Monday, March 15, 2010

Niagara College Teaching Winery,

(Photograph taken by Tracy Carreau)

The Niagara College Teaching Winery is Canada’s first commercial teaching winery. Niagara College students do every single step of the winemaking process from viticulture and fermentation to manipulating barrels. To be completely honest, I walked into the Niagara College Teaching Winery with low expectations knowing well in fact that students where making the wine I was going to taste. However, I was shocked because the quality of wine surpassed my expectations and their Chardonnays stand among the best in the region.

I tasted and judged the 2007 Unoaked Chardonnay, the 2001 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the 2007 Deans List Chardonnay.

2007 Unoaked Chardonnay – $14.95

Visual: Straw colour.

Aroma: Faint aroma of tropical fruit, lime and pear.

Flavour: Lots of acidity, tangerines and tropical fruit with a little bitterness.

My opinion: This wine had a faint aroma of tropical fruit and lime, which was quite nice. There was also a faint tangerine flavour with a lot of bitterness that I did not particularly enjoy. However the acidity did make it quite refreshing. For an Unoaked Chardonnay, this wine was nothing special. I would not go out of my way to purchase a bottle.

My rating: 68/100 - Meh, this wine needs work.

2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay – $18.95

Visual: Straw colour.

Aroma: Faint aroma of peach, pear and cream.

Flavour: Nice acidity, nice body with nice mellow creamy textures.

My opinion: This wine is on the mellow side in terms of pronounced flavours. However there is a wonderful balance between acidity, citrus flavours and oak. It also has a wonderful nose (aroma) of peach, pear and cream that drove my senses wild when I first humoured my glass. (Humouring your wine is to swirl your wine around in your glass. This releases the esters and permits the bouquet of the wine to flourish and rise out of the glass making the aromas more pronounced. This enables you to really appreciate the aroma of the wine.)

My rating: 75/100 - This is a great wine.

2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay – $18.95

Visual: Honey Golden.

Aroma: Buttery popcorn and Butterscotch.

Flavour: Heavy body with a velvet texture. There are bold cream flavours of butter and butterscotch that pare very well with buttery popcorn, fettuccini alfredo or crab and lobster with butter. There is also a nice acidity that sits in the background; the massive body with its creamy flavours and textures is the pronounced flavour and characteristic of this wine.

My opinion: This is a great wine if you like big bold butter, butterscotch and oak flavours. I love a wine with nice oaky flavours thats well integrated within the wine. Having a bold wine such as this to pear with buttery popcorn or fettuccini alfredo is a special treat.

My rating: 78/100 – This is a great wine.

2007 Deans List Chardonnay – $27.95

Visual: Extremely clear and crisp.

Aroma: Creamy butter and butterscotch with nice aromas of peach and lime.

Flavour: Nice integration between oak flavours and citrus. Very well balanced. Nice crisp acidity. The body and complexity of this wine is incredible and can be aged for 9 to 10 years without a problem.

My judgment: 80/100 – this is a wonderful wine.

My opinion: This is a wonderful wine. There is a wonderful balance of flavour. The oak is well integrated among the other flavours. It is also extremely crisp, clear and very refreshing. This wine can compete with any of the top Chardonnays that I have tasted from Southbrook and Inniskillin.


  1. I am also surprised to find out that you enjoyed these wines. I am particularly intriged by the 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the fact that it is buttery popcorn and carmel smelling.
    Thank-you for reviewing these wines and putting faith in Niagara College hehe.

  2. I have often thought that I would like to try more of the College's wines as I have heard some great things. I appreciate the reviews and would love to try the 2007 Dean's List Chardonnay after reading your interpretation. Thanks for the insights!

  3. Kevin, I am so impressed with the fact that you can smell a wine and pick out the exact fruits in the concoction. You truly have a knack for wine, my friend. You're blog is absolutely impressive; the writing, photos and extensive knowledge are a breath of fresh air. Very well done.

    I have enjoyed a glass or two of a Niagara College wine. I believe it was the Dean's List one... with the report card-type label. Like you, I was not expecting much, but soon came to realize that it was quite good. It's interesting to see a school in Niagara that offers that type of program.


  4. Thanks Kevin. I don't think to pick up these wines because of the thought that students make them. But I will definately give them a try now!

  5. I was just thinking...exactly how much wine HAVE you had to drink over the past 2 months?