Friday, August 27, 2010

$100 on Niagara Wine

The popularity of our $100 on BC Wine suggestions begged for an Ontario Wine sequel. We've only been able to visit the many Niagara appellations, thus far, therefore our suggestions are limited to the peninsula (sorry Prince Edward County - we'll get out there eventually).

So... you have $100 to spend on good Niagara Wine. Well, here are a few suggestions on how to spend your money:

The Two Bottle "Pinot Noir" Option
One bottle of Le Clos Jordanne 2006 Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir - $70. One bottle of the Tawse Winery 2007 Pinot Noir - $30. Opening a bottle of Le Grand Clos is a special event itself. A Tawse Pinot is a more than worthy companion.

The Two Bottle "Red Blend" Option
One bottle of Tawse Winery 2007 Meritage - $58. One bottle of Stratus Vineyards 2007 Red (possibly their best yet) - $44. Both are powerful, age worthy and delicious red varietal blends.

The Three Bottle "Cabernet Franc" Option
One bottle of the Thirty Bench Estate Winery 2007 Small Lot Cabernet Franc - $40. One bottle of the Stratus Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc - $38. One bottle of the Coyote's Run 2008 Black Paw Cabernet Franc - $22. Three amazing wines that will give you a master's course on quality Niagara Cabernet Franc.

The Four Bottle "Now and Later" Option
Two bottles of Fielding Estate Winery 2008 Red Conception - $19. Two bottles of Hidden Bench Estate Winery 2008 Estate Chardonnay - $32. Enjoy one bottle of each now, both are very drinkable young, and put one bottle of each away for a year or more and see how they develop. Both are quality wines and very tasty.

The Four Bottle "Aromatic White" Option
One bottle of Lailey Vineyard 2009 Riesling - $18. One bottle of Fielding Estate Winery 2009 Viognier - $30. One bottle of Thirty Bench Estate Winery 2008 Woodpost Riesling - $30. One bottle of Coyote's Run Estate Vineyard 2009 Pinot Blanc. That is one heck of a recipe for a fantastic late summer party.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Best of Niagara: Cabernet

The Niagara Peninsula is slowly developing an international reputation as one of the world's premier locations to grow Cabernet Franc, even getting a mention in a recent edition of Britain's Decanter Magazine. An August 2010 trip to the region confirmed for us that the hype is for real. below is a list of our favourite Cabernet Franc from the region along with a few top notch Cabernet Sauvignon wines for good measure. Arranged by price point.

$20 and below:

Chateau Des Charmes 2007 Cabernet Franc - $14
This Cab Franc offers medium-intense aromas of dark berries, wet stone, forest floor with subtle pungent cheese notes. The aromas continue on to the medium-plus bodied palate, adding a touch of cooking spice to the flavours. Where to buy: LCBO stores, BCLDB stores and direct from winery.
Full Review

Angels Gate Winery 2006 Cabernet Franc - $17
A blend from three vineyards: Marcus, Crispino and St. John. 12 month in French oak. Well balanced with an excellent track record of quality. Fruit forward with lower tannins. Excellent value. Where to buy: Direct from winery and online.

$30 and below:

Coyote's Run Estate Winery 2008 Black Paw Vineyard Cabernet Franc - $22
Possibly, the best value for quality on the Peninsula in regards to Cabernet Franc. The Coyote's Run Cabernet Franc offers impressive concentration of aromas and flavours for the tough 2008 vintage. Intense aromas of red fruit, baking spice and black tea with earthy and green vegetal notes on the nose. The dry palate has integrated tannins with good acidity and concentrated flavours of plum, blueberry and anise. Where to buy: Select LCBO stores and direct from winery or online.
Full Review

Tawse Winery 2008 Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc - $30
An excellent wine that combines all of the qualities a Niagara Cabernet Franc can posses: complexity, elegance, intensity and funkiness. Coffee grounds, caramel, plum aromas with flavours of juicy blueberry, minerality and round tannins. Sophisticated. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
Full Review

$40 and below:

Marynissen Estates 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 31 - $36
Good concentration of fruit on the nose and palate. The 2007 vintage was strong for Cabernet Sauvignon with good phenolic ripeness. Where to buy: Direct from winery.

Stratus Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc - $38
Aromas of smoke, caramel, oak, vanilla, dark fruits and cured meet. Flavours of blueberry, oak and leather with elegant, super smooth tannins. Built to last. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
Full Review

Thirty Bench Estate Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc - $40
Happily, this Thirty Bench offering takes a different road to many of the other top Cabernet Franc of Niagara. Ultimately, the destination is the same but when they zig, the Thirty Bench zags. More elegant and subtle in approach with layers of complexity waiting to be discovered. Needs time. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
Full Review - Coming soon

Upcoming Vancouver Wine Events

A listing of a few fun upcoming wine events in Vancouver:

Allen Meadows the Burghound - Burgundy 101 Seminar

A sit down tasting with Allen featuring classic examples of all the major appellations of Burgundy, with a few hidden gems thrown in for good measure. Allen will guide us through each wine as he speaks about the appellation, producer and recent trends and developments affecting Burgundy.

Date: Saturday, September 18th, 2010
Time: 2:00-4:00pm
Location: Terminal City Club - 837 W. Hastings, Vancouver - Business casual attire
Cost: $99 per person

Allen Meadows the Burghound - Bistro Pastis Lunch

Start your Sunday in a leisurely fashion by join us for lunch at John Blakely's Fourth Avenue fixture, Bistro Pastis. This meal will feature the wines from some of the lesser known Burgundy appellations with a sprinkling of more recognizable names included for good measure. As you happily eat and drink away, Allen will discuss each wine and grower, while providing an overview of Burgundy.

Date: Sunday, September 19th, 2010
Time: 11:30am-2:00pm
Location: Bistro Pastis - 2153 W. 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Cost: $99 per person (all inclusive)

To order tickets for these events people contact Marquis Wine Cellars at 604-684-0445.

Taste Chile 2010

Meet visiting winemakers and taste wines from wine regions across Chile from more than 30 visiting wineries, each pouring up to six different wines at their table. Chilean style passed hors d’oeuvres will be provided to pair with the fabulous wines on offer. Educate yourself on Chilean wines while sampling additional wines at three focus stations. After tasting your way around the room, relax and enjoy the food and wine in our Santiago Lounge while taking in the sounds mixed by a local DJ.

Location: W2 Storyeum - 151 West Cordova, Vancouver
Date: Thursday, October 7th
Time: 7:00-9:30pm
Cost: Tickets $39

Charitable proceeds from the event will be donated to the Grapes for Humanity Canada.
For tickets and information, please visit

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

$100 on BC Wine

So... you have $100 and you want to buy some good BC wine. Well, here are a few suggestions on how to spend your money:

The One Bottle Option
Blackwood Lane's 2006 The Reference - $90
Simply amazing Bordeaux blend. An experience, to say the least. Buy direct from winery in Langley (a few private stores carry it for $110-120).

The Two Bottle Option
1 bottle of Mission Hill Estate Winery 2006 Compendium - $40. 1 bottle of Blackwood Lane's 2006 Alliance - $60. Both are fantastic Bordeaux-style blends.

The Three Bottle "Syrah" Option
1 bottle of Mission Hill's 2006 Quatrain (Syrah-based blend) - $45. 1 bottle of See-Ya-Later Ranch 2007 Rover - $25. 1 bottle of LaFrenz 2008 Shiraz (Rhone-like Syrah, really) - $28.

The Four Bottle "Now and Later" Option
2 bottles of LaFrenz 2008 Montage (Syrah-based blend) $22 each. 2 bottles of Fairview Cellars 2008 "Two Hoots" (Cab-Merlot) $25 each. Drink one of each now and save the other two for the following year (or longer).

The Four Bottle "Pinot" Option
1 bottle of Rollingdale's 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir - $25. 1 bottle of Stoneboat Vineyard's 2008 Pinot Noir - $25. 1 bottle of Church and State's 2007 Hollenbach Pinot Noir - $25. 1 bottle of Tantalus Vineyard's 2007 Pinot Noir - $30. Ok, this option costs $105 - oops.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BC VS Ontario - Pinot Noir

In our BC VS. Ontario series we are looking to showcase the differences and uniqueness of Canada's two main wine producing Provinces. In this article we look at Pinot Noir which grows well on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and in the cooler pockets of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The aim is not competition but rather an exploration on what makes the wines produced so different. We've selected two Pinot Noirs that offer excellent typicity for their respective regions:

Le Clos Jordanne 2007 Talon Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
Full Review

Okanagan Valley:
Cedar Creek 2006 Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir
Full Review

The Niagara Peninsula may offer the terroir that resembles Pinot Noir's famous home in Burgundy the closest in Canada. It may be to no one's surprise then that the best Pinots produced here are Burgundian in character: earthy, austere and age worthy.

Pinot Noir loves warms days and cool nights making the Niagara Peninsula a natural fit for the grape. The temperature on the peninsula is regulated by the two Great Lakes which form its Northern and Southern borders; Ontario and Erie. The best plots for Pinot Noir tend to be in vineyards closer to Lake Ontario where the hot, muggy Ontario summer is mellowed by cool breezes coming from the lake. The Niagara Escarpment runs the length of the peninsula and acts as a bit of a rain shield. The vines are usually left to fend for themselves with no irrigation and a developing trend towards biodynamic and organic practices.

Le Clos Jordanne Estate Wines, a Vincor company in partnership with Boisset France (Burgundy), produce six Pinot Noir wines; a Village Reserve (an entry level blend), four vineyard specific wines and their iconic The Grand Clos which is from the western part of their Le Clos Jordanne Estate Vineyard.

The Talon Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir offers elegant, developing aromas of dark cherry, raspberry seed, oak spice and steely minerality on the nose. The palate recalls the limestone terroir with earthy flavours, austere acidity and smooth, integrated tannins.

The long Okanagan Valley of British Columbia has many different meso and micro climates. Pinot Noir grown in cooler pockets to the north of the valley from Naramata to the Kelowna area tend to produce the best fruit, offering good sun exposure, warm days and cool nights. The Okanagan Lake helps regulate the temperature, cooling the vines in the extreme heat of July and August. Early frost is always a concern in the valley but modern viticulture practices help abate the risk.

The best Pinots in BC have traditionally been unapologetically New World, fruit-forward wines that corral super-concentrated flavours of dark cherry and raspberry with pronounced spiciness. However, there is a growing trend towards austere, mineral and earthy wines as producers learn the best vineyard spots in the valley. As this trend develops we may see more similarities between the Pinot Noirs of Niagara and the Okanagan Valley.

The Cedar Creek 2006 Platinum Pinot Noir is an expression of concentrated fruit flavours and aromas blended effortlessly with French oak, creating an expression of bright fruit with smooth, rounded edges. A long finish of lingering oak spice completes the experience.

Seek these two wines out, or two similar wines, and do your own comparison. You may find you prefer one style to the other or maybe you'll enjoy them both for their differences. Due to Canada's archaic liquor laws and feuding Provincial liquor board monopolies, this may be hard to do. Twitter and Facebook are good resources to find hard-to-get wines in your corner of the world.
 - Liam Carrier