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Friday, June 2, 2023

Major Tasting of Featherstone Estate Winery wines to be released in 2023....

1.Featherstone Estate Winery Four Feathers 2022 VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 +341586 (their first general list wine at the LCBO, to be released in June): a summer social sipper or quaffer, combining 41.6% riesling and 40.7% chardonnay with 15.9% sauvignon blanc and balance pinot grigio – all highly aromatic grapes. The percentages change from vintage to vintage depending on vineyard conditions. Stainless steel fermentation. Typical fruit flavours to be found include pineapple, melon, lemon, some mango, and some sweet parts of citric tones near the finish. A popular seller with 2501 cases. Incredibly fresh and fruity tones for summer. Vegan friendly. 15g/L residual sugar. 12.9% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

2.Featherstone Estate Winery Black Sheep Riesling 2021 VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 +80234 Vintages Essential: more in the Mosel mode than Rhine wine, this delicious all Riesling sipper is loaded with a nose of citrus highlights (lemon, plentiful lime, grapefruit) evolving to Ontario orchard fruit on the mid-palate with some minerality and a long finish which also makes it nifty food wine for many Asiatic dishes. Medium body, off-dry. Suitable for aging (to get that "petrol" character). 1429 cases made. 9.5% ABV. Consistent vintage RS 21 g/L. Vegan friendly. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

3.Featherstone Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2022 VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 +89011 Vintages October 7: 20% of this wine went into neutral Canadian oak barrel for fermentation, leaving 80% for stainless steel. That contributed to the softness and to the muted tones of grassiness. Tropical flowers are accented rather than tropical fruit, and this too adds to its dryness culminating with ending citrus notes for a long finish. It's a great wine for savvy lovers who go for complexity rather than just herbs. At the same time, this allows for more food choices. Only 408 cases. Vegan friendly. 5 g/L residual sugar, 12.7% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

4.Featherstone Estate Winery Canadian Oak Chardonnay 2021 VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 +149302 Vintages September 23: one of my faves. Over the years it has simply gotten better as the grapevines matured. Wild indigenous yeast is used. Good mid-tone oaky component (it is very easy to say it is mid-way between French and US oak) from the use of nearby Canadian oak trees. 10% new oak, 90% 1 to 5 year old. Terrific ripe orchard fruit aromas and palate. Plus vanillin and cream after the mid-palate leading to citric food-friendly finish. Needs more time for balancing, but then at that moment it will be awesome. Vegan friendly. 328 cases. 12.5% ABV. 1.2 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

5.Featherstone Estate Winery Pinot Grigio 2022 VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 +20599 Vintages July 22: this is a highly competitive category, but Featherstone goes up very well against the other PGs in Ontario, especially with its slight yellow colour. Its colour and even its taste can slot it into the rose category, or even the "orange" wine area. Typical nuances include off-dry orchard fruit (peach, pear, apple) with some aromatic melon-ish overtones. It is refreshing on the mid-palate, finishing with slightly bitter citric notes. That makes it both a sipper and a food wine, suitable as a pre-prandial in the summer. There is some Ontario cranberry tartness and some melon sweetness, but also with some peach notes. Stainless steel all the way, with half being pressed immediately and half left to soak on skins before pressing. Vegan friendly. 10g/L residual sugar. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

6.Featherstone Estate Winery Phoenix 2022 VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 +519025 Vintages August 19: Gewurztraminer done up in stainless steel, very Alsatian in style, with concentrated fruit, off-dry on the mid-palate, spicy with a tad of bitter on the finish, great with Asiatic foods or any spicy foods. Or wonderful as an aperitif by the deck/patio/pool/terrace/balcony. Capable of improvement over the next few years. Vegan friendly. Strictly limited at 75 cases total production. 10 g/L residual sugar. 12.3% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

7.Featherstone Estate Winery Frostbite Select Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2022 VQA Niagara Peninsula [half-bottle] $29.95 at winery retail store: On the nose, very aromatic with major tropical tones of melons and lychees, very much in the fruity Alsatian style of "tardif" gewurztraminer. Yum. Cool fermentation in stainless steel, with typical concentrated gewurztraminer modes of lychees, spices, limes, some roses on the mid-palate. Best as a desert wine by the deck or porch or pool, or with fragrant cheeses, spicy and/or creamy dessert foods, with a tad of bitter on the finish. Great with Asiatic foods. Vegan friendly. 112 cases. 14% ABV. Residual sugar is 66g/L. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

8.Featherstone Estate Winery Rose 2022 VQA Niagara Peninsula $16.95 +117861 Vintages May 27: over the years, this rose has had varying amounts of grape varieties – all dependent on what wily winemaker David Johnson sees as the best possible blend. In the past it has had pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, as well as gamay noir, merlot, chardonnay, and cabernet franc. This latest vintage (2022) has cabernet sauvignon 49%, cabernet franc 18.7%, gamay noir 18.7%, and pinot noir 13.7%. It's an extremely useful wine for any event, any occasion, with any food, or just alone as a sipper on the beach/patio/deck/terrace/backyard/porch/balcony – even in front of a roaring fireplace (as I did just this week when the temperature dropped). Expect plenty of red fruit tones in its deliciousness. Great price. Vegan friendly. 1148 cases. 11.8g/L residual sugar, 12.8% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

9.Featherstone Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2021 VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 +64618
Vintages Essential: a consistent blend of 95% cabernet franc and 5% merlot. All US oak was used – 25% new barrels for 10 months. Full malolactic fermentation. Medium-bodied with an assortment of tastes of cherry-berries and plums, some leafy qualities. Black pepper. Long, long finish showing tart-ish food-loving acid balances. Should go well with BBQ veggies. Keep for another few years (I tasted one bottle over a week). Vegan friendly. 2067 cases. 1.7 g/L residual sugar. 12.2% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

10.Featherstone Estate Winery Red Tail Merlot 2021 VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 Vintages +131540: Merlot is still recovering from its dissing by Pinot Noir in the movie "Sideways". But a lot of wineries still enjoy making it. David Johnson the winemaker has here produced a delightfully fruity but dryish drop that is also affordable. Aged 10 months in French oak (25% new), 100% malolactic fermentation. Expect black fruit cherry-berry complexity, headed by cassis. Both a patio sipper and a food wine, and ready now for current drinking and accompanying any kind of comfort food. Vegan friendly. 499 cases made. RS 2.3 g/L 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

11.Featherstone Estate Winery Gamay Noir 2021 VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 winery retail store: medium-full-bodied, suggestive of lighter Beaujolais wines such as Fleurie. Dark cherry-berry flavours dominate, but there is added spicing and even some nuances of earthiness and eucalyptus (the wine is oaked for ten months in US barrels). Good with BBQ, cheese, or something substantial, but a tannic/tart structure of refreshing cranberies is present to carry through a whole meal. 348 cases produced. Vegan friendly. 11.5% ABV, Residual sugar 1.3g/L. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

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