Celebrating Local Harvests: Ontario Wines for Thanksgiving

By John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

If Thanksgiving is about celebrating the harvest, it follows that local wines should also feature on your table this weekend. And Ontario happens to excel at many of the wine styles that work perfectly with a traditional Thanksgiving spread, such as crisp and lively riesling, mid-weight, perfectly-pitched chardonnay, delicate, dry rosé, silky-savory pinot noir, boisterously fruity gamay, and firm and peppery cabernet franc. Here are a half-dozen of Ontario’s best that will be on my table this weekend (yah, that’s the way we roll):

Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling 2016

Flat Rock’s Nadja’s vineyard, a cool site on top of the Niagara Escarpment, produces reliably firm, tight and minerally, barely off-dry riesling that is as versatile as it gets at the table.

Trius Showcase Series Chardonnay Wild Ferment Oliveira Vineyard 2015

The Oliveira vineyard, a meticulously farmed site on the clays down near the Lake in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-region of Niagara is Trius winemaker Craig Macdonald’s most prized source of Chardonnay. It gets the kid glove treatment with minimal handling, yielding a deeply flavoured, stony, sophisticated wine.

Flat Rock Cellars Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2016Trius Showcase Chardonnay Wild Ferment Oliveira Vineyard 2015Peller Estates Niagara Private Reserve Rosé 2016

Peller Estates Niagara 2016 Private Reserve Rosé, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

A pale blend of pinot noir plus one-quarter gamay, Peller’s fresh and lively rosé is notably dry and firmly acidic the way we like them, delivering orange, raspberry and strawberry flavours, lightly leafy and floral. Versatility at the table is one of its greatest strengths.

Malivoire 2016 Small Lot Gamay, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

From one of Ontario’s first champions of gamay, Malivoire’s ’16 Small Lot is a bright, light and fruity example firmly in the typical red berry register. I like the succulent, saliva-inducing acids and very fine-grained tannins. Serve lightly chilled with just about anything on your table this weekend.

Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2016Stanners Barrel Select Pinot Noir 2014Kacaba Founder's Select Cabernet Franc 2015

Stanners 2014 Barrel Select Pinot Noir, Prince Edward County, Ontario

The familiar scent of cool county fruit, tart and red, and washed limestone lead off in this very fine pinot from Stanners, a barrel selection of estate fruit planted in 2005. This has succulence and sapidity, genuine salinity and gentle barrel influence on a lightly dusty frame – it’s the magical cranberry sauce on the table.

Kacaba 2015 Founder’s Select Cabernet Franc, Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

For more weight and depth, Kacaba’s top-end cabernet franc is a fine option. It offers well-integrated wood, and fresh red and black fruit flavour alongside firm structure and very good length. It’s crafted in the classic cool climate style, but certainly neither excessively green nor leafy.

VQA Ontario Taste Local Pop-Up Experience

And while you’re at it, Torontonians (and visitors) looking to flesh out their local wine knowledge should stop in to the LCBO’s first-ever pop-up at 600 King Street West, where you’ll have the opportunity to “sip, shop, learn, and be inspired through a personalized and interactive experience in the heart of downtown Toronto”.  Try before you buy at the tasting bar, or build your experience with comparative flights of wines. Join tutored tastings led by local winemakers, and enjoy entertainment supplied by local acts. See the full schedule here.

Taste Local

80+ VQA wines are available on site for sale. Open daily from 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (closed on Thanksgiving Monday).

That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS