Tag Archives: Vineland Estates

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

 

 

 

Three Rieslings – The White Daily Slosh(es)

18 Mar

This day in music history – 1972 – Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” hit number one on the US singles chart. His only solo recording to make a top 20 slot.

Just a few quick white wine recos for the March 21st release.

I’m a member of a fantasy baseball league and part of the fun is sending smack emails to other team owners. It usually takes the form of taunting someone about losing their star to season ending surgery – cheering someone tearing their ACL seems wrong but it feels pretty good when it’s not your guy. Last week as we struggled to find a date for our draft, a fellow owner stated that he was quaffing a Riesling at that very moment. I’m not sure what exactly I said but it was clearly interpreted as being disparaging about Riesling. That’s not what I meant. I love Riesling. Editors Note: He knew exactly what he said – something about some sommeliers and their lazy recommendation of Riesling.

This release there are three local Rieslings that bear a look see. I had all three at the cellar door and that usually means that my notes aren’t quite as expansive – more experiential, less intellectual.

frcnvThe 2013 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 $19.95 has pretty well been recommended here for each of the past three vintages and I usually make some reference to the surrealist Andre Breton but it is lost on my audience. The Nadja style is one of bone dry, taut minerality and high acidity. This year is no exception. Lip smacking and good now with food that has some pop or later after the fruit (apples, pears) is allowed to open out and show itself – requires some time in the cellar, perhaps. In fact, this label usually does quite well with a few years at least. My ‘go to’ Niagara Riesling. You can read about my visit to Flat Rock Cellars here.

vinelandelevatioSpeaking of time in the cellar, the 2012 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling #038117 $19.95 is a definite cellar candidate. I opened a 2008 Elevation Riesling last year and it was just beginning to come into focus. Still crisp but starting to fatten up a bit. The 2012 seems to have even a better chance of improving over time. This label has some sugar – classified as ‘medium’ in sweetness – but I appreciate that it has enough spine to not come off as sweet or cloying. I’m big on this wine but let me quote Michael Godel at www.winealign.com “To purchase in increments of less than a case may be considered a crime against Riesling.” That’s pretty convincing. So I throw down to my fantasy baseball Riesling friend, “Michael, you had better get some of this, cellar it, and when I win in 2020, give me a bottle”.

13rieslingThe last Riesling brings a return to these pages of 13th Street. I featured one of their reds here. The 2013 13th Street June’s Vineyard Riesling #147512 $19.95 is the first Riesling that I’ve sipped from this winery. This is another dry one that has a definitely heavier feel to it than the Nadja’s. Not heavy – sweet, but heavy as in mouthfeel – fruit, chewiness? Anyway, an interesting wine and one that is pretty great now but will even be better over time. I had thought that, in Niagara, the kero that Riesling can develop over time was most likely found in wines up around Flat Rock Cellars and Sue Ann Staff but this one from a different appellation (Creek Shores) will, I bet, develop some of that yummy petrol over time. Just think the weight indicates that’s the way it will go.

Interesting observation: all three recommendations are single vineyard wines. It’s nice to see Niagara develop individual vineyard personalities and have the courage to make them. I’ve just realized that the best of all three of these will be experienced down the road a while. But, surely there’s something else you can drink while you wait for these three to reach their peak. They’ll be worth the wait. And, I need suggestions for wine for my fantasy baseball draft. I’ve pretty well stayed in Italy or Spain the past few years and haven’t won. So, it may be time to shake it up. Anyone?

 

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