100 kilometre wine for spring


as seen on canada.com

If you adhere to the 100 km rule, this wine’s for you.

Riesling. Can there be a more versatile white grape? From natural, mineral spring, bone-dry to concentrated, candied sweet, this grape runs the diversity gamut like no other. Riesling’s origins are from Oberrhein (Upper Rhine) Germany and it is the natural offspring of parent varieties Weißem Heunisch, Vitis sylvestris and Traminer. The earliest documentation of the name was in 1435, in Rüsselsheim. Riesling migrated to the Danube in Austria and to Alsace in France near the end of the 15th century but it has recently sunk roots all over the Diaspora. Australia’s Eden Valley, Marlborough in New Zealand and Washington State all produce exceptional examples.

A modern day Riesling narrative takes place less than a 100 kilometres away, along the Niagara Escarpment and above the pictorial towns of Beamsville, Jordan and Vineland. Representing the bench lands along the Niagara Escarpment, west of St. Catharines to Grimsby, this complex region encompasses three sub-appellations: Short Hills BenchTwenty Mile Bench, and Beamsville Bench. ‘The Bench’ is home to a mineral wealth of local Riesling, singular in composition not only by way of a global comparison, but also from plot to plot, soil to soil and vineyard to vineyard. The well moderated micro-climate diversifies away and down to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where Riesling finds and reinvents itself again and again.

As the sun climbs higher into the spring sky and the steady unfurling of buds, patios and backyards begins, what better time can there be to indulge in the fresh and spirited nature that is Niagara Riesling. Here are four examples to seek out and enjoy.

From left: Rosewood Estates Natalie’s Süssreserve Riesling 2010, Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2010, Greenlane Estate Riesling 2011, and Thirty Bench Vineyards ‘Steel Post’ Vineyard Riesling 2011.

Rosewood Estates Natalie’s Süssreserve Riesling 2010 (258806, $14.95) is a throwback, where (16%) unfermented juice is added back into the fermented, finished wine. Tang, twang, vim and jump-kick honey-driven sensations sidle up to bursting aromas of tobacco, apricot and Ida Red apples. I’ve heard the makers say the pain in the arse Süss just wants to continue fermenting. Last October I noted, “arresting that and demanding a doffing is key, but when you choose a pioneering path, you get what you pay for.” 88  (From the VINTAGES March 30, 2013 Release)  @RosewoodWine

Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2010 (277228, $16.95) from 30 year-old vines on the Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard is big sniffer assertive in flint, struck stone, seltzer and funk. Gold patina visage veers away from the Bench and leans lighter, down to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Darkness prevails and “French cream won’t soften them boots,” thanks to a piercing note on the finish, on the edge of town.  89  (From the VINTAGES March 30, 2013 Release) @MBosc

Greenlane Estate Riesling 2011 (327247, $15.95) streams citrus from the get-go with more juicy, stone fruit than winemaker Dianne Smith’s more serious bottling. Picks up verve and sapor on the palate, sparks the tongue and crashes down the hatch with a hallucinatory beat. Slides away, like a floating baseline, “A Storm in Heaven.”  89  (From the VINTAGES April 13, 2013 Release)  @GreenLaneWinery

Thirty Bench Vineyards ‘Steel Post’ Vineyard Riesling 2011 ($30, winery only) from the Andrew Peller stable leans late-harvest or Spätlese, with 18.5 grams per litre of residual sugar. Clean, crisp, precise and near perfect Beamsville Bench expression. Flinty minerality and fantastic whorl by way of winemaker Emma Garner. Equal to if not more of a bomb than the stellar ’09.  93  @ThirtyBench

Good to go!

One comment on “100 kilometre wine for spring

  1. In a sea of Chardonnay and a rather large lake of Sauv Blanc, Riesling never gets its just recognition!

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