Posts Tagged ‘Niagara peninsula’

Its Spring Break! Yay!!  So far, this term’s course load has been significantly more intense over last term.  Projects have been large and involved and each one included a verbal presentation in from of the class and in one case, before an actual client. Mid-term exams have been completed and a couple have been exceptionally challenging.  Hopefully the poor performance on one exam is balanced with the rest of the work so i can maintain my 4.0 GPA.

Along side this challenging schoolwork comes the unfortunate crashing of my computer.  Although i DO have backups of all my significant files, some of the instances are a little out of date with the ones that were lost. Sadly, this includes my wine diary.  The last entry that made it to this blog’s backup was the previous one I posted.  Everything since then – some 17 exceptional bottles of vinos’ notes lost. =[  What I did salvage from hand-written notes a scrap of napkin in my desk drawer was this note on:

Konzelmann Unoaked Chardonnay 2008:  Pineapple, tropical fruit and apple feel decently crisp. The mouth-feel is well-textured and smooth. The finish is light with white peach flavours and a solid citrus acidity. I didn’t make note of what we paired with it, but i can certainly see this beside a cajun-style blackened fish.

So this finishes my current collection of tasting notes.  No more Ontario vino for a while, sadly.  I’m not sure when i’ll have a chance to compose another entry, so do follow me on Twitter @thevinoboy.  I hope to get some ‘on-the-road’ tasting notes posted there as i’m sipping.  Should a bottle of note happen my way and i have a moment to write something more official up here, do come back and have a read.

Now, its a week off and a trip to Hawaii for nothing but R&R.

Cheers,

~tvb

Wow!  I can’t believe seventeen weeks has elapsed ALREADY!!!  I am very proud to declare my first term of design school complete and thanks to hard work, focus and the exclusion of all else, my GPA is 3.75; a good solid ‘A’.  Now that I have three weeks off until the start of the next term (two weeks actually as i’ll be celebrating NYE on the beach in the Bahamas…), i have time to FINALLY update this vinoblog.

As you may be very much aware, I consider myself much more of a red boy than a white boy and actively search for barrel-aged reds.  Why?  Barrel aging imparts much more depth in the overall finished product and enhances the varietal qualities of the grape.  Shiraz especially.

Characteristic aromas of black pepper and clove are most prevalent on the nose as I swirl this medium ruby vino in my new ‘stemless’ Riedel Syrah/Shiraz glass. (STEMLESS?!?!! But you’ve always maintained that the hand warms the wine too quickly and destroys the flavour!) My behaviours in wine tasting have evolved over these last several months and its sunken into my thick skull that the glass doesn’t have to be filled to the upward taper all at once.  Greater enjoyment of the vino in smaller amounts is much more a rewarding vino experience than gulping a full portion.  I LOVE my stemless shiraz glasses!!!

True to the grape, this shiraz is succulently dry on the palate with soft plummy tannins and that yummy pepperiness resonating throughout.  The finish is looooooooooooooooong indeed with a subtle sweetness that echoes the barrel aging.  As an aside note, this bottle was purchased some time in May of this year and has been laying in my new cellar since I moved.  This short of a cellaring after release may not have had any affect on the wine.  As it was totally delicious, I’m not going to complain that its taken me this long to get at it!!

Now that I’m in Minnesota, finding Ontario wine is next to impossible so I’ll be consuming my last bottle of Ontario vino over the weekend.  Look forward to the fourth and final installment of the Konzelmann Estates series very soon.

This barrel aged shiraz is going to be missed, though i’m sure you’ll find it at your favorite LCBO.

Cheers!

~tvb

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image credit – ME!  I snapped the image with my LG Android phone, fixed it up for web use and here it is.  thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership and reproduces this product shot under fair use provisions for review and critique.

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School starts tomorrow (22-Aug) and I begin my education into an Interior Design Degree @ DCTC. I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This is part two of a four-part series on some 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson to Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

Golden yellow and rich-looking in the glass, a mild floral nose with a faint hint of (of all things!) cabbage, the palate is full yet soft.  Gala apple and ripe pear flavors carry through to a surprising buttery lift on a moderate finish.

Quite possibly the nicest semi-dry Ontario Pinot Blanc I’ve tasted in a very long time.  LCBO ~$12/btl.

Cheers!

~tvb

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**image credit – WineAlign. thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

So as I begin my second phase of education (Interior Design Degree @ DCTC), I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This entry begins a four-part series on several 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

This oak-aged Merlot Reserve 2009, Niagara Peninsula VQA displays a greater complexity than most I’ve tasted of late.  The full nose of this rich ruby vino exhibits essences of sweet ripe cherry and cracked black pepper.  The 13.5%alc.vol is barely noticeable on the palate as flavors of cherry and mulberry and soft smooth tannin lead to a warm lingering finish.

The finish is of particular note.  Most dry reds are not very conducive to the pairing with most chocolate.  I could detect the presence of some chocolate flavoring in this lingering finish, so I decided to try some of the Belgian-made Caribbean dark chocolate in my secret stash.  Not so secret really as its available on Amazon… The affect of the bitter-sweet dark chocolate with the vino is something I can’t fully describe.  You’ll just have to try it.

Available at the LCBO ~$12/btl.

Cheers!!

~tvb

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**image credit: Me!  I took this image myself with my camera phone, ran it through a photo editing platform, then uncapped the bottle and went nuts.  thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership of the depiction and republishes the likeness under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Its been a while since last I was in Ontario, so for the next little while, I’ll be focusing my palate on what’s growing right outside my back door.

As many of you may already know, Riesling is a very versatile grape with wines ranging from lip-smackingly dry to succulent and rarefied Icewine. Your vinoboy prefers the drier side of the vine.

Brilliant straw-colored in the glass. The nose is definitely citrus-forward but there’s a delicate undertone of something resembling wild roses.  The forward palate is definitely citrus-based and tangy; the floral notes reappear on the soft finish.  Yummy.

Be sure to chill this vino rather well – there’s a sourness that comes out when it gets close to room temperature.  This would be one of those times to crack out the ice bucket.

Flattened chicken convection-roasted served aside garlic mashed potatoes and almond green bean, this dry Riesling was amazing.

Cheers!

~tvb

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**image credit – The Winery.  thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership and republishes image under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Oh my, where to begin!

I drank the whole bottle myself once this vino was uncorked and decanted.  Already aged 6 years, the tannin and pop has mellowed all on its own to be sure, but having read somewhere that this particular Niagara Escarpment Winery’s VQA-certified wines were bold prepared me to take such a step prior to drinking.

Even after an hour in my favorite decanter, the aroma was still smooth and appealing with wafts of black pepper, cedar and hints of cocoa.  The palate was lip-smackingly dry; the full-bodied flavors of chocolate, cherries and a creamy smoothness brings to mind a dense, not-too-sweet cake.

The finish was dry to be sure with a racy edge that had me polishing off the bottle and licking the last drops from my class.

~$15/blt at the LCBO, supplies are dwindling so if you find it, get it and either drink now or cellar for just a few more years.

Cheers!

~tvb

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**images credit: WineAlign – thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership and republishes image under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

The day started with a passable breakfast at the new restaurant adjacent to the hotel and we were soon on the road this bright and sunny and WINDY day. Once on the picturesque Niagara Parkway, we ambled along the edge of the gorge stopping at a few outlooks for pictures.  The drive was splendid and relaxing and though our tour reservations were for 1pm, we left with plenty of time for sight-seeing. One particular stop was at the Whirlpool and its one-of-a-kind-on-the-planet Spanish AeroCar!  A marvel of modern early 20th century engineering!  You won’t catch me on it!

We arrived at the winery at lunch time and relaxed in the Welcome Center with a Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese board, dry Riesling and Chardonnay as our wines.  Watching as people explored the courtyard or enjoyed their own snacks was interesting. The couple that shared our little snack space and also in our tour group were visiting from Milwaukee on their honeymoon. We proudly announced this as our 7th anniversary.  A nice couple.

The tour started with a basic introduction to the founders and theirhistory leading up to today.  Rather than rewrite all that, please visit the Inniskillin website and explore.  As our guide was yammering on about this and that, a truck rumbled into the lot, and the workers proceeded to start emptying into the crusher/de-stemmer. Aha! These Chardonnay grapes were plump and firm and felt ready to burst!

The tour meandered through quite a bit of the place, stopping here and there at various points along the production line. The main fermentation tanks are massive vats two stories tall and gleaming stainless steel! Below ground in their conference room and ageing cellars, various barrels and rooms held some of their test-batches and premier reserves.  I think the guide mentioned that with the barrels lining the pictured chamber, the Cabernet Sauvignon they held would be for private stock or special presentation wine. Not sure that that means, but I’ll bet the bottles would be expensive!!

At the end of the tour, was the much anticipated tasting! A Chardonnay Reserve, a Meritage and a Vidal Icewine…

Chardonnay VQA Reserve 2009: Pineapple and mango, hints of spice and vanilla fill the nose of this fully-oaked Chard. Tropical and creamy on the palate with a mineral finish. (LCBO ~$15/btl)

Meritage 2009: Cranberry and spice dominate thru an alcohol-evident aroma. The texture is smooth with a juicy tannin that leads to a lingering spicy finish. Not the most sophisticated Meritage I’ve tried but fun in this setting. I’m unsure of its availability or pricing.

Icewine Vidal VQA 2007: Oh my! At first sip, I thought it was pure honey. The second sip was a fascinating experience filled with lychee, dried apricot and fig. A balanced sweetness, though with the alcohol caressing the back of the throat. Not entirely sure of this style of wine as this is only the second time I’ve chanced to taste an icewine. (LCBO ~$50/btl @372ml.)

In the boutique, I found a Montague Estate Pinot Noir VQA 2004! Made with select grapes from their Montague Estate (sub-appellation: Four Mile Creek) this already 7yo Pinot is said to be a passable vintage carrying ripe red fruit and spice… I’ve now stored the bottle safely away with the plan of uncorking it on our 14th anniversary on 10-Oct-2018. I hope the fellow at the counter was correct in his assertion that this Pinot can be safely aged for up to 20 years… (winery only ~$25/btl)

A wonderful outing! Now we’re heading back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner and a trip to Fallsview Casino Resort!

Cheers!

~tvb

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**image credit: ME!!  I took all these picture myself. Logos and facilities are obviously copyrighted to the winery and shared under personal use. Want to see more of the images from Inniskillin, drop me a note and i’ll see what i can dig up for you.

This is our 7th anniversary!!  My partner and I are traveling from Toronto to the Niagara Region – enjoying a long long weekend together with scenery, wineries of the Niagara Region, perfect weather, the fall colors drenching the escarpment in gorgeous reds and yellows, Lake Ontario sparkling to the north, and each other as we meander our way along Hwy 8  –  stopping whenever we chance upon something interesting.

I could not have asked for anything more perfect!

A few minutes east but MILES away with respect to meso-climate from our first stop is our second stop: Angels Gate Winery, situated on the upper boundaries of the Beamsville Bench and the high-ground of the Escarpment proper. With grapes supplied from roughly 200 acres of vineyards and a broad range of varieties being grown, the three wines we sampled at their tasting bar may well have been the best so far…

This is probably one of the youngest wineries in the area, first planted in the mid 1990’s, releasing their first vintage in 2002.  The main building resembles something kinda-sorta Mission-styled with clean, simple lines; calm exterior; thick wooden doors and an impressive view of Lake Ontario.  The left side of the tasting bar is filled with wines – each bottle proudly adorned with the medal it has won from the various competitions around the world.

Süssreserve Riesling 2008: This semi-dry VQA Niagara Peninsula Riesling is one of the more unique I have tried.  Once the vino is fully fermented and almost finished, sweet Riesling juice is added just before bottling. A nose of fresh lime zest and white lily is accented on the palate by a refreshingly clean minerality. The linger is short, but still a tad sweet.  Chinese or Thai food would be cool!  (LCBO ~$14/btl)

VQA Cabernet Franc 2008: Teasing hints of red licorice tickle the nose as ripe red fruits fill the palate.  Cab Franc is one of my favorite reds and this smooth vino only reaffirms with medium-weight, low tannins and a warm lingering finish.  This perfectly oaked vino is both integrated and tantalizing. (winery only @ $17/btl)

VQA Gewürztraminer 2008: I’m very accustomed to this type of wine presenting itself as sweet and full – I was surprised at how dry this wine its.  Unmistakably rich, this vino has more orange and pear aromas and less acidity on the palate than others. For a grape whose characteristics are mildly spicy, the melon flavors on the palate are quite refreshing. (LCBO @ ~$16/btl)

Next episode, we visit Inniskillin!  I’m very excited to be sharing this adventure.

Cheers!

~tvb

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**image credits – ME!!!  I took these picture myself! Visiting this winery was fun and the weather couldn’t’ve been move amazing.  Yay!

This is our 7th anniversary!!  My partner and I have traveled to all corners of North America, escaped to Hawaii and even wandered around Paris, France – but we’ve never really explored what lies close to my front door.  I wanted to do something we’ve never done before here in Ontario, so I planned a long long weekend together enjoying the scenery and wineries of the Niagara Region.  The weather was perfect, the fall colors drenched the escarpment in gorgeous reds and yellows, Lake Ontario sparkled to the north as we meandered our way along Hwy 8…  Couldn’t ask for anything more perfect.

The first winery we chanced upon would be Peninsula Ridge, situated on the the bench-lands in Beamsville. The mineral-rich terroir fills the grapes with a lively acidity and sparking sweetness that is totally unique to this appellation.

Established in 2000, this winery boasts a complex yet simple marriage of new-world harvesting and fermentation technology to old-world barrel-aging to give their wines class and quality.  The Kitchen House, a restored Queen Anne-styled manor built in the late 1800’s is their on-site restaurant – though we were there a little early to try it.

Their boutique was dressed in varnished wood and limestone accents; tasting bar was welcoming with black granite counter-tops. We were greeted with a smile and excitedly presented the tasting menu. Though most of this winery’s vinos are only sold AT the boutique, I made sure to try wines available at our LCBO stores so you can find them and try for yourself:

INOX Chardonnay 2008: The twangy notes of flint, limestone and oranges are immediately evident in the nose of this unoaked Chardonnay.  Flavors of oranges and ripe peaches open up on the palate and balance decently with a long finish.  This vino would be great with a breaded white-fleshed fish. (LCBO price is ~$13/btl)

Merlot 2008: Like most of this winery’s Merlots, this is an unfiltered* wine. My nose was greeted with ripe black cherries, plums and a hint of smoke.  A round palate of succulent hints of chocolate, cherry and firm tannins lingered loooooooooooooooong with lip-smacking notes of oak and cedar.  (LCBO price ~$13/btl)

Reserve Riesling 2008:  This turned out to be a semi-sweet Riesling (2) with a remarkable aroma of fresh pineapple!  The palate was brightly acidic with the pineapple flavor carrying straight through to the finish.   (winery only at ~$20/bottle)

This first stop on my three winery tour was most enlightening.  I can’t wait to see what more this area is hiding!! =D

Cheers!

~tvb

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*please refer to the Clarification paragraph in “Grape to Glass“. “Unfiltered” simply means that during ‘racking’, no devices were used to trap any free-flowing sediment. Decant this wine and pour slowly to mitigate any bits going into your glass. This is the most traditional Merlot vinting and produces a nicer more authentic essence to a Merlot so sip slower and savour the vino. Bits-and-pieces in the bottom of the glass are just fine!!!

** images credits: ME!!! I took these pictures MYSELF! The names and labels are owned by the winery. Thank you Peninsula Ridge for an awesome visit!

I’ve held off reviewing some of my more favorite wines on purpose.  I tend to be more than a little biased when it comes to the spectacular wines of the Niagara Region. The purpose of any appellation is to preserve and authenticate the distinction and character of any ‘local’ vino.  There are several ‘layers’ to the appellations within the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario [VQAO] and all are strictly monitored. (I’ll be covering this in a future installment of my vino series – be sure to read ‘Ground to Grape” and “Grape to Glass”!)

I am entertaining guests for dinner tonight and have prepared a NY Strip roast; the very same hunk of beef from which NY Strip steaks are carved. The ample marbling of fat is full of tremendous flavors and melt-in-the-mouth succulence that is nothing short of perfection when roasted to a medium rare.

I normally chug Merlot, gulp Cab Sauv., and slosh about with a cheerful Cab Franc.  Rhyming with and pronounced just like heritage; Meritage is a skillfully blended Bordeaux-style wine from all three of these varietals- created in California’s Napa Valley in the late 1990s.  Why blend these otherwise distinctive varietals when they’re perfect on their own? Check out this concise entry on Wikipedia about Meritage. Very few wines earned VQA status in ’05 & ’06 owing to unfavorable meso-climate. 2007 turned out to be a bumper year for superb fruit quality and yield.

This bottle of Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve VQA Meritage 2007 is pretty much an equal blend of Cabernet Franc (37%), Cabernet Sauvignon (36%), and Merlot (27%). Owing to my tendency to gulp Merlot or CS, I savor CF a bit more as its a brighter tasting Cab.  Cab Sauv can be stuffy and complex at times and Merlot can be downright stodgy.  The blend of all three is sublime.  I generally don’t decant red wine as a 750ml bottle doesn’t last long enough once uncorked to worry about it catching its breath. This time was a switch.  I just purchased a new decanter and needed an excuse for its maiden voyage. About 30 minutes before my guests arrived and approximately 45 minutes before food was served, I playfully and quickly glugged the whole bottle of this dense purple wine into the decanter and loosely stoppered it with a crystal ball.

Upon serving, the bouquet was of soft mulberry jam, and plum preserves with hints of black currant.  We toasted the table with uplifted glasses and graciously sipped to seal the meal.  A complex weave of subtle dried raspberry and a smooth medium body lingered wonderfully with the Meritage-blend of both French and American oak-aged finishing.  Other vinofolks with whom I have discussed this wine claim its overly ‘jammy’ or ‘gritty’ and give it a very low rating for its price-point.  I don’t see any of those qualities in this vino.

Though I served a medium-rare NY Strip roast,  you might also enjoy a Crown-Roast of pork or grilled lamb chops. Mmmm! Lamb chops…

A glorious example of a Niagara Peninsula vintner doing it right for $14/bottle.

One of my favorites.

Cheers!

~tvb

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