Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ontario Wine - Peninsula Ridge

Peninsula Ridge was our first stop. Owned by Norman Beal, an oil trader, the winery produces about 15,000 cases. Jean Pierre Colas from the French wine growing region of Chablis is the winemaker. Chablis, the northernmost part of Burgundy, should be good preparation for making wine in Ontario. The 2004 Sauvignon Blanc was fresh, crisp, and refreshingly clean without a hint of the usual Sauvignon grapefruit and weediness. It actually tasted a bit like a Chablis or Petite Chablis. The 2003 Vintners Private Reserve Chardonnay was fresh, cool, and citrusy with hint of tangerine flavor. It spent 16 months in French oak.

Half of the 2004 Merlot was fermented in oak, half in stainless.  It had a hint of tobacco in the nose and bright cherry flavors. The 2001 Arcanum is a blend of Merlot Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The Syrah added to the classic Bordeaux grapes led me to expect a wine similar to Washington Bordeaux-style. Not exactly! A wine with complex flavors of leather, raspberries, and cherry, but not as balanced as I had hoped. The 2002 Reserve Cabernet had a strong bouquet of eucalyptus and tobacco followed by raspberry flavors. It could definitely use another few years of ageing.

We tasted two unusual wines – 2001 Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and 2004 Ratafia. The Ice Wine had a reddish mahogany color like a Tawny Port, but tasted most like the French Banyuls. Too much honey and caramel for my taste. The Ratafia was made from unoaked Chardonnay blended with distilled plum wine. The dominant tangerine flavor was appealing. This is definitely a sweet after dinner wine more in the spirit of a liqueur or eau de vie than a table wine.

This winery is probably fairly typical of Niagara wineries. Everything is professionally done and many of the wines are interesting, but not quite world class.

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