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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Major tasting of Ontario Sparkling Wines, Dec 11/12.
The Date and Time: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The Event: Media Tasting of Ontario Sparklers
The Venue: Stock Restaurant, TrumpTower
The Target Audience: wine and food writers, about two dozen of us.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available, some at the LCBO.
The Quote/Background: Wine Country Ontario wanted us to experience the versatility of sparkling wines, to pair them with food at meals. It was their intent to have us encourage our readers to consume sparkling wine with meals or have service beyond just special occasions. Winemaker Angelo Pavan of Cave Spring Cellars talked about Ontario's cool climate as being suitable for sparkling wines. About 2/3 (by volume) of the sparklers in Ontario are being made by the traditional method of riddling and lees contact that's now about 70,000 cases over two years. Cool climate chardonnays and pinot noirs are the principal grapes, although global climate changes have encouraged the use of riesling and some gamay noir in the production. Currently, 26 (our of 132) wineries in Ontario produce sparkling wine.
The Wines: We had 18 wines, nine tasted as a flight and nine with food but allowing for cross-matching opportunities.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Huff Estates Cuvee Peter F. Huff 2008, $39.95
-13th Street Winery Premier Cuvee 2008, $34.95
-Cave Spring Cellars Blanc de Noirs Brut 2006, $34.95
-Cave Spring Cellars Blanc de Blancs BrutNV, $29.95
-Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Cuvee Catharine Estate Blanc de Blancs "Carte Blanche" 2007, $44.95.
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-The Grange of Prince Edward Sparkling Riesling 2010, $24.95
-Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Cuvee Catharine Rose NV, $29.95
-Chateau des Charmes Rose Sparkling Wine Estate Bottled 2009, $28.95
-Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Entourage Grand Reserve Brut 2008, $22.95
-Flat Rock Cellars Riddled 2008, $24.95
-Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Cuvee Catharine NV, $29.95
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Trius Winery Brut NV, $24.95
-Hinterland Ancestral [gamay noir] 2012, $25
-Casa-Dea Estates Winery Dea's Rose 2011, $19.95
-Angel's Gate Archangel Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 2010, $21.95
-Mike Weir Wine Sparkling Brut 2009, $24.95
The Food: We were treated by Exec Chef Todd Clarmo of Stock. He had prepared 9 terrific dishes, almost a tasting menu, to accompany 9 diverse sparklers. We were asked to cross-match with the wines, even using all 18 wines. Here was the menu with the wines in the order that Chef Todd proposed as best matches (I'd say he was right):
The Downside: The question was raised by someone as to why, if the emphasis was on serving sparklers at non-special occasions, we were being exposed to sparkling wines just before Christmas. To bloggers, it was easy enough to write and comment on these wines, but to others, time was needed for print versions. Those with monthly columns were at a handicap for Christmas and New Year, but nicely placed for Valentine's Day and, of course, for general all round consumption without a reference point to an "occasion".
The Upside: 18 wines were the subject of a closely focused horizontal, and this give us time for concentration, the idiosyncratic sparkling icewine notwithstanding.