Newsletter #271 - The Un-Named Source

14 Jul 2016

Newsletter #271   July 14, 2016


  • WineReview: The Un-Named Source

  • Grape Guy’s Picks of the Bunch: New & Noteworthy Wines

  • Weekly Wine Video Series:  A Recap of The Latest Videos

  • Ontario Wine UpdatesRe-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds

  • Grape Guy Events:  Make The Most of Your Trip to Wine Country

WineReview:  The Un-Named Source


“We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with [pens and typewriters] ... You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”
– Colonel Nathan Jessop (A Few Good Men)

Last month I told you about my “issue” with the new format of the i4C, and as we speak the new  i4C+ is gearing up to get under way (July 22-24), so I guess we shall see what happens. But at the very least I think they should be considering a name change if they are going to continue adding grape varieties to a Chardonnay show.

You ask anybody associated with the i4C+ this year for comment and the answers will most likely be positive: “of course I like it”; “the idea has been very well received” – but I see a different side of things in the Ontario wine industry, and it’s not just my side.  Look, I understand there’s a lot of money involved in the i4C+ and countless wineries don’t want to see it fail because they have a vested interest; heck I don’t want to see it fail either – I never want any Ontario winery initiative to fail, close down or sell to foreign interests.

Which brings me to the crux of this month’s newsletter:  people talk to me, knowing I will keep their comments confidential, “just between you and me” is a phrase I hear quite often and in doing so I have no source to quote for some of the “issues” I bring up in the newsletter. In the past I have gotten push-back because of it – but I respect people’s privacy. I respect the fact that they trust me enough to speak their minds, and in turn I hear a lot of stuff.

Last month I quoted one of these confidential sources as to why they did not want to go on the record. They said “I have to work with these people”. That was the resounding sentiment from many of the dozen-plus people I asked about the new i4C+ changes – and I respected that.

Some have reservations about the event and are in fact quite exercised about their money being misspent; and a few have pulled out all together, citing the expenses incurred to pay for the event over the years but seeing little direct benefit from it.  It's because of that anonymity I promised them that they spoke with me, but that does not make my quotes and sources any less credible, they just wish to remain anonymous. If anything it should be looked at in a completely different way: mainly, what kind of landscape have we cultivated here in Ontario where wineries are afraid to speak up against their marketing boards, councils and organizations – in essence, to bell the cat -- without fear of reprisal, ostracization or being shut out?

Why don’t winery principals talk negatively against the LCBO? Because they can be blacklisted and shunned as one Niagara winery was – wines don’t get ordered or make their way to shelves, or worse, get delisted.  Why don’t those same folks speak up against the initiatives of the WCO, WMAO, GGO, WGAO, i4C+ or any number of other acronyms that represent the Ontario wine industry? Because they don’t want to rock the boat, there is always that constant reminder in the back of their minds: “I have to work with these people”.

As immediate past-President of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada I can tell you change is hard; dragging 40 writers into the digital era was hard and trying to get consensus on any issue was near impossible, so I can well imagine what it’s like to get 100+ members to try and agree on any one issue … but the difference is I didn’t threaten anyone’s livelihood in the process, whereas marketing boards hold the keys to funds and visitors, and if you rock the boat you get less of both. Free market and capitalism doesn’t exist in Ontario -- just ask any winery how they have to buy grapes or sell wine and you’ll hear quite the story of unfair practices and government regulations.  Getting along and playing nice is the best way (read: the only way) to deal with the whole thing.  So when someone like yours truly comes along who is willing to listen, keep remarks and names private, but still gets a pervasive point of view out there -- then the realization hits that you’re not alone in your thinking and it lifts a weight (if only momentarily) from your shoulders … because tomorrow it’s back to hiding your views in the shadows and getting along.

So don’t just discount what I say out of hand thinking it is just the rambling of some outsider. If I put it in a newsletter I heard it somewhere, from someone. I then talked to other “someones” somewhere and there emerged a growing feeling or philosophy or sentiment that I deemed big enough, important enough and prevalent enough to let it out.

In our Podcast interview with Donald Ziraldo he advocated blowing the whole thing up and starting again, getting one voice for the Ontario wine industry instead of the half-dozen (or so) we have now … but there’s entrenchment standing in the way now: who would be willing to give up their specific voice? Which is why being able to talk with someone who will keep your name out of it, yet report on the issue, is so very important. Will I continue to talk about issues? Yes. Will I continue to protect my sources? Yes. Because after all is said and done, “they have to work with these people.”

Grape Guy’s Picks of the Bunch:  New & Noteworthy Wines

Back 10 Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir – Blood, Sweat & Years - $29.95 (W)
A 5 barrel rendition taken from a mere 1 acre of fruit: it’s tart and smoky with cran-cherry, floral notes and really shows off the feminine side of Pinot Noir – this one is pretty and delicate.  Price: $29.95 – Rating: ****

Casa-Dea Estates 2012 Adamo - $44.95 (W)
This wine revisits Casa-Dea’s dried grape experiment of 2010, this time we have mocha-raspberry with a milk chocolate mid-palate that drapes itself all over strawberries and cherries … it’s an impressive outcome even at 14.9% alcohol.  Price: $44.95 - Rating: ****

Charles Baker 2014 Riesling, Picone Vineyard - $35.00 (OL)
This is the original Baker-used vineyard and, quite possibly, still the best. This wine has that side-cheek acidity (you can feel your cheeks sweat), plus there’s a nice mid-palate minerality, green apple freshness and a really lovely linger that keeps you coming back for more, just to relive the experience.  Price: $35.00 - Rating: ****

Chateau des Charmes 2014 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented - $14.95 (W, L)
Continues to be one of the best value Chardonnays in the Ontario market bar none: this year a creamy smooth mouth-feel is the big draw - where vanilla, pear, apple, spiced peach fill out the flavour profile before a gentle spice rolls in on the finish … a definite buy by the case wine for Chardonnay fans and casual drinkers alike.  Price: $14.95 - Rating: ****

Kacaba 2015 Chardonnay, Unoaked - $14.95 (W, L)
I have to say that I am having real trouble putting pen to paper writing this review, after all un-oaked Chardonnay might just be one of the most boring wines on the planet, right next to Pinot Grigio … but here Kacaba has made a beauty of a summer sipper that’s fresh and fruity with tropical nuances … pineapple parties it up with the usual apple and pear. Doubt I’ll be doling out this score many times for an un-oaked, but John Tummon and the crew at Kacaba has really produced something special and with excellent value attached. Price: $14.95 – Rating: ****

Tawse 2013 Pinot Noir, Lauritzen Vineyard - $35.95 (W)
Can a wine be light and complex at the same time? As I look over my notes on this Lauritzen Pinot Noir from Tawse I have to answer my own question with a resounding “yes”. It kicks off with gentle violet notes then gives way to cherry-vanilla and wood-smoke; the mid-palate shows an array of red fruit while the finish tickles the back palate before disappearing rather quickly ... that all said the wine is light yet complex and very enjoyable.  Price: $35.95 - Rating: ****

Availability legend:  W (Winery) – L (LCBO/Vintages) –  OL (On-Line)

Get the FREE Grape Guy Events App - Plus there are plenty of prizes to be won ...

 Get FREE the Grape Guy Events App - Plus there are plenty of prizes to be won

The Weekly Wine Video Series: A Recap of the Latest Videos

The Weekly Wine Videos
Every week I'll introduce you to another fabulous wine that you've just gotta try – Check out the YouTube Channel Now

Weekly Ontario Wine Videos

Video #183 - Hillebrand / Trius 2012 Red SHale Cabernet Franc (Niagara)
Video #182 - Creekside 2013 Marianne Hill Riesling (Niagara)
Video #181 - Cave Spring Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir Estate (Niagara)
Video #180 - Chateau des Charmes 2012 Equuleus (Niagara)

Special Video series for Le Gourmet TV

The Grape Guy 2014 Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay (Henry of Pelham)

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Ontario Wine Updates Re-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds

Taste it Again / Lost & Found (blog):  the two blogs have merged
(Find out what happened to some favourites and to those that never were tasted) 
Taste it Again:  Andre, Gamay, Franc & More (+2 Foreigners)

Uncorked Tonight (blog)
When it’s not an Ontario wine, here’s what I’m pulling out of the cellar
New Posts Added

***NEW*** PODCAST:  Two Guys Talking Wine
Join me and my co-host Andre Proulx as we discuss all things wine, and sometimes we're not afraid to go off topic
Episode 15 - Talkin' Rose
Episode 14 - Award Winners

Vintages Release (blog)
July 23, 2016 - Ready Monday July 18
July 9, 2016 - Available Now

 GRAPE GUY EVENTS Spotlight:  Make the Most of Your Trip to Wine Country

Grape Guy Events, highlights from the APP - points to be had:

Look on the app for tasting events from our partners: Southbrook Vineyards, Trius, Flat Rock Cellars, Peller, Mike Weir Estate Winery, Thirty Bench, Stoney Ridge and our newest partner: Rockway Vineyards.

Don't have the APP? Click here to get it, it's FREE and you could win some great prizes just for downloading.

Want to become a partner in Grape Guy Events? Contact Michael Pinkus or Glen Brown directly.

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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