My Canadian adventure continued with a chance to live the Canadian dream – a quick trip Lake Muskoka with some of my new Canadian friends, and all-round good guy Ruud Madsaam of Staete Landt in New Zealand. We went out on a boat, swam, drank beer, chatted, went for a long run in the heat, had a candlelit dinner (the power was out), drank some interesting wines (I’d brought along Craig Hawkins’ Testalonga Cortez Chenin Blanc), and sat in front of the fire, while Ruud, Andrew and I debated philosophy of wine and life, while Svetlana and Nicole fell asleep. It was just lovely.
As an aside, I have had some great Canadian beer on this trip, including Oast, Muskoka Brewery Mad Tom (lovey IPA style), and the couple pictured here.
The next day it was back to Niagara, for the cool-climate Chardonnay conference. This began with a nice dinner for winemakers and speakers, hosted by Harald Thiel of Hidden Bench, and held at the Vineland Estates restaurant. There were a few good wines on the table, including a very good Vineland Estates St Urban Vineyard Riesling 2009 (with just 9.5% alcohol), Hidden Bench Brunante 2010 (a big Bordeaux blend), 13th Street Winery Gamay Noir 2010, and Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2011 (the only icewine I tasted on this trip).
Vineland Estates Winery St Urban Vineyard Riesling 2011 Niagara Escarpment, Canada
9.5% alcohol. Livelly, fresh and quite mineral with citrussy fruit and some sweetness. Lively, pure and quite lovely. 91/100
Vineland Estates Winery Pinot Meunier 2011 Niagara, Canada
12% alcohol. It is not often you see a red table wine made from Pinot Meunier. Some green herby notes, with plum and cherry fruit and a hint of cola. Sweet and sour notes. Fresh and distinctive. 88/100
Hidden Bench La Brunante 2010 Beamsville Bench, Canada
13.4% alcohol. A Bordeaux-style blend. Very ripe and rich with tarry, spicy, blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Ripe and dense with nice grip. Good weight and structure. 90/100
13th Street Winery Gamay Noir 2010 Niagara Peninsula, Canada
Cherries, plums and spice here. It’s quite ripe and sweet textured with subtle reductive notes adding interest. 88/100
Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Ice Wine 2011 Niagara Peninsula, Canada
Ripe, sweet and fizzy. Viscous with notes of grape an spice. The fizz adds a bit of bite which helps carry the extreme sweetness well. Quirky but delicious. 93/100
This was the start of what was to turn out to be an epic weekend…