Newsletter #285 - Trials and Tribulations

18 Apr 2018

 Newsletter #285 

April 19, 2018


  • WineReview: Trials and Tribulations

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

  • Weekly Wine Video SeriesA Recap of The Latest Videos

  • Ontario Wine UpdatesRe-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds

WineReview:  Trials and Tribulations

As many of you have realized, I have been away awhile … I thought I had been away long enough to miss this crappy winter weather we’ve suddenly been having, but as Greg Roach pointed out to me on social media, when I raised a complaint about an ice storm in mid-April: “payback for those who were in warmer climates … most of the winter … not mentioning any names”; touché Greg, touché.

For those of you who followed my trek you know I found myself in Australia, New Zealand and Italy within the course of 8 weeks to begin the year and then in Florida a week after returning – and while I can’t comment favourably about Floridian wine, there is a place called Total Wines on the way down (and through the southern US) I can highly recommend.

That all said, it’s great to travel but it’s even nicer to be home, weather be damned … among the first few events I attended upon my return were Cuvee and County in the City; which helped to remind me that we are making come awesome wine in our own right, right here at home.

It’s also interesting to note that two of the places I visited, Australia and New Zealand, are on two very different wine trajectories in the eyes of the wine world which got me pondering; I wonder what path Ontario will take.

If you haven’t realized by now Australia is sadly on a downward trend, speaking with owners and winemakers they were frustrated with the way their marketing plan was administered. Australia rode into the world with Shiraz, making a big splash – but instead of using that momentum to segue into diversity of regions, they stayed the course of big, blousy, over-blown Shiraz and they beat the horse until no one wanted to ride it anymore. Now they have finally pivoted, trying to highlight the many regions and diversity in their wines – but nobody is paying attention, they just don’t want to hear it … some blame the large companies for not allowing the marketing arm to segue quick enough; “the “big guys” were making huge profits and hence put the kibosh on it,” one winery owner told me. Australia splintered and their marketing to the world has become disjointed … they no longer speak with one voice and that has muddied the waters: the world has lost interest, moving on to something else. Australia has yet to recover – and maybe never will.

On the other hand, New Zealand is on the uptick. First they re-introduced the world to Sauvignon Blanc, and love it or hate it they made quite the splash with it; next came Pinot Noir, showing they are not just a one-trick white-wine pony, putting out a red that compliments their white wine all-star. They embraced screwcap as an industry – today they are about 98% transitioned to the threads (if not more) – to see cork in New Zealand is like a blue moon, or, better yet, like spotting a unicorn. They use their closest neighbor as a cautionary tale of how not to approach the wine world and get complacent; they have attempted to learn from Australia’s mistakes. Are their decenters? Sure, there always are, but even they know the one-voice, one-message approach benefits them and no one is quite ready to upend the wine-cart (so to speak).

Which brings my thoughts back to Ontario. Our industry is the size and age of New Zealand, yet we act Australian. We have far too many voices lobbying a government that for all intense and purposes could care less. We have a big guy versus little guy system that causes strife through the industry and the big guys benefit monetarily and otherwise. We have an antiquated selling system (the LCBO) that is slow to change (if change at all) and a province far too scared and short-sighted to see benefits in making any kind of real effort. The LCBO continues to muddy the waters between domestic wines (VQA) and blended imports (CiC or DCB) in their stores, and never seem to highlight the best of what Ontario does, choosing instead to see wineries as competition and not partners. If we keep on the same track we’ll be Australia, before we even achieve our potential and long before we are a New Zealand … the way I see it anyway.


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

Creekside 2010 Lost Barrel - $75.00 (W)
This “pan-drippings” blend is no longer actually “lost” but it does go through all the motions the original Lost Barrel did. Three barrels in total, left alone for six and a half years and still containing all the tippings; it’s mainly Syrah but every red sees this blend sooner or later. There’s a slight VA note that grabs the nose but the palate seems unaffected: blackberry and spice along with hints of beet, oak and dark fruit – intense wine that should age relatively gracefully over the next decade.
Price: $75.00 - Rating: ****

De Simone 2016 Merlot - $40.00 (W)
When last we checked in with De Simone we found a pretty neat Cabernet Franc, now it’s Merlot’s turn to wow the soon-to-be crowds at the cellar door.  A blend of 80% American and 20% French oak aged for one year has given this Merlot some real punch. Aromas of floral, blueberry and black cherry as well as cassis all turn into flavours with a little grit, spice and even a hint of vanilla – it’s fruit forward and lush, worthy of a leisurely tasting with friends and family (you like) because this one is to be enjoyed, slowly.
Price: $40.00 – Rating: ****+

Fielding NV Traditional Method Sparkling Brut - $36.95 (W)
Tasted 2018 … Labelled as non-vintage, but based on the 2014 vintage, this 30 month on lees bubble has 10% barrel fermented wines and a make-up of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir with 20% back vintage wines added into the blend for complexity … Fresh and lively with great acid balance along with baked lemon zest and apple – could be one of Fielding’s finest bubbles to date.
Price: $36.95 – Rating: ****+

Henry of Pelham 2016 Chardonnay, Speck Family Reserve - $29.95 (W / L)
With the hot vintage of 2016 you can forgive Henry of Pelham the slight nod to California they give with this wine, because they also manage to layer in that Ontario acidity. Rich and spicy with butter, vanilla, apple, peach and even some hazelnut on the mid-palate. It’s rich to the point of feeling thick but that acidity balances out that creaminess nicely.
Price: $29.95 - Rating: ****

Thirty Bench 2015 Riesling, Wood Post “Small Lot” - $29.95 (W)
Another beauty off the Wood Post vineyard; every year one of these single vineyard Rieslings that Thirty Bench makes will make my top 5 and in 2015 it’s this wood post version. Green apple with talcy/stony nuances interlaced throughout; great acidity with a mineral-like linger on the finish … it’s seemingly simple but searing with acidity and an almost savoury mid-palate – truly complex and worth aging.
Price: $29.95 - Rating: ****+

Trius 2016 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented - $19.95 (W)
The 2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay takes right up where the 2015 left off; aged 10 months in aged French oak this wine doles out aromas and flavours to entice all Chard fans (even the casual ones): tropical fruit and buttery nuances – palate shows more tropical then butter with some bitter melon, white fruit and hints of spice add even more layers to the finish.  
Price: $19.95 – Rating: ****

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

Wine Meme of the Month ...

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 #262 - Southbrook 2015 Triomphe Chardonnay (Niagara)
Video #263 - De Simone 2015 Cabernet Franc (Niagara)
Video #264 - Inniskillin 2015 Chardonnay, Klose Vineyard (Niagara)
Video #265 - iCellars Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Niagara)


National & International Wines Series ... 

Craggy Range 2015 Merlot, Gimblett Gravels (New Zealand)
Elephant Hill 2015 Reserve Syrah, Hawkes Bay (New Zealand)
Esk Valley 2014 Winemakers Reserve Syrah (New Zealand)
Printhie Wines 2011 Swift Brut Rose (Australia)

Subscribe to the YouTube channel by clicking here

Ontario Wine Updates Re-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds


Taste it Again: Chateau des Charmes 2010 Gamay Noir 'Droit"
Taste it Again: Another Dinner at Sue's (Ontario / Chile)
Lost & Found: Hillebrand 2002 Trius Merlot
Taste it Again: Strewn 2010 Terroir Merlot
Lost & Found: Inniskillin 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Klose Vineyard

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


PODCAST:  Two Guys Talking Wine ... NOW WEEKLY
Join me and my co-host Andre Proulx as we discuss all things wine, and sometimes we're not afraid to go off topic
Michael in New Zealand - part 2 (episode 78)
3 Guys Talking Wine (episode 77)
Michael in New Zealand - part 1 (episode 76)
Guest Hosting: Konrad Ejbich (episode 75)


Vintages Release (blog)
Saturday November 25, 2017 - See it Here
Saturday November 11, 2017 - See it Here

OntarioWineReview’s bi-weekly newsletter is devoted to the love, enjoyment and promotion of the wines of Ontario and the wineries that make them.

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