Monday, February 22, 2010

Coyote's Run
(Photograph taken by Kevin Brochu)

The one unique aspect of Coyotes Run that sets them apart of every other winery in the Niagara Peninsula is their use of soil. Whereas most wineries don’t touch their soil to display the flavour of the “terroir”, Coyotes Run has engineered their soil to make two different distinct wines. They drew a line that divides their vineyard separating the two different soils that they use. The first half is composed of dark black clay that is common to the Niagara Peninsula and gives rich and earthy flavours and aromas. The other side of the vineyard is composed of red soil that is not common to the area, and gives flavours and aromas like fruit and sweet perfumes. Their soil-segregated vineyard can be used in two different ways. The first way is to produce separate wines that come from different soils in order to emphasize the impact that soil has on the wine. The second way to utilize having two distinct soils is by blending varietals (type of grape) that come from different soils in order to produce a wine with more depth and complexity.

I tasted and judged the 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay and the 2008 Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay.

2008 Unoaked Chardonnay - $14.95

Visual: Light Straw.

Aroma: Faint aroma of pear and citrus with some floral notes.

Flavour: Citrus fruit, pear, tangerine, well-rounded with a great acidity balance.

My Opinion: I had extremely high expectations walking into Coyotes Run because I have always heard wonderful things, especially surrounding the use of their two different soils. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with what I found. I have a feeling that people held this winery in high regards for their reds and not their Chardonnays. In my opinion, although their Chardonnays were descent, they did not stand out in a region that specializes in Chardonnay. The 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay was still very young. As a result, the aroma was very faint and the flavour was not as pronounced as it will be in a year or so. However, there were some nice fruit flavours with a nice acidity balance. To be honest, the 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay wasn’t anything special.

My Rating: 65/100 - I do not recommend this wine.

2008 Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay - $21.99

Visual: Light Straw.

Aroma: Faint aroma of cream, hazelnut and butterscotch.

Flavour: Well layered and velvety, little bitter, nice acidity, citrus, nice hazelnut with a long lingering finish.

My opinion: This wine is very young but has lots of potential. I really enjoyed the aroma. Although it was faint, the aroma of cream, hazelnut and butterscotch gave me a very warm and comforting feeling. The flavour was very surprising because there was a mix of good and bad attributes. Starting with the negative, the flavour was very faint and it was a little bitter. However, the bitterness could indicate that the wine is going through a state of bottle shock. Essentially, bottle shock is a state of unsettled shock that the wine goes through when recently bottled. This gives the wine a very bitter and acidic flavour. The positive aspects regarding flavour are that it is very well layered and displays a velvety texture with a nice hazelnut and citrus flavour with a long lingering finish. The long lingering finish tells me that this wine is of very high quality. Rule of thumb, the longer the flavour lingers and stays with you, the better the wine is. Sharp abrupt finishes is a sign of a lower quality wine.

My Rating: 70/100 – Give this wine a year or so to age and my rating of 70 might become a 75 or 80.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inniskillin Winery
(Photograph taken by Kevin Brochu)

Inniskllin Wines is by far the most famous and world-renowned Canadian Winery. Inniskillin’s founders, Karl Kaiser and Donald Ziraldo were the first to use premium Vitis Vinifera grapes in Canada. They opted out from using the Concord grape, which was the standard grape to use at the time. Vitis Vinifera grapes have higher levels of acidity and sugar and are more delicate then Concord grapes. These higher levels give the wine much more complexity, however the grapes are difficult to grow in Niagara's cool climate. In 1975, Inniksllin was the first winery to be granted a winery license in Ontario. Although Inniskllin is known for producing the best Ice wine in the world, they also make world-class Chardonnay. Because the Niagara Region is a cool climate it provides the ideal temperature for growing Chardonnay grapes. This is why the Niagara Region produces some of the best Chardonnay in the world.

I tasted and judged the 2007 Reserve Series Chardonnay, 2008 Montague Vineyard Chardonnay, 2007 Wine Makers Series Chardonnay and the 2007 Founders Series Chardonnay.

2007 Reserve Series Chardonnay – 14.95$

Visual: Golden honey.

Aroma: Pear, vanilla, very floral and hazelnut.

Flavour: Crisp acidity, clean finish, baked apples, cinnamon, baked almonds, nice fruit and oak balance.

My opinion: This is a phenomenal wine. It is very well layered with very good floral and creamy aromas. The flavour was very well balanced with a well layered body. There was a lot of baked apples, cinnamon, baked almonds and creamy oaky flavours. The 2007 Reserve Series Chardonnay is a very good buy especially at 14.95$ a bottle.

My rating: 78/100 – I highly recommend this wine.

2008 Montague Vineyard Chardonnay– 18.95$

Visual: Dark straw colour.

Aroma: Toasty oak, apple and pear.

Flavour: Velvet texture, big body, hint of butterscotch, very well structured, pineapple, apple and spicy oak.

My opinion: This wine has a very well structured body with a nice velvet and smooth finish. There is nice oak and apple aroma on the nose with a lovely spicy oak, butterscotch and pineapple flavour. Even though this wine is till relatively young it displays a nice flavour and aroma. The 2008 Montague Vineyard is still a nice wine for the price. However, it still needs a little bit of time to age until it reaches its true potential.

My rating: 73/100 – This is an ok wine.

2007 Wine Makers Series Chardonnay – 17.95$

Visual: Dark straw colour.

Aroma: Toasty oak, caramel, butterscotch, cinnamon and citrus fruit.

Flavour: Butter, vanilla, butterscotch and citrus fruit.

My opinion: The 2007 Wine Makers Series Chardonnay is a well-balanced Chardonnay with a very nice aroma. I could sit down and smell this wine all day without even drinking it. The aroma of butterscotch, cinnamon, citrus fruit and toasty oak is almost overpowering. The flavour is also nice displaying rich creams and nice citrus fruit, but it is not as dominant as the aroma. This is a very nice wine for 17.95$ and its one that I would go back and purchase.

My rating: 78/100 – I recommend this wine.

2007 Founders Series Chardonnay – 29.95$

Visual: Dark golden honey.

Aroma: Tropical fruit, vanilla, butterscotch and caramel.

Flavour: Toffee, butter, butterscotch, vanilla, hazelnut, baked almonds, nice acidity and very is full bodied.

My opinion: The aroma is astonishing, you can smell velvety creamy aromas, vanilla, butterscotch and tropical fruit. By smelling this wine, I was able to tell that there was a huge body and it was very complex. As I tasted, I immediately noticed a massive body displaying huge flavours of cream, butter, butterscotch, hazelnut, toffee, and baked apples. This wine is capable of competing with some of the best Chardonnays in the world and has the body and structure to age for 10-12 years minimum.

My rating: 90/100 – This wine is a must for special occasions. I highly recommend this wine.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ravine Vineyard
(Photograph taken by Kevin Brochu)

Ravine is one of my wineries of choice for Chardonnay. The reason for this is because of their soil. I believe that they have some of the best soil for grape growing in Niagara.The vineyard is located on a river channel that once existed thousands of years ago. This river channel connected old Lake Iroquois to the Niagara River and was a natural drainage system for water and iceberg pieces. The iceberg pieces and water were full of minerals and would bring up the soil underneath enriching it with nutrients.

I tasted and judged the 2008 Chardonnay and the 2008 Reserve Chardonnay.

2008 Chardonnay – 24$

Visual : light straw colour

Aroma : Musqué, pear, caramel, butterscotch

Flavour: sharp acidity, little bitter, sits well on the back of the palate, pear, little body

My opinion: I am very disappointed with the 2008 Ravine Chardonnay. The aroma and flavour were both very faint, there was little body and was not well layered. However, the very light straw colour indicates that it is a very young wine. With that in mind, the 2008 Chardonnay will definitely improve and gain some complexity over the next 2-5 years. However, for the time being the 2008 Chardonnay is not worth the 24$.

My rating: 60/100 – Not a good buy, not worth the price

2008 Reserve Chardonnay – 38$

Visual: light straw colour

Aroma: vanilla, lavender, very floral, butter, pineapple

Flavour: Full bodied, nice velvet texture, pear, tangerine, balanced acidity, tangerine, butter, caramel

My opinion: Because this is their Reserve series Chardonnay I am going into this tasting with high expectations. I am looking for a big well-rounded body, well-balanced acidity, a long lingering finish, and a complexity of fruit and creamy flavours. Unfortunately, I was once again disappointed. This 2008 Reserve Chardonnay was still too young to be tasted. There is a nice acidity balance, nice body and texture, good fruit flavours and some butter-caramel flavours but it was all very faint. The light straw colour as well as the faintness in aroma and flavour once again indicates that the wine is still very young age. A 38$ bottle of Chardonnay should be much more pronounced in flavour and aroma. This Chardonnay will need a minimum of 2-3 years until this $38 bottle is worth buying.

My rating: 65/100 – Not a good buy, not worth the price

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wine 101 : Niagara Chardonnays,
a New World Wonder?

It's white, it's clean, it’s crisp and it doesn't stain your teeth red at cocktail parties. Can you guess what I'm talking about? Unless you've been drinking wine all day, I'm pretty sure you were all able to guess Chardonnay. Not many know this, but the Niagara region is known for producing world-class Chardonnay because of our "cool" climate. We make some of the best Chardonnay in the world right here in our own backyard, which is one of the reasons why I am such a big supporter of the Ontario wine industry and why I possess a huge passion for Chardonnay and wine alike. It must be said in advance that I am not a sommelier (wine expert), I am just a wine enthusiast who wishes to share some knowledge and good taste with YOU! So if you like a nice glass of wine every now and then like I do, follow my weekly posts as I taste, evaluate and recommend various Niagara region Chardonnays, impart some wine knowledge and share with you some of my little annoyances and wine CORKS.