The wines of Ravine, Niagara, Canada
One of Ontario's leading wineries, excelling with Cabernet Franc

This was the last visit of my Ontario visit. I’d somehow managed to get stranded at Pearl Morissette the previous evening, and so I arrived late into the tasting after scrounging a lift, although I felt much brighter than I might otherwise after a quick morning swim in the Pearl Morissette pool.

Marty Werner pours - left to right we have Magdalena Kaiser-Smit, Bill Zacharkiw, John Szabo and Veronique Rivest

Ravine is one of Ontario’s star wineries, and they are particularly good with Cabernet Franc. That’s perhaps because their 34 acre vineyard is located in the warmest of the Niagara sub-regions, St Davids Bench. The vineyard is owned by the Lowrey family and was started in 2008 on their 150 year old farm. Winemaking is in the hands of consultant Peter Gamble, and resident winemaker is Marty Werner.

Peter Gamble

Here we are 13 km from the lake, which makes it a warmer site than the majority of Niagara. ‘It’s warm,’ says Gamble, ‘but the vineyard soils are more conducive to elegant flavours.’

Gamble explains that for the reds they do post leaf-fall harvesting, often into November. ‘There is significant development of flavour in the grapes after leaf fall.’ Yields are low. For Cabernet Sauvignon it’s 1–1.6 tons/acre; for Merlot it is 1.75–2.5 tons/acre; Cabernet Franc is somewhere in between.


Ravine Meritage 2010 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
Fresh and vivid with lovely berry fruits, as well as nice green notes and a bit of spice. Lovely precision. 92/100

Ravine Merlot 2010 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
Fresh and supple with lovely bright berry and cherry fruits. Lively with nice purity and supple ripe fruit, as well as some structure. 92/100

Ravine Cabernet Franc 2010 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
Fresh, pretty, bright berry fruits dominate. It’s floral, fine and expressive with subtle mint and lovely cherry and berry fruits. Fruity and fine with a lovely chalky edge to the ripe fruit. Very fine. 93/100

Ravine Reserve Cabernet Franc Picone Vineyard 2010 Vinemount Ridge, Niagara, Canada
Ripe and smooth with lovely chalky, mineral texture to the finish. Sweet and ripe, this is essence of Cabernet Franc, with lovely texture. 93/100

Ravine Reserve Cabernet Franc Picone Vineyard 2011 Vinemount Ridge, Niagara, Canada
Sweet, with a hint of ginger spice and floral cherry aromatucs. A lovely supple wine with elegant sweet black fruits and lovely balance. 94/100

Ravine Reserve Cabernet Franc Picone Vineyard 2012 Vinemount Ridge, Niagara, Canada (cask sample)
Supple, bright and fresh with nice cherry fruit and attractive green notes. Midweight and super-elegant. 92–94/100

Ravine East Block Cabernet Franc 2009 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
Fresh and pure with lovely smooth, lush palate of blackberry fruit. Fresh with a smooth mouthfeel and nice grippy tannins, almost amarone in style. The late harvest of 2009 can be tasted here. Very smooth. 93/100

Ravine West Block Cabernet Franc 2010 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
Supple, sweet and berryish with nice sweet black fruits. Smooth with lovely focus and freshness, and grippy tannins. 92/100

Ravine Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Niagara Peninsula, Canada (cask sample)
Ripe, smooth and fruity with well integrated oak and hints of grapefruit. Nice weight. 89–91/100

Ravine Gewurztraminer 2012 Niagara Peninsula, Canada
Very delicate, fine nose, with Turkish delight aromatics. Sweet rounded mouthfeel with rich grapey fruit. Off dry style. 88/100

Ravine Riesling 2008 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
8% alcohol. This is picked as soon as it hits minimum VQA levels of ripeness. Lovely citrus and lime, as well as a hint of petrol. Lovely structure, off-dry and with hints of dried pine needles. Real interest and complexity. 92/100

Ravine Riesling 2012 St Davids Bench, Niagara, Canada
10.5% alcohol. Lovely sweet citrus and lemon fruit with some riper melon and apricot notes.  Off-dry with nice depth. Pretty, pure and open. 91/100


Pearl Morissette
Hidden Bench

Closson Chase
Huff Estates
Rosehall Run
Norman Hardie

Wines tasted 07/13  
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