A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 642: Cuvée 2017

Monday, March 20th: Went down to Princess Margaret’s for a blood test then spent much of the day inputting tasting notes for the Vintages’ April 1st release. In the evening, some more tasting.

  • Henry of Pelham Riesling 2016 (Niagara Peninsula – $14.95): very pale straw colour; minerally, lime and grapefruit nose; light to medium-bodied, off-dry, honey and grapefruit flavours with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (86.5)
  • Flat Rock Riesling 2015 (Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara – $16.95): pale, almost water white; minerally, lime and grapefruit nose with a light floral note; light-bodied, off-dry, honeyed grapefruit flavour, nicely balanced with good length. (88.5)
  • Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2016 (South Australia – $13.95): pale straw, spicy, minerally, peach and citrus nose; medium-bodied, dry, peachy with a herbal, peach pit finish. (88)
  • Flat Rock Twisted Pink 2016 (Ontario – $16.95): pink with a bluish tint; fresh, minerally, watermelon nose; medium-bodied, just off-dry with cherry and watermelon flavours. (87.5)
  • Albert Bichot Pinot Noir Bourgogone Vieilles Vignes 2014 ($18.25): ruby colour; earthy, raspberry jam nose; medium-bodied, dry, fruity and firm with a touch of sweetness mitigated by rhubarb-like acidity. (88)
  • Chakana Estate Selection Red Blend 2014 (Uco Valley, Mendoza – 60% Malbec/20% Cabernet Sauvignon/20% Shiraz – $24.95): dense purple ruby in colour; cedary, smoky, blackberry and blackcurrant nose with a herbal note; medium to full-bodied, fruity-spicy black plum and currant flavours with an engaging floral note; lovely mouth-feel, firm finish with ripe tannins giving the wine a note of dark chocolate with cocoa powder tannins. (90)
  • Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz 2015 (South Australia – $14.95): deep purple-ruby colour; savoury-herbal blackberry nose with iodine notes; medium-bodied, dry, minty blackberry with espresso coffee notes. (88.5)
  • Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2015 (Colchagua Valley, Chile – 85% Cabernet Sauvignon/10% Carignan/5% Petit Verdot – $10.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, leather and blackcurrant nose; medium- to full-bodied, dry, juicy, minty, blackcurrant flavour with chalky tannins. (87.5)
  • Bodega Volcanes Tectonia Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Maipo Valley, Chile – $19.95): deep ruby-purple colour; cedary, blackcurrant with well-integrated oak; medium to full-bodied, dry, well-extracted sweet blackcurrant fruit with ripe tannins. Lovely mouth-feel. A well-made wine. (89)
  • Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2014 (Colchagua Valley, Chile – $13): deep ruby-purple in colour; cedary, plum and currant nose; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, smoky, blackcurrant flavour with a tarry note and a firm finish. (87.5)
  • Simi Sonoma County Merlot 2014 (85% Merlot/14% Cabernet Sauvignon/1% Malbec – $22.95): deep purple-ruby in colour; cedary nose of blueberries, plums and violets backed by spicy vanilla oak; full-bodied, creamy mouth-feel, dry and savoury, firmly structured with ripe powdery tannins and a clovey note on the finish. (91)
  • Fantini Numero Uno Primitivo 2015 (Puglia – $12.95): deep ruby colour; rustic, cedary plum nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, plum and blackcurrant flavours with an earthy note, lively acidity and blocking tannins. Great value. Hold for a couple of years to soften the tannins. (86.5–88)

Tuesday, March 21st: Down to the LCBO lab for more tasting of the April 1st Vintages release. For dinner, lamb chops with Burrowing Owl Merlot 2013 (dense purple-ruby colour; cedary, vanilla oak and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, blueberry flavour with lively acidity and a firm finish. (89)

Wednesday, March 22nd: Wrote up my Wines of the Week. Sadie Darby came over to discuss plans for the Ontario Wine Awards. Then got down to some more tasting:

  • Inception Irresistible White 2015 (Western Cape, South Africa – Chardonnay with Viognier – $13.95): very pale in colour with a minerally nose of apple and pear: medium-bodied, dry, mouth-filling peach and pear flavour with a touch of sweetness. (87)
  • Tini Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Friuli – $7.95): pale straw; sweaty, struck flint nose of grass and green plum; medium-bodied, dry, tart and a little short on length. (85)
  • Cesari Adesso Chardonnay d’Italia 2015 ($7.95): pale straw; minerally, smoky, citrus and apple nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, clean and fresh, green apple flavour with lively acidity. (86)
  • Henry of Pelham Riesling Estate 2016 (Short Hills Bench, Niagara): earthy, grapefruit rind nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, spicy, ginger and lemon flavours; good length. (87.5)
  • Susana Balbo Crios Torrontes 2016 (Argentina – $13.95): almost water white in colour with a faint lime tint; aromatic Muscat-like nose of peach and roses; light bodied, dry, perfumed, orange and lychee flavours; great length. Clean as a whistle. (89)
  • Sacred Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $18.95): very pale, almost water white with a lime tint; grassy, green pepper and grapefruit on the nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry green plum and grapefruit flavours that linger on the palate. (89)
  • Tini Sangiovese Romagna 2015 (Emilia Romagna – $7.75): bright ruby colour; earthy, cherry pit nose; medium-bodied, dry, rustic, cherry and raspberry flavours with a dried flower note and a firm tannic finish. (86)
  • Cesari Adesso Merlot d’Italia 2015 ($7.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, blueberry and cherry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, redcurrant and cranberry flavours. (85.5)
  • Wakefield Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (South Australia – $14.95): deep ruby; cedary, blackcurrant nose with a note of iodine and vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry and savoury, currants and toasted herb flavours with a firm finish. (87)
  • Fantini Casale Vecchio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Lot 23 2015 (Montepulciano – $10.95): deep ruby-purple colour; cedary, cherry nose; medium-bodied, creamy, oaky cherry with vanilla bean flavours. (85.5)
  • Bodega Aniello 006 Riverside Merlot 2014 (Patagonia, Argentina – $17.95): ruby with a tawny rim; cedary, sweet tobacco, plum with vanilla oak on the nose; medium-bodied, sweet plum, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours with lively acidity and a creamy mouth feel that finishes firmly. (88)

Thursday, March 23rd: Selected wines for a charity event I’m conducting on Saturday for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation – an auction item at their gala. Then tasted a couple of wines with dinner. My sister-in-law Suzanne brought over her famous brisket. Pre-dinner, a bottle of Domaine J. Laurens Blanquette de Limoux Le Moulin Brut (pale straw, minerally-chalky, cab apple bouquet; medium-bodied, initially dry but opens on the palate with a touch of sweetness, 88). With the brisket – an excellent match – The Foreign Affair Temptress 2010 (Ontario – dense purple colour; spicy cherry and blackcurrant nose with a cedary note; full-bodied, richly extracted, sweet black cherry and blackcurrant flavours; almost port-like with notes of tobacco leaf and black cherries, 91).

Friday, March 24th: Picked up Ian d’Agata from his hotel at Bloor and Islington and drove down to Niagara Falls to attend Cuvée. I’m booked into the Marriott (didn’t realise there are two kitty corner to each other – nor that they charge $34 (inc. HST) to park in their open-air parking lot overnight!). Cuvée was held, like last year, in the Convention Centre. I presented my annual Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence to Ian, explaining in my introduction: “This award was inaugurated in 2000 to mark my 25 years of wine writing. The annual award goes to the individual or institution that has done most to further the aims and aspirations of the Ontario Wine industry. This year’s winner was Dr. Ian d’Agata for his role in championing Ontario wines in the international arena, most notably in Vinous magazine, and for being an enthusiastic ambassador for the region.” This is first time the winner has not been living in the province.

Ian d'Agata receiving the Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence

Then into the main hall for the tasting. Each of the 47 participating Niagara Peninsula wineries was invited to pour two of its winemaker’s favourite wines. I concentrated on the reds. My top-scoring wine was Creekside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Other high-scoring wines were Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Reserve 2014, Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2013, Kacaba Silver Bridge Syrah 2013, Konzelmann Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2012, Malivoire Pinot Noir, The Hare Wine Co. Noble Red Appassimento 2013 and Stratus Cabernet Franc 2013. The food at this year’s Cuvée was excellent, with a magnificent dessert booth.

Saturday, March 25th: After breakfast, Ian d’Agata, Michael Vaughan, Tim Appelt and I met at Inniskillin’s tasting room where winemakers Bruce Nicholson led us through a tasting of his wines:

  • Inniskillin Discovery Series P3 2016 (Pinot Gris/Pinot Noir/Pinot Blanc): coral coloured; a nose of yellow cherry; medium-bodied, dry, soft, well-balanced pear and apple flavours with a touch of sweetness. (88.5)
  • Inniskillin Reserve Series Viognier 2016: pale straw colour; spicy, white peach with a light floral note; full-bodied, dry, mouth-filling, peach and pear flavours lifted by a floral note. Good length. (89)
  • Inniskillin Discovery Series Pinot Gris 2016: pale straw colour; minerally, white peach bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, peach and lemon flavours, nicely balanced with a lovely mouth-feel and good length. (89.5)
  • Inniskillin Discovery Series Süss Reserve Riesling 2016: pale straw colour; spicy, grapefruit nose with minerally notes; light to medium-bodied, grapefruit and melon flavours with a floral note and a touch of bitterness on the finish. (87.5)
  • Inniskillin Discovery Series Sauvignon Blanc 2016: pale straw colour; grassy, grapefruit nose with a floral grace note; medium-bodied, dry, spicy, herbaceous flavour of green plum with livel acidity and a touch of bitterness on the finish. (88.5)
  • Inniskillin Discovery Series Merlot Petit Verdot 2015: deep ruby colour; cedary, spicy, floral, tobacco, cherry and redcurrant on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured, flavourful with a note of cinnamon on the finish. Needs time. (89–90)
  • Inniskillin Estate Series Pinot Noir Rosé 2015: deep pink in colour; minerally, cherry pit nose with red apple and raspberry aromas and a note of violets; medium-bodied, dry, easy drinking with a firm finish. (88)
  • Inniskillin Estate Series Pinot Grigio 2016: pale pink gold in colour; white peach nose with a light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, white peach and citrus flavours with a touch of crab apple bitterness that gives it character. (88)
  • Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2013: pale straw colour; mature, ripe apple nose; medium-bodied, sweetish, creamy apple flavour. (88)
  • Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014: medium straw colour; a nose of cashew nuts and toast; medium-bodied, dry, spicy apple flavour with well-integrated oak. (89.5)
  • Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine 2015: deep pink in colour; strawberry puree nose; medium-bodied, honeyed strawberry flavour with a light spritz; beautifully balanced, great tension between sweetness and fresh acidity and great length. (93)

Then we drove over to Jackson-Triggs, where winemaker Marc Picone led us through the following wines:

  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Entourage 2014 (70% Pinot Noir/24% Charodnnay/5% Pinot Meunier): pale lemon colour; minerally, bread crust, citrus and apple on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, crab apple flavour with a fresh citrus acidity on the finish. (90)
  • Jackson-Triggs Sparkling Muscato 2016: pale straw in colour with a hint of lime; spicy, floral orange blossom nose; light-bodied (8.5% alcohol), dry, cardamom, clove, orange and honey flavours. Easy drinking. (89)
  • Jackson-Triggs Sauvignon Blanc 2015: pale straw colour; grassy, green plum, waxy bouquet with a floral top note; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, fresh and lively on the palate with good length, finishing on a lemony-apple note. (89)
  • Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2015: pale straw colour; minerally, floral, apple nose with toasty oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, spicy (clove) apple and lemon flavours with well-integrated oak; lovely mouth-feel with great length. (90)
  • Jackson-Triggs Anterra Chardonnay 2015: light golden straw in colour; spicy, toasty, tropical fruit nose; full-bodied, rich, spicy, green pineapple and lemon flavours, creamy on the palate with vanilla oak notes and a caramel note on the finish. (90)

Drove back to Toronto, dropped Ian off at his hotel and went home to change before driving back to Oakville for a charity tasting – an auction item for the Junior Diabetes Foundation. I served the following wines from my cellar and used the spittoon all evening.

  • Trius Ghost Creek Riesling 2014
  • Konzelmann Pinot Blanc 2014
  • Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2010
  • Tawse Tintern Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
  • Trius Cabernet Franc 2015
  • Angels Gate Mountainview Merlot 2007
  • Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
  • Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine 2012


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