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MichaelPinkusWineReview Newsletter #266
February 18, 2015
WineReview: Two Irksome Things
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
Grape Guy Events: Make The Most of Your Trip to Wine Country
WineReview: Two Irksome Things
Trust me, I hear many of you saying, “with all the intrigue and talk over wine finally hitting supermarket shelves you chose “Vidal” as you main topic for your comeback article?” … Curious huh?
Honestly, I’ll be surprised if this government can pull off the feat … and I’d have been doubly surprised if good old Smokey Thomas wasn’t blowing a gasket over this – “this” being the long proposed overhaul of the liquor system here in Ontario; but that is all it is just another proposed chapter in the antiquated annals of Ontario’s love it / hate it relationship with booze and the LCBO … frankly, I think we’re all tired of being disappointed by broken promises and mishandled attempts … plus it’ll take till 2020 to be fully implement – plenty can still go wrong between now and then. So until such time as the booze starts flowing out of Supermarket doors (and not just from two companies) then it’ll be something worth talking about. So let’s move on …
I read two things this past month that kind of annoyed me: 1) Vidal was called “lowly & garbage-y” and the VQA was being pedantic again.
Let’s start with the first. DavidinCanada (twitter handle) forwarded me a piece from the Globe & Mail “Brothers giving lowly Ontario wine a Makeover” (this is not the original title, but it’s the one that’s up there now) … the piece is supposed to be a sort-of help-the-business-owner thing where experts step-in to help solve a problem … but in this case the problem really doesn’t exist. I’ll refrain from talking about the winery in question (they have turned Lemberger into a delicious variety and proven that it has a place here in Ontario), and instead talk about the perceived problem – this quote: “Most people think of Vidal as a sweet, cheap, garbage-y wine, so restaurants don’t want to carry it …”, yet earlier in the article we are told “…this wine often sells out in the store …”. So really what is the problem?
First, most wineries will make more money per bottle selling the wine through their own cellar door than they would from any other source. Second, Vidal is only a “cheap garbage-y wine” because you just told people it is, before that no one thought that way. Sure it’s the calling card of Ontario Icewine – but those wines fetch some of the highest prices in Ontario, for a HALF BOTTLE … so really how cheap can it be? One must understand that Vidal is never going to be the darling of the wine world – here or abroad – think of it as Ontario’s Moscato, but embrace the wine, don’t shun it, and for god sake don’t create a micro-problem where a macro one exists: Ontario restaurants aren’t as receptive to Ontario wine period, not just Vidal wines. There are a number of factors which I have delved into in the past, but the truth is restaurants seem to prefer the cheaper, easier-to-sell imports over the hand-sell Ontario wines, which can also be more expensive … the problem isn’t Vidal, the problem is a past that continues to haunt this industry at the restaurant level ... even though studies have shown that tourists want to drink local wines with their meals – but to do that they would have to head out to Niagara / Prince Edward County or the Lake Erie North Shore, otherwise big city restos aren’t interested in giving you what’s from “just around the corner”.
All I’m saying is don’t trash Vidal – and don’t tell people in a national newspaper it’s “garbage-y” because now you’ve created a whole new kind of problem - the “I-read-it-in-the-newspaper-so-it-must- be-true” kind that won’t go away.
Dilemma number two is a theatre of the absurd moment for me. An email from the VQA was circulated on Twitter by the Old Third Winery in Prince Edward County entitled “Terms on the The Old Third Website” in it Susan Piovesan (Compliance and Information Officer, VQA Ontario) takes umbrage with some of the wording the Old Third uses to describe their wines / winery on their own website. (if you want to see the original email visit the FaceBook of Jens Korberg (owner of the winery) and scroll down a little:
The Old Third proudly declares on their home page “Producers of fine wine and cider in Prince Edward County” … which they are! Period the end. But the VQA has another opinion. “The term ‘Prince Edward County’, when used in association with wine production, is reserved for approved VQA wines (VQA Act, O. Reg. 406, section 3(2)) and may not be used in any way associated with the wine to describe non-approved wines.” She goes on to remind the winery that since they are not a member they cannot use Prince Edward County on their website, suggesting they use “local”, the nearest town or Canada in its stead.
I’m going to leave that hang out there for you to discuss amongst yourselves – but I for one find this ludicrous in the extreme, that you can’t use the name of the place you call home, make a living in and pay tax to, just because of what you’re making – it would be like me saying I’m a wine writer in Niagara, but because “Niagara” is a registered term with the VQA I cannot use it because I am associating it with wine … come on VQA give these boys a break, this just makes you look petty.
Big Head 2013 Riesling, Select Late Harvest- $17.00 / 375ml (W)
Delicately sweet yet very tasty; made from grapes grown specifically for the purpose of making this dessert wine: apricot, pear and apple all make an appearance along with a little tangerine and honeycomb. Price: $17.00 / 375ml – Rating: ****
G. Marquis 2013 Pinot Noir, Silver Line - $19.95 (W, L)
The nose on this wine is best described as quiet with a red fruited palate of raspberry and strawberry which comes off as sweet but finishes with good acidity and has a rather fruity presence. Price: $19.95 – Rating: ****
Hillebrand 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Showcase - Wild Ferment - $32.00 (W)
The more you play with Sauvignon Blanc the more interesting it can become – it strays away from the typical and moves into the potentially incredible. Now, this wine doesn’t hit the heights of incredible, but it certainly swings for the atypical and delicious. Barrel aged and fermented 11 months (all French) of which 30% was new oak. Aromas show lime zest and overly ripe orange; palate is spiced mandarin with a rich creamy mouthfeel that holds a little vanilla in its grasp – and holds your palate in a state of intrigue. Price: $32.00 – Rating: ****
Rosehall Run 2012 Cabernet Franc, Cuvee County - $18.95 (W)
Wonderful depth of flavour and aroma on this all County fruit Franc from the hot 2012 vintage. Black currant, black raspberry and hints of cedar greet the nose before the palate takes over with leather and tobacco notes – but before you put the glass down wait for the dark fruit to creep in which leads the way towards a smoked-raspberry finish. Price: $18.95 – Rating: ****
Tawse 2013 Chardonnay, Icewine - $34.95 / 200ml (W)
Not sure how many times I’ve had a Chardonnay Icewine, but this is probably the best one I’ve ever had. Great apricot, apple and pineapple notes with a caramel finish … simply put this one is delicious with a capital “D”. Price: $34.95 / 200ml – Rating: ****+
Two Sisters 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine - $55.00 / 200ml (W)
This is well-balanced Cab Icewine that manages to pull out all the stops for flavour but shows restraint to keep it from being cloying: strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and rhubarb all combine to make this a delicious gem in the glass, and the palate does not come across as thick or syrupy … it dances across the tongue on light feet. Price: $55.00 / 200ml - Rating: ****+
Availability legend: W (Winery) – L (LCBO/Vintages) – OL (On-Line)
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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 #163 - Coyote's Run 2014 Pinot Gris (Niagara)
Video #162 - Pondview 2012 Bella Terra Meritage (Niagara)
Video #161 - Sanson 2012 Baco Noir Reserve (Lake Erie North Shore)
Video #160 - Thirty Bench 2013 Rieslings (Niagara)
Taste it Again / Lost & Found (blog): the two blogs have merged
(Find out what happened to some favourites and to those that never were tasted)
Taste it Again / Lost & Found: A Boatload of Pinot & More
Taste it Again: Trius / Peller / Stoney
Lost & Found: Inniskillin 1999 Vidal, oak aged
Uncorked Tonight (blog)
When it’s not an Ontario wine, here’s what I’m pulling out of the cellar
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