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Ontario 2007 Vintages

Not sure if I should post this here or on the wine board.

Question for the oenophiles, listening to the latest LCBO commercial (or may VQA?) someone states that 2007 was the best year ever she then says Ontario has wonderful reislings. Is it true that 2007 is believed to be the best year for reislings from Ontario? When would these 2007s likely be released and how would the year compare to Alsace or German reislings?

Thanks!

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  1. The buzz is that it will be the best year ever for red wines. But these generally take a little longer to age before release. There's no reason the whites shouldn't also be excellent but I haven't heard the same buzz for these (yet).
    The key is the quality of the grapes (which was indeed maybe the cleanest ever in 2007) - but on riesling (in particular) we frequently get good quality in Ontario (and I agree that Riesling is probably the grape Ontario does best). However, Ontario rieslings aren't necessarily the same as those from Alsace or Germany - and for everyday drinking I find that the 'imports' tend to be cheaper than the better Ontario rieslings.
    And you should see all of these soon - I'm pretty sure they are already appearing on the shelves. Buy a few at under $20 (German Kabinetts are in this range) and see what you like.

    11 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      Thanks estufarian. Interesting, that it's the reds. I generally don't like Ontario reds, I've found BC wines much superior from our country. A broad comment I know, but on the whole that's been my experience so I'm even more intrigued by what will be put forth.

      I buy "a lot" (relative to the other wines I purchase) of German or Alcase reislings (usually under $25 dollars) but I haven't experimented with Onario. I've found I can get what I want with the two afformentioned countries. Would you say Ontario leans towards a particular style for reisling or would it be more specific to the producer?

      Somewhat related, does the "buzz" also apply to prince edward county? I know nothing about PEC but I'm hearing more and more about the area in the media.

      1. re: Apprentice

        I find the late harvest rieslings are generally the best value in Ontario rieslings. but they're sweet (but balanced with acidity). The more expensive dry rieslings have been good, but most of the cheaper ones (say under $20) haven't shown great character (for me). I've had some luck with Cave Springs and Reif, but the best (e.g. Charles Baker - made at Stratus) are over $30. So, for the moment, I'm sticking with Germany (Mosel) and Alsace.
        I'm not too familiar with PEC - for me the vines are just too young, and I haven't had any tastings 'blind' where they've shown well. I think they're still making their best wines from Niagara fruit - although I'll probably get storms of protest. Still waiting for my first 'I'd buy it' County wine. But they're still finding their way. Give them time.

        As for the reds it's still 'wait & see'. The BC reds I've liked are also expensive - again, at the price point I now choose to buy from Portugal. And I have had some decent reds from Ontario (occasionally under $30, but not often) - but I always taste first.

        1. re: estufarian

          Thanks I'll keep your comments in mind.

          1. re: Apprentice

            Just strolled through vintages and noticed the following 2007:
            LOOSEN BROS. DR. L RIESLING 2007
            VINTAGES 599274 750 mL bottle
            I bough both the 2005 and 2006 (still have some so didn't buy this) - but at under $15 it seems worth a try to compare in value with the Ontario wines.

              1. re: Apprentice

                By chance had an opportunity today to try several 2007's and many were Riesling.
                Overall I'd asess as 'pretty good' - with exceptions (in both directions). Best overall was Charles Baker, Piccone Vineyard 2007. At $35 not cheap - but this shows what Ontario is capable of. It's made at Stratus (Charles is the Marketing chief) but don't think it's for sale there. Apparently Charles hopes to eventually produce a range of single-vineyard rieslings (assuming he can find the right sites). Most other Rieslings were sound wines for drinking (not laying down). Didn't try the Featherstone (mentioned below) but my general impression was that they were fresh and fruity without much backbone, although I also liked the Flat Rock. Still pretty austere (Alsace style) and lacking complexity - but a good finish that promises to hold a bit while some complexity develops.
                Not many reds on show, with the only one showing well right now (most were pretty dumb) being the Flat Rock (again) Pinot Noir 2007 (not the reserve - this one retails for about $20). Not that this was what I hope for in a Pinot Noir - but at $20 I found this good value with an unusual (but interesting) licorice skeleton, rather than the cherry notes I usually find in Ontario Pinot. But only a few reds were being shown - and they'd just been bottled.

                1. re: estufarian

                  wow thanks. Was this a wine club/private tasting or something put on by the LCBO? Just curious if these types of events are made available to the "public".

                  1. re: Apprentice

                    Mostly private/restricted. The suppliers were sponsors of an event - hence a restricted # of companies. I just took the opportunity to try them.

                    1. re: Apprentice

                      it might not offer you the variety, but lailey was quite enthusiastic about their '07s when i spoke to them last night and offered me a card mentioning a preview of much of their '07 bottlings for tasting sometime within the next couple of months. i don't recall what cost was involved but it appeared to be fairly minimal. i don't see anything on their website so i would suggest calling them.

                    2. re: estufarian

                      Hey estufarian,

                      Besides the Charles Baker and the Flat Rock, what other wineries' Rieslings did you try?

                      1. re: cybergod

                        Rosehall Run, Ravine Vineyard, Frog Pond, Wildass, Konzelmann, Tawse (Echo's) - and at least 1 more that I didn't write down the name.

        2. A few days ago, I posted a short write up on the 'wine' board discussing some of the points you raised above. The $27.50 Featherstone small lot Riesling which I picked for comparison with its German cousin was supposed to be one of the best 2007 Riesling currently available. However, per my write up, it was a huge dissappointment, lacking in character and complexity. ( especially when it was tasted side-by-side with the 'same price' Mosel ). My first impression to this 'great?!' 2007 vintage - No big deal!! I hope to re-evaluate when some 'late-harvest' ones are becoming available down the pipeline. Meanwhile, I'll stick to my favs.,Gunderloch and Weinbach.
          Cheers!

          1. Has anyone had good luck with whites from Essex county, or Lake Erie? The area seems to be overlooked, as it is not a tourist or weekend destination.

            1. Hi there
              I never liked whites under I tried Flat Rock's Twisted blend last summer, and found my way in to Ontario rieslings and gewurtzs. Not knowing much about German/French rieslings, i can say that if you like a dry riesling, I look no further than the Vineland estates semi-dry or the Cave Springs. Mind you, my price range is narrower, but I have always enjoyed the ontario whites :)

              1. Yup, 07 is shaping up to be almost as good as '97 and '98. The whites and reds are both fab. To compare our rieslings to Alsace is not fair, as the French produce ridiculously good wine which no one can compete with. Our wines are uniquely ours and we should celebrate them for what they are. By the way, I believe they can stand up to the best of France, but to do that you have to buy really expensive ones. But you can buy the next v. expensive ones and still have a great, great bottle of wine.

                1. 2007 is a fantastic vintage for Ontario, probably the best ever, overall. However, one possible anomaly in what otherwise is a stelllar vintage is the 2007 Rieslings, as the drought and heat of 2007 didn't necessarily suit Riesling as much as it did other varieties.

                  With the exception of Hidden Bench's 2007 Estate Riesling (which I think is superior to their very good but very austere 2006) and Norman Hardie's 2007 Riesling, many of the 2007 Ontario Rieslings I have tried haven't impressed me as much as those from cooler 2006 vintage. Most have been very good, and often have better fruit than their 2006 counterparts, but many have lacked the characteristic acidity and minerality that keeps Riesling interesting to me. Mind you, this is based on having tried around a dozen different 2007s to date, so I may yet prove to be wrong about this...

                  There's often a price-quality ratio issue when it comes to the best Ontario wines vs. global equivalents, but from first-hand experience in having had a hand in making some wines and having tasted many 2007s from barrel and bottle, I can say that 2007 is definitely a watershed year for Ontario, and will produce many great wines. I worked the 2007 harvest at both Norman Hardie and Le Clos Jordanne, and the grapes we saw coming into the wineries were just amazing, and the juice in the fermentation vats and wine in barrels were just bursting with flavour and complex aromatics.

                  In addition to the quality of the vintage, what I think you'll also see in many 2007 Ontario wines is the culmination of some serious investment in top quality viticulture and winemaking techniques. Frankly, a lot of Ontario wine (IMHO) has been and still is plagued by poor vineyard management and inept or indifferent handling of the grapes/wine in the winery. While the investment in quality is still limited to a short list of wineries (Hidden Bench, Le Clos Jordanne, Norman Hardie being my personal top three), those who have chosen to focus on growing great grapes and making good wine have really taken advantage of what 2007 gave them.

                  Some 2007 Ontario wines I've already tried, and/or am really looking forward to:

                  * The just released 2007 Norman Hardie Prince Edward County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir really show what "terroir" means. Despite very modest alcohol levels (under 12.5% in both wines, even given the "warm" year), the wines have great fruit and amazing minerality and acidity. In contrast, the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Niagara emphasize more dense, tropical (the Chardonnay) and dark fruit (the Pinot) characteristics. Norm and Ben also made a 2007 Pinot Noir from a section of their estate vineyard that was crop thinned to well under 2 tonnes per acre. The wine in barrel is really special.

                  * The 2007 white wines that Hidden Bench has released so far have been really good. I can't wait to try their Pinot Noir and the Sauvignon-Semillon white blend, Nuit Blanche (the 2006 Nuit Blanche was just released, and is terrific). In fact, I can't wait to try anything from their 2007 line-up! FYI: the just released 2005 La Brunante is the best Bordeaux blend red I've ever tasted from Ontario.

                  * All of the Clos Jordanne wines (the colour, smell and flavours of the wines in the vats last Fall were just unbelievable).

                  * Thirty Bench's Bordeaux varietal reds (the 2007 Rieslings, Gewurtz and Pinot Gris wines are already released, and are good)

                  * Malivoire's 2007 Pinot Noirs.

                  * Stratus White and Red.

                  * Tawse's wines (all of them, especially the Chardonnays and the Pinot Noir).

                  The common theme to all of these wines is that they're aren't inexpensive. All of them are above $20, and many are well into the $30 - $40 range (La Brunante is $70!). However, given the effort put into making these wines, the challenges of growing vinifera grapes in Ontario, and the lack of easy access to an inexpensive year-round pool of labour (no Eastern Europe or Mexico next door!), it doesn't surprise me to see these kinds of prices.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cybergod

                    The Tawse Carly's Block Riesling '07(I don't think you can get it anymore) has destroyed my feeling's about Ontario riesling. It utterly outclassed some very serious offerings of late from top growers in Alsace (Weinbach and Zindt) for slight residual wines. These guys are VERY serious.

                    Matt

                    1. re: Matt416

                      Cool. Will definitely have to check it out...

                      1. re: Matt416

                        Damn. Checked the website, and it's sold out already! Thanks for the tip though.