Best Niagara Icewine?
Hello fellow chowhounds,
I will be travelling to Korea in August and would like to bring some Niagara icewines as presents. Unfortunately, as I am allergic to alcohol I need some suggestions. I would prefer not to go to the larger wineries (Jackson Trigg, Inniskillin, etc) and would like to stay in the Beamsville/Jordan area, as my family lives in Stoney Creek.
Thanks in advance.
I recently completed a trip to the Niagara region. I love dessert wines, especially icewine. I visited two places in Beamsville.
First, I went to Royal de Maria ( www.royaldemaria.com ). The wife of the owner filled me in on the history and awards and served me tastings. They are the only Niagara vineyard that specializes only in icewine, and they have won many awards for them. They only have the single location, at the winery. In the early 1990s (1992?), the provincial government put an end to the opening of offsite tasting rooms, so only vintners which were around at that time and grandfathered in have multiple locations; Royal de Maria was founded a year later. Their icewines are rather complex and not as syrupy/sweet as many others, so it becomes a matter of personal taste whether they appeal to you.
Then, I went to Magnotta ( www.magnotta.com ). Magnotta is one of the older vintners so they have approximately eight locations offering tastings and wine for sale. I went to the winery in Beamsville; their tasting room was basically little more than a liquor store with a counter where you could get tastes. (I didn't ask about tours anywhere, as I was more interested in tasting and buying.) Magnotta is known for value as well as quality. They sell a wide variety of wines, some dry, others sweet. To make a long story short, I prefer the more syrupy/sweet icewines, and I really loved their "Vidal Icewine Lake Erie North Shore". I bought a bunch of 375-ml bottles (CAD30 each).
There's a website that I found very helpful in planning my visit; it covers wineries throughout Ontario, including those in the Niagara region. It's www.wineriesontario.com I especially liked their maps and information; they also publish a brochure that you can find at the wineries. Don't rely on their classification of which wineries sell icewine, as there are some that do so but won't show up if you filter on icewine.
Incidentally, Thomas and Vaughn has gone out of business.
Thomas and Vaugn definately fits the bill. It's also in Beamsville. It is a small winery with fantastic award winning sweet wines (both late harvest and Icewine). The employees are friendly and helpful and are happy to give out samples. One of the women that works their is very friendly and told us that some of their Icewines go great with Greek Pizza or Chinese Food!
Their sweet wines are like liquid gold. Fruity, refreshing and you can actually taste the "hints" described which include things like honey, melon, pear, and lychee. What's even better as they are so reasonable. Late Harvests start at about $20 and Ice Wines at $30. Sometimes they even have sales on it when they want to sell of a batch quick. I got an award winning Icewine last time that was $50 for abouto $30 and it blew me away.
Woah, royal de maria? Seriously? Skip the amateurs and head to Danny Lenko for the good stuff. Also check out Featherstone, Flat Rock, Hidden Bench. Danny does a Vidal late harvest that rivals any ice wine and is not expensive. Check his web site for opening dates and times as he is quite small and not an "everyday" winery.
his ice wine was ok and the vidal late harvest was pretty darn good, but certainly not the best. but because of the lack of popularity and the lack of funds for most people to keep this in their regular rotation, he's got them on sale by the case. i think it worked out to approx $20 a bottle or less for the ice wine and that's cheap for the quality! a case might be too much for you, but at $20 a bottle it's a great gift that you can hand out.
Royal de Maria. The 400+ awards and medals are a good sign. However, their bottles are all the $200 range. If you want to go cheaper, though, many wineries in the region offer excellent late harvest wines. Henry of Pelham also has a good late harvest, and a good icewine.
Magnotta is a great gift choice, with it's Patriotic-Canadian Maple-leaf packaging and reasonable price - can be purchased directly from the winery, or from winery-owned stores around the province.
It's not what I would consider THE best, but it's won awards, is of very solid quality and has great packaging, all for a VERY reasonable price, compared to the tres-chic brands.
They even have a sparkling Icewine - great party/gift idea.
4701 Ontario Street.
Beamsville, ON L0R 1B4
Hi ee, I have had one from Stratus, though icewine is not my favorite drink in general, it was good, and the package is very stick to boot...it looks like you might have to purchase from LCBO Vintages, the winery has just one year of the red left...check it out:
First, I feel sorry for you - to be allergic to alcohol!
Anyway, try Royal De Maria and you won't have to trek out to Niagara-on-the-Lake. They offer a free tasting flight (although being allergic, this probably shouldn't make a difference to you). They make exclusively ice wine and you can get different grape varietals there. This is the winery that made the most expensive bottle of ice wine in the world, and was also selected to present the ice wine gift to the Queen while she was on her Jubilee visit.