just got back late last night - nice weekend! Visited several wineries including some new ones.
Legends - these wines are all VQA from niagara. the 2002 dry riesling is quite good - rich, mature, flavorful and dry; but at $25 hardly a bargain. the no oak chard 2005had a slightly odd taste - and quite neutral. hard to imagine this an '05 - should have been a very intense vintage. i liked the 2003 cab. franc and at $15 a pretty good buy. the 2004 pinot noir from the maria felt clone was nicely made - not too oaky - very correct and attractive - but pricey.
Palatine - the 2003 unoaked chard may or may not have seen better days - almost a hybrid tone and quite hard. the '03 cab franc was quite pleasant - if somewhat light. the 2002 res cab sauv was quite hard and had definite bell pepper - not what one expects from that vintage.
Strewn - the 2004 cab franc was pleasant in a bell-peppery kind of way - long and soft. the 2003 cabernets may have had a little VA but not to its detriment. nice food wine - pleasant and nicely done. i also got to taste some 2005's which i was looking forward to. the 2005 unoaked chard was 'peachy' - a good sign, but somewhat hard. definitly dry - maybe will come around. the 2005 dry gewurz (0) was fantastic - the best wine i tasted all weekend! absolutely typical but emphasizing orange peal, with some glycerine but dry. bought some! i came back on sunday for the pre release tasting of red wines from '05. cab. sauv. - not as dark as i expected and already seemed brickish. closed. was this ripe fruit? the cab franc was also closed but without much fruit and even weedy and with some 'cola'. not a all rich. the strewn 3 had some purple - a good sign - and more of everything - better in all regards.
Inniskillin - still one of the class acts of the area. the '04 res riesling (0) had a mineral, even chalky aspect, good acid and was quite dry - nice food wine - expressive and long. the '04 merlot was very good and typical - no oak, maybe very lt. bell pepper, but long and a good value. ther meritage reserve 2002 was very deep; a bit italianate? serious, with nice fruit. needs time i think.
stonechurch - an odd experience: stopped by on friday and couldn't get anyone of the 3 staff's attention - they were all 'working'! anyway NOT at the tasting bar. came back to try some '05's only to discover that they are not even from ontario. so, tried what was. Summer 2005 a (1) blend of vidal and p. gris. both grapes show - quite attractive - nice balance. value! cab/merlot '04 - nicely done if a bit modern - no bell pepper. 2004 cab sauv - dark color, subtle, no bell pepper - less commercial and very varietal. good grip. sunset red (1) foch, baco, cabs blend - cherry cranberry, spice, soft - the hybrids definitly show. nice.
Vignobles Rancourt - just opened 2 months ago near NOTL. they use oak chips - all have good color and seem not to be chaptalized - alcohol levels were right around 12%. merlot 2004 good, typical flavor and nice fruit. not too oaky. cab franc 2004 - some bell pepper but good body and a bit tannic. the normally astute stone road grill chose this for their list over the merlot. cab. sauvignon 2004 definite bell pepper nose; but good flavor and body. 2003 meritage - quite attractive - no bell pepper 2004 meritage - very lt bell pepper and nice fruit and body.
also tried a new release from stratus - charles baker riesling 2005 at stone road grill. expensive, but very good! zero sugar code and really nice orange peal riesling nose and flavor - intense, with good balance.
1. stratus has repackaged the two wines they opened with and still seem to have - the 2000 red wine and the 2001 riesling - which has been tired from the beginning as i remember. anyway, they are now called 'wildass' - maybe now they will sell.
2. there are a lot of older wines up there - both reds and whites. how can that be? there were very light vintages in 2003, 2004 and 2005. how can there still be reds from 2000, 2001 and 2002? and whites from 2001, 2002, and 2003? this is not a good situation.
3. the 2005 vintage in that area is not even close to as fine as i was expecting. (also tasted a peller gamay '05 - which was very good and Pinot noir like) here in MI it was absolutely fantastic and i expected the same there.
4. they are all looking forward to the 2006 harvest - their first full crop in 4 years! don't know what effect the recent cool weather will have on quality; but they are very enthusiastic.
5. nearly every winery sign touts 'ice wine'. again, some of it is older. how much of this can you sell to japanese tourists and people who want to buy a bottle 'for a friend'?? granted that tasting rooms attract the sweet crowd and that the lcbo and wine writers in ontario tout the dry wines, so maybe this makes sense.