THE Niagara Peninsula, with its characteristicallycool microclimate and relatively high shifts in day and night temperature, supports Ontario’s most lively wine region.
This allows the grapes grown here to develop more complex flavour profiles. Did you know Niagara is situation at roughly the same latitude as the south of France – one of the most renowned wine regions in the world? Furthermore, there are over 55 wineries located in this appellation with some of the most robust reds available in the country, and because the growing season extends into the fall – there is never a shortage of bottles to enjoy.
Finding a selection that suits your palate however isn’t always simple, therefore a point system was developed where wine critics were invited to chime in with their opinions; this has become the benchmark for rating quality in the wine industry, and can help anyone learn about types of red wine and where they come from. Anything that is 90 points or higher is considered to be a superior choice, fusing both complexity with either the boldness or the subtleness that makes for a memorable bottle.
There are a variety of top quality reds that are staples of the Niagara region, most notable the Cabernet-Merlot VQA Cuddy (vintage 2013) by Tawse Winery which comes in at an outstanding 93 points, and is available for an affordable price through retailers like Wine Online. Their mission is to make some of the best vintages from across the globe accessible and deliverable right to your door, even the highly sought after local assortments. This blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes gives hints of mocha and espresso on the nose. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, it is rich and smooth on the palate, with a long finish of blackberries, dark spice and smoke. The 2013 vintage is also the inaugural release of this wine.
For one of the best red wines available, consider the Gamay Niagara Escarpment VQA by Cave Spring Cellars, vintage 2015. It is medium-bodied and fruity while remaining intricate and as full as a Gamay goes – great for the change of seasons. On the nose you’ll notice black cherry, blackberry, cracked pepper and caramel, with hints of autumn leaves among bright, juicy red cherry fruit. The tannins are silky and soft at first with an intense finish that is packed with spice and cherry flavours.
For another medium-bodied selection, try a taste of the Syrah VQA by Creekside Estate, vintage 2013. Created from this winery’s flagship red grape, thisvintage is aromatic, offering scents of violets, plums, red currant and white pepper. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with bright fruit flavours of wild raspberry and strawberry, followed by a cedar and a white pepper finish. Drink it right away, or savour it for a special occasion, allowing it to further develop in the bottle. With so many elaborate Niagara flavours to choose from, why not go local for your next wine purchase? You don’t even need to wait in line at the LCBO to find the excellence and value you’re looking for.