Posts Tagged ‘VQA’

I’ve held off reviewing some of my more favorite wines on purpose.  I tend to be more than a little biased when it comes to the spectacular wines of the Niagara Region. The purpose of any appellation is to preserve and authenticate the distinction and character of any ‘local’ vino.  There are several ‘layers’ to the appellations within the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario [VQAO] and all are strictly monitored. (I’ll be covering this in a future installment of my vino series – be sure to read ‘Ground to Grape” and “Grape to Glass”!)

I am entertaining guests for dinner tonight and have prepared a NY Strip roast; the very same hunk of beef from which NY Strip steaks are carved. The ample marbling of fat is full of tremendous flavors and melt-in-the-mouth succulence that is nothing short of perfection when roasted to a medium rare.

I normally chug Merlot, gulp Cab Sauv., and slosh about with a cheerful Cab Franc.  Rhyming with and pronounced just like heritage; Meritage is a skillfully blended Bordeaux-style wine from all three of these varietals- created in California’s Napa Valley in the late 1990s.  Why blend these otherwise distinctive varietals when they’re perfect on their own? Check out this concise entry on Wikipedia about Meritage. Very few wines earned VQA status in ’05 & ’06 owing to unfavorable meso-climate. 2007 turned out to be a bumper year for superb fruit quality and yield.

This bottle of Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve VQA Meritage 2007 is pretty much an equal blend of Cabernet Franc (37%), Cabernet Sauvignon (36%), and Merlot (27%). Owing to my tendency to gulp Merlot or CS, I savor CF a bit more as its a brighter tasting Cab.  Cab Sauv can be stuffy and complex at times and Merlot can be downright stodgy.  The blend of all three is sublime.  I generally don’t decant red wine as a 750ml bottle doesn’t last long enough once uncorked to worry about it catching its breath. This time was a switch.  I just purchased a new decanter and needed an excuse for its maiden voyage. About 30 minutes before my guests arrived and approximately 45 minutes before food was served, I playfully and quickly glugged the whole bottle of this dense purple wine into the decanter and loosely stoppered it with a crystal ball.

Upon serving, the bouquet was of soft mulberry jam, and plum preserves with hints of black currant.  We toasted the table with uplifted glasses and graciously sipped to seal the meal.  A complex weave of subtle dried raspberry and a smooth medium body lingered wonderfully with the Meritage-blend of both French and American oak-aged finishing.  Other vinofolks with whom I have discussed this wine claim its overly ‘jammy’ or ‘gritty’ and give it a very low rating for its price-point.  I don’t see any of those qualities in this vino.

Though I served a medium-rare NY Strip roast,  you might also enjoy a Crown-Roast of pork or grilled lamb chops. Mmmm! Lamb chops…

A glorious example of a Niagara Peninsula vintner doing it right for $14/bottle.

One of my favorites.



Like other cooperatives in the Niagara Region, Magnotta Wineries sources grapes from all over the area to create their distinctive wines.  I have in my chilled glass a Semillon – another varietal akin to Chemin Blanc and Seyval Blanc – typically found as part of table wine melange. And as always, I am skeptical as to whether this wine can hold its own. It has met the requirements to afford the seal of the VQA, with the appellation of Niagara Peninsula. This  means that 85%-100% of the Semillon that makes this wine are grown, pressed, fermented and bottled within this legislated viticultural zone.

The modest yellow hue within its clear bottle does nothing to inspire. Until the cork is popped and the wine enthusiastically sploshed into the glass where aromas of ripe pears and crisp Granny Smith apples delight the nose. The light sweetness adds a depth of character to an herbaceous yet medium body. The alcohol seems a tad evident and breathy bending to a slightly sour note as the glass edges toward room temperature.

Though not as rich as other medium bodied, semi-dry whites I’ve tried, this would be a nice alternative to Tsing Tao or Tiger Brand beer to serve with Thai food or similar Asian-fusion dishes. I’m just now enjoying this wine with a few slivers of Grand Padano cheese; the combination is like a spoonful of caramel made from a can of sweetened condensed milk! Nice.


Another white review? Yes and I have to share!!

I sampled Inniskillin’s Riesling Reserve 2003 five or so years ago and was blown away by its beauty. Back then, this wine was a trip back in time to when I first visited London England and bought a tin of Lemon Drop candy from Mark’s & Spencer for 45p.  The fragrant scent of sweet lemons and powdered sugar floods my nostrils even now! Until I regain my composure and…

…sling my palate onto this 2008 Riesling Reserve.  Though five years is small change in the life of good rootstock, the subtle changes in macro- and micro- climate, a late Indian Summer allowing for harvesting well into the late autumn, and a few months on lees has shifted the characteristics only slightly. Inniskillin is  known for using stainless steel barrels for most of their wines – the truest personality of the grape comes through with no confusion.

Delicate wafts of freshly zested limes hold hands with peach blossoms and dance a gossamer-light ballet on the tongue! A crisp acidity accompanies a slightly mineral finish.

For fun, try making your own sushi at home – this wine would be perfect with sushi-grade salmon, red snapper, surf clam and white tuna! Mmmm!!!