In Canada, Monday evening with some diverse wines

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After a full day of tasting, and the fabulous helicopter ride, it was time for beer. So Bill Zacharkiw and John Szabo, my partners in crime (PICs), ended up in an English-style pub in Niagara-on-the-Lake, along with Magdalena Kaiser-Smit of Wine Country Ontario. It’s called The Olde Angel Inn, and as well as English beers on tap (Fullers London Pride, for example), there was a decent selection of Canadian offerings. I had a very nice Oast House Barn Raiser Country Ale, which is a bright, lemony, hoppy American Pale Ale-style beer from a local brewery.
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Pint downed, I then had to leave my PICs to head off to the speakers’ dinner that preceded the Brock sparkling wine symposium, which was being held at Trius (previously known as Hillebrand), where we had experienced a dramatic thunderstorm last June at the i4C event. This finished around 11 pm and so I trecked over to Ravine, where the PICs had dined. We had some Chatreuse (green, an interesting experience) and some beer (more Oast House), and a couple of interesting wines. Here I met one of the winemaking team from Benjamin Bridge, Josh Horton.

Benjamin Bridge: remember that name. It’s a Nova Scotia sparkling wine producer, and the wines are just brilliant. (I tried them at the Lifford Wine grand tasting the following day. These are world-class sparkling wines. Notes to come.)

After this, we headed back to where we were staying (Pearl Morissette) to drink wine until the early hours. My notes from some of the bottles from various stages of the evening:
J&J Eger Kekfrankos

J&J Eger Wine Co Kékfrankos Eged Vineyard 2009 Eger, Hungary
This wine is made by John Szabo with János Stump, and it’s from a vineyard with limestone soils. Pure, fresh, lively and mineral with black cherry and plum fruit. There’s an appealing sweet texture here, with some sappiness and a bit of spice. So supple, fine and expressive, this is really delicious, combining ripe fruit and elegance. 93/100
fielding viognier SC

Fielding Viognier Lot S-F 2012 Niagara, Canada
Just 408 bottles of this remarkable skin-contact Viognier were made. It spent 14 days on its skins, and the result is a delicious, distinctive wine with floral, detailed aromas of peach, pear and apricot. The palate has a bit of grippy structure and some pear and pith notes, together with a hint of tea. Very stylish. 92/100

Foillard Morgon Côte du Py 2009 Beaujolais, France
Lovely notes of spice, red cherries and raspberries with good grip and a bit of meatiness. Textured with richness and focus in parallel. Cherries, plums and spice with some subtle earthiness. Detailed wine. 92/100

The Farm Pinot Noir 2010 Niagara, Canada
13.5% alcohol. I know very little about this, other than Thomas Bachelder has some winemaking involvement, and it’s a vineyard owned by a guy called Peter Neudorf. It’s fresh, supple and bright with nice cherry fruit. Very pure with some attractive spice and herb notes. There’s a bit of grip on the finish. 90/100

Hillebrand Showcase Sparkling Riesling 2006 Niagara, Canada
This is unusual, but nice. It’s lively and toasty with citrus aromas, as well as a bit of spice and grip. Lemony and direct with nice focus. 90/100

30 Bench Riesling 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Some lanolin here, as well as fresh notes of apple and citrus. Appealing texture. Some pear and lemon notes as well as a bit of spice, and a hint of sweetness. 91/100

Arras 2002 Tasmania, Australia
This is late disgorged and has spent 10 years on its lees (it’s a re-release; the first release normally occurs after 7 years). A blend of 65% Chardonnay plus Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This was quite a cold, wet vintage with some hen and chicken, leading to more colour and tannin. 100% malolactic, with some oak in the base wine (a spike of new French oak). The liqueur consists of aged wines with some oak influence (the sugar is 8 g/litre) with a bit of acid and brandy spirit. Precise and focused with lovely freshness and intensity, showing characters of pear and citrus, as well as a bit of spice. Quite linear with lovely focus and precision. 92/100

Peller Gamay Noir 2012 VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Canada
This was tasted blind, and when its identity was revealed, I was surprised. Very juicy, ripe and smooth textured with appealing cherry and berry fruit, nice density and weight, and lovely purity. Very drinkable style. 89/100
trius red

Trius Grand Red 2007 VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Canada
This is a barrel selection from two vineyards, and it’s half Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It comes in an unusual bottle with a narrow, long neck – this would usually not be a promising sign, but the wine is pretty good. Rich, spicy and dense this has some earthy, gravelly notes under the bold, sweet blackfruits. Finishes dry and grippy. 90/100

1 comment to In Canada, Monday evening with some diverse wines

  • Nathan Zimmerman

    Great reporting from north of the border. Since you are in the area, any plans for visiting the Finger Lakes AVA?

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