There was a time when Ontario wine wasn’t especially respected, but local wine enthusiasts knew differently. Since its creation by Tony Aspler in 1995, the Ontario Wine Awards have flourished, now spreading over a full week and including a number of outstanding events such as the Sip and Savour Ontario event that took place this past Tuesday, June 17th at the Distillery District.
30 wineries from Ontario’s distinctive wine regions gathered together with their best offerings for a trade and media tasting event in the afternoon along with a public event the same evening that also included food demonstrations and pairings from local Savour Ontario chefs.
With the awards having already been announced in late April, wineries were able to display their medals and promote their award winning products to restauranteurs, media and consumers.
I didn’t make a point of sampling award winners specifically, but tried to get a good cross-section of styles and wineries under my tasting belt. Here are some favourites.
Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Brut NV, LCBO #616441 $29.95: I’m not a fan of champagne in general but this one always makes me grin, from the mousse-like froth to the warm yeasty notes and the bright citrus hits of lime, lemon and apple.
Lailey Vineyard Wines Syrah 2006, available from the vineyard directly, $25: One of my favourites, and it’s almost sold out! Strong notes of fruit pipe tobacco, chocolate and pepper make this gorgeous and lush.
Mike Weir Estate Winery, Cabernet Shiraz 2005 (2008 Gold), $25.20: the gold winner this year, the Mike Weir wines are produced by Creekside, and I actually prefer the meaty Creekside Shiraz more. This has got a whole lot of berries and plum going on in both the nose and in the mouth, but I never got much of the cloves, cinnamon and pepper I was told to expect.
Mountain Road Wine Company Red 2003, available directly from the winery, $15.95: Clean and dry, a blend of foch, gamay and baco. Dark purple-red. Notes of tobacco, leather and dirt in the nose, bright berries in the mouth.
Mountain Road Wine Company Vidal Icewine 2000, available directly from the winery, $24.95: golden amber, sweet but not heavy, notes of caramel and apple.
Southbrook Vineyards Triomph Chardonnay 2006, available directly from the vineyard, $21.95: crisp and dry, hints of vanilla and apricot on the nose, slight spiciness in the mouth