Ontario VQA 2008

2008 was a rather cool summer in Ontario (though not as bad as 2009), and I was curious how the wines would turn out. The answer so far, interestingly, is pretty well, at least as far as the whites are concerned.

The great bargain of the Ontario wine world, as far as I’m concerned, continues to be the basic $12.95 general list Peninsula Ridge INOX Chardonnay. We first ran into this wine in its 2007 incarnation, which we liked a lot and thought was excellent value. The 2008 has a yeasty-biscuity-minerally nose, with generous citrus fruit and good follow-through on the palate. Stock up and drink now — we found the 2007 starting to fade a bit by last Spring.

Another good value from 2008 is the 2008 Malivoire White, a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewurtztraminer readily available at the LCBO (may technically be Vintages — not sure) for $14.95. It has a racy nose of minerals and fresh green fruits with a hint of yeast and honey that carries through nicely to the palate. J. found the Riesling-Chardonnay combo nose a bit offputting, even before she knew it was a combination of Riesling and Chardonnay. She did admire the graphic design on the label though.

Slightly more expensive at $22.00, but worth the extra money if you’re in the mood for a good Riesling, is the 2008 Tawse Wismer Vineyard Foxcroft Block Riesling. It has a nose of lees, honey, green apple and limestone, with a hint of acidity on the nose. It’s only 11% but that’s enough to the give the nose presence. Good follow through to an off-dry palate balanced by quite a lot of acidity. A cool-weather Riesling (no petrol or tropical fruits) but nicely made with a generous palate and enough interest on the nose to take it above the standard $15 bottle.

The only real dispppointment in the whites department so far was a rather expensive-ish Riesling from Flat Rock, the 2008 Nadia’s Vineyard, which had an interesting nose but sort of vanished into lightly flavoured mineral water on the palate (very dry, high acidity, a bit of a spritz, but no follow-through from the nose or body to speak of). It’s $20 and 10.5% — spend the extra $2.00 on the Tawse which is a much more rewarding experience.

We haven’t been able to sample the standard $14-15 bottles for 2008 yet (Cave Spring, Henry of Pelham and the like). The 2006 off-drys were really nice, though for some reason the basic 2007s went all flabby and unfocused (the 2007 Cave Spring Estate Bottled, still available for around $18, is quite pleasant but maybe a bit *too* petrol-ly). I’ll be curious to see what happens with 2008.

Haven’t sampled much by way of 2008 reds yet. Tasted one of the mass-market VQA Cabernet Sauvignon bottles at a party, a not surprisingly it was pretty green. But mass-market Cab Sauv from Ontario is not usually a satisfying experience, even in a good year. I’m curious what the 2008 Malivoire “Red” blend is like — it’s a companion to the Malivoire white blend discussed above.