My Top Niagara Wines at Taste Ontario

By: Melanie Lloyd

A little over a week ago, I attended Taste Ontario, an event reserved for the media and hospitality industry. It featured over 30 different VQA wineries.  All of my reviews including the ones below can be found on nataliemaclean.com. I’m focussing this blog on wine from the Niagara region as I plan to write about the Prince Edward County shortly.

I sampled a fraction of the wine represented. Out of those, here are my top picks along with food pairing suggestions.

BUBBLY:

WINE-FOOD PAIRING: The two sparkling wines I chose make a good duplicate for real Champagne. Both versatile and great on their own, they would pair well with lobster or rich seafood, fried chicken, tempura sushi, fried appetizers, or popcorn.

HENRY OF PELHAM, CUVÉE CATHARINE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC, CARTE BLANCHE 2013

REVIEW: Made using the traditional method, this beauty produced from 100% Chardonnay spent an impressive 60 months on its lees. 

Rich aromas of poached apple, fresh warm baguette, mineral notes, and a nutty finish. It is creamy and opulent on the palate with crisp acidity and many fine bubbles. Flavours of baked apple, warm baked bread, lemon and a nutty finish. It is absolutely delicious!

SCORE: 94

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE WINERY, NATUR ZERO DOSAGE, SPARKLING 2013

REVIEW:A dry bubbly made from 100% organically certified grapes, 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. It is produced using the traditional method and spent 47 months on its lees. 

Aromas of baked apple, rich buttery pastry, and hints of almond. It is opulent, creamy, yet crisp on the palate with baked apple flavours, lemon and a nutty finish. An affordable alternative to Champagne.

SCORE: 92

RIESLING:

WINE-FOOD PAIRING: Because of the aromatic profile and the mouth-watering tartness of the wine, the two selections of Riesling below would pair fantastically with curries and meals that have spice. Thai food, butter chicken, Indian curries and spicy samosas would all make excellent pairings.

CAVE SPRING CELLARS RIESLING CSV 2016

REVIEW: On the nose, aromas of crunchy green apple, peach, floral notes, cinnamon and limestone. It is dry, crisp, and tart on the palate with Macintosh apple flavours, peach, lemon, and loads of minerality plus a beautiful nutty finish. Yum!

SCORE: 92

SUE-ANN STAFF ESTATE ROBERT’S BLOCK RIESLING 2016

REVIEW: We are spoiled in Ontario with the choices we have in terms of exceptional Riesling. This one does not disappoint and is a beautiful example of what can be produced here. On the nose, it is rich with mineral notes, peach, clementine, honey, and just a hint of petrol.

On the palate, it has a slight touch of sweetness and is wonderfully tart with a smooth texture and flavours of nectarine, clementine, lemon, and a nutty undertone with a clean crisp finish. 

SCORE: 91

PINOT NOIR:

WINE-FOOD PAIRING: Great on its own, Pinot Noir pairs well with roasted duck, salmon, pork, or with mushroom risotto.

FLAT ROCK CELLARS GRAVITY PINOT NOIR 2014

An earthy Pinot Noir with aromas of tart cherry, plum, strawberry jam and sweet spice. Medium bodied with silky tannins and mouth-watering acidity. Flavours of Montmorency cherry, tart plum and a touch of cinnamon. The flavours linger.

SCORE: 91

CABERNET FRANC:

WINE-FOOD PAIRING: The Cab Franc listed below would pair well with braised beef or with pork tenderloin.

MEGALOMANIAC FRANK CABERNET FRANC 2016

REVIEW: I thoroughly enjoyed this medium-bodied Cab Franc. On the nose, juicy plum aromas along with tart cherry, violet, and sweet spice. On the palate, there’s beautiful harmony between the freshness and body of the wine. Aromas of tart plum, chocolate, with a spicy green peppercorn finish. 

RED BLEND:

WINE-FOOD PAIRING: Both Reds listed below would match perfectly with a thick juicy barbecue steak, beef roast, or venison.

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR DREAM 2016

REVIEW: A Bordeaux-style blend made of 45% Merlot, 34% Cab Sauv, 15% Cab Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. On the nose, dark berry and plum aromas along with violet, cinnamon, cedar, and a touch of vanilla bean. 

On the palate, blueberry, blackcurrant, and plum flavours with grippy tannins and a long espresso finish. 

SCORE: 91

TWO SISTERS VINEYARDS ESTATE RED 2013

REVIEW: Aromas of red berries and dark fruit, raspberry jam, wet cedar, chocolate, and sweet spice.

Tart blackberry and plum flavours with notes of espresso, chocolate and peppercorn at the finish. This wine has tannins that are present but well incorporated with the body of the wine and its lively acidity.

SCORE: 91

ICEWINE:

WINE-FOOD PAIRING: The icewine below would pair well with foie gras, blue cheese, mango-ginger Stilton cheese, fruit custard pie, or apple crumble.

CHARLES BAKER STRATUS RIESLING ICEWINE 2017

REVIEW: Aromas of honey, apricot, peach, pineapple and clementine. On the palate, it has wonderful tartness and sweetness with flavours of dried pineapple, peach, citrus and honey. The flavours linger. What a treat! 

SCORE: 93

I loved sampling what is made here in Ontario. This is only a glimpse of the amazing wine we make. I do look forward to the next Ontario event!

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