2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve

Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir

2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve
Canada, Niagara Peninsula

Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 4

This is a generous wine in every way – lots of fruit, good aromas, full body, and a joy to drink. The color is dark ruby – it is very jewel-toned, including a bit of sparkle in the light. Spicy nose with black pepper, dark fruits, cocoa, and toasty oak. Lots of fruit at the front of the palate with black cherries, black currants, and dark stone fruit. It is almost juicy with the amount of ripe fruit flavors. The fruit is balanced by rich, toasty oak in both the nose and mouth that leaves hints of spice, tobacco, and campfire. The terroir of the Niagara Peninsula and its dark soil certainly comes through. Nice lingering finish with soft tannins. This one was a hit with the tasting group.

$32.99 purchased at the winery in 2007

2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage

Kacaba Meritage 2002

 2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage
Canada, Niagara Peninsula

Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 5

Beautiful in the glass – very dark garnet, almost black in color. Big, round nose with lots of spice, ripe cherries, and plum aromas. Gorgeous in the mouth with rich waves of flavors: ripe plum, blackberries, warm spices, and a bit of earth. Round flavors and feel in the mouth with a nice, long finish. Solid tannins. Alcohol is beginning to balance with some bottle age. Perhaps better with another 5 years in the bottle. The group liked this wine very much.

$36.99 purchased at the winery in 2007

CTS Wine Ministry 2009 – Overview

Wine Ministry

It was a great week at CTS with a community of friends, some good theological thoughts, and plenty of wine flowing. Thanks to all who participated in the fellowship of the overflowing chalice!

I will post a bit more information and reviews of each of the wines we tasted, but for now here is a listing of the four tastings we shared. Leave a note on this or the other postings to let me know your favorite wines as well as your memories of the week we shared. Check back soon for the wine notes…

Monday, July 6, 2009
Theme: Warming Up the Palates

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2007 Clean Slate Riesling Shared by Stephen [Germany] $9.99
3 – 2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir [Ohio/California] $priceless
4 – 2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve [Canada] $32.99
5 – 2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage [Canada] $36.99

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Theme: Vertical Tasting of California Rhone Varietals

1 – 2005 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
2 – 2004 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
3 – 2006 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
4 – 2005 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
5 – 2004 Gainey Vineyard Syrah Limited Selection [California] $38.00
6 – 2002 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $22.00

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Theme: The Variety of White Wines – Find One for Your Palate

1 – 2008 Black Mountain Pinot Grigio Shared by Stephen [California] $5.99
2 – 2008 Greenhough Sauvignon Blanc [New Zealand] $15.99
3 – 2007 Shoo Fly Buzz Cut (white blend) Shared by Lisa [Australia] $10.99
4 – 2006 Sonoma Vineyards Chardonnay (unoaked) [California] $14.99
5 – 2007 Newton Chardonnay Napa/Sonoma Counties [California] $18.99
6 – 2007 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette [France] $14.99
7 – NV Botter Prosecco Vino Spumante [Italy] $14.99
8 – 2008 Ceretto I Vignaioli Santo Stefano Moscato d’Asti [Italy] $24.99

Bonus Wine:
9 – 2008 Project Happiness Chardonnay Shared by Bryan [California] $5.99

Preview of Thursday’s blending seminar:
10 – 2003 Clos du Bois Marlstone (Bordeaux style blend) [California] $39.99

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Theme: Bordeaux-Style Blending Seminar

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2008 Muga Rioja Rose [Spain] $12.99
3 – 2005 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donis Barrica Shared by ??? [Spain] $12.99
4 – 2006 Domaine “la Garrigue” Côtes du Rhône [France] $15.99
5 – 2007 Layer Cake Primitivo Zinfandel Shared by Lisa [Italy] $13.99
6 – 2006 Santa Rita Merlot Reserva Shared by ??? [Chile] $9.99

Samples of Bordeaux-Style Blends from Around the World
7 – 2001 Rosemount Traditional [Australia] $29.99
8 – 2001 Creekside Laura’s Blend Meritage [Canada] $18.99
9 – 2002 Chateau Peyre-Lebade (Rothchild) Bordeaux Haut-Medoc [France] $24.99
10 – 2006 Steltzner Claret [California] $16.99

Blending Wines (components of Bordeaux/Meritage):
11 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample) [California] $23.00 (prerelease)
12 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Merlot (barrel sample) [California] $19.00 (prerelease)
13 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Franc (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
14 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Malbec (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
15 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Petit Verdot (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail

Prize Wine & Finale Tasting:
16 – 2001 Le Sillage de Malartic Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan [France] $29.99

Extra – Just for Fun
17 – NV Riondo Prosecco (with a sliced strawberry in the glass!) [Italy] $12.99

2001 Creekside Estate Winery Laura’s Blend Meritage

2001 Creekside Estate Winery Laura’s Blend Meritage
Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Wine Rating:  89

Uncorked: 2007.07.04   served with grilled burgers

Another wine discovery from Canada’s Niagara Peninsula — a region I have recently discovered and enjoyed. This “Meritage” is a Bordeaux-style blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Merlot. It is almost sparkly in its deep ruby color. The nose is pretty big with cherry and dark plum aromas, with subtle tones of tobacco, chocolate and cedar. In the mouth it has lots of cherry and dried cranberry fruit with an earthy, woody spice and loamy richness. It is very round in the mouth. Layers of flavor come to life as the wine opens up. The oak is solid, the tannins are substantial, but it’s all in balance. It’s an interesting blend of old world earthiness and new world fruitiness. I like the wine very much, and continue to be surprised by this region’s qualilty wine offerings.

$15.61 [US]   Purchased at the Creekside Estate Winery

Creekside Estate Winery Website

2005 Creekside Estate Winery Laura White

2005 Creekside Estate Winery Laura White
Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Wine Rating:  88

Uncorked: 2007.05.04

This is another bottle from our trip back in April to the Niagara Peninsula wine country.  I continue to be amused that I wasn’t aware of these wines, and amazed at their quality.  This is a hidden jewel!  Creekside Estate Winery (not to be confused with Creek Side Winery in North Carolina) was one of my favorites.  It’s unusual that there are two winemakers here that work in concert with one another — Canadian Rob Power and Australian Craig McDonald.  There is definitely an Aussie influence that McDonald contributes to these wines.  We’ll most certainly be heading back to Canada for some more of this experience!

The Laura White is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (49%), Chardonnay (48%), and Viognier(3%).  It’s a good choice to drink on a perfect Spring or Summer evening with grilled salmon. The nose is light with hints of field grass and pale wildflowers, apples and lemon peel.  The chardonnay adds depth to the palate that presents with green apple, pears, and hints of peach (probably from the Viognier).  Soft oak undertones.  Finished with a bit of a stemmy taste, but not off-putting.  Nice warm-day sipper.

$15.61 [US]  Purchased at the Creekside Estate Winery

Creekside Estate Winery Website

Canadian Wine – Niagara Peninsula


Until this past April the only wine I associated with “The Great White North” was that oddity called Icewine.  My wife had never been to Niagara Falls, so we made the now-short trek to this amazing natural wonder.  If you’ve been there you know… the “wonders” don’t end at the edge of the water.  Niagara Falls has become home to some of the most bizarre tourist attractions of any place on earth.  From Ripley’s Believe It or Not to at least half a dozen wax museums.  Needless to say, we grew weary of the town surrounding the Falls rather quickly.  So we decided to explore a bit…

Niagara on the Lake is the next community north of Niagara Falls.  It is a different world.  “Bucolic” is an apt description.  Beautiful, open space, quaint, and VINEYARDS!!!  Not only that — WINERIES!!!

It was late afternoon following a visit to the cool butterfly conservatory.  We drove past a couple of winery signs.  So we stopped in.  To be honest, I had very low expectations.  Sure, we’d find some sweet and over-priced Icewine.  And anything else would be perfumy Koolaid-like juice.  Was I in for a surprise!  We tasted half a dozen very sophisticated varietals and blends.  This wasn’t just fun afternoon wine tasting — this was excellent wine!  How do they do this with such harsh winter on the vines???  And how come nobody has told me about these wines before?  And why is it already 4:30pm?!?  The wineries are closing!!!

So we trekked back the next day and spent the whole day exploring a handful of the dozens of wineries of the Niagara Peninsula (from Niagara on the Lake on the east to Grimsby and Beamsville on the west).  It was a successful trip indeed!  Lots of simply outstanding wines, tastings with the winemakers, and several cases to bring home with us.  It reminded me of the Santa Ynez Valley (California) wineries before they became a destination for tour buses.  People with passion growing terra-appropriate grapes and making the best wines possible from the rich fruit.  Some of these folks aren’t even producing a cash-cow Icewine!  (My favorite description of the process of making Icewine from one of the varietal wine makers:  “It’s like pressing ball bearings trying to extract enough juice to make something that shouldn’t be made from ball bearings.”)

Some of my favorite wineries from our April visit:  Kacaba, Creekside, Riverview, and Pillitteri.  There are several other wineries I can’t wait to visit.  And I’ll be going back to these, for sure.  I’ll post some tasting notes from these wines in the near future.  I reviewed the 2005 Riverview Baco Noir earlier:  Read Review

I highly recommend an adventure to the Niagara Peninsula and the wines of Ontario!

Check out the Niagara Peninsula on this website:  Wines of Ontario Website

2005 Riverview Cellars Baco Noir

Riverview Baco Noir

2005 Riverview Baco Noir – Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

Wine Rating:  90

Uncorked: 2007.08.12 – Back deck with Neil & Heather
What a pleasant surprise when I discovered Niagara, Ontario wines. There is something special going on in this region with varietal wines. And this Baco Noir is no exception. Deep red color. Sweet berry aromas and flavors — cherry, red raspberry and even blueberry — mixed with spice and subtle earthiness. Soft tannins and a rich texture make a nice mouthfeel and a lingering finish. Multi-layered and interesting. Nice drinker.

$15.95  Riverview Cellars Estate Winery, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada