By Robert K. Stephen (CSW)
(WINDSOR, ON) – I once thought Lake Erie North Shore was on the “fringe” of wine production. Not in quality but in the minds of consumers. What a shame as it produces some very high quality wines second to none but with no ability to sell at farmer’s markets, token distribution at the LCBO, all perpetuating consumer ignorance, Lake Erie North Shore vintners have been dealt a cruel fate. I love New York City’s Saturday Union Square Market where you can buy fresh vegetables, meats and God forbid…wine! Facing an even tougher battle are the wines of Ontario’s South Coast. It’s a bit confusing geographically as I think the wineries are closer to the North Shore of Lake Erie. However if you are south of LCBO headquarters in Toronto I suppose you are on the South Coast. It has a tropical sexy note to the name for sure but at the southern end of this wannabe wine region you have Port Stanley, London to the North, Port Dover to the east and Port Brice to the west. The South Coast wants to become a designated viticultural area like Niagara, Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island and Prince Edward County. In fact that is the vision statement of the Ontario South Coast Wine Growers Association with 8 growers and 9 wineries as members.
Plum coloured with loads of sweet black cherry, raspberries with wickedly delicious chocolate covered cherries at its core. An intriguing smokey themed and shimmering plum flavour on the palate with more cherries and then a dose of raspberries with rather dusty tannins. All said and done a bit of a bistro style wine decent for quaffing but much better with burger and fries. A simple wine for simple food or a medium rare steak for that matter. As pleasing as the wine is it has the backbone to pair nicely with or for that matter compliment beef on a bun or remember if you go back to the 60’s and 70’s Sloppy Joes or your mother’s spoon burgers? Sometimes simple wines like this work magic with food. A skilful blend of 51.7% Cabernet Franc, 46.1% Syrah, 3.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.4% Merlot and in a Rhonish fashion .7% Viognier (a white grape). (Frisky Beaver 2011 Lot 1 Frisky Red, VQA Ontario, Dover Vineyards, Norfolk, Ontario, $14.95, Square Media Group Rating 87/100).
The Frisky Beaver White has aromas of wet stone, McIntosh apple, custard, peach and lemon. Steel and slate on the palate with a tad of crème Brule with a lush and almost creamy texture. It acts like a blend of Riesling and Pinot Grigio but I am way off in at least technical content as the grape composition is 77.8% Chardonnay, 12.2 Chardonnay Musque, 5% Gewürztraminer and 5% Sauvignon Blanc. Here is a blend that doesn’t choke itself out of any personality as a result of over blending. This wine as its own identity. Eminently drinkable and can stand on its own two feet. On the palate it only begins to really impress after the first glass. It’s versatile being great with all manner of chicken but also a nice sipper. And given it is minus 12 this evening it can stand up to winter quite well. (Frisky Beaver White 2010, VQA Ontario, Dover Vineyards, $ 13.95, Square Media Group Rating 90/100).