OntarioWineReview Newsletter 183 ... June 2012
A lot has happened since last we spoke almost a month ago. Let’s start with something of interest to those of you with a yen for Ontario’s winemaking history: Marynissen was sold to a group of Chinese investors. That means that the winery is now out of family hands and into the hands of a group who plans to introduce Marynissen wines into China – including more of our famous icewine. This will be the first test for a Canadian winery into China. Sure they already have VQA stores there, but this is the first time that a single winery has been marked to take their wine into the orient by local investors … or, to put it bluntly: the first time a winery has been purchased in Ontario with the express purpose of exporting Canadian wine into that part of the world. The Pillitteri family have been doing it successfully exporting icewine into the Orient for a number of years, but they opened and massaged that market themselves. The Marynissen affair is a completely different ball of wax, and with success this could be a period of renewed interest in Ontario wine and new investment into the province.
The sale of Marynissen seems to have come right in time for another seemingly monumental event: Parliament voting unanimously to open up provincial borders for wine shipments and personal acquisitions. If you haven’t been following along, the federal law, called the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA), made it illegal to carry booze of any kind from one province to another whether bought directly at the vineyards in British Columbia or Ontario or from a legal provincial monopoly or purveyor. We can thank our beloved KGBO for bringing this asinine law to our attention when they saw a loss of revenue from wines being shipped directly to consumers from British Columbia vintners. So far it’s been a long battle some 84 years in the making, but one that came a step closer to being over with the vote in parliament … now it’s up to the Senate to pass it and make it official – the hope is the senate will do it before the end of the month so that everyone can enjoy the summer wine-touring season and bring back “souvenirs” for the cellar without fear of reprisal. But who are we kidding, it was an almost impossible law to enforce especially when everybody, including your truly, openly admitted to breaking it … including politicians. Hopefully this opens up the shipping routes between the provinces, if the provinces and their monopolies will just get out, and stay out, of the way.
So what do these two pieces of news have to do with one another? In a word: Investment. As mentioned, with the sale of Marynissen as a pilot winery – we might see more family wineries on the selling block and more foreign money investors hoping to take our wines to a global audience. The apparent downfall of the IILA could see wineries ramping up production if they see an increase in sales from outside the province, which means investing in their own business. With the opening of our provincial borders Canada moves one step closer to the 21st century instead of being stuck with arcane and unenforceable laws that stymie the growth of our wine industry. There are so many more things that need to be overhauled: like the way we buy booze, the way we sell grapes and the regulatory body that seems to fail our wineries and curb their innovation – namely the VQA … maybe with added investment we’ll see that change … one can only hope.
Cattail Creek 2011 Chardonnay Musque - $17.95 (W)
Holy Musque Batman, have I got the perfect summer wine for you. The nose doles out aromas of floral, pineapple, delicious apple, exotic fruit … it just seems to keep on giving – and it’s very pretty. The palate also delivers the nuances you want in a summer sipper: exotic fruit, a touch of spice, a little floral with an elegantly sweet finish that almost dares you not to take another sip. It’s a simple, sexy, slightly sweet (2) patio pleaser … for drinking right now – and don’t let the sugar code of two scare you off … this one has great balance and sip-all-day-edness. Price: $17.95 – Rating: ****+
Stanners 2010 Pinot Gris - $25.00 (W)
A very interesting Gris from one of the new wineries out Prince Edward County way. The first thing you’ll notice is the salmon colour in the glass achieved from 24 hours of skin contact. You’ll notice a rich aromas and nice fruit flavours with raspberry-strawberry and peach notes throughout … there’s a touch of tannin here, probably from the extended skin contact making it feel full-bodied yet still refreshing … also look for some pleasant marmalade notes in here. Price: $25.00 – Rating: ****+
Featherstone 2010 Cabernet Franc - $16.95 (W, L)
Heed my advice here when I tell you to run … don’t walk, don’t trot, don’t quick step, and thisis not the time to skip … I do mean run down to Niagara to get yourself a case of the best Cabernet Franc value in the province. The nose is cherry and raspberry with a touch of smoke and hint of vanilla … but that does not quite prepare you for the palate which is full-on juicy with black cherry and sweet cranberry, along with tobacco / cigar-spice backing … and yet there is so much more going on. Complex, intense and to put it simply: a lovely wine made from a great vintage at an incredible price. The finish will have you wondering why you bought only one case. It’ll be in Vintages come September but you’ll want to get your hands on some before the crowd and start enjoying it now (or hold 7+ years). Price: $16.95 – Rating: **** ½+
Cave Spring 2010 Dolomite Chardonnay - $16.95 (W)
It’s time the kick down to door and let you in on a little secret: Cave Spring has a new addition to their Dolomite line-up and it’s a beauty. Made from 10-25 year old vines and 20-30% was aged a mere 6 months in older barrels. This is a wine that balances its fruit and wood admirably. The nose is vanilla, buttery-baked apple and some caramel notes. Palate is creamy, due to partial malolactic fermentation with a minerality that you can feel, as well as taste. Great acidity, especially for the year, and some green apple puree and butteriness. For the price it don’t get any better than this … it truly delivers. Price: $16.95 – Rating: **** 1/2
Availability legend: W (Winery) – L (LCBO/Vintages) – WTH (Winery to Home) - OL (On-Line).
On the Road with the Grape Guy
(Trips, tours and tastings – join me as I review the highs, and sometimes, the lows)
Lost and Found (blog):
(Wines that got "lost" in my cellar - some are Treasures others Trash … Find out what happened)
Nothing New This Week
It’s here. It’s Amazing. You’ve got to go.
It’s the annual 6 Barrels for 6 Chefs happening at Huff Estates Winery
It happens June 29 and it’s a culinary extravaganza of the first degree
Find all the details: http://six4six.ca/index.php
OntarioWineReview: A Winemakers' Acropolis
Acropolis … comes from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, "edge, extremity") and πόλις (polis, "city"). Extreme city or edge city … the precipice of innovation.
Shakepeare said that, “All the world’s a stage.” While uncle Walt (Whitman) told us, “… the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” Since his arrival in Ontario Thomas Bachelder has been contributing his verse to the story that is Canadian wine, and specifically right here in Ontario. He headed the much lauded Le Clos Jordanne project up until recently when he decided to strike out on his own while the iron was hot. Thomas is a much traveled winemaker with stops in Burgundy, Oregon and Ontario – and in each place he re-fell in love with Chardonnay due to the terroir that these places had and the character it gave to the wines; and now his ultimate dream has come true, to make wine from all these regions at once.
Now, maybe I’m a little late to the party, but I finally got to taste all three Bachelder Chardonnays back-to-back-to-back: one from each of his beloved regions from the same vintage. I have previously reviewed the Ontario Chardonnay so now it’s time to compare it to Thomas’ other creations. Not sure whether I have a bias by seeing Ontario on the label, but I did prefer the Ontario version of the Chardonnay over the other two … with the Oregon offering from the Willamette Valley coming a very close second and the Bourgogne from France a close third; in fact, all the wines were excellent in their own diverse way.
The Oregon Chard had a touch of hazelnut, lemon peel and apple seed on the nose – it seemed to be quite taut and in need of time to open it’s aromas fully; the palate was toasty and well fruited with a slight burnt quality near the finish, but with a long pleasant after taste (*** ½+). The Bourgogne, on the other hand showed a leanness in the mid-palate, some earthy and lemon pith nuances on the nose with a sharp edge to the finish that came off as bitter and tart at the same time (*** ½). Each wine, of course, has it’s place around the supper table, because Thomas wouldn’t have it any other way.
My understanding is that Thomas will be doing something along the same line with Pinot Noir – I look forward to seeing and tasting the results. All wines are available at Vintages. For further information visit www.thomasbachelder.com.
Wine Event Spotlight: Two Upcoming Events to Look out for
The Pinot Affair ... 2nd Annual ... October 13 & 14, 2012 - tickets on sale June 1st ... find out all you need to know at www.thepinotaffair.com
6 Barrels for 6 Chefs ... June 29, 2012 at Huff Estate - tickets will be going on sale shortly ... see the info at http://www.six4six.ca/
OntarioWineReview’s bi-weekly newsletter is devoted to the love, enjoyment and promotion of the wines of Ontario and the wineries that make them.
What can the Grape Guy do for you … Michael Pinkus (Grape Guy) provides a variety of wine related services that you might be interested in taking advantage of: he gives lectures, leads seminars, conducts tastings, sets up tours; consults, selects and judges. He also gives interviews, broadcasts, podcasts and writes. Contact the Grape Guy if you require any of these services or have any questions.
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