Sunday, December 11, 2016

2014 Georgian Hills Maréchal Foch (Ontario VQA)

I had wanted to try this Foch for a long time, given that it comes from a "non-traditional" wine growing region in Ontario: the southern shore of Georgian Bay. That, plus the fact that I'm a fan of the Maréchal Foch grape, made this a "must get" wine.

Varietal Foch was easy to find in Ontario up to and just past the turn of the millennium; slowly afterwards, though, it began to disappear from the winescape. For this reason, I am always excited to find new examples of varietal Foch, as this is a grape which deserves more respect for the heft of the red wines that it can produce in climates with short growing seasons and occasionally harsh winters.

The Georgian Hills Foch is closed with a natural cork; upon pulling out the cork, I noted lots of inky-purple saturation on the end of the cork (a signature sign of many red-hybrid wines) and also noted some tartrate crystals intermixed with the pigment.

The wine pours with a deep, saturated, black/cherry hue. In the glass, hue is an intense but translucent black/cherry/garnet when held against a light. Foch is a teinturier grape—one that has pigmented skins and pulp, and therefore, it makes a wine of great visual intensity.

The aromas are of light black cherry; they are simple, and not as layered as the much missed, oak-aged Niagara Peninsula Fochs tended to be (and as the Vieni Reserve from Niagara still is). That said, the cherry fruitiness is inviting.

Bright acidity and light but good tannins arrive on the entry. The wine is dry and pleasant on the mid-palate, and at 12.5%, it is gently warming. Very good structure on the mid-palate, without the zinginess that many a Baco Noir has. I've always thought that Foch was the more interesting of these two grapes (both were common in Ontario, but Baco is still more widely produced today).

$14.95 at the LCBO; available at stores mainly near its area of origin.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

2012 Leelanau Cellars Baco Noir (Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan)

While in Michigan I picked up this varietal Baco Noir which hails from the Leelanau Peninsula. On the label it says, "A Taste of Northern Michigan"—very nice.

I had previously never tried Baco from such a northerly location, being instead more accustomed to those produced in Southern Ontario.

The wine is of a medium-ruby hue; quite translucent in the bottle. In the glass, it shows typical Baco saturation, and seems a darker shade of garnet.

Aromatically, it is unlike most Ontario Bacos, showing a bright red-berry fruitiness that reminds me of a few Bardolinos that I've tried over the years. On the entry, the wine is tart and lively in a rounded way (a Baco trait for sure), and has good warmth as well, clocking in at 12.55% alc./vol. The finish is fresh and palate-invigorating.

A good wine. I got it for USD $15 and would buy it again.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

2013 Magnotta Dry Vidal Equus Series (Ontario VQA)

I remember enjoying this wine tremendously many years ago. I'm happy to say that Magnotta's dry Vidal, while having undergone a name and label change since the early days, is as fine a wine as I remember it.

In fact, I love dry Vidal table wine so much that the background on my blog is a photo of Vidal grapes growing in Niagara wine country. Vidal is one of Ontario's most versatile wine grapes.

12.8% alc./vol. Clear, medium-straw/yellow hue in the glass. Wonderful aromas of lemon candy, pineapple, pine needles and guava. Crisp and focused on the entry, with that lively and lovely varietal acidity; a warm but balanced texture; and a palate-cleansing, fully dry finish that I appreciate.

Magnotta's retail outlet is a fine place to visit and the prices are right. I have long believed that Magnotta makes Ontario's best dry Vidal table wine... I still believe it, having tasted this version.

$7.45 for a 750 ml bottle, and worth every penny.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

2012 Vieni Estates Briganti (Ontario VQA)

I was delighted to recently find this wine on general list in the LCBO. Vieni Estates' Briganti is a three-way blend of Foch, Baco and De Chaunac—at one time, three of the most common red hybrid grapes in Ontario.

You just don't see much innovation in this category of wine anymore. Up to the turn of the millennium, there were quite a few very good varietal Fochs, and even a few varietal De Chaunacs. This release seems to represent something of a rebirth for the genre, and I couldn't be happier. Having tried Vieni's excellent Foch Vintage Reserve last month, I was excited to see this release from the same winery.

The wine is bottled in a smart, screw-top bottle. It pours with a saturated, deep garnet colour that fades to a cherry-garnet hue at the meniscus. Baco Noir seems to lead on the nose, with briny, plummy fruit and some complex rootsy notes that are typical of many wines with V. riparia lineage. On the palate, there is brisk, clean acidity and very good texture; the wine is dry and cleansing. On the mid-palate, I seem to get more of the Foch notes, but in general, no single grape dominates. The finish is dry and clean—this is a wine made for the dinner table. It is well balanced at 12.0% alc./vol.

For stylistic comparison to other wines—think of a brisk northern Italian red like Barbera.

My food pairings would be lasagna, ribs, and pizza. The wine has the acidity and heft to invigorate and refresh the palate.

My only suggestion would be to give this wine some time in oak: even just 6-8 months in American (or Canadian!) oak would be sufficient. Aged this way, it would be very reminiscent of the excellent Harrow Estates Baco that Carlo Negri used to make in the late 1990s.

This Vieni Estates Briganti is a very welcome addition to Ontario's winescape. It is $12.95 on general list in the Ontario VQA section of the LCBO.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Vieni Estates 2012 Foch Vintage Reserve (Ontario VQA)

Vieni 2012 Foch Vintage Reserve (Ontario VQA)
I was impressed to find this fine Ontario Foch at Vintages recently. Truth be told, it sort of flew over my radar, having been released this past summer.

The wine pours with a beautiful, and typical, saturated deep-garnet colour that fades to a "weathered sumac" black-mahogany hue at the meniscus. It opens up in the glass with wonderful, big, aromatic oak aromas, all framed by quality oak. Mingling with that, there are tart black currant and blue plum aromas. Aromatically, this reminds me of the many reserve Fochs that graced the Ontario wine scene right up to Y2K.

On the palate, there is tart, lithe acidity and a clean, dry, palate-cleansing texture that carries the fruit and oak aromas right across it — with power, lightness, and elegance, all at the same time. This is classic Ontario Foch.

The finish is dry and elegant, with replays of the same aromatic compounds.

It is a shame that so many excellent examples of varietal Maréchal Foch have disappeared from the Ontario wine scene over the past decade. For this reason, it is a joy to find a winery producing a treat like this, from a grape that deserves much more respect in this part of the world for climatic suitability and innate quality characteristics.

The wine retails for less than $20 and is 14% alc./vol.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

2014 Peller Estates Baco Noir (Ontario VQA)

This is one of the best Bacos in Ontario: it is always fairly priced and done well.

Deep ruby-black with a ruby-magenta meniscus. Aromas of sweet plummy fruit and wild V. riparia grapiness. Mouth-filling, with bright, tense acidity and great structure. 2014 wasn't a great vintage for reds in Ontario, but Baco and its other V. riparia-derived brethren typically manage to shine, despite such obstacles.

Invigorating, palate-enlivening mouth feel, coupled with a dash of balancing residual sweetness and typical diminutive tannins.

The finish is clean and lean, and it leaves your palate refreshed.

12% alc./vol. Screw cap closure. $11.95 on general list at the LCBO.

Friday, September 11, 2015

2014 No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Baco Noir (VQA Ontario)

The Great One knows a great grape.

12.5% alc./vol. The wine pours with a deep scarlet-ruby hue and dense but translucent saturation. Superb, briny, plummy / V. riparia varietal Baco nose, with lively, tart red currant fruit.

Bright, refreshing tartness on the entry. Zingy, tight entry, with good focus and a firm backbone. The wine is, much like Barbera, a great palate cleanser. It would go superbly well with ribs, steak, pizza and any pasta-and-tomato-sauce combination. A natural match with any of these.

$15.95. Limited distribution at the LCBO.