Winorama Canadiana!

Niagara on the Lake
Tasted Friday, November 29, 2013 by MC2 Wines with 119 views

Introduction

Following a very successful Napa trip in September, we decided to continue the Kovacs wine tripping experience with a day visit to Niagara on the Lake after the Thanksgiving holiday. Got some wonderful suggestions from folks on the board and some of our own secondary research and decided to do an ice-wine focused trip which included Inniskillin, Ravine (with lunch), Jackson-Triggs, and Stratus. New introduction for us as we've had a few of the ice wines in the past, but never in a back-to-back tasting comparison.

Flight 1 - Inniskillin: Ice Wine Experience (5 Notes)

We made reservations for a 10 am Ice Wine Experience at Inniskillin which included a tour of the property, viewing the grapes on the vine, and a mini video as well of course as an actual tasting. Officially, it's four wines, but I added the 2012 Cabernet Franc Sparkling as it seemed to fit better with the newer releases although that ended up being a tasty bonus. In this first set I think the sparklers stood out from the group although there was a divide btwn those more prone to the Vidal and those more to the Cabernet Franc.

  • 2011 Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 92 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    We all really loved this wine. It's nice and sweet and yet elegant. The bubbles really add an extra level to this and act as a nice counterbalance to the sugar since it's not very acidic. Taste mangoes and apricots and of course a very rich and strong honey. Delicious! One person called it the WOTD

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  • 2012 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine Niagara Peninsula VQA 91 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    The lightest and freshest of the Inniskillin ice wines - like most Rieslings this has a nice dose of acidity which balances out the sweetness. At the beginning I get some lemon and just a touch of creaminess to it. With some cheese the honey becomes the dominant flavor. Very sharp, but in a nice way.

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  • 2011 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine Oak Aged 89 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    The woman running our tasting noted this was a bit of an acquired taste for her, but now she is a big fan. She also noted this wine is very popular with the critics - taking second only to a D'Yquem in a blind tasting of dessert wines from around the world. To me it came across a touch buttery, smokey, maybe some very mild pepper. It's certainly more complex than the others, but I don't always love oak and so while tasty, I don't think I fully appreciated it.

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  • 2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine 90 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    Really lovely wine. As with most of the Cabernet Francs we had there was lots of strawberry flavor, some cherry. It's not particularly complex, but there is a wonderful sweetness to it.

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  • 2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine 91 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

    Really bright red fruits that just jump off the tongue - strawberry, cherry, very ripe/sweet cranberry. It paired excellently with a piece of cranberry chocolate. The bubbles were nice and refined. Could see it being an excellent start to a meal or a nice light end.

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Flight 2 - Inniskillin: Library Wine Collection (4 Notes)

After we did the official wine experience, we decided to see what it's like to get some ice wine with some age. While the newer ones are all nice and fresh and certainly tasty, a bit of age really did create a much more enjoyable experience (esp in terms of the complexity of the wine).

  • 2001 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine Niagara Peninsula VQA 92 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    The first of the 'older vintages' that we tasted - this was wonderful and seemed to just get more so over time. There were toasted nuts and burnt caramel and a bit more of a change over the course of the mouthful. Interestingly enough this became even more popular after drinking through the flight for the first time and then coming back. Color was a deep dark amber although not quite as dark as the '95 Vidal

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  • 1995 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine Niagara Peninsula VQA 94 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    Toffee, toast, maybe a light coffee flavor in the background. There is a definite port-like characteristic to this wine despite the less than 10% alcohol. Still some burnt caramel. This was just a spectacular wine - the group's favorite in the 'library flight'.

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  • 1998 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine Oak Aged 90 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    Also just a touch port-like, still a nutty characteristic to it. It's an interesting wine, but lacks the complexity that the '95 Vidal had. Flavors were more one-dimensional which was surprising given the oak aging had increased complexity on the more recent vintage.

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  • 2001 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine 91 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    Interesting that the rest of the library wines all went much darker and golden amber in color while the Cabernet Franc went lighter and lost the reddish tint. This is a nice caramel flavor that's maybe more like a butterscotch, much less toasted than the others in the flight. It again pairs very well with chocolate. Was my second favorite in the library wines flight.

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Flight 3 - Ravine: lunch stop (5 Notes)

We stopped for lunch at Ravine which had ones of the best butternut squash soups I've ever tried. In addition we ordered a few wines with lunch and then stopped by the tasting room to try a few more before we headed out to the next stop.

Flight 4 - Jackson-Triggs (with a Clos Jordanne) (7 Notes)

Part of the Constellation wine family with also includes Inniskillin this was the other winery we found in our CT search of top wines in Canada. Great tasting through some of the more interesting parts of their portfolio (e.g. sparkling merlot) as well as the ice wines.

Flight 5 - Stratus Winery (6 Notes)

This was recommended at one of the earlier wineries and one of the places we had on our list anyway so we decided to end the day here. A bit less sweet than some of the others, but was impressed with the wines across the portfolio (including the red).

  • 2009 Stratus White 88 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

    Funny because all of the terms I came up with when trying this wine don't sound so complimentary and yet it was a very interesting and nice wine. I get cough syrup on the nose and also again on the palette (right at the en). Before there's lemon cleaner and maybe some mild oak, some thyme, and just a touch of acidity. Different wine (I don't remember all of the varietals, but there were some from Bordeaux and Rhone and maybe even Germany/Austria).

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  • 2009 Stratus Red 89 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

    What a surprise - first red wine of the day that I have truly enjoyed. It had a great nose, very deep red fruit - some mulberry, cassis, currant. This was much too young to be drinking now, I'd imagine it could handle a good 10 years and maybe more and just improve through that time.

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  • 2008 Stratus Riesling Icewine 94 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

    Much lower residual sugar than most of the wines we'd been drinking during the day this only had 165 grams. It's grapefruit, with a bit of lime, some green flavors (but in a good way). After some time I get lemongrass and of course there's a nice acidity which balances it. More complex than the rest of the wines we've been drinking (perhaps the lower sugar levels allowed the different flavors to come out more.). Really enjoyed this one - excellent wine!

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  • 2008 Stratus Sémillon Icewine 93 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

    Lots of flavors going on here - wheatgrass, some mango, strong pineapple (complete with the tartness that pineapple usually displays). Feels like the fruit is maybe a bit not fully ripe, but that adds some good complexity to the wine. This was really wonderful.

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  • 2008 Stratus Icewine Red 92 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

    This wine continued with the tart fruit - sour cherries, pomegranate, cranberry, maybe just a touch of holiday spice. Oddly there is no Cabernet Franc (the most popular red ice wine) - instead it's a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Mouvedre. Higher alcohol than many of the others we'd had that day (14.5%), it was a very nice wine.

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  • 2012 Stratus Cabernet Franc Special Select Late Harvest 90 Points

    Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA

    Due to an unfortunate weather change this wine which was intended as an ice wine ended up with the late harvest designation. Again with the strawberries, but this time I also get some plum (even on the nose). Not overly sweet or cloying at all, instead the fruit is what drives the flavors. Some cranberry in addition to the early flavors. Very delicious!

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Closing

Winner of the day for most of us was Stratus (a bit of a dark horse given Inniskillin's relative notoriety and fame), but I think we appreciated a slightly more restrained ice wine that let the fruit through a bit more. No bad choices in the bunch (except for maybe some of the reds), and overall a resounding success.

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