Monday, August 22, 2016

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  • Monday, August 22, 2016

Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1



On the weekend of -12, 2016, I visited Niagara wine country to take in the annual New Vintage Festival and indulge in Discovery Pass Experiences throughout the region. activities centered around the wineries of the Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley. A full review of Sunday's activities, which were mostly in Niagara-on-the-Lake, will be posted in a few days. is posted here.

Scratch Bakery #PieholeApproved Strawberry Tart with Mike Weir 4 Barrel Chardonnay
We began the day at Mike Weir Winery for a #pieholeapproved strawberry tailgate tart paired with their 4 Barrel Chardonnay.  The tart by itself was to die for! An exquisite creation by the folks at Scratch Bakery that consisted of a basil shortbread crust with a balsamic mascarpone whip and topped with a balsamic strawberry and rhubarb glaze. The Chardonnay paired really well with the tart, showing off a very fine sweet and savoury balance. Most impressively was how the mascarpone cheese cream helped balance the acid in the wine to create a smooth, harmonious mouthfeel.

I was also delighted (and surprised!) to see both the 2010 Merlot and 2010 Meritage still available for purchase at the winery at $20 each. These should be added to every red wine lover's cellar for those seeking quality local red wine on a budget.

Vieni Momenti Sparkling with Maryland Crab Meat Patty
The next stop was Vieni Estates for a rich and delicate Maryland crab meat patty crusted with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese, and topped with with a chipotle aioli that added some spice. It was paired with their always easy-drinking Momenti Sparkling (reviewed below). The bubbles from the Sparkling Wine added interest and texture to the dense patty that had small pieces of crab meat embedded within. Furthermore, the sweetness from the sparkler cooled down some of the chili heat from the crab meat patty. Overall, an enjoyable pairing that was very satisfying.

Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé with Cheesy Guys Grillable Cheese, Strawberries and Greens
Our third stop of the day was at Malivoire Wine Company , where the Cheesy Guys brought a delectable BBQ-friendly grillable cheese to life in a salad with local greens, strawberries and nuts. It was paired with their dry 2015 Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé (#559088, $15.95, 87 pts). This rosé was one of the first rosé wines I enjoyed when I first took in interest in wine many, many years ago and is still enjoyable to this day - it's a refreshingly dry (i.e. not sweet) rosé that you too will enjoy if you're a fan of the style. The pairing with the salad was good - fresh, crisp, savoury, some sweetness from the nuts, and well-balanced overall.

Since I had tasted through many of Malivoires wines back in January, I opted to taste through the wines of Rennie Estate Winery. This winery produces only 4 wines, from grapes that are 100% estate grown. The vineyard is the Heron Pond Benchland Vineyard, a 50 acre site that has been producing grapes as early as the 1960's - making it one of the oldest in Niagara. I really enjoyed two wines from the Rennie portfolio and reviews of those are provided below. The wines are available for purchase online or by visiting Malvoire Wine Company.

Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc with Scratch Bakery Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Tart
The final stop of the day was nearby at Stoney Ridge Estate Winery where Scratch Bakery once again provided the culinary creation. The pairing here was the 2014 Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc (#369702, $14.95, 88 pts) with a dark chocolate tart topped with a farm fresh Ontario strawberry. This pairing was a whole lot of chocolate - lots of chocolate flavours coming from the wine that meshed well with the dark chocolate tart. However, I was quite chocolated-out after it was finished.

Since all the stops on this day were quite close to each other, we still had much of the afternoon to check-in to the hotel in Niagara Falls and rest up prior to dinner. Another full day of wine tasting paired with delicious culinary creations was awaiting us on Sunday, a review of which will be posted in a couple of days.

Full wine reviews of the many wines I enjoyed on Saturday are posted below. Most of these wines are not available at the LCBO, but can be ordered online by visiting the winery's website.

Thank you to each and every winery - your gracious hospitality was very much appreciated by myself and the group.

Tasting Notes:

MIKE WEIR 4 BARREL CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose of pear, lime, floral with just hints of wood influence. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with bright acids and flavours of buttery, apple and pear notes. Quite fruit forward with hints of vanilla and butterscotch. It has juicy, tart acids and the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Mike Weir 4 Barrel Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

MIKE WEIR PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#000075) (D) - $16.95
Amazing to still be able to find a 2009 Pinot. This Pinot offers a medium+ intensity nose of forest floor and cherry, along with some strawberry and earthy tones. The palate is medium-bodied and shows a complex, savoury flavour profile consisting of red and black fruits, spiced oak, currant and herbally hints. Acids are bright and still quite fresh. Very good length on the finish. Supple tannins should allow this wine to drink well for a few more years. Score: 88+ pts

Mike Weir Pinot Noir 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)Mike Weir Limited Edition Merlot 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

MIKE WEIR LIMITED EDITION MERLOT 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Medium+ bodied with some sulphur off the top, but gives way to red and black fruits, currant, green pepper, and mocha aromas. It's medium-bodied with medium-level of tannins and flavours of currant, chocolate, cocoa and black cherry. Acids are well-balanced and finishing long. Enjoy to 2021. Score: 88 pts

VIENI MOMENTI SPARKLING 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#435784) (MD) - $13.95
A blend 60% Vidal and 40% Pinot Grigio, this has an appealing nose of honey, peach and sweet limes. Easy drinking with medium-sweet aroma replays. Some tartness on the bubbles. Would make a nice apertif or pair with mildly spiced dishes. Score: 88 pts

Vieni Momenti Sparkling 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

VIENI PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $14.95
A light nose features a floral, herbal and mineral character. Medium-bodied with a rounded mouthfeel and flavours of stone fruits, white peach and more mineral. Balanced acids and good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Vieni Pinot Grigio 2013 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Vieni Chardonnay 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

VIENI CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388371) (XD) - $22.95
Medium intensity nose of golden apple, pear and coconut. It's medium-to-full bodied with nice aroma replays. Well-balanced with a nicely spiced mid-palate and balanced acids. Long finish. Score: 88+ pts

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#591305) (D) - $21.95
Notions of lemon/lime, floral and stone fruit aromas of medium intensity from the glass. The medium-bodied palate offers a clean, crisp and fresh wine that's nicely balanced with nice mineral and peach flavours. Well-delineated acids and hints of honey on a finish length that's very good. Score: 89 pts

Malivoire Pinot Gris 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

RENNIE ESTATE CHRISTINE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
This unfiltered, oaked Chardonnay has a lovely nose of pear, apple, butterscotch, tropical fruits and hints of ginger. The full-bodied palate is rich and creamy with beautiful aroma replays and some mildly spice notes on the mid-palate add some nice texture. It's quite well-balanced with good acidity and excellent length on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Rennie Estate Christine Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)Rennie Estate Paradox Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

RENNIE ESTATE PARADOX PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
An elegant nose of medium-high intensity offers complex strawberry, cherry, earth, with hints of herbs and oak spices. The palate is medium-bodied and smooth with exotic spice notes joining the red fruited flavours. Terrific complexity and depth. Long finish. Tight tannic structure will allow this wine to age a number of years. Score: 91 pts

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#254243) (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose of butterscotch, pineapple, vanilla and pear, along with hints of bubblegum. The palate is medium-bodied with vanilla, butter, and baked apple flavours with a spiced mid-palate, balanced acids and long finish. Score: 88 pts

Stoney Ridge Excellence Chardonnay 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
Has a medium intensity nose featuring elegant cherry, strawberry and red pepper jelly, with more of the same on the flavour profile, plus beetroot and earthy flavours. The palate is medium+ bodied with bright, balanced acids and refined tannins. Very good length on the finish. Score: 88+ pts


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