Ontario’s best rieslings: a collective tasting on Spotlight Toronto (and two extra tasting notes)

It’s nice when social media pushes the idea of social forward, encouraging collective thinking and group efforts. Like this Ontario riesling project that was proposed to a small group of wine writers and professionals by Rick Van Sickle, of the St Catharines Standard, and Suresh Doss, of Spotlight Toronto.

Six writers, including this guy who does The Wine Case blog, were included in the informal panel and submitted a series of wines. It was noticed, among the reviews submitted, that Cave Spring and Thirty Bench came up quite often in everyone’s lists. Discussions ensued about how to process and package the whole thing, various opinions were expressed, and finally selections were made and posted here. It’s quite a nice list, with a nice price range, starting at as little as 12$. (Why anyone would rather drink Cellared in Canada when good VQA wines are available at such reasonable prices is beyond me.)

I had two more choices in my list which weren’t included in the already long list provided on Spotlight Toronto. Wouldn’t want them to go to waste, so here they are, exclusive to The Wine Case.

Creekside Wines Close-Plant Reserve Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench
The folks at Creekside are at their most interesting when they get experimental – as they do with their whole Undercurrents series. This could be an undercurrent, but its steady quality, over the years, has made it a regular part of the Reserve series. Drawn from a closely-planted section of a particular vineyard (Butler’s Grant) dating back to the 80s – an experiment gone absolutely right – the wine has remarkable personality and originality. Part of the wine is aged in oak, but you don’t sense it much, as you concentrate on the clover, pear, quince and ginger ale – yes, ginger ale – that just jumps from the glass.

Hidden Bench Felseck Riesling
Owner Harold Thiele and winemaker Jean-Martin Bouchard may be focusing on Burgundy varieties, but that doesn’t mean they take other grapes for granted. Their rieslings tend to have a steely, clean feel to them, with a good mineral backbone, to which the Felseck vineyard, located just east of the winery buildings, seems to add an extra depth, along with hints of flint stone and, in the 2007 vintage, lovely flavors of pear and caramelized apples. Nice to hear they’re planting more.

Now, I’m going back to Niagara on Tuesday, and should be tasting more rieslings from Fielding and Flat Rock. And hopefully dropping by Creekside to pick up a bottle of that Close Plant. Work, work, work…

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Canadian Icewine: Quality and Diversity from Coast to Coast

I used to love Canadian Icewine and its less expensive, but often quite as tasty counterpart, the late harvest. And then, for some odd reason, I practically stopped having it.

Over the last few months, however, I drank icewines from Ontario, British Columbia, Québec and Nova Scotia. And baby, I’m back.

Those were fine, fine wines, with all the apricot, honey and floral aromas and flavors you’d want, the acidity needed to balance out the concentrated sweetness. What struck me the most, however, was the diversity of styles – a much greater range than I would have expected.

Let me give you an idea of this range of styles by giving tasting notes from West to East. (more…)

Regional Wine Writing Project: Napa North? How about Burgundy West?

When I decided to take part in the Regional Wine Writing Project, I started with Quebec, my homeland, which deserves a full introduction to just about anyone that is not a wine lover in Quebec itself. That was easy, in other terms, because just about everything remains to be said. Writing about Niagara, which is, to say the least, more often discussed (and whose wines are more readily available to US readers, as a look through Wine-Searcher.com will tell you), was a bit more of a bind. Where to start?

What finally got me started was a recent Globe and Mail article by John Szabo, where the Niagara region (more…)

Canadian wines for all occasions

I was invited for a second time by CJAD host Sharman Yarnell to do a wine-related bit on her Saturday-morging show called Showtime. And since our little chat was to air soon after Canada Day (and Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, by the way), she thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the state of Canadian wines today – and also, at the state of Canadian wine availability in Quebec.

One great question she asked me was if Canadian wines can provide all the styles of wines you would want. I said yes, and after thinking about it, after taping the interview a few days ago, I’m even more convinced.

One of the wines I mentioned from the outset was Osoyoos Larose’s Le Grand Vin, a solid Bordeaux-style blend (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot) produced in the Okanagan Valley, whose 2004 vintage sells for just above 40 dollars at SAQ. It’s a great example (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesday (aargh… Thursday, again) #45: Old World Riesling

I like riesling more than I think I do.

What I mean to say is that as I pondered the theme of the May Wine Blogging Wednesday and tried to choose an Old World riesling for this contribution, I kept thinking about the many ways in which I’d enjoyed it, just over the last few months: alsatian Léon Beyer riesling by the glass in two restaurants (dry, mineral and yet nicely aromatic and expressive), a 2002 Grittermatte riesling from Domaine Julien Meyer (a touch oxydized, yet clean, well-rounded and complex), a 2000 riesling from Ontario’s Hernder Estate Winery, a bottle of Mort’s Block from Kilikanoon, a Grant Burge riesling, a Mount Cass slightly botrytized riesling from New Zealand (see my French-language review here) , and so on. The variety in acidity, mineral character, floral and (more…)

Carbon zero? Well, looking more closely…

In a previous post, I’d spent a certain amount of time exploring the limits and vagaries of “green” wine. I’ve always been skeptical of full-frontal claims of virtue, which seem to be as much about marketing than about actual environmental concerns. I tend to feel more in tune with winemakers who go the green way more naturally, so to speak, and don’t talk so much about it. There are limits to the claims of greenness, and pitfalls to promising too much.

Case in point: Grove Mill winery, a great New Zealand outfit that has laid a claim to being the world’s first CarboNZero winery. They put a lot of effort into this, even factoring in the shipping to Britain in their calculations. But guess what. Standards are changing for the CarbonZero program, so (more…)

Published in: on March 20, 2008 at 10:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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