Monday, June 25, 2018

Finding Riesling and Gamay in the Niagara Escarpment & Back 10 Cellars

The Canadian Province of Ontario consists of four major wine regions: Lake Erie North Shore, Prince Edward County, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Escarpment & Twenty Valley. Whereas Niagara-on-the-Lake (40 wineries) was the birthplace of Ontario’s modern wine industry, the largest and most populous region is the Niagara Escarpment & Twenty Valley (47 wineries).  "The Niagara Escarpment (a ridge carved by ancient glaciers) is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve" for not only the  hundreds of plant and animal species, but also includes  Niagara Falls and the distinctive micro-climate that supports Ontario’s most active wine region.

While driving from Buffalo to Toronto to catch the Nationals-Blue Jays series our craft beer-centric group stopped at one of these active wineries Back 10 Cellars just outside Beamsville. We only had a few minutes at the tasting room but we learned that the name refers to the 10 acre estate and that it took the owners 10 years to produce their first bottle of wine. The wines are mostly produced from this estate which is farmed utilizing some organic and biodynamic practices and hand harvested. Since there was no time for a formal tasting we grabbed bottles of three wines I thought would be interesting and representative of the region. Cheers to UncorkOntario for the tip and as always you can explore Wine Country Ontario using theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.

The Big Reach 2017 (CA$22.95) This Riesling was crafted from whole pressed free run” juice. It is off dry but the sugar isn't noticeable as the wine's acidity compensates. It shows a delicious combination of citrus, ripe apples, and petrol.

Smitten Sparkling 2017 (CA$24.95) This Riesling sparkling wine is produced using the Charmat process where the secondary fermentation occurs in sealed pressurized tanks. Like the still version, the Smitten's acidity blows by any hint of sweetness and shares common characteristics sans the petrol.

Everything At Stake Gamay 2017 (CA$24.95) The Gamay for this wine was sourced from the Bonamo Vineyard in the same Lincoln Lakeshore DVA. After fermentation the wine is aged four months in neutral American Oak and helps provide a lighter bodied fruit forward wine with soft but chewy tannins and powerful acids. An acid hound's dream and popular among this beer drinking crowd.

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