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If anyone hasn't heard yet, I just came back from tripping through the Niagara wine region. There has been a lot of controversy brought on by a couple of posters about this region and many extremely negative impressions, I'm glad I don't believe everything I read, because I would have missed a lovely experience.
I tasted a couple of hundred wines over 5 days, and although many wineries had inconsistant reds, there were some beautiful exceptions. Unfortunately many of the better reds were over-priced. I base this statement on reputation, and the need to build that reputation before commanding top dollar. By the same token though, I have paid more for California reds of less quality, so i'm not saying some of these wines aren't worthy of 30-40$ price tags, just that it's a tough sell at this stage of the game.

The vintages to watch for are the '98s, some decent '99s although the vintage was sketchy, and the '01s are considered highly, although only very few are released at this time.

These are the wineries and wines I especially enjoyed.

1) Konzelmann - whenever anyone asked me after my return which were my favourites, Konzelmann is always the first winery out of my mouth. It seems they are determined in there quest for quality, and they have a good handle on the German/Alsace varietals. Thank you to Klaus for the gratis late harvest Gerwurtz. Excellent quality whites !!
'99 dry 'late harvest' Riesling
'00 Riesling
'00 Pinot Blanc
'00 Riesling Grand Reserve
'99 dry 'late harvest' Gerwurtz
'99 Riesling Ice wine
'98 Cab/Merlot unfiltered Reserve

2) Lailey - Only in it's second year of operation as a winery, but they provided grapes for several of the regions vitners for many years.
'00 Chardonnay - good QPR - thanks to Dmytro for this gift !!! [Big Grin]
'00 Merlot - although tannic and harsh now, very good structure.

'98 Oak Aged Videl Ice wine

4) Marynissen - I sat with father John and his cat, his daughter-winemaker Sandra was not around at the time. I brought in some BC wines, and he pulled out 20 of his. He's not one for words, but I spent about 1.5 hours with him. I thank him for the gratis Cab/Merlot.
'99 Chardonnay "F" - 22 year old vines
'00 Malbec
'99 Cab Franc
'98 Cab/merlot - he gave me a bottle to take home upon my departure. I drank it before I got to the airport [Wink] . I LOVED this wine !

5) Chateau des Charmes - beautiful facilities, family owned and operated.
'00 Vionier St. Davids Bench
'98 Paul Bosc Chardonnay
'99 St. Davids Bench Merlot - good buy at 25$

6) Henry Of Pelham - I was suprised I liked so many of their wines. It probably helped that those Speck brothers were so damn cute and engaging though [Wink] Thanks to them for the gratis '98 Speck Bordeaux blend.
'00 Gerwurtz
'01 unoaked Chardonnay
'01 Rose - QPR
'01 Sauvignon Blanc
'00 Baco Noir - I drank this often when I was up in cottage country the following week, at 12$ it's an excellent QPR BBQ wine.
'98 Speck ( bordeaux blend )
'00 Riesling Ice wine

7) Hernder - I spent the better part of an afternoon with Ray Cornell(winemaker), he must have opened 40 bottles for me, unfortunately only 3 stood out. Thanks to him for his time and the gratis bottle of Reserve unfiltered Cabernet.
'01 Reserve Gerwurtz
'99 Chardonnay 'barrel fermented'
'99 Reserve Cabernet unfiltered
'01 Rhubarb wine -I actually liked this a lot, it smelled like my moms rhubarb pie cooking in the oven.

8) Creekside - thanks for the gratis Sauvignon Blanc & P. Gris Fred - the sales assistant from France.
'01 P Gris
'01 Sauvignon Blanc
'01 Rose - QPR
'99 Late Harvest - great QPR
'99 Vidal Ice Wine

9) Vineland Estates - Brian Schmidt - winemaker - thanks to him for the gratis Gerwurtz Reserve. I loved his white wines, they unfortunately sold out of the Ice wines in March - they must've been good.
'00 Riesling
'99 Gerwurtz Reserve
'00 Semi-dry Riesling - QPR
'00 Chardonnay Reserve

10) Lakeview Cellars
'99 Cabernet - thanks to Deborah Woodhouse for the gratis bottle

11) Willow Hieghts - had a tasting of all their wines, I brought in mine from BC. Enjoyed very much the hospitality of owners Avis and Ron Sperinzini(winemaker) and the gratis gift of Chardonnay.
'00 Chardonnay 'sur lie' - great QPR

12) Maliviore - thanks so much to Tammy Kruck and winemaker/ex-British Columbian Ann Sperling for the bottle of Moira Chardonnay, and their hospitality.
'99 Moira Chardonnay - one of the finest Chardonnays I had in the region.
'00 Riesling Ice Wine

13) Lenko - unfortunately Daniel was away, but I sat with his assistant winemaker Ilya Senchuck and his funny mom Helen in the family kitchen. Helen was especially a 'card', and told me she would TRY to keep quiet while we tasted as 'Danny' has recently instructed of her, but you could tell it was very difficult for her. After the tasting she begged me to stay for supper, but I had made plans to meet Dmytro and was already running late, so she insisted on my having some blueberry pie hot out of the oven, and sent me home with a gift wrapped bottle of the Raspberry wine I loved so much, and several articles and clippings. Thanks for the amusement and hospitality Helen, you made my day [Big Grin]
'00 Vidal Ice Wine
'01 Raspberry wine - I was as suprised about this as you are who are reading this.
'01 Vionier

14) Thirty Bench
'98 Reserve Chardonnay
'98 Riesling Ice Wine

15) Peninsula Ridge - thanks to Benjamin Simmons for the bottle of Meritage, because I would never hve paid 49$ for it, even though it is excellent.
'00 Chardonnay
'01 Sauvignon Blanc
'99 Meritage

I think I was charged for only two tastings, and as you can see folks were giving me 'my' favourites to take home and share with my friends and colleagues. I had a wonderful time, and I now know better if some loser tries to tell me that Ontario wines are not good, because several of them are very, VERY good.

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Wow Mishy -

That's a whole lot of tasting ~ thanks for the notes.

Incidentally, I tasted a red wine blind this weekend, and thought it was a good old-world syrah. It turned out to be a Cab/Merlot/Cab France blend from Ontario. Who knew? [Smile]

How was the Henry of Pelham Icewine? I have a bottle of the '99 that I'll be drinking this weekend w/some friends.
1. Konzelmann:
Best white was the 2000 Chardonnay Reserve: "fruity Chardonnay nose (atypical for Niagara), some flavor, 84 points"
Best red was the 1999 Zweigelt Late Harvest: "nose closed, ready, a little bland, 83 points"

2. Lailey:
2000 Chardonnay: "light oaky nose, heavily oaked flavor, harsh, 82 points"
2000 Merlot: "chemical odor, no fruit, harsh, 75 points"

3. Inniskillin:
Vidal Ice Wine: One of the poorer ice wines in the region. Cloying, lacking acidity, 85 points"

4. Marynissen:
The only winery where I spit out everything I tasted. The best wines didn't make it into the mid-70 point range. Utter swill.

5. Chateau des Charmes:
A large, beautiful estate producing the same swill as the rest of Niagara. I talked our way into a private tasting with one of the winemakers. We didn't taste the Viognier. By this point we knew what sewage the bottom of the line wines were. The '98 Paul Bosc Chardonnay was their best white: "nose closed, moderate fruit, 83 points"
'99 St. Davids Bench Merlot: "nose closed, harsh, light on fruit, 82 points" A good buy at $25? LOL A good-BYE.

6. Henry of Pelham:
Runner up to Marynissen as worst winery in Niagara. Top wine was the Baco Noir- 75 points.

7. Hernder:
Didn't taste the Gewurtztraminer.
'99 barrel fermented Chardonnay: "no nose, harsh, horrible, 70 points"
'99 Reserve Cabernet: "nice rich nose, sharp, acidic, harsh, 78 points"
Didn't taste the rhubarb wine.

8. Creekside: right near our inn, a small family run operation
'99 Vidal Ice Wine: "another Vidal failure, overly sweet and underacidic, pour it on pancakes" (maybe you can recommend this with breakfast at the B&B)

9. Vineland Estates: Pretty good dining room. Producer of the single best Canadian wine I've ever had- a 95 point Cabernet Franc Ice Wine. Unfortunately, but predictably, all the dry wines were horrible.
'99 Gewurtztraminer Reserve: "flavorless, odorless, water? 70 points"
'00 Chardonnay Reserve: "no nose, harsh, bad wine, 68 points"

10. Lakeview:
'99 Cabernet: "no nose, harsh, flavorless 68 points" I can understand why they're giving it away. The Baco Noir was their best wine at 84 points.

11. Willow Heights:
Their best wine is the '99 Tresette Reserve: "nose closed, sharp, acidic, 77 points"

12. Malivoire:
'99 Moira Chardonnay: "surprisingly good, nose closed, oaky and rich, 86 points"
'00 Riesling Ice Wine: "nose of pears, sweetness balanced by acidity, 91 points"
Btw, they're almost always in the tasting room meeting everybody.

13. Lenko:
The tasting room is their kitchen. The stench of the natural fertilizer they use on the vines helped mask that from the wine. We tasted with the Brock University enology student working with them and Daniel and his father stopped in while the elder Mrs. Lenko dodered around.
I don't know how you tasted the '01 Viognier. They were all sold out of it in May.
Raspberry Reserve: 95% red raspberries, 5% black raspberries "would prefer it ot be a little sweeter, 85 points"
'00 Vidal Ice Wine was the best Vidal Ice Wine I've ever had: "nicely acidic, good fruit flavor, 93 points"

14. Thirty Bench:
'98 Reserve Chardonnay (Reif Vineyard): "nose of oak, sharp, lacking fruit, 82 points"
'98 Rieling Ice Wine: "sweet, not quite enough acisity, 90 points"

15. Peninsula Ridge, a beautiful estate with a dining room in an old building maintained well.
'00 Meritage: "nose of berries and cedar, a little sharp, some fruit, tannic, 85 points"

I have loads more notes, but the swill produced there doesn't merit posting them except to refute the nationalistic drivel posted by the lunchtime sommelier. There's a reason these wines aren't routinely reviewed.
Well folks, there you have it. Mishy on one side of the fence and Board-o 180 degrees on the other side. What a surprise. How do we resolve whose taste buds to trust? Difficult, very difficult.

Only possible solutions:

1) Let Mishy pick two of her top favorites from her tasting tour, say one dry white and one dry red, or two dry red for that matter. Someone contacts the wineries and gets a case of each imported (legally, through a distributor) into the US. The person these wines are shipped to then reships the 24 bottles to 12 board members, who do a mini-TAA and then post the results.

Failing that, an even more preposterous exercise:

2) A group of board members, via email, picks a set of three bottles, removes the labels and any identifying marks, and sends one set to Mishy and the other to Board-o. They do the blind tastings and post their results. Then the board members post the names of the bottlings.

Otherwise, it's just a futile wine rendition of "He said, She said." Oy vey.

[ 07-18-2002, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: CrisisMode ]
Thanks for the support, after the encouragement you gave me to post these notes, was it only so you could criticize me along with B-O ?

B-O - I don't believe you, because I stuck several sneaky things in there, just to see if you're a cad or truthful - a few barrel samples I had, and some not avalable for tastings no matter who you are ( only to purchase - I bought a couple of these ), do you know which these are ? Because you didn't mention them as such, and I'm sure you didn't buy them, I made sure to exclude that info just to see how truthful you are in your notes, and as far as I can see, you are a complete liar.
Not that I didn't already know you were a lying blow-hard jerk , but now I know for sure.

The Lenko Vionier '01 was purchased by myself on-line several months ago, I thought I'd include my notes from that wine I tasted then, because it was sold out and I couldn't revisit it when I sat in the kitchen. I did have this wine, and Tyee will vouch for me as he purchased it in his load from Lenko.
Posting tasting notes here is just a depressing experience considering the ganging-up I take from you two jerks - even though both of you ( especially Jones in concerns to any ONT info, and B-O didn't know I was tricking him on several occassions )know nothing of what you're talking about.

You're full of....well....full of Mishy. You didn't fool me on anything. I posted tasting notes I have on numerous sheets from the wineries. You posted that you found 25 outstanding dry wines in Ontario. That statement brands you as either a liar or wine idiot.

The reason The Wine Advocate and The Wine Spectator don't review these wines is that they are putrid. I really wanted to like them. My wife repeatedly asked me why we kept tasting the dry wines since they were almost all horrible and not a single one of them worthy of purchase. Being a Canadian or American has nothing to do with an honest review of wine. You take a review of the swill produced in the region as an attack on your country, and Mishy, the valiant lunchtime sommelier, puts on her tights with the big "C" on the chest, brushes her cape back, and draws her sword, ready to defend her beloved country from the ravages of the American invader. LOL
That Lenko was the third trick wine that I posted - you passed then, but only then.
OK, you be 'dumber' if you want, but I still think that Jones is dumber personally - he's the real sucker, sticking up for you.
So - you posted on the '99 Vineland Reserve Chardonnay eh ???? that's very interesting as it's strictly 'not' avalable for tasting, and was only JUST bottled......... [Razz] and strictly prohibited for the tasting room - yet you have notes ? - I had to buy it at 40$. You are indeed a liar !
You missed at least 20 wines I posted on, and brought up wine I didn't, also flaming them.
- like anyone cares what I didn't like, that's why I didn't post them.
You mentioned in another post that Kacaba had the best Chardonnay, now you say the Moira Maliviore was. Kacaba was very average In my opinion, good thing you back tracked on that opinion.
There is also a barrel sample in there that you say you had.
BTW, old lady Mrs Lenko hasn't dodered in her life, she has a 'tripping on coffee' personality, and couldn't stop bustling around and talking non-stop. Oh yeah, when you're on a farm, 10 ft. from vines, you can smell manure in 30C heat.
I'd shut up now Board-o if I were you [Razz] Because, yes, I have the ammo to make you look DUMBER, I've only just begun.
Mishy [Big Grin]
I tried to mediate this 'Gang'... to no avail!

I feel like a referee who got between the heavy weights, and knocked down in the ensuing brawl.

Question now is...will this turn into a donnybrook?

This squabble appears to be between Mishy and Board-O...most all other posters (including Jones) have not tasted any of these disputed wines, thus have no argument with the TN's.

Board-O, I would ask you to drop the 'Patriotism' card in this issue...this should have nothing to do with Canada, California, or even Long Island. This issue/debate is about your tasting differences with Mishy.

As any good referee should, allow the two combatants to fight themselves out, and prevent the other players (and the crowd) from turning this into an all-out donnybrook.

As Alan Iverson's Mom said..."Keep it Real". [Big Grin]

Play Ball!
Sounds like somebody didn't get a tip at breakfast this morning. [Big Grin] The only wine not available for tasting at Vineland Estataes was the 1999 Meritage. ALL the Rserve wines were available, including two Chardonnays. It's possible changes occurred between our visits, but I think you're full of....well....full of Mishy.

You didn't taste the Kacaba 2000 Old Vines Chardonnay. They had 7 or 8 bottles left when we were there almost two months ago. Yes, the Kacaba wine was mediocre, but it was the best Chardonnay we found in Niagara. In Niagara, mediocrity is tantamount to high quality.

I think by now we all realize you're not too intelligent, so I'll try to post this so yoiu have a chance of understanding it. My quote above:

'99 Moira Chardonnay: "surprisingly good, nose closed, oaky and rich, 86 points"

does not say that the Moira was the best Chardonnay I tasted, just that it was surprisingly good. The best I tasted was the Kacaba 2000 Old Vines, which you did not taste. My notes on it:

"oaky nose, rich flavor 87 points"

Now what was that barrel sample you declined to identify? [Big Grin]
I happen to have the Vineland pamphlet RIGHT in front of me that states in bold lettering "Not avalable for tasting" right next to the '00 Chardonnay reserve, that as well as the Premium P. Noir '99 and the Premium '00 Cab Franc. The reason I remember this so clearly and exactly, was it was the ONLY winery that wouldn't open up those wines, even though I asked - that's why I bought that Chardonnay.
I would be glad to have this pamphlet scanned at work and send it to everyone here who asks me. It is proof of your BS. Proof I've been wanting for a VERY long time!
So, which was the barrel sample BO ? Well, you should know, you claimed to have had it, yet you didn't state it to be a 'barrel' (or gee, was it a tank tasting [Wink] ?) tasting, so I can only assume you didn't even have this wine. I had to go into the winery and watched them 'draw' this out, can't remember huh B-O ? I'm sure you'd remember going to do this since you had such explicit notes on this wine.
Full of crap, that's what you are, and I just proved it. You didn't think I'd be stupid enough to post all those notes without throwing a couple of tricks in the bag did you ? You underestimate me dumb-dumb.
You and your buddy Jones can bite me!
ALL my luv,
OH, BTW, I DID taste the Kacaba Old Vines Chardonnay '00. They had plenty available still in the shop - I don't know what you're talking about.
Light toast, rich viscosity, smokey, apples,pears and banana notes with a decent acidity.
I didn't score it, nor did I highlight it, it didn't wow me, it was better than average.
Only 6 bottles left ? I doubt it. It was still being poured and on the store shelves 3 weeks ago.
Keep out of this Dr. T, this is valid stuff, and I've been taking a lot of heat here for a very long time at B-Os expense concerning his Canadian wine experiences. It's finally my turn for pay-back. This is no nastier than what I've been getting hit with for over a year.
I took great pains to set this up.
Let us go at it.
You're funny when you get angry. I have the Vineland Estates pamphlet in front of me at this moment and the only wines not available for tasting are the 1999 Meritage and 1999 Pinot Noir. Apparently, if you are to be believed and considering your past statements, that's a mountain of an assumption, you have a different pamphlet. I tasted the 2000 Cabernet Franc and have tasting notes on it. Maybe they don't serve it to breakfast sommeliers. Like I said, IF (and it's a big IF) you are to be believed, we have different pamphlets.

Now you state that one of the wines I said I tasted was a barrel sample, yet you refuse to identify it. You're lying again. I dare you to reveal the name of the wine I said I tasted that was a barrel sample. If you fail to do that, you're just flaunting your dishonesty. No matter. It's obvious top all.

tyee, this has EVERYTHING to do with nationalism. Nobody can be so incredibly stupid as to claim there are 25 "outstanding" dry wines available for tasting in Niagara. The impetus for her dishonesty is her paranoid perception that this is an attack on Canada, and by transferance, on her.

You're also lying about the Kacaba. We spoke with owner for quite a while, and he reluctantly agreed to open one of his last bottles when I told him about the upcoming June 15 dinner. He had either 7 or 8 bottles left.

And as far as your comments like "bite me" and "lick me," I'm far too selective at the places my mouth journeys. If I have a desire for Escherichia coli, there are many more appetizing alternatives. Chill out, breakfast is only a few hours away. [Big Grin]
let's get ready to rumbleeeeeeeee

in the left corner, at 25 highly rated canadian dry wines, we have the challenger breakfest sommelier from vancouver,b.c.


in the right corner at 25 plonk, swill, bordering on urine canadian dry wines we have the champion phantom board-o, originally from watchung, new jersey, but now training and residing in long island, new york

i say we finnish this as an off line event in the fight club. any one wish to take odds?
Stemor, you hit the nail on the head. This would be fantastic on Jerry Springer, but they would have to wait for the next sweeps period to air it. I have loved every minute of this exchange, Marv should sell tickets.

Seriously, this would make a fantastic blind tasting challenge. I don't know if any of these wines are available at all in the U.S., but if someone could arrange an off-line with a few board regulars, I would be most interested in the results.
GMT - can't you just see the folks from other countries, for whom English isn't a first language, flipping through their English phrase books looking for "Bite me"? It's an amusing mental image. [Wink]

Though I must admit to using it in the past. [Embarrassed]

Oh well. Commercial break over. (or is it the comic relief?) Back to the fight. Mishy - I think it's your turn.
Vineland Estates 1-888-846-3526
'00 Reserve Chardonnay - 48$
Please call to confirm whether this wine will be opened for anyone - EVER. This is the wine I had to buy to try ( the only one might I add ), and it clearly states that on the Vineland Estates pamphlet - and I asked specifically about this, although Board-o apparently didn't have to buy it to try it ? - it was also JUST bottled.

Please ANYONE call Kacaba too, see if their '00 Old Vines Chardonnay is still avalable 905-562-5625 - it was 3 weeks ago, you can call to confirm that, since Board-O insists on accusing me of NOT tasting this due to its supposed limited availabulity - yeah, right, whatever.

I don't see anymore need to justify myself. I've defended my accusations on several counts, why doesn't Board-o justify HIMSELF ?! - just follow up on the #'s if you wish.


[ 07-19-2002, 06:38 AM: Message edited by: Mishy ]
Not only did I taste the '00 Chardonnay, but I believe the tasting fee was $2. We got the tasting room guy to open everything we wanted except the Cabernet Franc Ice Wine. We ate in their dining room twice and bought plenty. They were only too happy to open the wine for us. Breakfast sommeleiers just don't rate.

One more thing. You stated that one of the wines I tasted was a barrel sample. I have asked you to identify the wine, yet you refuse. The reason is that you are a liar. But then again, that's nothing new to us. Remember when you said you were going to ignore me? [Big Grin]

Go get ready for the corned beef hash crowd. Breakfasttime!
One more thing. I tasted many wines at many wineries that were not routinely opened. When we told the tasting people about the upcoming June 15 dinner with people from the Wine Spectator site, they couldn't open the wines fast enough. Crown Bench owner, Peter, gave us wine to bring with us. If you opened your mouth for some reason other than to stick your foot in it, you could have had some of these wines also. It worked for just about everything but the Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.
Re-printed without permission, but this just fits so well here:

Man: Is this the right room for an argument?
Other Man: (pause) I've told you once.
Man: No you haven't!
Other Man: Yes I have.
M: When?
O: Just now.
M: No you didn't!
O: Yes I did!
M: You didn't!
O: I did!
M: You didn't!
O: I'm telling you, I did!
M: You didn't!
O: (breaking into the developing argument) Oh I'm sorry, is this a five minute argument, or the full half hour?
M: Ah! (taking out his wallet and paying) Just the five minutes.
O: Just the five minutes. Thank you. Anyway, I did.
M: You most certainly did not!
O: Now let's get one thing perfectly clear: I most definitely told you!
M: Oh no you didn't!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: Oh no you didn't!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: Oh no you didn't!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: Oh no you didn't!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: Oh no you didn't!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: Oh no you didn't!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: No you DIDN'T!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: No you DIDN'T!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: No you DIDN'T!
O: Oh yes I did!
M: Oh look, this isn't an argument!
O: Yes it is!
M: No it isn't!
M: It's just contradiction!
O: No it isn't!
M: It IS!
O: It is NOT!
M: You just contradicted me!
O: No I didn't!
M: You DID!
O: No no no!
M: You did just then!
O: Nonsense!
M: (exasperated) Oh, this is futile!!
O: No it isn't!
M: Yes it is! (pause) I came here for a good argument!
O: AH, no you didn't, you came here for an *argument*!
M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
O: Well! it CAN be!
M: No it can't! An argument is a connected series of statement intended to establish a proposition.
O: No it isn't!
M: Yes it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.
O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!
M: Yes but it isn't just saying "no it isn't".
O: Yes it is!
M: No it isn't!
O: Yes it is!
M: No it isn't!
O: Yes it is!
M: No it ISN'T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.
O: It is NOT!
M: It is!
O: Not at all!
M: It is!
DING! The Arguer hits a bell on his desk and stops.
O: Thank you, that's it.
[Wink] [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Wink]
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