A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 651: Ontario Wine Awards

Rush’s Alex Lifeson hosting the Ontario Wine Awards

Monday, May 29th: Wrote my 680 NEWS wine reviews and then got down to some tasting:

  • Uber Riesling Kabinett 2015 (Pfalz – $14.10): very pale colour; minerally, kiwi flavours with good tension between sweetness and acidity. Just a touch of oxidation on the finish. (86.5)
  • Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $18.95): very pale straw colour; grassy, green plum and grapefruit nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry with green plum and elderberry flavours carried on racy acidity. Well-balanced with great length. (91)
  • Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve 2014 (Carneros, Napa Valley – $44.95): light straw colour; spicy oak, lemon and green apple with an apple blossom note on the nose; full-bodied, dry, rich and full on the palate with toasty, citrus, pineapple and caramel flavours; beautifully balanced and elegant with a long, nutty finish. (92)
  • Quails’ Gate Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris 2016 (Okanagan Valley): very pale colour; minerally, pear skin nose; medium-bodied, dry, pear and green apple flavours with a touch of browning apple on the finish. (86.5)
  • Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc 2016 (Okanagan Valley): light straw colour; minerally, quince and green pear nose; medium-bodied, dry, fresh and lively on the palate, well-balanced lemon and green pear flavours. (90)
  • Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2016 (Okanagan Valley): very pale colour; minerally, grapefruit nose; light-bodied, crisply dry with lime and grapefruit flavours; good length. (88.5)
  • Quails’ Gate Gewurztraminer 2016 (Okanagan Valley): very pale, almost water white in colour; spicy, aromatic, light lychee and rose petal nose; medium-bodied, showing more varietal character on the palate than on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, lychee and grapefruit flavours. (88)
  • Quails’ Gate Rosé 2016 (Okanagan Valley): pale pink colour; cherry pit nose; medium-bodied, just off-dry with strawberry and redcurrant flavours and balancing acidity. (87)
  • Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2016 (Okanagan Valley): white gold colour; minerally, peach pit nose with lemony notes; medium-bodied, unctuous on the palate with a sweet peach flavour. Good length. (88)
  • Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Pinot Noir 2013 (Okanagan Valley): light ruby colour; earthy, raspberry and dried tea leaf nose; medium-bodied, candied raspberry flavour with a note of smoky oak, lively acidity and a warm alcoholic finish. (89)
  • Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc 2014 (15% Merlot – Okanagan Valley): solid ruby colour; cedary-floral nose of oak spice and red berries; medium to full-bodied, oak-driven, raspberry and redcurrant flavours with herbal note. (88.5)
  • Gérard Bertrand Grés de Montpellier Syrah Grenache 2014 (Languedoc – $18.95): deep ruby in colour, it shows a floral, cedary nose of blackberry and raspberry. Medium-bodied, it’s dry, well-balanced with savoury-herbal flavours of black fruits freshened by zesty acidity. (89)
  • Kacaba Cabernet Franc Reserve 2015 (Niagara Escarpment): dense ruby-purple colour; cedary nose of currants with a light floral note; medium to full-bodied, dry, well-extracted blackcurrant and black cherry flavours, well-structured with fresh acidity and good length. (90)

Tuesday, May 30th: Went to the LCBO lab to taste wines I’d missed while I was in Italy. Final preparations for the Ontario Wine Awards medal presentations at Niagara College. Dinner at Barberian’s with the executives of the Gallo Nero, the Chianti Classico consortium, headed by Sergio Zingarelli of Rocca della Macie, with Sebastiano Capponi of Villa Calcinaia, Giovanni Pagali of Felsina and a representative from Ruffino.

Wednesday, May 31st: Recorded my 680 NEWS wine reviews and then Deborah picked Michael Vaughan and me up to drive down to St. Catharine’s for the Ontario Wine Awards presentation at Niagara College. The host this year was Alex Lifeson and we created a little drama by introducing him first by his real name, Alexandar Zivojinovich, and then he walked out on stage when I said, “Of course you know him as the lead guitarist of Rush, Alex Lifeson.” There was an audible gasp from the audience of winemakers and winery workers. Alex graciously stayed around to chat with everybody and have his picture taken.

The Winemaker of the Year Award went to Shiraz Mottiar of Malivoire. All the results of the competition are posted at www.ontariowineawards.ca.

Winemaker of the Year Shiraz Mottiar with Tony

Thursday, June 1st: Spent the day clearing my desk for my departure tomorrow afternoon to Greece. Edited a proof of an article I had written for the August edition of Decanter magazine on “My Toronto.”

Friday, June 2nd: Final clearing of the decks – Grapes for Humanity expense for France Uncorked and packed my suitcase. Looking forward to my first visit to Santorini and the fabled tomatoes they grow there (to say nothing of the Assyrtiko).


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