|Posted on June 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM|
The birds are chirping, the temperature is rising, the flowers are blooming and the grapes are growing. Those are the unmistakable signs that summer has arrived. When you live in Canada and endure a cold winter - not unlike the one we just experienced - the onset of the summer months feels like a rejuvenation and creates a sense of anticipation for days lounging by the pool, or hanging out on a patio, enjoying a glass of wine with friends and family. We tend to be creatures of habit so year in and year out when the summer months arrive we gravitate towards specific wines. Some of us stick with Rose wines while others insist that Pinot Gris or Grigio is the way to go. Some of us gravitate towards the bubbly and then there is a group of us who just do not know which to drink. The great thing about the Ontario wine industry is that, no matter what your preference is, there is something out there for you to enjoy.
For me, personally, I tend to switch between Rose wines and white wines during the summer months. This year, in the Rose category, I came across one that screamed "transition" to me. I know that sounds confusing and maybe even a bit off putting, but let me explain. I have several friends that, when it comes to wine, enjoy those flavoured wines like Wild Vines and Arbor Mist. Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with those wines because wines are all a matter of preference. The thing is that I love to expand people's horizons when it comes to the world of wines. Each vintage brings new wines to the table so there is always something new out there to try. Back in April when I attended County in the City in Toronto, I discovered such a wine and it was one that I wanted to share with my friends who enjoy wines like Strawberry White Zinfandel.
Karlo Estates 2011 Frontenac Gris Rose
$16.00 per bottle; available through their website or at the winery itself
Strawberries, rhubarb, cherries and even candy apples - all of these aromas flow out of this glass when you take that first sniff. They continue onto the palate where it combines with a hint of cinnamon spice and citrus. It is the strawberry and candy apple components and the off dry nature of this wine that make it a similar flavour profile to some of those combined wine products but the string of acidity and the structure of this wine are what take it to the next level. If you are feeling adventurous or want to find a real crowd pleaser, this is the wine you want to get.
As I am writing this, I have been asking on Facebook and Twitter what your favourite go to summer sipper wine is. The responses have ranged from "many" to "Pinot Grigio" to "Off Dry Riesling" and, with Ontario wines, there are many to choose from. Here are just a couple of my favourites from around the province.
Years ago, Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery in Beamsville launched on a project to create three single vineyard Sauvignon Blancs for their portfolio. Over the years the approach has changed but one still remains- the Lepp Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. They retail at $18.95 a bottle and are available through the winery itself but it is an excellent example of what cool climate Sauvignon Blanc can truly be. Flavours and aromas of gooseberry, lemon and grapefruit, a real backbone of acidity and incredible balance, the Lepp Vineyard 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery is a great kick back on a summer afternoon easy drinking wine.
When I think Pinot Grigio my brain invariably thinks Italian. In Ontario, one winery stands out in my mind for making great Pinot Grigio and that is Pillitteri Estate Winery in Niagara on the Lake. Light and refreshing, crisp and uncomplicated, aromas and flavours of pear and mineral with just a hint of floral in the base, that is what Pinot Grigio should be. It should not make you sit there and ponder what you are enjoying. Pinot Grigio is meant to be enjoyed with simple, uncomplicated food or when you just want a glass of wine and nothing else. Pillitteri Estate Winery's 2011 Pinot Grigio retails for $15.20 a bottle and is available through the winery or at your local LCBO store.
Off Dry Riesling
The number of wineries that fit into this category are as many as the number of wineries in this province. Riesling is a grape that works exceptionally well in Ontario soils, with our climate and with the palates of the wine buyers of this province. It is a people pleaser and is incredibly food friendly. If you are looking for a variety of flavours or a wine to match with a variety of foods than Off Dry Riesling is the perfect go to wine. No matter what area of Ontario you look in, there is a winery that makes an amazing Off Dry Riesling. Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County is a great example, Cave Spring Cellars in Niagara has a full line up of Rieslings to choose from each year and Cattail Creek Estate Winery in Niagara on the Lake make great examples of this very versatile grape. Check out each of their websites and try one today - you will not be sorry.
So, what if you are a red wine person surrounded by white wine people in the summer. You may not want to try a rose wine but there is a growing trend amongst Ontario wineries to try white versions using red wine grapes. White Merlot was the big trend a couple of years ago but with this years release we are finding a bunch of White Pinot Noirs hitting the shelves. Exultet Estates was the first to hit the shelves with their 2012 Mysterium. Flavours and aromas of melon and apple, spice and mineral - while not a typical flavour profile for Pinot Noir when it is red, there are some common elements and it is a nice change of pace for those who enjoy redwines. Exultet Estates sells their 2012 Mysterium for $30 a bottle directly through their website or at their retail store. The other new edition to the white Pinot Noir category is from The Old Third Vineyard. Also located in Prince Edward County, their White Pinot Noir retails for $35 a bottle is a very limited release. Jens has already told me he expects this great summer sipper to sell out quickly so gets your hands on it soon.