I tried to find a selection of wines that are not in the general list at the LCBO or wines that I don't always see at the local LCBO / Vintages because they are produced in limited supply, sold only to restaurants or only available through the vineyard. It's encouraging to see some wine producers are experimenting with non-traditional Ontario varietals like Gruner Veltliner, Semillon and Zinfandel. It shows that Ontario wineries are not afraid to think outside the box and try new grape varietals. I look forward to seeing and tasting those wines at future Taste Ontario! events.
So here's a few wines that I thought were exceptional.
A nice blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. This Meritage was stored mostly in French oak and some Hungarian oak and reveals flavours of dark fruit and some pepper. The tannins are a little more refined which gives it a nice softness. It's not overpowering but it has a full bodied feel to it.
Price - $24.95 - Vintages
This isn't a wine you see very much of in Ontario so I was curious to see what it offered. I was pleasantly surprised by it's abundant aroma of grapefruit and lemon. The wine has good acidity which gives a nice crisp mouthfeel but also a slight sweetness to offset the acidity. This wine is only available at the Rosewood Estate vineyard (http://www.rosewoodwine.com/) or in some restaurants. It would pair well with most white fish dishes or a cheese and fruit plate.
Price - $15.00 - Rosewood Estate vineyard
As the name implies, the grapes are sourced from the highest elevation in their vineyard. A nice blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot yields rich flavours of dark berries, cherry and some black pepper. The wine was aged in french oak for 16 months which gives it some tannic structure but it's not harsh. A good match with beef or simply on it's own.
Price - $25 - LCBO
2012 Ottawa Wine and Food Show - Part 1
It was a smorgasbord of wine, beer, whisky and food at the 2012 Ottawa Wine and Food show held at the Ottawa Convention Centre and it was phenomenal once again. I was able to attend one of the wine tastings hosted by Rod Phillips called "Tasting in the Dark" which was both unique and informative.
Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert
Rod Phillips who writes a wine column for the Ottawa Citizen. This was a fun tasting. The room had 60 plus people anxiously waiting for a unique wine tasting experience and they got it. Shortly after Rod's introduction, the lights were turned out and with a few whimpers from the people with Nyctophobia, the sommelier volunteers started serving the wine using night vision goggles. Yes that's right.. night vision goggles. There were a couple of "excuse me" and "sorry" as the volunteers got used to moving around the room using their new form of artificial sight but after 15 minutes with no glasses broken everyone had a glass of wine in hand. The first challenge was to figure out if you were drinking red or white wine. Once you reasoned that out, the next task was to identify the varietal which proved to be the interesting part as people started yelling out wines that in some cases were both red, white and rose.
Out of the 4 wines served, the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the French Beaujolais seemed to be the easy guesses as a lot of people were on the same track with those wines. The lights were eventually turned on and Rod revealed the answers to everyone. Like I said, a lot of fun.
After the tasting I headed up to the main show floor to scout out some good wines. The Zinfandels from California (Ravenswood Old Vine, Gnarly Head and Fancis Ford Coppola) were all excellent as usual. Big and bold.
I did find a few of gems that I thought stood out on their own.
2011 Stanners Cabernet Franc. 100% Cabernet Franc barrel aged in French oak. The usual heavy herbecious aroma of green peppers was not as strong which made this wine more enjoyable. A good balance between fruit and acidity. Very pleasant. Sorry. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the bottle but here's their website http://www.stannersvineyard.ca/
2011 Cono Sur Bicileta Pinot Noir was smooth, subtle and layered. A great sipping wine or it could be paired with pork tenderloin.