Some Magnotta VQAs

(TORONTO, ON) – Magnotta seems to display an abundance of plonk and “international cellared” blends. I’d rather cut through the crap and see what VQAs they are selling to see if they have left Ontario VQAs to flounder.

Let us start with a VQA Dry Riesling from Niagara Peninsula. Light gold in colour with aromatics of peach, apricot, apple, marzipan, and a slight whiff of honey. Lacks the zippy acidity native to so many Ontario Rieslings.

The acids are gentle and, yes, it has a dry finish.

On the palate, not a whole lot of fruit, but neatly tucked in pear, melon, mango, and a wee squirt of sweetness, with acidity hiding very carefully in the short finish.

Certainly not flawed in any way, just rather lacklustre and lacking in notable characteristics of any great sort. Much like a Clinton presidential campaign. A Pfalz impersonator.

(Magnotta 2013 Dry Riesling, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Magnotta Winery, 750 mL, 12.4%, $12.95, Square Media Group Rating 84/100)

Gewürztraminer is a fun wine as it can be so quirky. It can be full of tropical fruits, peaches, and apricots, and is mostly full bodied. But, to those who are used to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling, poor old Gewurtz comes across as a bit eccentric.

It’s a Trumpish wine in that you might think its aromatics and taste is just the wine shooting off its mouth.

The Magnotta Gewurtz has a gold colour. On the nose, lots of peach, apricot, and guava, cantaloupe, and marzipan. Nice and plush on the mouth with, again, many tropical fruits on the nose. But, I does have some crispy BC Delicious apple to keep the natives in grass skirts from dancing in the wine.

Playful, but within the sandbox, so no further discipline is required.

A good solid finish, not particularly long, but no fault there. I would pair this with Thai red curry dishes and the Friday night delivery of Chinese food. Do they still make those chicken balls in that red pineapple sauce?

And, for the price, Magnotta has a hit.

Serve well chilled.

(Magnotta Special Reserve, Medium Dry 2103 Gewürztraminer, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 12.1%, $13.95, Square Media Group Rating 90/100)

Now, Cabernet Franc.

This is Ontario’s red grape par excellence. If a vintner can’t make a decent Cab Franc in Ontario they might was well give up and go home.

The Magnotta 2013 Cab Franc is classic ruby in colour. Aromatics of tobacco, smoke, black cherry, mocha, and chocolate pudding. It certainly has some tannins but, unless you are swirling and looking for them, they won’t interrupt the solid and firm palate.

Yes, this wine has the swagger to stand up to some hefty red meat dishes. It’s also a pleasing sipping wine. Lots of sweet red cherry on the palate and skillful use of oak.

(Magnotta Special Reserve, 2013 Cabernet Franc, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 13.3%, $15.70, Square Media Group Rating 91/100)

The year 2014 was not very good for most grapes in Ontario. Was it good for a Magnotta 2014 Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon?

Dark ruby red with aromatics of black cherry, smoke, chocolate, and corn broom.

Sour cherry predominates on the palate. The tannins and acids are well balanced so, from a technical perspective, there are no flaws in the wine. There is really nothing more than sour cherry and a bit of cherry Kool-Aid on the palate.

A few vintners just wrote off 2014. Perhaps Magnotta should have done the same with this Cabernet Sauvignon, a difficult grape to grow in Niagara at the best of times.

(Magnotta 2014 Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 13.5, $15.70, Square Media Group Rating 79/100)

The Magnotta Special Reserve Barrel Aged 2015 Chardonnay has a light gold colour. On the nose, there is clear evidence of oak confronting the drinker like a Trump executive order. Aromas of abundant oak, quince, pineapple, and with a hint of butterscotch.

On the palate the oak restrains itself nicely and the acids are politely in the background. Considering the aromatics I was expecting more on the palate, but not a great deal of anything there except a bit of pear and melon struggling to assert themselves.

I will say the flavours do perk up after the wine warms. The label suggests serving at 43-54 degrees. I would suggest the 54.

The warmer the wine, up to the 54 degree level, the more character it exhibits.

If you are looking for a restrained oaked Chardonnay don’t let this wine’s oaky nose cause a ruckus. While is nose suggests a Lobster Thermidor, perhaps a roast chicken or Lake Erie Perch Fish Fry might be more appropriate.

Drink this wine before the end of 2017.

(Magnotta 2015 Barrel Aged Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 13.5%, $14.70, Square Media Group Rating 85/100)

The Magnotta 2013 Special Reserve Merlot is light ruby coloured. Loads of sweet black cherry, licorice, watermelon, and a bit of milk chocolate on the nose.

Very gentle on the palate, and its almost juicy and fresh with strawberry, Fig Newton cookies, and sweet red cherries.

Great for summer sipping; chilled, of course.

“Fun” would suit this wine, although it might be best suited to Wally World than the Picasso Museum in Paris.

Consume before the end of the year. A very short finish is about as exciting as a Hilary Clinton pantsuit.

(Magnotta 2013 Special Reserve Merlot, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 13.4%, $15.70, Square Media Group Rating 85/100)

The last Magnotta to try is a Semillon, which is a rare bird in an unblended format in Ontario.

This one is dark gold in colour. Great heaps of peach and apricot on the nose. There is also some lesser aromas of honey and musk melon. It’s not coming across like a sissy.

It has grippy flavours and an ever so slight note of bitter almonds, guava, and pear.

Short finish with a bit of spicy and hot menopausal flashes as it flows down the throat. This wine is crying for some Thai chicken curry.

(Magnotta 2013 Special Reserve Semillon, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 13.1%, $13.70, Square Media Group Rating 84/100)

So, where can you buy Magnotta wine? Absolutely rare you’ll see any in an LCBO.

You’ll have to purchase online or visit one of their 13 stores running from Kingston westward to London. Be prepared to see lots of el cheapo bottles and several “Internationally Cellared” wines.

Click for further details on Magnotta.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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