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Ontario Wines Recs. for Thanksgiving Dinner

In keeping with the harvest theme I was wondering if anyone had any Ontario wine recommendations for a traditional thnaksgiving dinner (turkey, etc.). I usually serve red and white...maybe an off-dry reisling and a pinot noir or baco noir

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  1. I recall once bringing a bottle of Cave Spring Reserve Chardonnay to a U.S. Thanksgiving dinner in New York. Someone else brought a California Chardonney. Once they had sampled it, the guests, unfamiliar with Canadian wines, polished the Cave Spring off in 15 minutes. Some of the California wine was still left at the end of the meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ekammin

      I second the recommendation for Cave Spring.

      If it's an off-dry riesling you're after, I definitely give them a big thumbs-up (the dry is quite nice as well, if that's your preference). Actually, I've yet to find a bottle of Cave Springs I didn't like. :)

    2. I'm not keen on baco noir, but that's just a personal thing. I like your riesling and pinot noir choices, though. There is a very good CEV cabernet franc which would be a very nice match with the dark meat on the bird, and would be able to stand up to the usual flavours in stuffing. It runs about $22. You might want to consider gamay as a red choice, as well, since we do some nice ones here. Last year I had quite a nice one from Chateau des Charmes (St David's Bench?) but I forget its vintage; $15(?). The one to avoid is the Konzelmann pinot noir. I haven't touched it in years because it was flavoured sweetly of strawberry - I couldn't finish my tasting portion.

      4 Replies
      1. re: hungry_pangolin

        ekammin, have you tried the Cave Springs Chardonnay Musque?? Currently in our LCBO's at just over $15. It is wonderful.

        1. re: hungry_pangolin

          If you're talking Gamay, the Henry of Pelham 2005 was just out when I was at the winery in August, and it was STUNNING. Spicy though, so you'll want to serve it with a very rustic side dish or a tangy gravy or chutney with your turkey.

          I also had an excellent off-dry riesling from Marynissen at the winery in August, might stand up to a fall meal.

          As for Ontario Pinot Noirs, the Cave Springs 2005 is getting raves all around, and stood up nicely to a spicy thai tofu dish I did this weekend. the Flat Rock 2004 awaits opening any day now - I'm thinking of pairing it with chicken-barley soup, right up the fall food aisle..

          1. re: LemonLauren

            Thanks for the suggestion, Millygirl. I'm just on my way to the L:CBO to get something to go with Arctic Char this evening, and I will certainly look for it.

            While we're on the subject, I can recommend a sparkling rose (actually a pink champagne in all but name) named Catherine. It is made by Henry of Pelham, named after Henry's wife (he was evidently a real person, the son opf a United Empire Loyalist)..

            1. re: ekammin

              I'm sure the Musque would pair very nicely with artic char...and thanks for the tip on Catherine. I will pick up a bottle. Love any kind of sparkling, and of course, champagne.

        2. I am a member of a wine club through Peller Estates. I am a novice when it comes to wines, but of all the wines that I have received from Peller, I really really enjoyed their Baco Noir. It was really delicious and I preferred it to their Cab Sauvignon, but probably liked it equally as much as their Cab Franc. I suppose that it is all personal taste though, and I am sure that it varies between people.

          1. I won't make suggestions for dinner, but don't forget about a nice Ontario icewine for dessert!

            6 Replies
            1. re: KevinB

              Hi, Millygirl -

              You mentioned that your LCBO had the Cave Springs Musque; which store is that? The one I went to had never heard of cave Soprings Musque,m but did have a bottle by Chateau des Charmes. I got that, and it was, indeed, a memorable wine.

              TYhere is evidently a Musque by Fielding, but no store in Toronto seems to have it.

              1. re: ekammin

                Nah, it's available in almost all the stores. I just checked the LCBO website, which is great BTW. The product code # is 246579 and it's even on some kind of air miles promotion at the moment....get 4 extra air miles or something like that. Good luck ekammin. Keep me posted.

                1. re: millygirl

                  Millygirl -

                  Right you are. According to the LCBO website, my local store (5995 Yonge) has two bottles of it, while the manager there told me yesterday he had never heard of it. I'm going back today, to have a pointed talk with him.

                  1. re: ekammin

                    Before you do that... when checking inventory on the LCBO websites, know that they will sometimes show bottles as being in stock that aren't. Two bottles sounds like my "ghost inventory" experiences.

                    1. re: hungry_pangolin

                      Right, but even if he didn't have any in stock, he should have at least knwon about it.

                2. re: ekammin

                  I was just down in Fielding this past April and was talking to their winemakers. Apperently they don't really make enough wine for them to be in LCBO in a regular basis - like a lot of the really great, fun wineries in Niagara like Stonechurch. I love both these wineries, so I just stock up when I'm there :)
                  They do, however, ship by the case (I think). Check out their site : www. fieldingwines.com.
                  P.S. Their 2006 Sav Blac BLEW MY MIND. Higly recommended

              2. Another yeah! for Cave Springs off-dry Riesling (and, generally, I think Niagara does riesling well... Inniskillin is OK too).

                But we tried some Ontario reds this week, and I have to sadly report that both were truly awful (a Jackson-Triggs pinot and an Inniskillin cab-merlot). I'm sure there must be exceptions, but I don't think Ontario is doing red very well as yet... I have had some good Okanagan, if you want to keep it Canadian... but can't remember any specific bottles.

                Oh, and the Catherine/Pelham bubbly is pretty great...

                4 Replies
                1. re: Rabbit

                  what year were the reds you were trying? in my opinion, 2005 was really spotty for the cabs (ok, all ontario cabs are spotty), but the pinots from '04 are pretty decent...

                  1. re: LemonLauren

                    Honestly, I don't remember... and these were admittedly crappy bottles from the Wine Rack (got caught short on a Sunday). Still, it had been a while since I'd had any Ontario reds, and I was optimistic that I would find something "better" than I remember. Sales clerks were super-positive, but I guess that's their job. Granted there are probably some producers doing interesting things, but I wasn't impressed by what seems to be readily available "out there."

                    I'll take a look at some of these suggestions and try again.

                    1. re: Rabbit

                      Rabbit.... that's not a, um, 'sciebtific' sample.

                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                        Fair enough... I think I just confessed as much.

                2. Check out Malivoire in Beamsville. They are making a very nice Gamay, and at $16 a bottle it's affordable. Their Chardonnays are excellent as well. For Pinot I've had some great stuff from Lailey in Niagara and they have some wonderful un-oaked Chardonnays as well. Both of these vineyards have good websites if you want to check them out.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tartytatin

                    Haven't had great experiences with Ontario Gamays...like drinking purple coloured water. The Cabernet Francs also tend to be a little too foxy for my tastes. Picked up a 4 bottles of Pinot Noir: Eastdell ($15), Stoney Ridge ($18) Flatrock ($20) and a Malivoire ($28) for a blind tasting tonight with a group of friends tonight. Will report back on our picks

                    1. re: Finnegan

                      if we're playing Gamays, you must try a Henry of Pelham and a Cave Springs. the free bottle of the Cave Springs that they gave us when we stayed at Inn on the 20 made our weekend so enjoyable!

                  2. The only Pinot currently worth it is Norman Hardie's. You would have to order it directly through him.


                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      It might be helpful if Mr.Hardie put his prices on his website. Or am I not supposed to care?

                      1. re: ekammin

                        Flat Rock's "Gravity" Pinot Noir is being released on Sept 29 at the LCBO. It's one of the best PN's I've tasted - especially among Canadian wines. Beautifully smooth with strong mineral notes - not a sweet jammy wine. HIGHLY HIGHLY recommended! Item #1560.

                        1. re: bellywizard

                          that's the one i talked about above. mmmm.

                        2. re: ekammin

                          His wine is not cheap-but it's not shlock, and IMO worth every penny.

                          They run about $35-40 a bottle.

                          Read the reviews on his website.

                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                            So, at least now I know the approximate price. I'm sure at that price it's not crap, but the question is, is it any better than anything else I can get at that price, with probably less hassle?

                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                              I have had the Norman Hardie PN and must offer a dissenting opinion, and I could care less what the reviewers say. The bottle I had was thin, lacked depth and had a candied strawberry nose more like a cheap Beaujolais than a quality PN. Not worth the money, IMHO.

                              The regular Flat Rock PN is a much better value at about $25, if I'm not mistaken. Don't forget about their excellent Riesling too.

                                  1. re: bogie

                                    The 04 Nadja's Vineyard Riesling has been sold out for nearly a year. The 2006 NV Riesling is just as good, but might seem a little "tight" right now (a common trait for the Nadja's). Great value at $20 too.

                                    Was the Norm Hardie Pinot Noir from County grapes or Niagara grapes? Although he didn't make a "County" Pinot in 2004, he did make a Pinot from both regions in 2005 and 2006. Some people (actually, quite a few) find the 05 County to lack concentration and fruit, but I actually like its "feminity" - in that it shows excellent floral notes with cranberry and beetroot flavours. Sure, its only 11% alcohol, but it is a great food wine and would be interesting with some short-to-mid term cellaring.

                                    1. re: niagara_wine_guy

                                      The '05 Norman Hardie County Pinot is very, very light, but it is nonetheless a well-made wine. We had a bottle of it at Treadwell's in St. Catharines; NWG is right, it was really nice with food. It would have been a bit lacking to drink it on its own though.

                                      I thought Norm had a lot of guts to produce a wine with only 11% alcohol. It's an interesting lesson in letting the grapes guide the wine-making, as opposed to trying to push it with over-extraction or pouring sugar in the tank to elevate the alcohol levels.

                                1. re: bogie

                                  I just had the Norman Hardie PN wine this evening and I have to agree with bogie. It was pretty bad, and I sent it back. My husband and I just moved to Toronto from San Francisco, and were very excited to try this hyped-up wine. It was incredibly thin, tasteless, and reminded us of very bad German reds. It tasted nothing like good Burgundy Pinots.

                                  I wish Ontarians would stop giving average wines (at best) great reviews just to hype up the region.

                          2. Hidden Bench's Chardonnays (both the Estate and Vielles Vignes) are pricey, but would be awesome with a traditional thanksgiving dinner menu: the oak is well-integrated in their wines, and wouldn't get in the way of the food.

                            Thirty Bench's Estate Riesling is very good, but in a dry style.

                            Malivoire's Estate 2004 Pinot is drinking really nicely now, but it may be already sold out at the winery; their Moria Vineyard '04 is even better, but I'd either decant it for an hour or two beforehand, or wait till next Thanksgiving! Malivoire's Pinots always seem to be much better a year or two after they are actually released (they tend to go through a bit of a 'dumb' phase after bottling, opening up significantly after several months in the bottle). The '05 Gamay, which is in LCBO stores right now, would also be good, and very good value.

                            1. We recently tasted a flight of 5 reds and 5 whites at a restaurant at Niagra on the Lake. After trying them, we didn't order any of them and went with an Italian wine instead.

                              I am sure there exists wine from Ontario that's not bad, but it wasn't on that restaurant's list.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                Boooo to that restaurant. There is wine from Ontario which is very good indeed, not merely "not bad", and for them to be unable to find anything decent among ten wines is shameful. It's also inexplicable, unless they were all from a not very good producer who was being "featured", or, they were all from one of the recent not very good vintages (2001, 2005).

                                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                    There are some very good ontario wines but you have to go above $30 to get them. You can usually find something far better for far less from France, Italy etc. It temns of value for money, Ontario wines don't measure up

                                    1. re: Finnegan

                                      Feh. I beg to differ - there are some very good Ontario wines that can be had for under $20. Yes, you do encounter a lot more plonk within that price bracket, but that's generally the problem with buying cheaper wines altogether regardless of origin.

                                      1. re: tartiflette

                                        Agree with tartiflette. An informed consumer can navigate the admitted shoals, but, for instance, penny for penny, Ontario rieslings are a bargain cf. their German and French cousins. Henry of Pelham is a good example of a widely availble very good producer. Admittedly, the Ontario style is different from the Old World, but no less delicious. For reds, yes, they are more expensive, but you don't have to go $30+ for good wines in that shade, either. The gamay to which I referred above was ca. $15. Cave Spring Reserve Chardonnay is beautiful, at ca. $20. The Malivoire Old Vine Foch is well below the $30 mark.

                                        1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                          Sorry should have been more specific. There are many good Ontario whites in the $15 -$20 range. The reds in the same price range tend to be eaither (a) wild and foxy (i.e. cabernet franc - ugh) or bland and tasteless.

                                1. Malvoire Old Vine Foch

                                  1. I wanted to talk up Le Clos Jordanne earlier but I figured since their 04 Pinot's are all sold out I shouldn't bother.

                                    But, just saw an article in Toronto Life today:


                                    I have to say, that Village Reserve blew my socks off too. Look out for Thomas Bachelder, we're talking serious wine here.


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                      Closson Chase in Picton is producing a first class chardonny.

                                      1. re: millygirl

                                        We had Henry of Pelham Off-dry Riesling with our turkey yesterday. I usually like my wine to be completely dry, but this was great.