Tag Archives: Pondview

Don’t Mess With The Rhone – The Red Daily Slosh

20 Jun

A good theme song for Duffs Wines? The Marvelettes don’t exactly drop it like it’s hot but they are seriously bustin’ some moves. And, despite the comments inserted, the Supremes are not my favourite group.

These recommendations are for the June 21st release.

Can we talk? A friend asked me the other day what my favourite wine was. And, before I could answer, he said, “It’s Southern Rhone red, isn’t it?” I had to think about it. I don’t think it is. I mean I recommend an awfully lot of them. They can be a shade cheaper than other good European wines. They are readily available at the mother ship. They can fit almost any occasion. Grenache and Syrah are two of my favourite things (cue: Julie Andrews). Maybe they are my “Go To” wines. But, I love just about all wine. I’ll have to think some more on it. What are your favourites? And I mean, what do you reach for the most?

lfdmWell, since we’re waxing about reds from the Southern Rhone, let’s talk about a repeat recommendation – 2011 La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant Côtes du Rhone-Villages #171371 $19.95. Our monopoly must have bought a tonne of this as it was offered previously with good availability. This wine is a seriously good CdR . It is medium-bodied but has a very powerful aroma after a swish or two – not as shrubby and garriguey as some other CdR’s – but dark and fruity. My previous post (June 21/13) on this wine says that it’s serious. Not serious as in dealing with the global financial implications of destabilization in Iraq. But, serious as in ambitious, full-flavoured, and structured. Some nice lip-smacking acidity for food friendliness and enough tannins to match serious food. I’m getting a few for the cottage BBQ. It was only $17.00 last June. But, don’t let that dissuade you. It’s still good QPR.

pondviewcmA while ago, I wrote a piece on Pondview Estate Winery. I was impressed with their reds, and in particular, the premium Bella Terra line. But, there is a ‘reserve’ level too. Now, as far as I can tell, there are no hard and fast industry rules in Ontario around the use of the term ‘reserve’. Correct me, if I’m wrong but a quick look at other Ontario labels leads me to believe it means for most wineries a step above their entry-level products – priced accordingly. This weekend the 2011 Pondview Cabernet/Merlot Reserve #307561 $18.95 reappears at the LCBO. This winery sits in the Four Mile Creek appellation which, with Bordeuax grapes such as these, usually shows a riper, more fruit dominant profile. Not sure why it’s not labeled as from Four Mile Creek unless there are non-estate grapes being used. Regardless, this wine is excessively drinkable by itself or with some burnt meat. Cherry, darker berries balanced nicely with evident tannins and a hint of smokey cedar. If your thing is California cabernet, give this a try. It’s regularly $22.95 – so maybe limited availability at $18.95.

csmsyrahIf you play along at home, you’ll know that I’m partial to Washington wines – Syrah, Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Riesling mostly. They provide good value and I tend to like them – Charles Smith, Dunham Cellars, Columbia Crest, Canoe Ridge, et al. I guess I don’t have to defend it – I just like them most times. I shill for Chateau Ste. Michelle a bit too as it’s one of the producers that we have good access to in our market. I know they are one of the ‘big’ guys but I think they do an honest job with their products. I recommended their chardonnay last time out. This week there’s a great summer wine of theirs – 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah #949651 $17.00. I detect very little of the spiciness that syrah can bring. But, there’s a lot of fresh fruit, earthy herbal stuff with balanced acidity and tannins (tannins perhaps subdued after a couple years in bottle). It’s drinking well right this minute. Give this a try if you like Aussie shiraz but sometimes find it a bit too over the top – and it’s warmer weather now so you want a lighter experience. This would be the one.

Haven’t had but drawing interest:

morgonWarmer weather suggests Beaujolais to me. Beaujolais and baseball. Another thing – why no wine at the Blue Jays games? “Get your Chatty Nuf dee Pap heeeeere.” Just sayin’. This week there’s a promising Morgon – 2012 Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Morgon #264465 $23.95. The label is different from their Cotes de Brouilly Beaujolais, which I don’t get when that one is so distinctive. But, perhaps their crack marketing team thought that an unexpressive and boring label could best capture the imagination of Beaujolais lovers by blending in with every other label on the shelf. Regardless, the previous vintage was a very structured, bigger then ‘just Beaujolais’ Beaujolais. I liked that it had some backbone, some cellaring potential too. Some describe Morgon as a ‘masculine Beau’. I’d have to agree. I’d think a great cottage/patio and appetizer wine. I’m getting a few for next month.

Just a tip: if it’s hot outside or inside, it’s not a bad idea to chill red wines so they aren’t 30 degrees Celsius when they’re poured. That’s not what’s meant by ‘room temperature’. What I like to do but forget most times is leave these reds in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving. I’m sure there are wine expert approved comprehensive charts on the web that would be a great help. But, without getting too complicated, I’m just suggesting that you try and get a bit of the heat off the bottle before serving, particularly during the dog days of summer.

 

 

Previously Unexplored Wineries – Pondview Estate Winery

8 Jan

pondviewfrontI was going to post this before the end of 2013 but I noticed that Pondview Estate Winery will have a booth at the London Wine and Food Show, January 16 – 18. I thought that if I sowed the seed closer to that date, it might encourage you to attend and drop in to see these fine folks. Tell ’em I sent ya. I was at the first iteration of this event and wondered where the wine was but the event has grown and there are a number of Ontario wineries (Lailey, Pondview, Angel’s Gate, among others) and breweries (Muskoka, Fork River). Get tickets here http://www.westernfairdistrict.com/shop/products#WineFood

This is the latest in a series of posts about winery visits to places I’m interested in knowing more about.  The other visits are chronicled here: Colaneri, Kacaba, Megalomaniac.

Last summer (2012) I attended the wedding of my niece in lovely Stratford Ontario. The wedding was great – happy couple, relieved parents, happy-for-a-free-meal relatives – that’s me – and a great setting. The red wine served was one that I hadn’t heard of before – 2010 Pondview Estate Winery Cab/Merlot Reserve. It was perfect for the occasion of an afternoon wedding and a terrace lunch at The Old Prune. I even spoke about the wine in a post.

I checked the shelves at my local and found nary a bottle of their stuff there. Well, it got me thinking, why not read up on this winery and then trundle down to Niagara-On-The-Lake and see what else is happening there.

Pondview Estate Winery is located in the Four Mile Creek Appellation close to the little village of Virgil. Every time I zip through Virgil, I’m singing The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down, by the time I clear the reduced speed zone. Follow? Apparently the appellation gets an abundance of sunshine allowing their Bordeaux varietals to provide a bigger, riper wine.

Pondview is located on Line 2 NOTL. Now, if you’ve purchased a new car with built in navigation (as had we when I tried to find this place), you might have trouble getting your friendly, neutrally accented navigation queen to point you in the right direction. It’s just weird down there (Lines vs. Concessions; paying attention to dozing off due to flat land) and I had a bit of bother finding the place. My fault (and that of the GPS, of course) not theirs. I mean you can see for miles as the topography is quite flat but still – an aging, forgetful wine blogger stumbled about for awhile before I arrived at the winery. Which is somewhat backwards as I usually stumble out, not in – but I stumble responsibly.

Pondview has a newer reception centre (picture above) that has a wide veranda with tables for sitting outside and enjoying the weather as well as the wine. They offer plates of cheese, glasses of wine and nibbles in season – so plan to spend some time. The whole image reminds of the farm stands that I used to frequent as a kid picking up sweet corn or fresh peaches only larger, newer, and a lot better kept – apologies to the Eastmans. It’s really quite charming and inviting. Where’s the pond, you ask? So did I. It’s out back behind the working winery. Once inside, there is a large room with the ubiquitous wine thingees and the Pondview line of wines stacked, ready for purchase. The tasting bar is the central focus of the room. I understand that there is a Barrel and Tank Room that is also used for tastings. Staff, as always in Niagara, are top drawer.

Pondview is a family-run enterprise – a family with a long history of agriculture and viticulture dating back to Italy. Family seemingly present and accounted for when I was there. I was met by Joseph Barbera – Sales Manager. Now, if you’re in my age cadre, you’ll remember Yogi Bear and BooBoo, Huckleberry Hound, Augie Doggie, and Fred Flintstone. These were all productions of Hanna-Barbera – Joseph Barbera, that is. I was a little too self-conscious to point this out to him as HE HAS  PROBABLY HEARD IT A MILLION TIMES BEFORE. Joseph was the perfect host for me – not assuming that I actually knew stuff but not talking down to me either. And passionate about their wine as he should be. The wines are all produced using estate fruit – which means grown by Pondview on their land, in this case, adjacent to the winery itself. Joseph told me that they are planting more acreage to accommodate growth and a broader selection of varietals.

harmonyNow, the wine. Let’s start with their entry level fun red – Harmony Red #336495 $14.95This red fits into the über competitive ‘Ontario Everyday Red’ category. Actually I‘m making that up – there isn’t a ‘category’ per se but you get what I mean. Wait, it’s a ‘niche’? Anyway, the goal is to make a consistent house style, easy drinking red that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. They’ve succeeded in spades with this wine. This wine was the perfect wine to kick off the red tasting – medium bodied, a hint of sweetness but not sugar, and fruit up front. When you visit ask about the label art not just on this range but the Bella Terra as well. Attention to detail that denotes to me – pride in product.

2011-Cab-Merlot-ReserveThe next red I tried was the 2011 edition of the Cab/Merlot above. The 2011 Cabernet Merlot Reserve $19.95 (the 2010 #307561 $18.95 is still available at a few locations of the  mother ship – otherwise, you need to pick this up at the winery itself or with dinner at several restaurants in the area) is a  medium-bodied wine with cherry and some wood being the predominant aromas. It swallows a bit hot and I think could withstand or even benefit from some cellar time or aeration. Good value in my mind and a Niagara red that doesn’t carry the greenness that sometimes distracts me from all the other stuff going on.I’m told that might be the 4 Mile Creek effect.

2011-cab-sauv-RED-bellaterra-smThe premium level for Pondview is their Bella Terra line. The 2011 Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon $35.15 is a full-bodied effort. Grapes were picked late in the harvest season (November 6th in this case), cold soaked and in barrel for 19 months. The benefit of not having LCBO volume accountabilities is being able to be patient and they were with this wine.This is a full-bodied ripe wine that proves the statement above that 4 Mile Creek wines are just that – ripe, full reds. But, and this is important, this wine has enough structure – it’s a river not a pool. Stands up doesn’t flop. Lovely cassis, maybe a touch of mint, and some smoky stuff from the wood. Lovely wine. Why pay $35 for a Niagara red? Because you can get this!

2011-BT-ChardAnother Bella Terra wine that I tried was the 2011 Bella Terra Chardonnay $25.25. If you know Arlene, you know that I can wander around tasting wine as long as I bring home some vanilla-y, buttery, full-bodied chardonnay. Arlene didn’t get the memo that oaky chardonnays aren’t fashionable any longer. And, I’m glad for that ’cause I love then too. Less importantly at our house, this wine won the 2013 Chardonnay du Monde bronze medal in France. Not too shabby. I loved the tropical notes both in the bowl and in the mouth – the typical green apple and that Dufton/Berday sought after butterscotch. Don’t read that this wine is cloying and too heavy; it’s not. It has a streak of acidity that sharpens the finish. This is a serious wine. A nice price point for a wine that would go great on the dinner table with creamy seafood dishes, roast chicken, or sour cream and onion potato chips – seriously, that’s a good pairing but probably more the coffee table.

I also tasted Pondview’s 2011 Riesling ($16.20), 2011 Chardonnay ($17.20 – I’d spring for the Bella Terra and I did), the 2010 Vidal Icewine ($25.05 – this was simply exquisite and for a guy that doesn’t like ’em sweet – beautiful! I’ll learn to love it sweet), and the 2010 Bella Terra Meritage ($40.15 – a toss up with the BT Cabernet as best wine). You can order wine from the winery by clicking on the link above. Or, if scrolling is too arduous, click here.

Overall impression is that Pondview has a winning approach to growing their business. I sensed patience and attention to detail. Patience as evidenced by their philosophy of harvesting and releasing wines. Attention to detail in their label art work (I know i already mentioned that mentioned that), the knowledge of their staff, and their reception centre. The art work is very cool – mentioned again.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, don’t just hum The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down as you fly through Virgil, wander down Line 2 (or is it Concession 2?) to Pondview. And, if you’re in London, attend the London Wine and Food Show the weekend of the 16 -18 this month and support Pondview as well as the other Ontario wine and craft beers folks. Yubba-dubba-do.

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