I was staying overnight in Toronto before flying home early morning. So I hooked up with Nicholas Pearce (above), a wine agent and negociant, for an evening.
We started off in Archive, a seriously nice wine bar with an epic, well-priced wine list that takes Ontario seriously. It’s a lovely space, and we sat for quite a while trying lots of different wines.
Lailey Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Niagara, Canada
I don’ think Sauvignon has much future in Ontario but this is good. Fruity pure and lively with lovely citrus and pear fruit. Quite mineral with nice precision. 90/100
Charles Baker Ivan Riesling 2014 Niagara, Canada
Riesling: Niagara’s best white grape? Discuss. Lively and intense with nice lemony fruit – so pure and linear. Very high acid. Lovely lemony core. 92/100
Nicolas Pearce Chardonnay Cherry Valley 2013 Prince Edward County, Canada
This is Nicholas Pearce’s own wine from the County, and it’s one new barrel plus three used, with a bit of stainless steel in there too. Mealy, toasty, slightly nutty pear and white peach fruit. Very linear with a mineral core. Has richness but also precision. 92/100
Lailey Zweigelt 2013 Niagara River, Niagara, Canada
A lovely digestible red that’s fresh and juicy with cherry and raspberry fruit. Bright and detailed with nice sappiness. 91/100
Pearl Morissette Chardonnay 2011 Niagara, California
Richly textured with notes of pear, spice, nut and fennel. Quite broad in the mouth and has a warm intensity. Smooth yet fresh and mineral. 92/100
Pearl Morissette Spectateur Cabernet Franc 2012 Niagara, California
This is, apparently, a cuvee that Francois thinks the Wine Spectator might like, with new oak barrels. It’s actually really nice, with a lovely sweet ribena/cassis nose and some spice and ginger notes. Very lively, silky, and supple, with nice fresh fruit 92/100
Pearl Morissette Cabernet Franc 2011 Niagara, Canada
The regular Cab Franc cuvee which is meaty, vivid, and spice grip raspberry cherry complex and intriguing. 92/100
Hinterland Ancestrale, Prince Edward County, Canada
Full pink in colour, with sweet cherries and plums and nice juiciness. Just 8% alcohol. Juicy and fruity with good acidity. Just delicious. 89/100
Leaning Post Merlot 2010 Niagara, Canada
This is fabulous. Spicy, meaty, juicy with nice plums and blackberries lovely depth and spiciness – juicy and spicy and with lovely richness. 93/100
The second part of the evening was spent at Skin and Bones, which is run by Daniel Clarke. A lovely place, with great food, a really good wine list, and a Vermouth list, too. I loved the space, as well.
Some of the wines we tried included the following:
Pinot Bianco Sirmian Nals Magreid 2013 Alto Adige, Italy
Lemony, pure, pear spice a bit of pith great acidity. Quite focused. 92/100
Marques de Murrieta Capellania Rioja Blanco 2009 Spain
A full flavoured, complex, nutty white Rioja with spicy vanilla, herbs and sweet pear fruit. Lovely weight and depth. 92/100
Pearce Predhomme Pinot Gris Premiere Cuvée 2014 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Sweetly textured, spicy nice grapiness. Fresh and expressive with lovely pear fruit. 90
Balgera Valgella Riserva 2001 Valtellina Superiore DOCG, Italy
Sweet lifted black fruits here, with spice, black cherry, plums and nice grip – silky with lovely finesse. And a meaty edge. Superb. 93/100
Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 30 2012 Northern Rhone, France
This is my happy place with wine. Peppery, fine and expressive with vivid cherries, plums and olives. So pure and fine. Juicy with notes of iodine, meat and pepper. 94/100
This went very well with a couple of dishes, including this grilled beef tongue. And we also tried the local Dillon’s gin, which is very impressive. A great way to end the Canada trip.