas of smoky cherry, forest berries, red currant and raspberry. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with notable acidity, refined tannins and a medium finish. Drink with food; drink now – 2017. My impression: NICE, 88 pts.
Score 88 pts. $19.95 Vintages 332825
The 2012 Organized Crime Break-in Pinot Noir has intense aromas of forest strawberries, dates, thyme and wood. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine, with notable acidity and tannins and a medium to long finish. It is a food friendly wine; drink now – 2016. My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL to NICE, 87 pts.
Score 87 pts. $23.95 Available from winery
The 2011 Niagara College Teaching Winery Balance Pinot Noir has intense aromas of forest berries, cigar box, clove, anise and smoked meat. It is a light bodied, dry, integrated wine, with austere tannins, checked acidity and long finish. Drink this wine with salty foods (not cured meats); drink 2015-2018 – allow the tannins to mellow out. My impression: MIXED – beautiful nose 92+ pts, yet barely palatable 72 pts; overall 82 pts.
Score 82 pts. $19.15 Vintages

 

Desert Wine Reviews
The 2009 Château Des Charmes Vidal Icewine is full of tangerine, apricot and light peach aromas. It is a full bodied, sweet, fruity wine, with good acidity, and a medium to long lightly syrupy finish. Enjoy on its own or drink with creamy or hard cheeses; drink now – 2018+. My impression: NICE, 89 pts. I didn’t try this wine at the show, instead I had the priviledge to enjoy a full bottle in the comfort of my home October/13.
Score 89 pts. $25.95 Vintages 565861

 

 

 

 

For other EVENTS in the wine country or in Toronto, please link here.

 

 

My thank you goes to Wine Country Ontario for allowing me the opportunity to attend this event.

 

References:
1. http://www.wgao.ca/industry-facts/ontario-wine-industry-total
2. http://www.wgao.ca/uploads/Industry%20Newsletter%20-%20April%202013.pdf
3. http://winecountryontario.ca/media-centre/industry-statistics
4. http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo-ear/media_releases/content?content_id=2684
5. http://www.canadianvintners.com/?p=294

 

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