"Except for the dessert wines, none of these wineries existed ten years ago. And while some of the wines are better than others, I would enjoy any of them with dinner."
- Joel Goldberg
We got another one of those delicious sounding email invitations from the irrepressible
Joel Goldberg not long ago that read as follows:
"Again this year, Sally and I brought back a bevy of bottles from our Memorial Day weekend pilgrimage to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We continue to be impressed by what's being produced -- although the selection was somewhat attenuated this year by the fiasco of 2001's "ladybug harvest". But we still tasted and bought some highly credible new stuff -- from bubbly to Viognier to Malbec!
So down to business: you're invited to join us for dinner to sample the booty! Lots of different wines, along with the hottest in Canadian food trends, featuring Joel's roast beef "a la madness" and Sally's SARS soufflé. Date is Saturday, July 19, 7 PM, at Domaine Goldberg in scenic Hamburg Township.
Please RSVP ASAP or SOL you will be!
We've been to Sally and Joel's place for these kinds of theme oriented events before, and we've
been to Niagara a few times as well, so we knew that this would be an occasion that we wouldn't want to miss. I won't bog the narrative down with any excess verbiage; suffice it to say that we arrived on time, and we got right down to it. Those in attendance included
Mike Brenton and Deb
Cole, Jay and Cindy
Baldwin, Jayson and Laura
Cohen, and Kim Adams, along with this taster.
1998 G. H. Funk Vineyard "Premier Cuvée", Niagara Peninsula, 13th Street Wine Corporation: This pale to medium straw
bubbly was a big hit; it features a good, if not exceptional bead, along with a predominant wet stone character accented with notes of yeast and just a hint of bread dough. Refreshing and delightful, this was one of my favorites of the night.
Munchies - Paté, olives, assorted cheeses.
2002 Viognier, Niagara Peninsula, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery: About this pale straw, Jay commented, "It has that lemon-y acidic punch that you don't get from a lot of Californian (viogniers)." His point was well taken, as there was certainly a good zip to this, not to mention 14% alcohol by volume. The honeysuckle and sweaty armpit aromatics echoed on the palate, where they gained a note of pear as well. There was a nice finish to this, topping off an impressive package from one of our
2002 Cabernet Rosé, Niagara Peninsula, Featherstone Estate Winery: There wasn't much nose to this medium pink, but there were pleasant watermelon and strawberry flavors that were clean and refreshing. A little too passive for my tastes.
Appetizer - Dungeness Crab Cakes with Red Chili Mayonnaise.
1998 G. H. Funk Vineyard "Premier Cuvée", Niagara Peninsula, 13th Street Wine Corporation
2002 Viognier, Niagara Peninsula, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
2002 Cabernet Rosé, Niagara Peninsula, Featherstone Estate Winery
2002 Sauvignon Blanc, Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
2002 Gewurztraminer, Niagara Peninsula, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
2000 Sandstone Gamay Noir Reserve, Niagara Peninsula, 13th Street Wine Corporation
2000 Baco Noir Reserve, Ontario, Lakeview Cellars
2000 Meritage, Niagara Escarpment Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Kacaba Vineyards
2000 Merlot, Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
2001 Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula, Lailey Vineyard
1999 Kiralyuduar Tokaji Furmint Lapis
2001 Twenty Valley Select Late Harvest Vidal, Ontario, Cave Springs Winery
1999 Indian Summer Riesling, Select Late Harvest, Niagara Peninsula, Cave Springs Winery
2002 Sauvignon Blanc, Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery: Another one of my favorites of the night, this pale straw showed plenty of varietal typicity, with its cat spray and grapefruit flavors and aromas; Kim mentioned a note of "garlic perspiration," while Joel found it to be "very French." It had the requisite acidity that one would expect from sauvignon, and a nice finish. Excellent stuff!
2002 Gewurztraminer, Niagara Peninsula, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery: This pale to medium straw had a pretty litchi peachy bouquet that followed through on the palate with plenty of nice fruit, with the emphasis on "fruit." There was good acidity and a nice finish here as well, and it was well received by all.
Joel was particularly interested in everyone's impressions of whether one or the other of these was a better match with Sally's delicious crab cakes. The verdict was pretty much an even split; oddly, perhaps, I didn't have a favorite with regard to the food pairing, but I preferred the sauvignon on its own.
Salad - Greens topped with crumbled Canadian bacon, shredded Canadian cheddar and drizzled
with olive oil.
2000 Sandstone Gamay Noir Reserve, Niagara Peninsula, 13th Street Wine Corporation: Jay took one whiff of this ruby dark garnet, and exclaimed, "It smells like Côte Rotie!" Damned if he didn't have a point, what with the smoky plum and blackberry bouquet shaded with hints of bacon. The medium bodied flavors were much the same, but didn't deliver the density that seemed to be promised by the nose. Still, it was a quite interesting wine, one that I wouldn't mind sipping again, when I had more time to linger over it.
2000 Baco Noir Reserve, Ontario, Lakeview Cellars: Now here was a wine that we could sink our teeth into! Another ruby dark garnet in color, this was all oak, smoke and bacon (Canadian, of course), on the nose; the oak took over on the palate at first, in an attempt to subjugate the plum and black cherry fruit, but with air, the wood settled down, and a nice note of coffee emerged, making it even more enjoyable. It had more oomph than the Sandstone Gamay, and was another one of my favorites of the evening. Jason didn't care for the "excessive" oak at first, but seemed to moderate that opinion as it toned down. Sally had the most interesting comment regarding this, saying, "It tastes like a Canadian
Main Course - Roast Beef Rib Eye, wild rice and vegetables, haricots verts almondine.
2000 Meritage, Niagara Escarpment Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Kacaba Vineyards: This ruby dark garnet featured soft notes of oak over raspberry and cherry flavors and aromas, with some smoky notes that came out with air. Medium full bodied, at best; a pleasant red, but nothing special.
2000 Merlot, Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery: There was a little more depth to this ruby dark garnet than the Kacaba, and less noticeable oak at first, but some blondish wood does came out as it opened, blending into the soft red currant and raspberry character of the wine. Another pleasant, unexceptional quaff.
2001 Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula, Lailey Vineyard: Finally, the only one of the Bordeaux varietals tasted here with any guts or bite, this slightly cloudy dark garnet had "some structure and length," according to Jayson. The cassis and black currant bouquet showed a nice kiss of sweet oak, and these impressions carried over onto the palate, with some tannins that could use a few years to mellow. Easily the best wine of the flight, but not quite among my favorites of the evening. Still, all three went well with the marvelous beef rib eye and supporting cast.
Dessert - Lemon Soufflé Tart.
1999 Kiralyuduar Tokaji Furmint Lapis: Jayson and Laura brought along this pale gold, off-topic libation, thinking that it might be sweeter than it actually turned out to be; there wasn't a lot on the nose, other than a hint of matchstick that blew off, leaving little else. In fact, this wine wasn't very sweet at all, tasting something like underripe apricot and pear. While this was much appreciated by most in attendance, my brief notes don't do it justice, and I would have liked to have been able to spend some time with it to get to know it more intimately, as it was obviously a wine of substance.
2001 Twenty Valley Select Late Harvest Vidal, Ontario, Cave Springs Winery: Named for Cave Springs' Inn on the Twenty restaurant, this pale gold gave off a nice apricot and vanilla nose, which modulated into medium sweet flavors with a little hint of lime. Not bad, but overpowered by the following selection.
1999 Indian Summer Riesling, Select Late Harvest, Niagara Peninsula, Cave Springs Winery: We picked up four or five of these medium gold delectables during
our first tour of Niagara a few years back, and I have to say that they certainly have benefited from the intervening time in the cellar. The apricot and honey flavors and aromas have developed a good dose of petrol, while losing a certain sugary quality that they had back then; this one had a nice viscosity and a long, lingering finish. The petrol blew off some, but not completely; I'd expect this quality might continue to develop and intensify with more time in the bottle. Another one of my favorites of the night.
Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan would have been proud of the showing of these fine wines, but alas, he was unable to attend, due to an eye-opening sojourn in Cuba, which is, of course, another story entirely. As always, many thanks to Joel and Sally for throwing on such fine affair, and thanks as well to those in attendance for showing up and sharing great food, excellent wine and best of all, friendship.
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