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Cave Spring Cellars

Posted 2006.11.25 1.00 in Wine by Stephanie

Fourth and final winery visited by my mother and I last Thursday, Cave Spring Cellars was a nice treat. Right in the village of Jordan, Cave Spring Cellars is right across the street from the Inn On The Twenty where we were spending the night, and next door to the On The Twenty restaurant where we had a very fancy gourmet meal. As with all the Niagara vineyards we visited, staff here were friendly, helpful, knowledgable, and ready to talk wine.

Riesling Reserve, 2004, VQA Niagara. This single-vineyard wine was made from grapes coming from the Beamesville Bench estate. The nose held light citrus tones, atop a mineral / slate base. The body was as I prefer, light, crisp, and with a faint zing to it. The finish was short and refreshing, with a return of both mineral and citrus sensations. A very nice wine, I gave this one a 90 on the Stephanie Scale. I also bought myself a bottle, at $17.95

Riesling Icewine, 2004, VQA Niagara. Evey now and then I like to try an Icewine, although I don’t drink a lot of desert wines. This example had a multilayered nose, with apples, peaches, and citrus in abundance, with faint tones of chemical underneath. It reminded me very much of Turkish Delight candies, of which I am fond. The body was full, creamy and luxurious, but well balanced with enough acidity to keep the sweetness from overpowering. The finish was long, and left me thinking more of candied fruit. This delight earned 92 points, and although it costs $59.95 per half bottle, I decided to treat myself to one. Favorite Wine of the trip.

Cabernet Select Late Harvest, 2005, VQA Niagara. This one was the unexpected treat of the trip. A blend of Cabs Sauv and Franc, this wine was made in the style of an Icewine(*) after the grapes were allowed to raisin on the vines. The nose is a wonderful aroma of strawberries, and in the mouth it is a light-bodied wine, presenting as nicely balanced and refreshing. The finish was long and pleasant, with a lingering sensation of strawberry. This wine earns an easy 90. I have to say, I have had an $80.00/half-bottle Cab Franc Icewine, which Cave Spring Cellars’ Cabernet Select Late Harvest compares very favorably to – but at only $21.95 per half bottle, Cave Spring Cellars is practically giving this wine away! Best Value Wine of the trip.

I grabbed 3 bottles of this favorite, and my mother picked up a trio for herself as well. This winner is only available at the winery, but even so, they’re running out fast.

(*)Note: For a wine to be officialy designated as an ‘icewine’ the grapes have to spend at least 3 consecutive days at sub-zero temperatures before they are harvested. If they don’t meet this criteria, they can still be harvested and vinted as an ‘icewine’ but cannot carry the ‘icewine’ designation. Hence terms such as ‘Late Harvest’ and ‘TBA’ (Totally Botrytis Affected).

Cave Spring Cellars

Kacaba Vineyards

Posted 2006.11.23 1.00 in Wine by Stephanie

The third stop of the day for my mother and I last Thursday was Kacaba Vineyards. As with all the other wineries, the staff were helpful, knowledgable, and eager to talk wines. The only problem I had at Kacaba was that there was a strong odour in the tasting room, kind of a mediciny smell, which greatly impacted my ability to nose their wines.

Riesling, 2004, VQA Niagara. This was a dissapointment for me. I found only sour apples and chemicals on the nose, and it quite put me off the wine. The body was light and mild, and the finish was short, with just enough acidity and fruit to make it refreshing. I could only give this one an 80 on the Stephanie Scale. Kacaba’s Riesling is priced at $14.00 per bottle.

Gypsy White, 2004, VQA Niagara. A blend of Riesling, Muscat Blanc and Pinot Gris. The nose held very strong floral aromas. The body was light, refreshing, crisp and pleasant. The finish was medium and refreshing as well. This wine earned an 87 and at only $12.00 per bottle, it is a steal.

Meritage, 2002, VQA Niagara. Kacaba’s Meritage is a Bordeaux-style blend. The nose was bold, with toasted oak, cassis, and peppers all in attendance. A rull, rich body carrying spicy tannins, but with a creamy mouthfeel, led to a long, fruity, plummy finish. A bold wine with aging potential, I gave this one 88 points. At $40.00 per bottle though it is a bit out of my range.

Kacaba Vineyards

Ridgepoint Wines

Posted 2006.11.22 1.00 in Wine by Stephanie

Ridgepoint Wines was the second winery of the day, for my mother and I, last Thursday. I’d never even heard of them before, but we were exploring the wineries of the Vineland / Jordan area and were looking for some adventure. The ‘staff’ were helpful and eager to talk about wine, and were very knowledgable. We found out later that the fellow we had been talking to at the counter, was none other than the owner of the winery!

Riesling Medium-Dry, 2005, VQA Niagara. A quiet nose with faint exotic aromas of citrus. The body was rich, somewhat creamy, and with a faint snap to it. The finish was longish, sweet, but with faint fruit. I do prefer my Rieslings to be in the German style, so the Medium-Dry seemed like a good choice, but this one did not have enough acidity to fully balance the sweetness. I gave it an 85 on the Stephanie Scale. At only $14.95 per bottle I picked one up for myself.

Unoaked Chardonnay, 2005, VQA Niagara. I don’t want to be another ABC wine snob (Anything But Chardonnay), so I am willing to give it a try now and then. What I find objectionable is the huge amount of oak that some wineries are using these days, so an Unoaked chard is always something I’m willing to try. This one had some vegetals, particularily corn, in the nose, and some vanilla tones. Medium-bodied and a bit creamy, led to long vanilla and herbal sensations in the finish. I gave this an 86 on the Stephanie Scale, and picked up a bottle for later as well, for $14.95

Nebbiolo, 2002, VQA Niagara. There are some great details on this wine, at the vinyard’s website. The nose was big and bold, with lots of toast, dark dusky wood tones, and roasted peppers. The body was medium, tannic, and a bit bitter. The finish was long and dusky. This one spent a lot of time in oak, and could use some more aging in the bottle.I rated this an 85. At $39.95 per bottle, it is perhaps a bit pricey, but a good big bold wine with some years in it.

Ridgepoint Wines

Vineland Estates Winery

Posted 2006.11.21 1.00 in Wine by Stephanie

My mother and I visited Vineland Estates on Thursday for some tastings and some lunch. Lunch was great, a nice gourmet meal to kick off the day. Like my previous visit to Vineland Estates, this was a pleasant one and the staff at the tasting bar were knowledgable, friendly, helpful, and interested in talking about wine.

Note – for a quick review of the scoring system I use to rate wine, have a look at this post from a few months ago: The Stephanie Scale

Pinot Blanc, 2005, VQA Niagara. Quiet citrus / grapefruit on the nose, and a crisp snappy body led to a medium, fruity and flavourful finish. I enjoyed this wine, and gave it an 88 on the Stephanie Scale. At $18.95 per bottle though I thought it was a bit pricey.

St. Urban Riesling, 2004, VQA Niagara. The nose held exotic florals, minerals, and citrus aromas. The body was light and smooth, and the finish was long with a strong citrus sensation. I quite enjoyed this wine, and it also earned an 88 on the Stephanie Scale. At $20.00 per bottle this one was a bit dear, but I picked up a bottle for later.

Cabernet Franc Reserve – Wismer Vineyard, 2004, VQA Niagara. The nose was loaded with roasted peppers and toasted wood. In the mouth, it was a nice medium-body, well balanced. The finish was long, with more toast, and some vanilla. The tannins were mild but made their presense known. This one was quite good, scoring a 90. Although it was $25.00, I grabbed a bottle of this one too.

Vineland Estates Winery

Wine Trip to Niagara

Posted 2006.11.18 1.00 in Wine by Stephanie

So recently, I took a couple days off and went down to the Niagara region for a little tasting tour with my mother. A few months ago she and I did a one-day tasting tour of Prince Edward County – a trip that had some nice moments but was on the whole somewhat disappointing. Several times while out there, I found myself thinking of how much better things were in Niagara. Well after a few months wait, we got to head back to Niagara and we were not dissapointed!

I’ll have some selected tasting notes posted over the next little while. In summary though we visited 7 wineries, tasted about 20 wines, ate two fabulously decadent gourmet meals, and stayed in a wondefuly luxurious inn.

The place we stayed was the Inn on the Twenty – located in Jordan Village, which is just south of Jordan Harbour. It is a quaint picturesque town, with a friendly downtown area. The inn is just across the street from their restaurant, which adjoins the Cave Springs Cellars winery. The winery, restaurant, and inn are all owned by the same family.

The inn was great – huge rooms, 15′ ceilings, queen-size beds on raised platforms. Jaccuzi tubs, separate showers, fireplaces, sofas, a desk… dish of candies, bottles of spring-water, turn-down service at night, with complimentary chocolate truffles… All in all about eight different kinds of wonderful.

And dinner at the On The Twenty restaurant was spectacular – one of those gourmet, fine-dining experiences that its just great to have once in a while. Fantastic delectible creations, coupled with wines from Cave Springs Cellars, it was a real treat.

Inn on the Twenty

The Restaurant on the Knoll

Posted 2006.08.09 0.00 in Wine by Stephanie

Our fifth and final stop on our tour of Prince Edward County on Thursday, this is where my mom and I had our dinner. Here then is the Bonus review, of the restaurant and the wine we had with dinner.

We selected it based on the review in one of our little tourist flyers, and the fact that it was located in the Sandbanks resort area which I know is a pretty area. The flyer promised casual but exquisite dining, and it didn’t lie. The Restaurant on the Knoll is part of the Isaiah Tubbs resort.

The enclosed porch offered an excellent view of the West Lake and the dunes, allowing a nice ‘outdoors’ meal without the aggravation of bugs. Casual but exquisite, means the patrons get to dress casual, but the food is exquisite.

The menu was simple and covered a good spectrum of choices, without trying to be everything to everyone. They had a nice selection of appetizers and salads, and a good variety of entrees. In addition, they had three specials – one meat, one fish, and one pasta. They also had a suitable wine-list. Nothing too exhaustive, but for a very rural restaurant, they had enough choices to satisfy most casual or semi-serious wine drinkers.

Dinner was fabulous, both my mom and I really enjoyed it. She had a lemon-herb grilled chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta cheese, I had one of the specials, a Bison steak served in a forest-mushroom sauce. We both had the same wine with dinner – of course, from one of the local wineries.

The last wine I tasted in Prince Edward County was from Sandbanks Estate Winery – their 2005 Riesling (VQA Ontario). In appearance, a straw yellow in the glass, this wine carried a nice lychee and citrus nose. In the mouth, the wine was light, acidic, and refreshing. It had a short, pleasant finish. At the winery this wine goes for $16.95 a bottle, and that’s not a bad price I think. This one rated an 89 on the Stephanie Scale. This wine made me sorry that we didn’t stop at the Sandbanks Estate for more tastings.

After the debacle of Waupoos, the Restaurant on the Knoll was a fabulous way to end our day in Prince Edward County. The fine food and the nice wine left us feeling great about our day, and contemplating a future return to the County.

The Restaurant on the Knoll

The Restaurant on the Knoll
The Restaurant on the Knoll

The Grange of Prince Edward

Posted 2006.08.08 0.00 in Wine by Stephanie

Our third stop of the day on Thursday, was to the Grange of Prince Edward. This picturesque winery is located in a restored 180-year-old barn in what was once the Trumpour farm. They started planting in 2001, and now have about 50 acres of land under vine.

This winery tied with Carmela Estates, as favorite winery of the day, for me. The staff seemed to know a thing or two about wine, the winery was attractive and pleasant, and the wines were good. This is the only winery where I actually liked something enough to buy a couple bottles.

When asked for a spitoon, they produced a small red bucket that may have been intended to be filled with ice to keep wine cool. Or maybe it was their idea of a spitoon, I’m not sure. They had a bowl of unsalted crackers available to cleanse the palate between tastings, and when my mom asked, they gave her a glass of water without any fuss. Now, the wines!

The first wine I tasted here was the 2005 Trumpour’s Mill Riesling (VQA Ontario). A light straw yellow in appearance, this wine held grapefruit and minerals on the nose. It started off a bit closed, but I think it was merely served a tad too cold. The body was crisp and light, with nice acidity. It held a medium finish, with a good return of the fruits. They were asking $15.95 per bottle, and I must have agreed as I bought two bottles. Rating a 92 on the Stephanie Scale, this was my favourite wine of the whole day.

The second wine here was their 2004 Trumpour’s Mill Assemblage (VQA Ontario). This is a blend of Baco Noir and Chambourcin. In appearance, this wine was a deep purple/red. The nose held faint leather, cedar, and dark vegetals. It was a heavy-bodied wine, with a warmth and light tannins. The finish was moderate and subdued. A good value at $11.95 per bottle, I gave this an 82 on the Stephanie Scale.

The last wine tasted at the Grange of Prince Edward, was their 2004 Cabernet Merlot (VQA Ontario). This wine was a very dark ruby / purple in the glass. On the nose were faint but distinct cassis, peppers, and plums. Wait a minute, peppers? Cab/Merlots are typically Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot… I asked, and was told that this was a 40/40/20 blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Merlot. Aha! Now that makes perfect sense. The cassis / peppers / plums are, to me, a perfect illustration for a Cab Sauv / Cab Franc / Merlot blend. The mouthfeel of this wine was rich, creamy, warm and tannic. The finish was somewhat long but a bit subdued. I think this wine might open up more in another year or so, or if it was decanted. $16.95 per bottle….yeah ok. I can see that. This wine earned an 85 on the Stephanie Scale.

This posting is the fourth out of four wineries visited on our trip to Prince Edward County, but stay tuned – there is one more, bonus post to go.

The Grange of Prince Edward

The Grange of Prince Edward
From the Grange of Prince Edward