Tag Archives: Daniel Lenko

Visiting Niagara Region Day 1 – #SundaySips

17 Apr

This was playing while I composed this and it seems appropriate…….’cause we are taking the car or bicycle to Jordan.

Spring has finally arrived.

And Spring deserves a road trip. My favourite road trip that doesn’t require a road map for me is down to Niagara to visit some of the most underrated wineries around. “How underrated are they?” Well, I get the Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits and I can’t remember when they have ever mentioned a Canadian, let alone Niagara, wine. Decanter did a  nice piece with a Canadian wine on the front cover. But generally, Niagara is the Rodney Dangerfield of wine. Even here in Ontario, I have friends who wouldn’t consider a wine from Niagara regardless of my strong recommendation – they just don’t even want to try it – they know they don’t like it. Let me repeat that – “regardless of my strong recommendation”. Are you shitting me? If I, Duff, recommend it, you can abso-friggin-lutely count on the fact that…………….I’m going to like it a lot. And, by extension, maybe you will too.

I get the lack of air play and respect for Niagara, I think. Low volumes, low brand recognition, strong competition in all categories, and many of their better wines’ price point. There’s lots of noise for a wine consumer to navigate.

I want to provide a bit of a guidebook to a tour of Niagara. And after you’ve taken it literally (or in the comfort of your own home) and sampled their offerings, you make up your own mind.

As I see it, Wineville Niagara is laid out like this – there are the wineries you visit on the way to or from (Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley) and those that you visit when you have unloaded your stuff in a lovely inn or bed and breakfast in or near that tony village – Niagara-On-The-Lake. If you try to mix it up, there are issues related to time pressure, confusion, wrong turns, marital discord, and potential DUI convictions. Trust me – I know this. And, it’s important to sample wines from both of these larger chunks. So, don’t miss either.

The lens I’m using is one that takes into consideration travel time (assuming a couple days at least) and the experience that you’ll have (both wine and atmosphere). And, it’s my blog so these wineries and dining places are from my own experience and are tailored to my palate and taste. There are 88 wineries in Niagara and some will be horribly disappointed that they don’t get a mention on this heavily subscribed blog but here’s a hint for them: it’s easily rectified with an invitation to a tasting/tour and free swag for Duff. After all, I am that easily bought. Here we go.

Before we start, make sure you’ve done a little research. I’ve listed one solid resource at the bottom of the page. For restaurants and accommodations, of course, there are the usual suspects TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. Also, I’m trying out a new app called Winery Passport. Let me know if you use it and opinion.

First Day (on the way to NOTL)

A good mix of wineries from large to artisanal, from Riesling to Pinot to Viognier to Chardonnay. I’m somewhat travelling towards NOTL from Hamilton:

Leaning Post – 1491 Hwy 8 Stoney Creek, ON Tel: 905-643-9795 http://www.leaningpostwines.com Artisanal winery – taking grapes from small plots throughout the area. Great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay but also make Gamay, Riesling. Up and coming.

rosewood

Rosewood Winery

Rosewood Estates Winery – 4352 Mountainview Road, Beamsville, ON Tel: 905-563-4383 http://www.rosewoodwine.com Lovely winery situated amongst several others (Angel’s Gate, Thirty Bench – so you could kill a flock with one stone). They have an apiary and make mead as well as very nice Riesling (MS), Pinot Noir, and Merlot. And, they had a senior dog when last I was there. I pay attention to this kind of detail. Check to see if they are having a wedding there before you go.

Daniel Lenko Estate Winery – 5246 King Street West, Beamsville ON Tel: 905-563-7756 http://www.danilelenko.com Great Old Vines Chardonnay, Heritage, Merlot, and a few takes on Viognier which are interesting (many barrel and bottle aged e.g.. 07’s and ’08’s available) family style presentation, family run grape growers from way back. Great down home vibe.

Vineland Estates – 3620 Moyer Road, Vineland ON Tel: 1-888-846-3526 http://www.vineland.com Beautiful  tasting room/reception centre, tour, etc. Exceptional restaurant. Specializes in Riesling for my money although other varieties are available.

The Malivoire Wine Company – 4260 King Street East, Beamsville ON Tel: 1-866-644-2244 http://www.malivoire.com I wrote about Malivoire here. Chardonnays, Gamay, Foch, Rosé.

Tawse Winery – 3955 Cherry Avenue, Vineland ON Tel: 905-562-9500 http://www.tawsewinery.ca I wrote a bit about Tawse here. They make exceptional terroir-driven Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Cab Francs. Solid Riesling too.

Flatrock Cellars – 2727 Seventh Avenue, Jordan ON Tel: 1-855-994-8994 http://www.flatrockcellars.com I wrote about Flat Rock here. They have a beautiful reception area, reasonably priced and tasty Chardonnays, Pinots, and a great Riesling (Nadja’s Vineyard). Great vibe. You can see all the way down to the lake and across to Toronto on a clear day.

Westcott Vineyards – 3180 Seventeenth Street, Jordan ON Tel: 905-562-7517 http://www.westcottvineyards.com A family-run boutique winery specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You can read what I wrote about Westcott here. I believe that on weekends in the summer, there is a nice bistro-like place to sit and get some local food.

creeksideCreekside Estate Winery – 2170 Fourth Avenue, Jordan ON Tel: 1-877-262-9436 http://www.creeksidewine.com Summertime weekends (check web site) there’s a great casual bistro – The Deck – that offers light stuff. Good place to pause particularly if you are cycling. Creekside has a counter-culture vibe. To that end, they grow and make Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz (not even calling it Syrah which is de rigeur here).

Bonus Coverage: Dillion’s Small Batch Distillers – 4833 Telford Road, Beamsville ON Tel: 905-563-3030 Yes there is a distillery in Beamsville. Dillon’s makes exceptional gin, oak-aged Canadian rye whisky (white), vodka, bitters, and absinthe.

Note: All wineries, and Dillon’s, charge a tasting fee. In most cases they waive that should you purchase. If you want to be sure, ask.

Where to Eat

OnThe Twenty – 3836 Main Street, Jordan ON Tel: 905-562-7313 Can’t recommend this highly enough. Exceptional takes on classics and seasonal, local stuff. Upscale

Vineland Estates – Address above Tel: 1-888-846-3526 ext. 33 Inventive cuisine, good pairing program. Upscale

Jordan House Tavern – I wrote about this here. Traditional roadhouse fare. Craft beers, local wines.

Where to Stay in Jordan

Inn On The Twenty – 1-800-701-8074 http://www.innonthetwenty.com Upside is that it’s in Jordan which means quiet and close to wineries. Downside is that there is limited nightlife.

Where to Stay in NOTL

riverbendinn

Riverbed Inn

http://www.vintage-hotels.ca  several upscale establishments. My fave is The Prince of Wales – good dining room, spa). These are all upscale.

River Bend Inn http://www.riverbedinn.ca (winery, a bit out of the town, beautiful setting, exclusive feel)

Oban Inn http://www.oban.com Lovely inn rebuilt from the ruins of the original that burned down a decade or so ago, good dining

BranCliff Inn http://www.brancliffinn.com (close to the theatre and main drag)

Bed and Breakfast There are a zillion bed and breakfasts. I’d recommend one of the heritage homes on a side street or down by the river

Resources:

Wineries, local map, info: http://www.winecountryontario.ca/niagara-escarpment-twenty-valley

In a couple weeks in another #SundaySips, we will explore NOTL or Niagara-on-the Lake

 

 

 

Zaftig It’s Not – The White Daily Slosh

16 Aug

LenkoOVChardA few years ago, a friend and I were traveling in the Niagara area and she insisted we track down Daniel Lenko Wines. She was my boss, so we did. She’d heard that they were spectacular and hardly available except through the winery itself. I’d heard that they were on the wine list at Sussur Lee’s restaurant which creates some substantial street cred. We arrived at a farmhouse sans sign (I mean no signage at all) just slightly off the main road by Beamsville. When I say farmhouse and you think of an old Victorian brick under spreading elms, forget it. This was a fifties cement block foundation brick home with cement steps and an iron railing to the side door. Steel farm buildings and farm equipment hard by the door. We were greeted by a rather largish but very friendly dog (have I ever said that I love dogs?). And, as a response to the barking, an older woman, who we later found out was Daniel’s mother, Helen, greeted us wearing an apron. She encouraged us to come in and taste some wine. She was experimenting in making latkes from an old Canadian Living recipe. We sat in the kitchen and talked with her while we waited for Daniel. And, we got to taste the latkes. I could recount the whole story but you get the idea. This is not your usual tasting room and not your usual winery. Tasting fees? Are you kidding me? The wines are as special as advertised. This week, 2010 Daniel Lenko Old Vines Chardonnay #352328 $22.95 is available through the mother ship. This is a great representation of what mature Niagara vines and an experienced winemaker/vineyard manager can create. It’s been in oak – so has lots of the buttery stuff that comes with that. Soft flesh fruit aromas (I think others may call peaches, apricots and such “stone fruit” – will look it up for next time) lurking under that on the nose but very evident as a flavour in your mouth. Solid finish and a little bite. Great stuff and made for food. If you are ever down that way, drop in and find out what all the fuss is about.  www.daniellenko.com

hermitcrabLast week, or was it the month before last, I’ve lost track, there was a viognier on the White Daily Slosh. It had a bit of Marsanne in it. A reader and fellow blogger, shirazrat, told me that if I liked that one, there was a great representation of that blend made by d’Arenberg – The Hermit Crab. I tried to track down a few bottles then but it wasn’t around. But as if someone’s ears were burning, someone was reading our minds or fate stepped in or maybe just a strange coincidence, we have that very wine available starting Saturday – 2011 D’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne #662775 $18.95. This is a very smelly wine – I mean good smelly – aromatic just like our friends on the Vintages panel suggest. I think that you’d like it, if you prefer a white that is a bit ‘funky and hedonistic’ as shirazrat suggested. Thanks for the tip! It can go solo quite comfortably or you might like some lighter fare that has some bite to go along with it.

yalumbaviognierStaying down under, there’s a consistent performer that I always try to pick up. OK, was it only me who immediately went to the gutter? I’m waiting for some of you to catch up. What I meant is that there is a line of wines that I think seems to hit the QPR mark. That’s the ‘Y’ series wines from Yalumba. I like their Shiraz/Viognier blend, in particular. This week, there’s the 2012 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier #624501 $16.95. It’s pretty large without being overwhelming. The write up suggests that past vintages have been rather hedonistic but I didn’t find them too much so. I liked them. This one is fun not serious. Tropical fruit on the nose and predominant in the mouth. I think it would be OK with food, but I like it by itself with me alone in my office, considering yard chores, dinner preparation, my rapidly deteriorating golf game. You could have it as an alternative white choice at a stand around function. I think people would really appreciate the variety and a chance to try a blend that’s all too seldom offered. Get both of the whites above and try a viognier taste-off with friends. Even imaginary friends will do – works great for me.

eidoselaLet’s stay with the aromatic whites. I had to wait on this because I couldn’t get ahead of the curve and had to wait until today to taste. This week I penned a post about trouble. In it, I referenced the great marriage between Albariño and seafood. I think that has as much to do with why I like it as the wine on its own. This week, there’s a 2011 Eidosela Albariño #336271 $13.95. Seafood – fried (less so), grilled (now we’re getting there), or raw (bingo!) and you get the match for this wine. Oysters, scallops, clams, sashimi, I bet even ceviche would ‘like’ albariño on Facebook. This one has nice acidity, it’s crisp, spicy and still has room left for some lemon and stone fruit. Karen MacNeill in her great book, The Wine Bible says that albariño wines are “not as zaftig as chardonnay…..the best of them as light as gossamer on the palate”. So, if it’s zaftig you’re after, look elsewhere. It’s from Rias Baixas which is a Spanish DO right above Portugal and south of France by the Atlantic. In completing my deep research for this piece, I read in Wikipedia that the vines are trained on granite posts to avoid damage due to humidity. Hope to see one day.

From a label perspective, this post may have two of the coolest labels – Eidosela and Y Viognier. Nice to see them among all the Skinny Girls, Red Legs,  Naked whatevers, and animal caricatures. I can’t afford Mouton Rothschild but that doesn’t mean that my labels can’t be art.

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