Sunday, 22 May 2011

LCBO Vintages – Preview for May 28/2011

Unfortunately there isn't much to report this round.

No spirits coming in this month.  On the other hand there is a nice tawny 20 year old port from Warre's.  Warre's is one of the oldest Portuguese exportation houses still running.   Established in 1670 to export goods such as wines, fruits and olive oil and import dried cod and wool from England.  Over time the name changed, but the goods did not.  Still a large exporter of fine port to the world now, they are renowned for their superb quality and style.

The Otima lineup was a revelation to the port community; and is still widely acknowledged as the most successful new development in Port for over 25 years.  Otima shows Port's versatility as an all year round liqueur (20% constitutes a liqueur here), bringing a modern touch to a classic drink.  Its often described as being a lush soft Port.  Featuring nutty aromas and hints of coffee, caramel and orange peel.  A pretty reasonable deal for $40.  Can be cellared up to 3 or 4 years for that special occasion, or consumed today.  Check you local LCBO for ordering [SKU #682716].  Take note that the 10 year old is also available from the LCBO [SKU #566174].

In other news; I have survived my trip to the Spirit of Toronto show.  It was an excellent time with many a new spirit showcased.  There are a few that still stand out to this day in my mind, but this is for another post.  I am still compiling my pictures and notes, but will get to this some day soon I hope.  You can check my twitter history HERE for a preview.

Friday, 13 May 2011

NOTL Wines Tour

So what's new this release?  Spring has sprung and summer is supposedly just around the corner (I have yet to witness this), and the rosés are in full bloom as it were.  Prepping for the summer heat, rosé makes a wonderful chilled wine for a hot patio evening.  I recently took a trip with some good friends (and fellow bloggers @WineGuyTO and @AnUptownGal), to Niagara on the Lake for the Wine and Herb passport.  I took my better half @munchkinkaty, and we set out on a wonderful spring Sunday.

Beautiful weather abounded and tastings were plentiful!  Special thanks to some of the twitter contacts that have been made Michelle Bosc, Alexander Harber, and Kyrstina Roman.  With a little twitter assistance from our friends, we were whisked away to secret rooms, VIP bars, and allowed to try things that "don't exist yet".

Our first stop was to Chateau des Charmes (a Niagara on the Lake favorite of mine), and directed to the VIP tasting bar.  We headed the winding staircase to a room overlooking the rear vineyards.  A bottle of Brut was cracked in our favor to cleanse our palates from the long hard drive.  Many things were sampled, but the Old Vines Riesling stuck out to myself as well as a patented 2008 Varietal called Gamay 'Droit'.   Check out their website HERE.

Through our whirlwind tour of Niagara on the Lake, we stopped into Ravine Vineyards.  I was urged to try the Reisling by our cohorts (Myself a being a white drinker mainly), as it was touted as one of the best she'd ever had.  We settled down and tried the wine and herb pairing (an excellent pork terrine with sweet woodruff paired with a 2009 Chardonnay Musqué), and then wandered over to the tasting bar.  I was introduced to Alex Harber, owner and self-confessed cellar-rat.  Alex, in turn, introduced us to a 2009 Chardonnay that was yet to be listed (fantastic fresh fruits flavours and a delicious butterscotch finish no less), and manly Rosé that had been barrel matured.  Both were fantastic expressions of why the Niagara region is one of Canada's best wine regions, but back to that Rosé for a moment. A rosé is usually light and fruity, never defined as manly, but this one had lost some of that character.  What it had been replaced with was delicious oak and wonderful warm butter notes.  This is one to keep an eye out for (Ravine 2009 Barrel Aged Rosé).  After the initial taste, we then proceeded to be introduced to a selection of their finest wines.  Let me tell you, that Riesling is no slouch!  There is also a fantastic white called York road (a white meritage of  Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc), and a red to match called the Redcoat (Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon).  This has become a new favorite winery for myself.  To steer away from the blends they also have an excellent Gewürztraminer, fantastic Merlot and an awesome Reserve Cabernet Franc. Excellent flavours are to be found in all bottles, but definitely order some of that Riesling (she a real cracker!).  Check out Ravine's website HERE!

Then off and whisked away to many other wineries, throughout the Niagara on the Lake region.  Many new places, lots of smiling faces and fantastic wines were had.  We made special stops to Reif Estates, Stratus Wines, and Lailey Vineyards.  Then as our tour ended, we headed back up the 401 to the Beamsville/40 Bench region.  We made another special stop to Rosewood Estates

Rosewood has a few things going for them.  They have their own honey bees.  This means they know who fertilizes the vineyard, and they get a rewards for this.  Rosewood has their own wildflower honey, beeswax candles and such and most importantly Mead!  Yes, I've come full circle here on the blog.  Beer whisky, wine and mead!  Featuring a selection of three offerings, there is a fantastic cherry infused mead called Mon Cherie.  This is a fantastic meeting of Niagara cherry juice and Rosewood mead blended and aged in neutral French oak barrels.  Notes of both wildflowers, honey, cherries, brandy, oak and faint chocolate create a real award winner.  You can bet that my bottle will be kept in reserve for a while.  Among the other tastings were the Riesling reserve and a fantastic Pinot Noir.  With the sun setting,  we returned home and settled down for a glass of wine and a relaxed evening.  Excellent trip with all, and it must be done again (although next time I'd love to hit up Megalomaniac).  Should you ever have a chance to hang out in the Niagara region, see if you can head out to one of the many vineyards out there.  There is a lot to explore and so much more to taste.