Wednesday’s Wow! – Generation Seven Gamay Nouveau 2012

Generation Seven Gamay Nouveau 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Bosc family’s (Chateau des Charmes) take on ‘nouveau’ wine, and I think it’s definitely worth snapping up a few bottles.  After all, the holidays are almost here and this is a fun, celebratory wine to share with friends and family – it would also be a great accompaniment to Xmas turkey!

Nouveau Wine

‘Nouveau’ wine is sold the same year in which it is harvested, which means it finished fermentation only a couple of weeks before it’s bottled and ready for purchase.  It’s amazing to think that only 2 short months ago the Gamay grapes that were used to make this fresh, young wine were still hanging in the vineyard!

The ‘nouveau’ or ‘primeur’  style of wine was made popular in the Beaujolais region of France when Georges Duboeuf challenged other nouveau producers to a race to see who could be the first to get their newly fermented wine to the Paris market.  The race was a huge marketing success and in 1985, the third Thursday of November became the official release date of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Tomorrow, being the third Thursday of November, the Generation Seven Gamay Nouveau 2012 will be released at the LCBO, the winery, and the website, for only $11.95.  The label conveniently sports the wine’s own hashtag, #JeSuisARRIVÉ, so you can share your thoughts with others in the Twitterverse about this yummy wine.

Tasting Notes

This wine is bursting with red fruit aromas and flavours – including strawberry, raspberry, plum, and cherry – along with a hint of fresh herbs.  It’s soft and fruity and very quaffable.  Serve it slightly chilled.  This wine is meant to be enjoyed while it is still young and fresh, so it’s best if it’s consumed within a couple of months.

I suspect this Gamay Nouveau won’t last long at the LCBO, so pick up a few bottles to go with your Xmas turkey.  It would also pair well with salmon and trout, baked ham, hotdogs, pizza, and roasted chicken.

This wine was received as a sample.

Ontario Chardonnay Musqué

Photo by Basheer Tome @‘Chardonnay Musqué‘ is a name that’s appearing more and more on Ontario wine labels – currently there are at least 3 or 4 available at my nearest Vintages store.   “What exactly is Chardonnay Musqué?”, you may be asking.  Well, it’s actually a special clone of Chardonnay.  The term “musqué” can be applied to certain varieties or clones of grapes that means both “musky” and “Muscat-like” and indicates a perfumed or highly aromatic grape.

There are over 40 different clones of Chardonnay, but only two of these can be called “Musqué” due to their aromatic qualities – Clone 77 and Clone 809.  They are generally unoaked in order to preserve the fresh and fragrant aromas natural to the grape.  Several Ontario vineyards are now planted with musqué clones and the grapes may be used as either part of a blend or bottled on their own.  Generally, these wines are best when consumed relatively young.  The aromas of Chardonnay Musqué are reminiscent of Viognier or even Torrontes, and it can be made in a range of styles from dry to a little sweet to quite sweet, sometimes even with a slight spritz.  Enjoy a chilled glass of Chardonnay Musqué on a warm spring or summer day, either on its own or pair it with mild curries, sushi, salads, grilled salmon, and seafood.

Several Ontario wineries are using one or both Chardonnay Musqué clones in their wines.  13th Street’s delicious White Palette uses Chardonnay Musqué as part of the blend, while other producers, such as Chateau des Charmes, Cave Spring Cellars, Vineland Estates, Malivoire, Ravine Vineyard, and Fielding Estates, to name a few, prefer to bottle the clone on its own.

A few Ontario Chardonnay Musqués:

Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Musque 2010Chateau des Charmes 2010 Chardonnay Musqué:  Paul Bosc, founder of Chateau des Charmes, chose the particularly fragrant and interesting Clone 809 for his Chardonnay Musqué.  The first 2 rows were planted at Chateau des Charmes in 1993, another 2 rows in 1995, and finally a whole block was planted with Clone 809 in 1999.  Chateau des Charmes first bottled the clone on its own in very small quantities in 2002.  Today, only 500 cases are bottled by the winery annually.  The 2010 Chardonnay Musqué has fragrant aromas of honeysuckle, cherry blossoms, grapefruit, and green apple.  Dry with crisp citrus, mineral, and spicy notes on the palate with refreshing acidity and a lingering finish. ($16.95)  *2012 Ontario Wine Awards Gold Medal Winner in the Unoaked Chardonnay category.*

Cave Spring Cellars 2009 Chardonnay MusqueCave Spring Cellars 2009 Chardonnay Musqué:  This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay Musqué Clone 77, first planted in Cave Spring‘s vineyards in 1984.  The first vintage bottled was 1988.  The 2009 vintage shows pronounced aromas of orange blossom, melon, honey, grapefruit, and ripe apple.  This is a dry wine with zesty acidity and flavours of lemon and grapefruit, peach, and a hint of spice with a lively and refreshing finish. ($15.95)

Vineland Estates 2010 Chardonnay MusqueVineland Estates 2010 Chardonnay Musqué: Showing floral and ripe tropical fruit aromas, Vineland Estates 2010 Chardonnay Musqué is very reminiscent of Viognier.  Loads of lemon and grapefruit zest with soft floral notes, peach and nectarine.  Off-dry on the palate, the residual sugar is beautifully balanceed by the ample acidity.  Exotic fruit flavours, citrus, and minerals burst on the palate with a pleasantly lingering finish.($17.95)

Malivoire 2010 Musque SpritzMalivoire 2010 Musqué Spritz: Made from Clone 809 planted in Malivoire‘s Estate Vineyard in 1999.  This wine is Ontario’s version of Italy’s Moscato d’Asti.  Sweet melon, grape, peach, and floral aromas dominate the nose.  A slight spritz balances the generous dose of residual sugar.  Only 9% alcohol.  Can be paired with light curries and other slightly spicy dishes, but also has enough sweetness to pair with some fruit-based desserts. ($19.95)

A Trio of Great Value, Easy Drinking Ontario Red Blends

Glass of Red WineI love blends.  Some of my favourite wines are blends… Bordeaux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cotes du Rhone, among others.  Not too long ago, single varietal wines were all the rage, but now the trend is for blends.  Blends are wines made from 2 or more grape varieties.  Many prominent Ontario wine producers are taking advantage of this trend and coming out with a number of blends in all price points to satisfy the needs of thirsty wine lovers.  At the pricier end of the scale, there are wines such as Stratus Red and White – delicious, but be prepared to part with a few bucks.  There are also many blends that are fruity, approachable, easy drinking, and won’t break the bank.  I recently became curious about some of these wines as I wandered around the shelves of the LCBO’s General List VQA wines.  I saw a number of new and unfamiliar labels and noticed that many were made by well-established Ontario producers – the Speck brothers of Henry of Pelham, Kacaba Vineyards, Vincor, Chateau des Charmes, Peninsula Ridge, etc, so I decided to buy a few and give them a try.  All the wines I chose were under $14.

Now, these are not serious wines to ponder and reflect on, but they are tasty, and they’re ready to drink now.  Have a few bottles of these wines on hand for those casual occasions when friends drop by, or you just feel like a glass of red with dinner.  They’ll also be great in the warmer months when we start to fire up the barbie – they’re perfect for all kinds of grilled meats.

Here are My 3 Favourites:

Red House Wine Company 2009 Cabernet Shiraz

Red House Wine Company 2009 Cabernet ShirazA couple of weeks ago I wrote about Family Tree Red 2009 – by Henry of Pelham and declared it a Wednesday’s WoW, well the same producers have come out with another easy drinking red called Red House Wine Company Cabernet Shiraz ($12.95).  This wine has smokey mocha, spicy cherry and blackberry notes with a round texture and velvetty tannins.  There is a pleasant lingering finish of black pepper spice and smokey fruit.  This wine is meant for current consumption, but will keep another couple of years.  Pair with bbq’d ribs.

Generation Seven 2009 Red

Generation Seven 2009 RedGeneration Seven 2009 Red is from the Bosc family of Chateau des Charmes and was created to honour the seven generations of the family who have been born into the winemaking industry.  Currently the fifth and sixth generations are at the helm, and they hope that one day the seventh generation will take over the business.  This wine is an unusual blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and a hint of Gamay.  This wine is full of aromas of crushed wild berry aromas, sweet vanilla, and baking spice.  There is enough barrel aging to add some soft oak notes.  Soft and round on the palate with a good length.  Meant for current consumption.  Pair with pasta with a meaty tomato sauce. ($13.95)

Kacaba Vineyards Gypsy Red 2009

Kacaba Vineyards 2009 Gypsy RedBrought to you by Kacaba Vineyards, the 2009 Gypsy Red 2009 is a blend of equal proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon and was aged for 12 months in French and American oak.  Loads of berry aromas with a pretty floral note, cedar, dried leaves, and spicy oak.  Medium to full-bodied with slightly gritty tannins, dried herbs, cherry, and a smokey, spicy fruit finish.  Meant for current consumption but will keep a couple of years.  Pair with beef burgers or pot roast. ($11.95)

Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Ontario Wine Lover on Your List

Time is running out to find the perfect gift for the wine lover on your list.  Here are a few delicious Ontario wines that will surely make him or her a happy wino.  And, it’s not too late to get them!

Great Value Gift Wines

Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Riddled Sparkling:  A blend of 68% Pinot Noir and 32% Chardonnay, this is the first Ontario VQA sparkling wine to be closed with a crown cap.  Crown caps make perfect sense as a closure for sparkling wine as this is the closure used during the second fermentation and subsequent ageing on the lees, even in Champagne.  Flat Rock’s Ed Madronich actually had the VQA regulations changed to allow for this type of closure.  Made using the traditional method with the second fermentation in the bottle, this wine spent 22 months ageing on its lees.  This wine has a creamy mousse and flavours of pear and yellow apple, with a mild bready, yeasty character.  Definitely a crowd pleaser and sure to spark conversation about the closure.  Available at the winery and the LCBO for the great price of $24.95.

13th Street Riesling Old Vines: The grapes are grown on vines planted in 1976 and the wine shows the concentration of flavour expected from vines this age.  Zippy acidity, green apple, lime and grapefruit flavours together with superb minerality and a slightly floral note make this the perfect gift for the Riesling lover on your list.  $24 at the winery.

Nyarai Cellars Veritas 2007:  Not much is still available at this price point from the 2007 vintage which was touted as the best so far in Niagara, but Nyarai Cellars has just released its 2007 Veritas, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah.  Drinking beautifully now, this wine is full of flavour with dark berries, plums, forest floor, and spice that lingers deliciously on the palate.  Available in a handy gift pack with two wine glasses for $40 online at  The wine itself is a steal at under $25 a bottle.

Wines to Splurge On

Chateau des Charmes Equuleus, Paul Bosc Vineyard 2007:  Chateau des Charmes’ flagship wine is made only in the best vintages and 2007 was definitely a great one!  The 2007 Equuleus is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 25% Merlot.  This medium to full bodied wine is full of dark plum, cassis, spice, mocha, and black licorice flavours.  The firm tannins still need at least a couple of years to soften so this wine is definitely a cellar dweller.  This is a big, dark, and delicious wine at the quite reasonable price of $40.  Available at the winery and the LCBO in only a few stores now.

Southbrook Vineyards 2007 Poetica Cabernet Merlot: Another big, red blend, this time with 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, and 23% Merlot, from the 2007 vintage.  The Poetica series of wines showcases art in the form of poetry.  Each grape variety and each vintage has its own poem printed in elegant script on the label – a perfect gift for the reader on your gift list.  The wine in the bottle is pretty darn good too!  Flavours of cassis, chocolate, spice, earth, and leather abound with medium to full body and a long length.  Ready to drink now with beef or lamb or lay down for another couple of years.  $60 at the winery.

Hidden Bench La Brunate 2007: Yet another wonderful Bordeaux-style blend from the 2007 vintage, La Brunate is only made in the best years – so far only 2005 and 2007.  This wine won a Regional Trophy in the Decanter Wine Awards 2010.  A blend of 64% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Malbec, it spent 18 months in oak, 40% of which is new.  This is a big, brooding wine with dark fruit, leather, and earth aromas.  Big and lush on the palate with ample amounts of ripe tannins.  $85 at the winery.

Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2008: Tired of the big Bordeaux blends?  How about something different for the Icewine lover on your list?   Sparkling Icewine is sure to put a smile on any recipient’s face.  Fermentation takes place in a special sealed vessel which traps the resulting carbon dioxide in the wine creating the bubbles.  The wine is sweet, but the sugar is balanced by high natural acidity and delicate effervescence.  Pronounced aromas and flavours of apricots, peaches and a bit of  honey make a wine that can be enjoyed at the beginning of the meal with foie gras, with fruit-based desserts, or as dessert.  $69.95 at the winery or the LCBO.

Norman Hardie Cuvee L Chardonnay 2008:  This is a great wine to convince the white Burgundy fan on your list that Ontario also makes excellent Chardonnays.  British wine writer Jancis Robinson MW, the Queen of wine, gave it a score of 17.5 saying it had “real character” and it was “really very Burgundian”.  Cuvee L is a blend of the best Chardonnay grapes from Prince Edward County (about 35%) and Niagara Peninsula (65%).  Complex aromas of citrus, mandarine, nectarine, ripe pear, vanilla yogurt, and a distinctive whiff of flinty minerality lead to a creamy texture and a long, delicious finish.  $49 at the winery.

Which Ontario wines do you think would make great gifts?  I know there are many!!!

Sip and Savour Ontario – June 17, 2010

Sip and Savour Ontario, a wine and food event showcasing Ontario Wine Award winners, was held last week on June 17, 2010.  The Ontario Wine Awards was founded by celebrated Canadian wine writer Tony Aspler in 1995, and has grown to include over 500 entries from about 60 wineries.  This year’s Sip and Savour took place at the Pantages Hotel in downtown Toronto.  While the venue was very nice, it got claustrophobically crowded during the trade tasting.  The crush of people made it very difficult to write decent tasting notes but, on the positive side, the number of people present is definitely an indication of the interest and high regard shown for Ontario’s great wines.  I hope they rent a larger space for next year’s event.

Rieslings to Believe: Ontario’s Cinderella Grape

The afternoon for me began with a seminar presented by Natalie Reynolds, winemaker at Thirty Bench, called “Rieslings to Believe: Ontario’s Cinderella Grape”.  (Other seminars included Ontario Pinot Noir and Ontario Chardonnay.)  During the presentation, Ms. Reynolds commented on a “Riesling Renaissance”, stating that Riesling, which was once one of the world’s most revered grapes, is making a huge comeback after having suffered a serious slump in popularity. (If you’re interested, there is also a book titled “Riesling Renaissance”, written by Freddy Price and published by Mitchell Beazley in 2004.)

Riesling was the first vitis vinifera vine to be successful in Ontario as it takes well to cool climates, and it also happens to be the finest grape for our important Icewine industry. Of course, we don’t just make superb sweet Rieslings, Ontario also makes excellent dry and off-dry versions.  Ms. Reynolds spoke a bit about the two Riesling clones that are predominantly grown in the Niagara Peninsula – clone 21B and clone 49.  The Niagara Riesling Pioneers include Vineland Estates, Cave Spring, and Thirty Bench.  Back when they were planting Riesling vines, over 30 years ago, the clone 21B was the only clone available to them. Clone 21B is the most planted Riesling clone on Beamsville Bench, and clone 49 has become the most planted in the vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Clone 21B on the bench gives wines full of lime and mineral aromas and flavours, while clone 49 in NOTL tends to be more floral with tropical fruit notes.

Good Rieslings reflect the terroir in which they are grown, more so than any other grape.  It is a late budding and early ripening grape which suits cooler climates, as does its hard wood, which makes it resistant to Ontario’s cold winters.  In warmer climates it ripens too early and loses much of its complexity and character, making it taste dull.  The addition of SO₂ as a preservative is not needed as much with dry Rieslings due to their very low pH.  Rieslings with some or a lot of residual sugar may require more.

Riesling does not take well to aging in oak, as most of its greatly admired freshness, fragrance, and acidity will be severely diminished.  Malolactic fermentation is also avoided.

During this seminar we tasted 4 different award winning Rieslings from 4 different wineries – all were very good.  Here are the tasting notes:

Thirty Bench 2008 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard (2010 Gold Medal):  Intriguing petrol aromas along with mineral, white grapefruit and citrus.  The wine is dry with a racy, mouthwatering acidity, lime zest and lots of mineral.  Quite a long, lingering finish.  Very good. ($30)

Rosewood Estates 2008 Riesling Reserve (2010 Bronze Medal):  A pale straw colour with a greenish hue.  Intense aromas of mineral, zesty citrus, beeswax, and honey notes.  The wine is dry and beautifully balanced with flavours of green apple, mineral, and a slightly waxy character and crisp acidity. ($25)

Flat Rock Cellars 2008 Riesling Twenty Mile Bench (2010 Gold Medal):  Displaying intense aromas and flavours of key lime, mineral, and a touch of petrol.   Crisp acidity and a lingering finish make this balanced wine a very tasty Riesling at a great price! ($16.95 – can be found in Vintages)

Tawse 2009 Sketches of Niagara Riesling (2010 Silver Medal):  This wine has about 10% of clone 49 in the blend which perhaps explains the presence of a more tropical fruit character.  It’s also the only wine of the 4 from the 2009 vintage.   Pronounced  and complex aromas of mineral, white peach, nectarine, mango, and fresh blossoms.  Mineral flavours on the palate are softened by nectarine and white peach notes.  Vivacious, balanced and beautiful with a lingering, mouthwatering finish. ($18).

Other Great Wines Tasted at Sip and Savour 2010

Not all the wines listed below were award winners, but they were some of my favourites of the tasting.

Huff Estates Winery South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 (2010 Gold Medal and White Wine of the Year):  My favourite white wine of the tasting.  Complex and creamy with yellow apple, orange peel, mineral, and vanilla. A bit of vanilla yogurt, nectarine, and spice on the palate with long creamy finish and subtle, well-integrated oak.  Gorgeous!

Konzelmann Estate Winery Sparkling Riesling Methode Cuvée Close 2008 (2010 Bronze Medal):  A fun and delicious wine.  Great for serving on a hot summer day.

Nyarai Cellars Trois 2009: A blend of 85% Viognier with a little Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.  Very fragrant and floral with fresh peach and apricot aromas and flavours.  A great summer sipper! ($19)

Rosewood Estates Gewurztraminer 2008 (2009/2010 Silver Medal): The grapes for this wine are sourced from the Wismer Vineyard.  A typical Gewurz fragrance of lychee, tropical fruit and fresh flowers.

Chateau des Charmes Equuleus Paul Bosc Vineyard 2007:  50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc.  Big, dark, and still quite tannic.  Needs a couple more years to become more approachable.  Great potential to turn into a stunning wine. ($40)

Creekside Estate Broken Press Shiraz 2007 (2010 Gold Medal):  Robust aromas and flavours of cherry, smoke, and pepper.  A very good Shiraz with great typicity. ($39.95)

Nyarai Cellars Cabernet Merlot 2007 Reserve:  Bold dark fruit, red cherry, and coco aromas and flavours are dominant.  Full and round on the palate with smooth tannins and a long length. Not yet released.

Southbrook Vineyards Whimsy! Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 19 2007 (2010 Bronze Medal):  Big, bold and beautiful with abundant dark berries and earth, while still managing a sophisticated elegance. ($34.95)

Southbrook Vineyards Poetica Cabernet Merlot 2007:  Also from the fantastic 2007 vintage comes this stunning wine.  Loads of red and dark fruits, roasted coffee and toasty notes.  Complex, concentrated, and balanced. ($60)

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Baco Noir 2008 (2010 Best Label):  A really nice Baco.  Lots of dark fruit and earth. ($16)

Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007 (2010 Gold and Red Wine of the Year):  A beautiful perfume of dark fruit, dark cherry, plum, anise and slight pencil shavings.  Complex notes of spice, dark fruit, and earth on the palate with smooth tannins and a long length. Amazing! ($40)

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