Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Red Wines: Lake Erie North Shore Wines From Ontario

Sprucewood Shores is a well-known family Lake Erie North Shore winery and we go back at least a decade. But through time we lost touch. However samples arrived and its fantastic to be back. With the most heat units in Ontario one hopes for some interesting red wines. Of course, it is not so hot that Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay can’t thrive.

In any case carrying on the Australian cute names on the wine label theme we screw off the Stelvin cap and try a 2017 Lady in Red Cabernet/Merlot blend. Transparent black cherry colour. On the nose a fruity bolt strikes the nostrils and it is a friendly and cheery one. Strawberry and cherry and a nice, lush Merlot based core with a touch of almonds. On the palate a solid beam of red cherry tinged with Amaretto biscuits. The finish is short with a slight zap of sweetness but not that awful sweetness one can get from overripe grapes. I was not expecting such a delicious wine and Tanya Mitchell, Sprucewood Shore’s winemaker, has crafted a simple but delightful wine at a more than fair price. This is a great Christmas Party wine for the 2020 Christmas party only “yahoos”, as Premier of Ontario Doug Ford says, will be hosting and attending. The winery says this will pair nicely with a pasta and tomato sauce or pizza. I can only think a sausage and rapini based tomato sauce would be just the mark.

I would say this is a case worthy wine not for reasons of elegance or complexity but for pure enjoyment.

You can order from the winery if you wish or pick up at the LCBO.

(Lady in Red 2017 Cabernet Merlot, VQA Ontario, Sprucewood Shores Inc, Harrow, Ontario, $14.95, LCBO # 266486, 750 mL, 12.25%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me Rating 90/100).

Ok stone me to death for saying Niagara should stay away from trying to produce excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. On the other hand with more heat in the Lake Erie North Shore appellation I have had a little more success with Cabernet Sauvignon there. In fact the best Ontario Cabernet Sauvignon I have had in Ontario has been from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery more or less a stone’s throw away from Sprucewood Shores. So we have a bit of a moment of truth here with a 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon although it is a Ontario VQA as opposed to a LENS VQA so one can’t be sure if the grapes are local.

On the nose prevalent blueberry notes but there is some cassis and blackberry all of which meld perfectly together. There is also a slightly creamy element. On the palate the tannins are just close to moderate but give the wine some grip and give it some personality. The acids are restrained and the wine is perfectly in balance. There is some black cherry, cherry liqueur ad cherry pie to the taste. This wine is only available through the winery at $16.07.

What can I say? Like the Lady in Red wine above someone at Sprucewood Shores must be on happy pills because this is another red that beams at you with a smile like that of Kamala Harris congratulating Joe Biden on his presidential win while Donald J. Trump flaps around like a freshly caught Lake Erie Pickerel gasping for the air of political survival. Not only is this wine happy it is classy and almost elegant. At this price yet another case worthy wine. It is described on their website as medium oaked but the oak merely adds a little heft to the wine without making it oaky just a bit delightfully smoky. Now that’s great winemaking.

This will handle grilled beef or even a New Year’s Day prime rib roast. It will also handle homemade pizza made with that loving touch or a well-made artisanal pizza from a pizzeria in Kingsville which name escaped the memory bank.

Drink in the next couple of years.

(Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, VQA Ontario, Sprucewood Shores Inc., Harrow, Ontario, $16.07, 750 mL, 12.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me Rating 92/100).

We need to finish off the reds as after a 7 hour Zoom session in search of another mindfulness certification course at the University of Toronto I am numb and I must repeat it again tomorrow. Can Sprucewood Shores give me a shot of hope adrenalin? Let’s see with their “Reserve” upper end brand. Like Lady in Red it is a Cabernet/Merlot blend and the label makes it clear the Cabernet is indeed a Cabernet Sauvignon.

In colour it is black cherry. On the nose black cherry, blackberry in a soft vanilla framework. The vanilla would be a result of French oak barrels which I am guessing are at least second or third fill ones giving the wine a more subtle oak influence.  And again the acids are in perfect harmony. On the palate tannins are low but a bit of a peppery finish. Mild notes of blackberry and black cherry. This is a much more subtle wine than the two wines reviewed above. It is more sophisticated and a big change in gears. It aims to play with the big boys but it is struggling on the palate for a precise identification of gender. Quite frankly it is not as exciting as the cheaper wines above but I think it has some ageing potential. It is more sophisticated for sure but can it compete in that niche with Yankee and EU wines at its price point? Perhaps I’ll let you decide. As far as I am concerned this wine lacks the excitement and charm of its cheaper cousins. Again it proves that a more expensive wine is not always the prima donna.

Now if you have a cellar and want to give this a couple of years to mature you might be well rewarded.

Not available at the LCBO so to order contact the winery and look at their other wines at https://www.sprucewoodshores.com/

If you are in Detroit relatively close if in Toronto a bit of a drive and an overnight is required. You can even sit on their beachfront and munch away at picnic baskets and interesting boards of cheese and antipasto. Want to have a wedding reception well they can accommodate that! And of course, they have a wine club!

(Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Cabernet Merlot Hawk’s Flight Reserve 2017, Sprucewood Shores Inc., Harrow, Ontario, $33.76, 750 mL, 13.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me Rating 89/100).

Coming up a couple of their whites.

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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