Another in our series of reports on the Niagara Peninsula and Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario wineries.
It was a welcome sight: our first winery in the Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. Malcolm Gladwell’s interesting book, “Blink” talks about how the split second impression can sometimes be more accurate than long, painstaking study. With winery visits, that first impression can color your attitude and your perception of the wine’s taste.
Peninsula Ridge makes a great first impression. There are two main buildings, one is an Ontario-gothic, red-brick Victorian home which houses a fine dining restaurant. The tasting room and banquet facilities are in a beautifully restored barn with fantastic wood and soaring ceilings. We were ready! We had been driving since early morning, crossing from the U.S. at Windsor and driving through some pretty boring Ontario landscape.
The sun was streaming through the high windows in the spacious tasting room as we scanned the list of offerings. Green Dragon opted for the 2008 Viognier, which she rated as nice with a taste of citrus. I went for the 2006 Reserve Viognier. This received an 88 rating from Wine Spectator and is a more complex wine than the ‘08 Viognier. The Reserve was more exotic, layering the citrus flavors with toastiness, thanks to finishing in Oak barrels. The Reserve goes for $25 Canadian.
We moved to the Sauvignon Blanc, with Green Dragon tasting the 2009 Wismer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. This was OK, but didn’t have the zing of New Zealand Sauv Blancs of which GD is a fan. I tried the 2009 Wintner’s Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. This had lemon and tangerine flavors.
The 2008 Gewürztraminer was next. This has light floral notes and slight acidity. It was not a favorite. The 2009 Dubois Vineyards Reserve Gewürztraminer had a nice texture, fuller body and rose blossom aroma. I loved this.
Moving to the reds, the 2009 Shiraz is a medium bodied, fruit forward wine. In fact, the fruit could take a step back because it was too much. Pleasant, but not award-winning. Glorious T is the tasting team expert on Cabernet Franc. She dove into the 2004 Beal Vineyard Cabernet Franc and found it to be enjoyable with blackberry, tannins and a bit of pepper.
My next taste was the 2007 Reserve Syrah. this is a really beautiful wine. It has a slight earthiness, but also flashes of black tea and red berries. It is medium bodied with a nice balance between the acid and tannins. This was my favorite of the tasting. It retails for $24.95 CA.
Ace of Bass and Glorious T next sampled the 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve. Although this goes for $30, it came up short in comparison with the 2004 Cab Franc. Although smooth, this particular vintage still wasn’t ready.
Green Dragon and I finished up with the Arcanum 2002. this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. It has a great nose with spice, berries and smoke. In the mouth it offers a taste of black cherries. This was my second favorite and is a stand-out wine. Green Dragon felt the spiciness was a bit too much. This is one of the pricier wines going for $40 CA.
The tasting fee at Peninsula Ridge was $2 for four wines with 32 wines from which to choose. (It is $2 for the ice wine samples.) This was also our first exposure to the Niagara tasting experience, which includes beautiful, quality glassware, knowledgeable staff, a beautiful tasting room and a variety of outstanding wines. If all the rest of our stops were like this one, it would be a spectacular trip!