Wine Shows and Festivals

Taste Ontario 2013 !

  Once again it was a great display of Ontario wines and vintner expertise at the Taste Ontario! media event held on February 11 2013 at the National Art Gallery on Sussex drive in Ottawa. It may have been freezing rain, ice pellets and snow outside but inside the atrium at the NAG everyone was all smiles while tasting some exceptional Ontario wines.  I managed to sample some wines plus talk with a few of the wine producers which is a real treat for me because they talk so passionately about their craft and they don't mind the constant barrage of questions.
 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.

2010 Reif Estates Meritage - Niagara River VQA

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

2011 Rosewood Estates Semillon - Beamsville Bench VQA

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 ( 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

2010 Vineland Elevation Cabernet - Niagara Escarpment VQA

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 

Cheers !!!

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.

I also had an opportunity to meet with whisky sommelier Davin de Kergommeaux who hosted a Canadian rye whisky tasting. Davin is a certified Malt Maniac, sommelier and Canadian whisky guru. Davin was doing a tasting featuring some of Gibson's finer rye whiskeys. I wasn't able to attend the tasting as it was sold out but I did chat with him (very briefly) about whisky and his new book Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert

The "Tasting in the Dark" wine tasting was led by 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 Nyctophobiathe 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

2011 Cono Sur Bicileta Pinot Noir was smooth, subtle and layered. A great sipping wine or it could be paired with pork tenderloin.

 2007 Ruffino Riserva Ducale "Oro" Chianti Classico was everything a Chianti should be. The barrel aged Sangiovese was smooth and elegant. Loved this wine

Cheers !

No comments:

Post a Comment