Taste Ontario 2014

 

Often, I get asked why so many Ontarian wines are light bodied and when they are not, why they are so costly. What if I told you that you can get medium or full bodied wines right from our Ontarian backyard and that these wines still retain their complexity? Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to say.
It is not a news that cool climate wines are more aromatic and thus more complex, but lot of times this comes (though not causatively) at the wine body’s expense, resulting in light or light-to-medium bodied wines. Nowadays, and more than ever, greater number of Ontarian wineries produce wines loaded with fruit. Perhaps it is so because the past decade has been warmer than the decades before, but mainly because the vines bearing the fruit are more aged and are able to synthetize more complex hydrocarbons, and because viticultural methods such as crop trimming, and winemaking techniques such as grape drying (appassimento) all result in more intense wines. These practices, however, come at a cost as crop trimming reduces yields and drying is labor intensive.

 

Image taken at the ‘Taste Ontario 2013’ last year.IMG_6008

 

Once a year, wineries come together to Royal Museum of Ontario to exhibit and promote their wines in an event titled ‘Taste Ontario’. Bronfman Hall, with its large rectangular room and attached kitchen and washrooms in the back, usually serves as the venue for media & trade tasting; recently however, the public tasting has shifted to ROM’s vestibule where tasting amongst the dinosaurs and sarcophagi is rather more classy.

 

The Cab Franc Mission

Total of 55 wineries participated and most featured 4 wines – whites, reds, sparking or sweets. As tasting of 220+ wines in 2.5 hours is just not possible if one wants to take detailed notes, I initially set my attention towards Cabernet Francs – a varietal that performs rather well in Ontario’s ‘cooler’ climate. There were many fine examples – some single varietal, while others blended with Merlot or Sauvignon. I was not able to achieve my objective as other varietals caught my eye and had to be tasted.
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The 2012 Fielding Cabernet Franc, aged in French and American Oaks for one year, has subtle aromas of rosehip, red currant and subtle lees on the nose and cranberry, red currant, oak and vanilla on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with forward acidity, drying tannins and medium to long finish that is dominated by oak, overpowering the fruit. This is food friendly wine; drink 2015 to 2018 (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NICE, 88 pts.
Score 88 pts. $21.95 Vintages 36194
The 2012 Cave Springs Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc, aged in French Oak of which 60% was new; has lifted aromas of green leaves, blackberry and vanilla on the nose and blackberry, vanilla and coconut on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; acidic, with tight tannins and a long and chalky finish. This is food friendly, overly oak influenced wine; cellar short term to allow the tannins and acidity to bridge – drink 2015/16 to 2020+ (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE, 87 pts.
Score 87 pts. $24.95 Cave Springs Cellars
The 2013 Marynissen Estates Cabernet Franc, a 100% Franc sourced from 15 to 20 year old vines and then aged in French, American and Hungarian oak for 8 months, has elegant aromas of pomegranate, cranberry and vanilla on both the nose and palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long finish. Enjoy with food or on-its-own; drink now – 2018+ (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE, 89 pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 89 pts. $18.00 Marynissen Estates
The 2011 Aure Wines Umoja Cabernet Franc, aged in French Oak for one year, has attractive aromas of eucalyptus, pine, black cherry and vanilla on the nose and black cherry, cherry and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long finish. This is a food friendly and sipping wine; drink till 2018 (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 88-89 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 88-89 pts. $19.95 Vintages 367557
The 2012 Angel’s Gate Cabernet Merlot, composed of roughly 60% Cabernet Franc, 26% Sauvignon and 14% Merlot and was aged in 225L French Oak barrels for 12 months; has aromas of wood, almond, and cherry on the nose and blackberry and black cherry on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with good acidity, dusty tannins and a medium finish. This is a food friendly wine; drink now and for the next 3-5 years (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE, 88 pts – recommended for its value.
RECOMMENDED Score 88 pts. $13.95 LCBO 620096
The 2008 Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards Cabernet Merlot Reserve, composed of 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot that was aged in French Oak for 30 months, has elegant aromas of pine, old wood, lifted blackberry and subtle lees and vanilla on the nose and pomegranate and red currant with subtle wood on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with crisp acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long finish. This is a food friendly wine; as the fruit is diminishing, cellar only short term: drink now to 2017 (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts, recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 88-89 pts. $19.95 Vintages 328013
The 2010 Pelee Island Winery Vinedressers Red, composed of 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Lemberger that was aged in French Oak for 12 months; has appealing aromas of pomegranate, oak and faint cedar. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with good, refreshing acidity, grippy tannins and a medium finish – the tannins and acidity are not supported by fruit. Drink this wine with food; perhaps the wine will come together in couple of years, revisit in 2016 (cork enclosure). My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL, 86 pts.
Score 86 pts. $15.95 Pelee Island Winery

 

The 2010 Hidden Bench Bistro Pinot Noir, aged in French Oak barrels for 11 months, has appealing aromas of pomegranate, red currant, wood and subtle dates on the nose and dates and pomegranate on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity, drying tannins and medium finish. This is a food friendly wine; cellar to allow the tannins settle – best to drink 2016 to 2020 (evolution potential +1). My impression: NICE, 88 (+1 Ep) pts.
Score 88 (+1 Ep) pts. $19.95 Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery
The 2012 Sprucewood Shores Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, composed of 85% Sauvignon and 15% Franc that was aged in oak for 16 months; has attractive notes of forest berries, blackberry, black cherry and plum on the nose and cranberry, pomegranate and vanilla on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, dry, fruity wine; acidic, with drying tannins and a medium finish. Drink this wine with food; the tannins and acidity still have to come together, cellar for couple of years at least (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL, 86 pts.
Score 85 pts. $15.15 Sprucewood Shores Winery

 

The Heavy Weights

While on a mission, I could not help but to taste some of the fuller bodied creations. As mentioned in the introduction, one can find big wines in the range that Ontario wineries produce. These wines, though pricey as more labor goes into them, are quite competitive in comparison to say Amarones (which also utilize the Appassimento method of intensity concentration) or big Californian ones, yet less jammy and more complex.
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The 2012 Rosewood Estates Lock, Stock & Barrel, composed of 32% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot and 9% Malbec and aged for 16 months in French Oak; has alluring aromas of dark chocolate, blackberry, black cherry, oak, light toast and faint vanilla on the nose and black fruits – blackberry, black currant and black cherry, together with sweat vanillin, creamy coconut and light wood on the palate. It is a medium to full bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with sharp, yet refreshing acidity, dusty tannins and a long and smooth finish. This big wine is a sipper so enjoy on-its-own; cellar this wine for couple of years to allow the acidity and tannins to blend together and the body to develop more aged aromas (evolution potential +1) drink 2015 to 2025+ (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 (+1 Ep) pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 (+1 Ep) pts. $34.20 Rosewood Estates Winery
The 2010 Foreign Affair Petit Verdot is made with 15% Cabernet Franc, dried using the Appassimento method, and the wine was aged for 23 months in French Oak barrels before bottling. It has intense aromas of blackberry, black cherry, and figs on the nose and blackberry, black cherry, vanilla and oak on the palate. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with crisp acidity, refined, yet dusty tannins and a long and silky finish. Sip this wine or drink with red meats; drink now to 2025+ (extra-long cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 93 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 93 pts. $49.95 The Foreign Affair Winery
The 2010 Foreign Affair Cabernet Sauvignon, made with 100% Sauvignon of which 40% was set aside to dry by the Appassimento method, and that prior to bottling was aged in French Oak for 19 months; has seductive aromas of eucalyptus, tea, vanilla and black cherry on the nose and blackberry, coconut, vanilla and oak on the palate. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with good acidity, refined tannins and an extra-long finish. Enjoy this big, bold wine on-its-own; best to drink 2015 to 2025+ (to allow the fruit to tone down – evolution potential +1) (extra-long cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 (+1 Ep) pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 (+1 Ep) pts. $34.95 The Foreign Affair Winery
The 2010 Megalomaniac Grounded Reserve Merlot, aged in new French Oak barrels for 24 months; has captivating aromas of subtle barnyard, cedar, spice and rosehip on the nose and pomegranate, cherry, dates, oak, coconut and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with refreshing acidity, refined tannins and an extra-long finish. This is a sipper; drink now to 2020+ (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92-93 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 92-93 pts. $44.95 Megalomaniac Wine
The 2011 Rennie Estate Scarpata Cabernet Sauvignon was crafted utilizing the Appassimento method prior to fermentation, then second fermented on leftover skins utilized for “G” Assemblage, and aged for 18 months in new French Oak. The resulting wine has captivating aromas of dark chocolate, black currant and woody cranberry on the nose and cranberry, pomegranate, cherry, cedar and oak on the palate. It is a medium to full bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; BALANCED with crisp acidity, grippy tannins and a long and chalky finish. Enjoy on-its-own or with red meats; drink 2015/16 to 2025 (evolution potential of +1). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 (+1 Ep)pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 92 (+1 Ep) pts. $45.00 Rennie Estate Winery

 

The Unusual or Rare

Of the wines tasted, these two wines struck me as unique for Ontario – Aure Wines Old Vines Maréchal Foch 2010 and Magnotta Enotrium Gran Riserva 2009.
Maréchal Foch, a variety more common to eastern US or Okanagan Valley, can make exquisite wines when sourced from older vines, like the example crafted by Aure Wines below.
Often, as it generally is winemaker’s intent, Ontarian wines may be reminiscent of cool-climated Burgundian or Bordeauxian counterparts, but rarely from warm climated regions of Spain – Rioja to be more specific, especially when traditional Bordeaux varietals were used.

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The 2010 Aure Wines Old Vines Maréchal Foch, sourced from 50 year old vines and aged in Oak barrels for two years, has seductive aromas of oak, black cherry, cherry, coconut and vanilla on the nose and cherry, raspberry and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium to full bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with crisp/refreshing acidity, grippy tannins and a long finish. Though food friendly, enjoy by itself; drink now till 2020+ (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $25.00 Aure Wines
The 2009 Magnotta Enotrium Gran Riserva, composed of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in French and American Oak for 26 months; has impressive aromas that take you to the old, Tempranillo-dominated world – aromas of faint musk, leather, anise and cigar box on the nose and pomegranate, red currant, coconut and vanilla on the palate. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, integrated to aged wine; with good acidity, refined tannins and an extra-long, quite wood imparted finish. This is a sipper; drink now and for the next 5-10 years (long cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 92 pts. $45.20 Magnotta Winery

 

 

Special Thanks to Wine Country Ontario for the invitation to this tasting.

 

 

Please click on the links for ‘Taste Ontario 2013’ or other EVENTS in the wine country or in Toronto.

 

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