Ontario: With Brix Magazine!

Canada: 16 August – 20 August 2010

CHCH Morning Live: With Annetta Hamm interviewed on the World Wine Tour 2010 charity fundraising project, and the great wines the Niagara region has donated!

It’s much more than just ice wine, but it’s definitely ice wine too. That’s probably the best summary we can give of what we learned with the Brix Magazine team as they helped us on our journey through Ontario’s wines. With their wonderful help, we were able to get insight into the top wines of the Niagara. A land carved by ancient glaciers, their receding resulted in thick deposits of sand, silt, and clay, mixed with sediments and even ancient reef. Compressed over millions of years, the shale and sandstone soils now create the perfect home to some amazing cold-climate vineyards. Nicole Valle, chief editor and founder of Brix Magazine, and Pierre Deschamps, our photographer for the week, accompanied us through an amazing, busy, hectic, and beautiful three days through the wines of their native land.

Donald Ziraldo: It has unanimously been said that Donald Ziraldo has pushed the Canadian wine industry forward to the place it is today. One of the first working on ice wine and noble varietals, Donald pioneering winemaking in Ontario as it is known today. He has influenced everything from Canada’s industry innovation (such as at the Vineland Research Centre, see below) to the very shape of an ice wine glass (developed by Riedel while working closely with Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser, the founders of Inniskillin). Now having a winery bearing his name, Donald is joining our cause, donating a bottle of his own 2007 Ziraldo riesling ice wine.

Royal de Maria: Having only started in 1998, Royal de Maria is Royal indeed. The only winery in the world specializing in just ice-wine winemaking, they have become world renowned for their rare and exquisite variety of ice wines. From just about every wine competition to even the queen of England, everyone acknowledges the specialty and pureness of these ice wines. Royal de Maria has made an amazing contribution to our auction which we are very happy to share with to the world to raise funds for charity; the donation of a bottle of 2000 Pinot Gris Collectors Series Ice Wine, retailed at $4,500 (CAN)! We are pictured above with Charlene Stephenson, partner and wife of winemaker Joseph DeMaria, Fantastic!

Inniskillin: Having a picnic lunch in the vineyards can only be better when enjoying it with wine and the winemaker and PR director in charge of the winery. Bruce Nicholson and Debbi Pratt, respectively, invited us to this perfect picture at Inniskillin. We then later explored the full innovation happening at Inniskillin when we tried their revolutionary ‘sparkling ice wine.’ Just the name sounds intriguing and luckily it will be available for auction, in addition to a beautiful assortment of 2008 Vidal Ice Wine, and a rare 750ml size bottle of ‘Gold Select!’

Le Clos Jordanne: We had a delicious tasting with Candis Scammell and the Brix team, where we learned how the prestigious partnership of Boisset France from Burgundy and Vincor Canada could produce some of the Best Pinots we had seen. And what’s more, a fine example of this is available at the auction, the Talon Ridge 2007 Pinot Noir. Incredible!

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre: Donald Ziraldo is chairman of the institute which he helped set up, working to further the understanding of both markets and viticulture technique in the industry. Here we are seeing a special vine in dwarf form which is able to bear fruit all year. Though this intermediary research plant probably won’t make it to the vineyards, we thought it would at least work pretty well as a house plant for the micro-terroir-garagist winemaker!

Flat Rock: Here with Ed Madronich, owner of Flat Rock winery, and with the team at Brix Magazine, we saw first hand what might be the most forward thinking vineyard in the region: beer caps on their sparkling wine and a grass-covered picnic area above (and insulating) their cellar are just two examples. Our favorite though is ‘El Gastronomo Vagabundo’ who caters for the picnicking crowd: fine-cuisine from a taco truck deluxe!

Tawse Winery: We are seen here with Nicole Valle from Brix Magazine and assistant winemaker Rene Van Ede from the winery, at an angle which shows well the gravity flow system used at the winery from pressing to bottling. It’s not just when the grapes come in though where Tawse takes care, the whole vineyard is under organic and biodynamic vineyard management, with farm animals running around take back the jobs that machines and chemicals took from them. We had a great bottle and barrel tasting, and are very proud to feature a Cabernet Franc 2007 from the Wismer Vineyard, and a Chardonnay 2007 from the Robyn’s Block at our charity auction.

Henry of Pelham: One of the early growers who decided to change their Concord and Niagara grapes to noble varietals able to take advantage of the climate, Henry of Pelham planted Riesling and Chardonnay grapes in 1984. Here we are being shown the yeast aggregating on the bottle of their sparkling wine bottles which are made by the traditional ‘Champenoise’ method! We are very happy to have a Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 for our Hong Kong auction, which will be a great addition!

Niagara College: A great innovative idea is taking place here, a site for teaching the winemakers of the future while still being a commercial winery. The winery produces acclaimed wines, crafted by professor and professional winemaker Terence Van Rooyen, with student involvement. We received the appropriately named and top wine produced, the ‘Dean’s List’ ice wine!

Chateau des Charmes: Owned by the Bosc family who trace their family back to Alsace in France and vineyards in French Algeria, this Castle of Charm sat surrounded by pretty charming vines too. We are very happy to have a donation of Gammay Noir ‘Droit’ (A special clone only existing at the Chateau) and an ice wine!

Cave Springs Cellars: Located in a picturesque town called Jordan, we had a great tasting at Cave Springs Cellars showing us that Ontario is much more than just about ice wines. Deep in the historic building at the cellars we found this Baccus guarding old wines which paid homage to the winery’s history: Cave Springs started over 30 years ago, a moving force in the region which led the way for others with their original vineyards of Riesling and Chardonnay.


~Anja and Georges

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