Monday, February 14, 2011

Niagara-On-The-Lake Winery Visit: Inniskillin Wines

Continuing our series of reports on Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries in Ontario.

The second stop in the Niagara-on-the-Lake leg of our Ontario winery tour was Inniskillin Wines. Chances are that you have seen Inniskillin wines even if you have never ventured north of the border. The winery was founded in 1975 and ushered in a new era of world recognition for Canadian wines and put Canada's icewine on the world map.

Inniskillin's Niagara Winery is located on the Brae Burn Estate Vineyard, which is home to the historic Brae Burn Barn built in the 1920s. The property includes a winery visitor center, wine tasting bar, and the wine shop. This is a big, sophisticated, and beautiful winery. Walking to the tasting room, you see row after row of icewine grapes (and can pluck a couple if no one is
looking). Just a few steps from the tasting room a load of collected grapes was being emptied into a bin for processing.

The tasting room featured an expansive bar and a “wine boutique” as they like to call it in Canada where you could choose from a multitude of wines, upscale wine glasses, or gifts.
We settled in and began with a glass of 2009 Winemaker Series Viognier. This was quite tasty with
fruit flavors of grapefruit and lime with just a dash of spice. Our second glass was of the 2009 Two Vineyards Riesling. We found this to be very balanced with a crisp minerality, nice tropical fruit, and a clean finish. We bought a bottle of this for our friends at home.

The 2008 Meritage was next as we segued into the reds. The flavor is dominated by red berries and spice, but we noted a very smooth approach and finish. We’re Meritage fans and this was a nicely put together wine.

We capped off the tasting with a sample of the 2007 Legacy Cabernet Franc. Legacy is the top tier of the Inniskillin wines, marked with a distinctive gold label and the winemaker’s signature. Each vintage the winemaker, Bruce Nicholson, chooses the most outstanding varietal from the vintage and makes one very limited wine. A wine like this is what makes a trip to a winery so rewarding. You can sip the wine, hear someone from the winery explain it, and then look outside and see the vineyards from where the grapes came.
The Cab Franc was smooth, none of the bite that you often get with this peppery grape. It had hearty black fruit, spice, and tobacco notes. It was an exclamation point at the end of our visit.

The tasting room had a great looking icewine tasting area set up, but we bypassed that as the tasting team was anxious to get moving.

Inniskillin is a topflight destination winery in the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake area. Inniskillin brought respect to Canadian wines and continues to produce outstanding wines.

Although it is mostly their icewine that makes it into the US, they produce a full line of beautiful wines in three different series including their premier Legacy line. This is a great destination for all wine trail travelers.
Photos by Glorious T
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