So I'm kicking back with a glass of my latest, a 2005 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir (Niagara $35) thinking to myself how many inferior Pinot's I've quaffed (Niagara, Napa, and Burgandy)that cost significantly more. I log on to that internet thingy to see what the experts have to say about this vintage, and I quickly get lost in the wonderful world of online wine. It soon occurs to me that Niagara wine is thourougly detested by all but those living in Niagara. What gives???
I'll be the first to admit that Niagara wine has some rather dubious origins, and that many, I repeat, many, Niagara wineries (especially in N.O.T.L.)care more about style than substance. But if one does a little research (i.e., touring many of the smaller wineries in the bench sub-apps) one can discover pinots, cabs and gamays that truly rival the old world. I submit, as evidence, Kacaba 2002 Cab Sauv Proprieter's, Chateau des Charmes 2002 Cab Sauv (Paul Bosc), Mountain Road 2002 Gamay Reserve, 2002 13th Street Gamay Reserve, Le Clos Jordan 2004 Le Grand Clos Pinot, and the aforementioned Gravity (most still available at the winery).
Now I'm not Naive enough to say that these wines are far better than French, or for that matter, Napa, wines (indeed, you can find good, bad, plonk, and phemomenal wines from any major region), but for the most part, these wines can stand their own beside most any other wine without embarrassing themselves. For example, I recently selected one of the less stellar of this lot (CdC Cab $30 approx.) and invited several wine-loving guests over for a blind tasting against a Chateau Franc-Maillet 2003 Pomerol ($65). The Pomerol was the better wine, but not by any significant margin of victory. Which PROVES my point Niagara does produce some damn fine wines.
Unfortunately, most of those fine examples will never find their way to the LCBO shelves or your corner wine store in New York (sorry Board-O). Which leads me to my next point...If you want quality wine you have to go out of your way to find it. Just as Niagara's best will never see the LCBO shelf, neither will the top quality wines of the old world, Napa or Australia.
You can't sit back in the comfort of your hometown and denounce Niagara outright. The stuff you purchased from your local liquor store is the mass produced, lower quality wine that the larger vintners dump on the mass market. You owe it to yourself as a wine lover to discover what Niagara is truly capable of.