Niagara White, Pink Rosé and Red

The way COVID-19 is threatening the Ontario Health care system and considering the public is subject to a dicey waiting game for first and second doses I have ruled out any significant travel not that Canadians are welcome anywhere these days. So it may be a short trip to Niagara or Prince Edward County after the second jab?

Might as well help out the Ontario wineries by reviewing a Niagara white, red and pink. But Ontario wineries are parsimonious with their samples so there is only so much exposure I can give them.

Why not start with a Cabernet Merlot from Tawse. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Cabernet Franc is Ontario’s shining beacon. Merlot can be decent but Cabernet Sauvignon is usually close to a write off. But blend all three and what do we get?

It is quite easy to pick up the influence of each of the three grapes. There is a tad of plushness from the Merlot. The Cabernet Franc adds a good layering of cherry and smoke while the Cabernet Sauvignon ekes out a bit of blueberry. That’s on the nose.

What about the palate? Mild tannins. But there is total lack of definition or of structure on the palate. Quite frankly it is a disaster. You are wasting your money on this red. Of course, if you want to further educate yourself as to a mediocre wine this will be a good lesson for you.

(Tawse Winery Sketches 2018 Cabernet Merlot, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Tawse Winery, Vineland, Ontario, $21.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 130252, 750 mL, 12.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 73/100).

Moving on from the wreckage I will admit Riesling is one of my least favourite grapes but recently a Tawse Sparkling Riesling met with my approval. Can Lakeview Cellars replicate it with their “Serenity”?

A rather citrusy nose with some with honey and tangerine. On the palate some crispness and although not made in the Traditional Method it is neither clumsy or coarse. It has a bit of peach and citrus. The LCBO Vintages catalogue describes this as Prosecco inspired but I find it has more in common with Champagne. They say it is slightly off-dry? Great way to start a meal the clean up that palate before you dig into the main course. Impressive for a tank method sparkler. Perhaps Ontario Riesling has a possible bright future as a sparkler? It is beginning to win me over.

(Serenity Sparkling Riesling (NV), Diamond Estates Wine and Spirits, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, VQA Ontario, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 19897, 12%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).

We continue our Niagara journey with a 2020 rosé from Featherstone. Heading towards the dark side of pink this is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Merlot. On the nose lots of cherry Jello, raspberry, cranberry and bubble-gum. Lots of fun but what about the taste. While its aromas suggest a potentially juvenile wine this wine is anything but with a full mouthfeel and a hint of tannins. Graphite, cherry, raspberry all with a good grip and a long finish which is not all that common for a rosé. This is about as good as a rosé as you will get not in Ontario but globally. The nose leads you to think this is a flippant lightweight but is remains lighthearted but serious and very good. 1308 cases produced.

I am searching hard for the right dish and I think this would suit octopus and potatoes or some Greek Papusatakia translated as little eggplant boots which you can easily find on the internet. Best to wait for local eggplant and tomatoes!

Drink this year and buy a case as this is also a good post gardening wine in May.

(Featherstone Rosé 2020, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Featherstone Estate Winery, Vineland, Ontario, $15.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 117861, 750 mL, 13.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100).  

Feeling the angst over the Tawse Cabernet Merlot can we give some red wine dignity back to Niagara? Stratus makes a wonderful Wildass Rosé but what about their Wildass 2018 Red which is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

Overpriced for the quality. You can do better by looking to Portugal for less money and more character.

On the nose raspberry, cherry and some cherry Jello. Not intense but on the light side. As for the palate cherry, chocolate covered cherry and a hint of rhubarb. Short finish. General lack of concentration on both the palate and with its aromatics. Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah generally don’t do that well in Ontario and unfortunately it shows in this wine. I would match with a simple Penne all’ Arrabbiata

(Stratus Wildass 2018 Red, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA, $ 21.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 86363, 12.3%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen  Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 86/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (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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