- Category: Newsletter Archives
May 17, 2018
WineReview: Managing Expectations
Grape Guy’s Picks of the Bunch: New & Noteworthy Wines
Weekly Wine Video Series: A Recap of The Latest Videos
Ontario Wine Updates: Re-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds
WineReview: Trials and Tribulations
As we enter the “season” for winery visiting it got me thinking about tasting wines and expectations. As a professional wine taster I am supposed to check my biases at the door, but even I have certain expectations: I have been doing this for so long that there are just certain wineries when I see their bottle, or their name on the winery map, make me either want to go taste what’s new or avoid them like the plague. I know I’m not alone in this thinking,
I was reminded of this because of a recent visit to Marynissen, who have been a real clown show and avoidable winery in recent years – but I tried their new 2017 Rosé and was absolutely blown away – was I just giving them a pass because it was drinkable or was it actually a good wine? I got others to try it just to make sure, and lo and behold they have a legit hit on their hands. This gives me a few stories to tell and a challenge to issue.
I have often floated the idea to colleagues and others in the industry of setting up an “avoidance tour” – this is how it works: you get 4-5 friends together and everybody puts one winery onto the "visit list", but this time it’s a winery you have been avoiding for whatever the reason; and the reasons for avoidance are as varied as the people doing the avoiding - here are some of mine.
The one story that always comes to mind for me is about Inniskillin, I avoided them for years because after a tasting with some friends (and before I became a professional writer) we were chased out into the parking lot, by an Inniskillin winery staff member, for our tasting fee, even though we had purchased 2 cases a wine between 3 people … had we been more with it we would have paid the fee and returned the wine ... it’s that kind of thing that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth and it did for us. Others I avoided were Crown Bench, because the owners were weird and made people feel uncomfortable … and who wants hot pepper icewine anyway? And Joseph’s, because it was Joseph’s, plain and simple the wines were just very uninspired, and who buys uninspired? Even cheap uninspired is still bland and boring..
On the other hand, I have high expectations for places like Chateau des Charmes (I got married there), Malivoire (as a Gamay fan how could you not?), and Nyarai Cellars (owner Steve Byfield is a personal friend and I expect nothing but the best from him) … some of these expectations, the good and the bad, lead to either lowered expectations (“wow, that Joseph’s wine is drinkable”) or heightened expectations (“That Equuleus isn’t as good as the 2012”).
It is odd the way we put our labels of expectation onto wineries and hold onto them for years, even though ownership may have changed, staff has turned over, or winemakers have left and been replaced by someone more competent.
In the end expectation is a funny thing and maybe something we should all try to get over – because Ontario is putting out some wonderful wines and you should be able to find at least one at each winery – remember: sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs (so to speak) to find the prince. This year I challenge you all to get out there and create your own “avoidance tour” – pick one winery you have not visited in a while (for whatever the reason) and try it again – then let me know how it turned out. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a chance to change our opinions and those expectations.
I want to hear from you – tell me your expectations – good or bad and then revisit the winery you have been avoiding … I’ll publish the best tales of horror and redemption throughout the rest of the year.
Adamo 2015 Cabernet Franc, Foxcroft Vineyard - $49.00 (W)
Who says only the good Franc is made in Niagara, this one winery makes its home in Hockley Valley, granted the fruit comes from Niagara; but this 5-barrel selection is aged 16 months in French oak (33% new) with only 188 cases produced: smoky raspberry leads things off with black cherry, tobacco, hints of cranberry, some vanilla and big tannins on the finish; needs 2-3 years to mellow, but it also has a decade ahead of it. (****)
Between the Lines 2015 Cabernet “Leon” - $35.95 (W)
One of those American/French oak aged Francs that seem to be all the rage in Ontario, it rested in its oak home for 18 months resulting in a darkly fruited wine with blackberry, black raspberry tobacco and spice with a long smoked-cherry finish. (****)
Creekside 2015 Syrah, Iconoclast - $25.00 (W)
Iconoclast Syrah now seems to have a permanent place on the Creekside list – this “left over” bottling from the Broken Press project spends 20 months in older neutral oak barrels, which allows the grapes to do most of the work without too much interference from wood: meaty and spicy with blackberry and black cherry fruit leading to a mocha-black pepper finish … acidity helps keep everything lively. (****)
Pondview 2015 Chardonnay, Bella Terra - $29.95 (W)
Twenty-two months of barrel fermenting and aging might sound like a long time but somehow this Chardonnay soaked it up with gusto and the 50% new oak even added extra depth … a pretty floral note sits on this wine throughout wrapping the vanilla, butter, peach and apple cobbler in a pretty cocoon, while the acid bite on the finish keeps this in the realm of Ontario fresh and not California blousy … not surprisingly in limited supply at the winery. (****+)
Southbrook 2016 Chardonnay, Wild Ferment - $39.95 (W)
Chardonay may be the lone name on the bottle but the grape-list could also show 13% Semillon. I dig on wild ferment wines and with Chardonnay they take to the style like no other. It’s mineral driven with tropical fruit elements along with some baked apple and pear puree. Both pretty and elegant, it’s a wine that captivates the senses, the fruit has remained the primary focus because of a restrained 10 months in only 20% new oak – keeping freshness at the fore. (****+)
Trius 2016 Pinot Noir - $24.95 (W)
While Trius turns up its Pinot game with its Clark Farm single vineyard offering they are also developing their entry-level Trius Pinot Noir and this one sits right where Pinot should be with its beet root and cranberry aromas and flavours; it manages to sit lightly on the tongue, even with all those earthy and sour cherry flavours. (****)
Availability legend: W (Winery) – L (LCBO/Vintages) – OL (On-Line)
Wine Meme of the Month ...
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 #270 - Trius 2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Niagara)
Video #271 - Magnotta 2012 Limited Edition Merlot (Niagara)
Video #272 - Megalomaniac 2015 Cabernet, FRANK (Niagara)
Video #273 - Stratus 2015 Gamay Noir (Niagara)
National & International Wines Series ...
Taste it Again: Henry of Pelham 2009 Family Tree White
Taste it Again: Lailey 2008 Canadian Oak Chardonnay
Taste it Again: Pondview 2010 Bella Terra Cabernet Franc
Taste it Again: Vineland 2010 Pinot Meunier
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
County in the City 2018 (Episode 89)
"Oregon Chardonnay Rocks" (Episode 88)
Tasting With Thomas Bachelder (Episode 87)
The Life And Times Of Thomas Bachelder (Episode 86
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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