Posts Tagged ‘VQA’

Wow!  I can’t believe seventeen weeks has elapsed ALREADY!!!  I am very proud to declare my first term of design school complete and thanks to hard work, focus and the exclusion of all else, my GPA is 3.75; a good solid ‘A’.  Now that I have three weeks off until the start of the next term (two weeks actually as i’ll be celebrating NYE on the beach in the Bahamas…), i have time to FINALLY update this vinoblog.

As you may be very much aware, I consider myself much more of a red boy than a white boy and actively search for barrel-aged reds.  Why?  Barrel aging imparts much more depth in the overall finished product and enhances the varietal qualities of the grape.  Shiraz especially.

Characteristic aromas of black pepper and clove are most prevalent on the nose as I swirl this medium ruby vino in my new ‘stemless’ Riedel Syrah/Shiraz glass. (STEMLESS?!?!! But you’ve always maintained that the hand warms the wine too quickly and destroys the flavour!) My behaviours in wine tasting have evolved over these last several months and its sunken into my thick skull that the glass doesn’t have to be filled to the upward taper all at once.  Greater enjoyment of the vino in smaller amounts is much more a rewarding vino experience than gulping a full portion.  I LOVE my stemless shiraz glasses!!!

True to the grape, this shiraz is succulently dry on the palate with soft plummy tannins and that yummy pepperiness resonating throughout.  The finish is looooooooooooooooong indeed with a subtle sweetness that echoes the barrel aging.  As an aside note, this bottle was purchased some time in May of this year and has been laying in my new cellar since I moved.  This short of a cellaring after release may not have had any affect on the wine.  As it was totally delicious, I’m not going to complain that its taken me this long to get at it!!

Now that I’m in Minnesota, finding Ontario wine is next to impossible so I’ll be consuming my last bottle of Ontario vino over the weekend.  Look forward to the fourth and final installment of the Konzelmann Estates series very soon.

This barrel aged shiraz is going to be missed, though i’m sure you’ll find it at your favorite LCBO.




image credit – ME!  I snapped the image with my LG Android phone, fixed it up for web use and here it is. makes no claim to ownership and reproduces this product shot under fair use provisions for review and critique.


School starts tomorrow (22-Aug) and I begin my education into an Interior Design Degree @ DCTC. I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This is part two of a four-part series on some 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson to Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

Golden yellow and rich-looking in the glass, a mild floral nose with a faint hint of (of all things!) cabbage, the palate is full yet soft.  Gala apple and ripe pear flavors carry through to a surprising buttery lift on a moderate finish.

Quite possibly the nicest semi-dry Ontario Pinot Blanc I’ve tasted in a very long time.  LCBO ~$12/btl.




**image credit – WineAlign. makes no claim to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

So as I begin my second phase of education (Interior Design Degree @ DCTC), I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This entry begins a four-part series on several 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

This oak-aged Merlot Reserve 2009, Niagara Peninsula VQA displays a greater complexity than most I’ve tasted of late.  The full nose of this rich ruby vino exhibits essences of sweet ripe cherry and cracked black pepper.  The 13.5%alc.vol is barely noticeable on the palate as flavors of cherry and mulberry and soft smooth tannin lead to a warm lingering finish.

The finish is of particular note.  Most dry reds are not very conducive to the pairing with most chocolate.  I could detect the presence of some chocolate flavoring in this lingering finish, so I decided to try some of the Belgian-made Caribbean dark chocolate in my secret stash.  Not so secret really as its available on Amazon… The affect of the bitter-sweet dark chocolate with the vino is something I can’t fully describe.  You’ll just have to try it.

Available at the LCBO ~$12/btl.




**image credit: Me!  I took this image myself with my camera phone, ran it through a photo editing platform, then uncapped the bottle and went nuts. makes no claim to ownership of the depiction and republishes the likeness under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Its been a while since last I was in Ontario, so for the next little while, I’ll be focusing my palate on what’s growing right outside my back door.

As many of you may already know, Riesling is a very versatile grape with wines ranging from lip-smackingly dry to succulent and rarefied Icewine. Your vinoboy prefers the drier side of the vine.

Brilliant straw-colored in the glass. The nose is definitely citrus-forward but there’s a delicate undertone of something resembling wild roses.  The forward palate is definitely citrus-based and tangy; the floral notes reappear on the soft finish.  Yummy.

Be sure to chill this vino rather well – there’s a sourness that comes out when it gets close to room temperature.  This would be one of those times to crack out the ice bucket.

Flattened chicken convection-roasted served aside garlic mashed potatoes and almond green bean, this dry Riesling was amazing.




**image credit – The Winery. makes no claim to ownership and republishes image under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Oh my, where to begin!

I drank the whole bottle myself once this vino was uncorked and decanted.  Already aged 6 years, the tannin and pop has mellowed all on its own to be sure, but having read somewhere that this particular Niagara Escarpment Winery’s VQA-certified wines were bold prepared me to take such a step prior to drinking.

Even after an hour in my favorite decanter, the aroma was still smooth and appealing with wafts of black pepper, cedar and hints of cocoa.  The palate was lip-smackingly dry; the full-bodied flavors of chocolate, cherries and a creamy smoothness brings to mind a dense, not-too-sweet cake.

The finish was dry to be sure with a racy edge that had me polishing off the bottle and licking the last drops from my class.

~$15/blt at the LCBO, supplies are dwindling so if you find it, get it and either drink now or cellar for just a few more years.




**images credit: WineAlign – makes no claim to ownership and republishes image under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

One of the more recent additions to the recognized appellations in the Vintners’s Quality Alliance is Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario.  Laying on an isthmus into Lake Ontario, the majority of this viticultural region is surrounded on three sides by the chilly waters of the lake as it empties into the St Lawrence river.

A surprising purchase, this Trumpour’s Mill Estate bottled, un-oaked Chardonnay from 2008 runs about $16/btl only in the Vintages section.  On a recent visit to my favorite LCBO with a fellow vino enthusiast, I was expounding on the virtues and tenets of the VQA and how this self-governing body has improved the overall integrity of the Canadian wine industry when I chanced upon this bottle on a lower shelf almost out of sight.

After the end of the War of 1812, the Trumpours settled there to build a post-war life; this significant and historic homestead from the early 1800’s houses the Granger Family’s winery. They have dedicated almost a decade or their own lives to producing great estate wines from their 600 acre farm, many of these wine award-winning!

This unoaked chardonnay displays a nose of crisp pears, Macintosh apples and dry notes of straw. These flavors carry through the palate to finish long with a rather defined mineral structure that borders on almost spicy.

Truly a unique vino – unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.  I wanted to experience this wine all by itself, but my vino-friends insisted we try it with the Chicken a la King I had made for dinner.  The creaminess of the sauce and delicate rosemary flavor pairs remarkably well.

I’d certainly recommend this Ontario vino!




**images credit – ME!  I took this bottle portrait after we’d finished the yummy contents.  All components thereon sole property of the winery and republished under fair use provisions for review and critique.

I needed an easy-drinking wine to give as a gift to a co-worker who has expressed an interest in wines but hasn’t had much experience with the matter. Whenever i give wine as gifts I almost always choose an Ontario VQA wine.  I am still very shocked and saddened that most people poo-poo Ontario wine as not worthy of a glance.

Vidal is a hardy hybrid variety of grape characterized by thick green skin, mild acidity and a predictable growing & ripening cycle. The wine produced can be simple and clean with moderate residual sweetness and a balanced tartness. It is very easy to appreciate by a new wine consumer’s palate that may still be scarred by flashbacks of the piddle Dad used to serve in the 70’s when we were kids.

Though Reif Estates Winery is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the VQA appellation is “Ontario”.  All the grapes have been grown in the designated viticultural areas, the juice has been pressed,  musts fermented and wine bottled entirely in Ontario.

Pale yellow in color, this mid-weight vino has a pleasant aroma of marigold and nectarine.  A decently off-dry sweetness carries the floral essences through to the finish with hints of peach and honey as the 12%alc/vol secretly evaporates on the palate.

Get it now at LCBO ~$10/btl and enjoy through 2013.  I think I’ll buy another bottle and invite some friends over for grilled chicken with orange sauce!




**image credit – the winery. Reproduced under fair use provisions for review and critique.

I’m a strange vinoboy.  No, no! Don’t try to argue with me – we all know my palate is a confused and lost thing with no sense of continuity.  My preference in vinos is primarily for dry, full-bodied whites and bold, tannic, meaty reds. We all know that wine compliments various foods and I strive to wed the wine with the meal.

One thing I’ve tried not to do is take the reviews of other more experience winos as rote until I have sampled it for myself. It is with this in mind that I decided to try a new release from September: Gray Monk Gewürztraminer 2009 from BC’s Okanagan Valley.

Most unique to this wine is an odd yellow-green hue in the glass.  A beautifully complex bouquet of Mandarin oranges and ripe plantains. Chilled to optimum serving temperature, the crisp burst on the tongue is followed by a delicate sweetness of buckwheat honey and Demerara sugar.  The classic spice of the Gewürztraminer, like a generous dash of black pepper and allspice compliment the mouth-filling ampleness of this varietal.

Traditionally served with fusion and other spicy cuisine, this is more of a conversation and sipping wine all by itself AFTER the meal.

A truly excellent vino.  ~$19/btl @LCBO/Vintages.




**image credit – Gray Monk Estate Winery.  Image used under Fair Use Provisions for review and critique.

Its becoming incredibly difficult to find a barrel-aged Chardonnay these days.  I’m having to look more closely at a lot of Chardonnay labels to determine stainless steel or barrel finishing.  So when I spotted this last bottle of Strewn Winery’s Ontario Premium Barrel-Aged Chardonnay VQA 2008 on the shelf at my local LCBO, I snagged it not caring about its $13.95 price tag.

I made the mistake of putting the bottle in the fridge this morning – to make it good and cold for sipping after a hard day at the office. Huge mistake!  Far too cold and muted, the first impression on my nostrils was BACON!  Oh my! What have I done! *grumble   (who doesn’t like bacon, but really – wine?! No!)  I stoppered the bottle, saved the cork, (I was very pleased to see the wine maker chose to use a natural (if not lower grade) cork) and let the bottle rest on the counter.  Twenty or so minutes later as my honey and dijon marinated pork chop neared completion on the grill, I took up the wine again.

Much better!  A lightly spiced baked apple aroma confirms the barrel-aging was accomplished in a combination of American and French oak, lightly toasted. The lustrous golden color and 12.5% alc/vol offered a smooth flavor of cling-stone peaches and subtle flowery tickles.  Moderate acidity and medium-bodied in mouth feel with only a faint wisp of lingering wood; the finish carries a decently pleasing, fairly complex mineral twang.

I have no idea what supplies of this wine are like at various LCBO stores, so check their website.  If you’re not into fresh Ontario pork as much as I am to go with this basic barrel-aged Chardonnay, try it with a home-made Alfredo Linguine! The interaction of the rich sauce and assertive wine would be most pleasing!




*image credit – Strewn Winery – fair use provisions for review and critique.

For a little longer than I care to admit, I lived in Chatham, Ontario; which lies pretty much equidistant from London, Windsor, Lake St Clair and especially Lake Erie. It wasn’t until I had moved away that I discovered a good many wineries exist along this moderating influence’s northern shores.  One such winery is Colio Estates in the small town of Harrow. The meso-climate is much more conducive to thinner-skinned white varietals such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer hence my interest in this appellation.

The softly-pale yellow of this wine carried wisps of honey and baked apple to the nose. As its medium body was gently swirled in a small tasting glass, the balance of its 11.5% alcohol content is evident by a subtly legging. A mild acidity on the tongue with a pleasant hint of spritzich is complimented by lively lemon zest and a semi-dry honey finish.

I sipped this wine all by itself with no outside influences – unless you count the late hour and my watching BBC World News as an outside influence. My opinions lean toward cheese-stuffed ravioli in a simple marinara as a perfect food match. Grilled sausage might be a little too spicy for the wine, but a veal schnitzel would be great!

Colio Estates Vineyards Lake Erie Northshore VQA Reserve Riesling 2007. This wine is available at the estates’ boutiques found inside several major grocery stores from Windsor to Ottawa.




*image credit – Colio Estates – fair use provisions for review and critique.