Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Yay - A Cave Spring Classic Found in Vancouver

I probably say this every time I add an Ontario wine to The List but I'm totally confounded by the idiocy of federal and provincial laws in Canada when it comes to wine (and alcohol in general). Out west here in Vancouver, Toronto is certainly referred to as "The Centre of the Universe;" however, that's a universe that doesn't seem to include BC when it comes to Ontario wines. There never seems to be more than a handful of Ontario wines in the BC government stores and, for the most part, those few wines are more commercial than interesting.

Indeed, out of the 1900+ wines I've added to The List, fewer than 20 of them are from Ontario - and I only got my hands on some of those because a friend brought one back as a gift or because we picked them up at the Toronto Airport while passing through en route to some other vacation spot.

In any event, I was happy to find this bottle on local shelves a few months back. I've actually heard of the winery and remembered them as being a producer of consistent Rieslings.

1949.  2013 Cave Spring Riesling Estate (Beamsville Bench VQA - Niagara - Ontario)

The Pennachetti family arrived in the Niagara region in the 1920's when patriarch, Giuseppe, emigrated from Italy to work as a stone mason. Giuseppe brought his love of winemaking with him to Ontario although it, admittedly, involved homemade wine made from the then local labrusca grapes that aren't known for producing quality wines. That hobby resonated with his son John and grandson Leonard and they acquired their first farmland on Niagara's Beamsville Bench in 1973. They realized that, if the region was to ever make a name for itself as a winemaking area of note, it would have to focus on the more traditional vinifera vines from Europe. The family was among the first to plant Riesling and Chardonnay on the Niagara Peninsula.

Cave Spring, the winery, was established in 1986 and, since that time, it has specialized in producing white wines, particularly Riesling. Their Riesling wines currently account for over half of the winery's total production and, at present, they make six Riesling table wines together with a Sparkling Riesling and both a late harvest and icewine version of the variety.

The winery's website proudly announces that Cave Spring "has established itself as one of Canada's most acclaimed wineries." Indeed, this Estate Riesling itself garners plenty of kudos. Canadian wine website, Wine Align, wrote that "This is perennially one of the best Riesling buys in Ontario!...It's light hearted, super fresh, yet penetrating with a fine line of firm acidity running throughout."

The wine is made from single vineyard fruit, the estate's home vineyard being located on limestone-rich clay till soils on the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Lake Ontario. It is made from some of the vineyard's "oldest, lowest-yielding vines." The website refers to the Estate Riesling as being made in an off-dry style but I found it to be awash in bright acidity and lime flavours. I actually found it to be quite reminiscent of Australia's Clare Valley Rieslings where I often find the acidity to be a tad too pucker-inducing (and not necessarily "puckers" that are in preparation for a kiss).

Being the Riesling aficionado that I am, I wish the various levels of government could pull their collective heads out of prohibition-era like legislation and provincial protectionism and just facilitate more trans-border exchange of wines. I'd be more than happy to throw some cash Niagara's way if they'd simply find a way to give us a chance (without having to buy a whole case and pay big shipping costs).

Such a dreamer, eh.

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