David’s VINTAGES Preview- Sept 16th, 2017

Ontario Wines Headline Harvest Release
By David Lawrason

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Being September it is tempting to prognosticate on the quality of the 2017 vintage in Ontario. But I have often seen pre-mature forecasts get blown away by the vagaries of an Ontario autumn. It has been a slower, wetter and cooler growing season, although drier and sunnier in the last two critical weeks. We now however have the possible remnants of a hurricane or two ploughing our way, and a deluge at the critical moment of ripening would be a real problem. It has happened before.

The grape growers and wineries are all set by the way. This week they reached their annual agreement on how much wineries will pay growers for various grape varieties – but a short and rather vacuous press release on the matter from the Grape Growers of Ontario did not mention any specific prices and whether they are up, down or the same as last year. They did say that agreement provides the industry with “certainty”, which is the whole idea of price fixing. But Mother Nature will dictate how many grapes are harvested and their quality, and with wine generating 4.4 billion dollar impact to the Ontario economy, there is a lot riding on her shoulders.

And that impact will only grow. I was recently in the large Queens Quay Loblaw’s supermarket right beside LCBO HQ on Toronto’s downtown waterfront. And I wandered into an Ontario wine section which had not previously existed. And lo and behold it was not just selling the wines of one Ontario winery (as supermarket ‘kiosks’ have historically done). It was selling wines from several wineries. And there were no imported wines to be seen.


Monasterio De Las Viñas Gran Reserva 2010

When the Ontario government began to roll out wine sales in supermarkets almost a year ago, the plan to have half the licensed supermarkets sell only Ontario wine seemed to fly under the radar. As did the requirement that private Ontario wine stores and kiosks that had been selling only brands from one winery, would now have to stock wines of VQA competitors.

Both these are very good ideas in my opinion, and the number of outlets will grow year by year. Some 400 outlets are called for in the next five years, but eventually, if not sooner, this could evolve to a wide open market, and we will see more and more Ontario wine readily and easily available.

But let’s stop wandering in the starry-eyed future and look at what’s best, and most interesting, on the September 16 release, which features Ontario wine.

The releases (and in some cases re-releases) include 18 wines that show the diversity of Ontario grapes and sub-regions. It also showcases a number of different wineries – so there are many options to explore. Sara, Michael and I put forward our best buys below, with John returning from summer travels to present the rest of the release in a longer report next week.

Buyer’s Guide VINTAGES Sept 16th

Whites and Sparklers

2027 Cellars 2013 Queenston Road Vineyard Blanc De Blancs, St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($29.95)
David Lawrason – This joins a growing core of very fine traditional method chardonnay-based Blanc de Blancs now being made in Ontario. It has a pleasant nose of dried apple/pear and lemony fruit, as well as some brioche and toasty complexity. It is a mid-weight, fresh, rounded and balanced. Solid and very good value.…

There are 8 more VINTAGES Preview recommendations this week that are currently only available to our premium members. This complete article will be visible to all members 30 days after publication. We invite you to subscribe today to unlock our top picks and other Premium benefits.

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“For the cost of a good bottle of wine we’ll help you discover hundreds of great ones.”

That’s a wrap as they say in showbiz. If you are not out and about at TIFF this weekend, consider a trip to wine country. It is a rather magical time of year to be among the vines.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommelier Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival