NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY – A Hidden Gem


Staff, wine club members & patrons at the winery’s open house

This past Saturday, December 7th, 2019, was an open house at Niagara College Teaching Winery. It was a fun filled day with tastings of wine & cheese, patrons being educated in wine and all the wine was discounted 15% to 20%. Full disclosure; I graduated from Niagara College Sommelier certification back in 2008, and I fully support the great working of this winery and their students who produce amazing wines at great prices.

Earlier this year I became a wine club member. Why? Customer service is great, and where else can you get quality Ontario wines and not spending premium price? The staff really appreciate club members, and we appreciate them. Just a side note: “Lokesh (who is front-centre & in front of me), it’s been hours, where’s my Blanc de Blanc and Brut Sparkling wines for tastings?!” (I always start my visit double fisting with these two great sparkling wines)

Lastly, I would like to thank Chetan, the manager who is to the left with the X on his sweater and beside another club member Brian, for creating a great vibe at the winery, and for keeping his staff’s morale high. Those smiles in the picture are genuine.

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY BALANCE CHARDONNAY 2013, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $19.15
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: St. David’s Bench Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  13% Alcohol/Vol.

Creamy but with good backbone acidity to this aged Ontario Chard, which is oak driven with tropical fruit is a great value for under $20

Positives: Bright gold in colour this wine features lemon tart, mango, peach, pineapple, golden apple, ginger, dill, oak spice, butterscotch, roasted almonds.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: I first reviewed Balance Brut in August 2016. I enjoyed it then, but more so today as I feel the wine making it has come of age.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next couple of years on its own or pair it with poulet de bresse,

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: December 8, 2019

RED STONE SPARKLING ROSÉ NV, Traditional Method, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $30.15
Grape: Pinot Noir
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Red Stone Winery
Alcohol:  12.% Alcohol/Vol.

A pleasant rosé sparkler that will please those that don’t like the yeastiness in sparkling wine or Champagnes

Positives: Bright salmon to copper in colour with a fine mousse this wine features strawberry, lime, Gala apples and limestone.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 4-6 years on its own or pair it with tuna tartare.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: December 8, 2019

13th STEET WINERY BLANC DE BLANC 2017, Traditional Method, VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $29.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Creek Shores, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: 13th Street Winery
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Not complex but high quality of this well balanced, crisp & refreshing Blanc de Blanc

Positives: Light straw in colour with a fine mousse this wine features green apples, lemon, lemon zest and limestone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: From winemaker’s notes: “Second Blanc de Blanc made from our neighbor Lado Viscek’s meticulously farmed vineyard, the fruit was hand-harvested in the second week of September 2017. The grapes were transferred gently into the press and the free run juice was captured separately to preserve the elegant profile. Primary fermentation was kept cool and in 100% stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation was suppressed to keep the fresh fruit character in the wine. The secondary fermentation took place in bottle and the wine was aged sur lattes for a minimum of 12 months. After the lees was removed, winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas felt an addition of two grams per litre of sweetness was the perfect balance to the bracing acidity in the wine. The wine was disgorged in August 2019.”

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 4-6 years on its own or pair it with smoked oysters on Ritz crackers.

My Opinion: Recommended


 

Cost: $25.15
Grape: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  12% Alcohol/Vol.

True to its namesake, the sparkler is balanced between classic toasted fermentation, fruit, crispness, dryness and acidity

Positives: Golden straw with a slight pink tinge in colour, fine mousse this wine features toasted hazel nuts, brioche, lemon, green apples, pear, blood orange and limestone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: I first reviewed Balance Brut in August 2016. I enjoyed it then, but more so today as I feel the wine making it has come of age.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 7-10 years on its own or pair it with Raspberry Point oysters.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: November 24, 2019

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN’S LIST CHARDONNAY 2013, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $23.15
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: St. David’s Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  13% Alcohol/Vol.

An aged Chard this is balanced between the oak, fruit & minerality

Positives: Gold in colour, this wine features medium toast, lemon pie, clementine, green & yellow apples, yellow plums, ginger, dill, oak spice, limestone and Easter Lily on the nose.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with grilled buttered halibut.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: September 29, 2019

TOM THOMSON 100th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION ALGONQUIN RED 2018, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $19.15
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Category: Red Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Teaching Winery
Alcohol: 13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Excellent value red from Ontario made in Bordeaux style

Positives: Dark ruby in colour this wine features cherry, plum, blackberry, blackcurrant, pomegranate, turmeric, green peppers, pencil shavings, leather, spinach leaves

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Current vintage is far superior than the last one.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with grilled T-Bone steak.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: November 2, 2019

PAUL CLUVER ESTATE ELGIN CHARDONNAY 2017, South Africa


Cost: $29.95 (Clearance price: $24.00)
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: South Africa
Region: South Africa
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Paul Cluver
Alcohol: 13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A high end Chard at a bargain price

Positives: Bright gold in colour featuring light toast with butter, lemon, green & yellow apples, white plum, tangerine, honeydew melon, peach, kumquat, ginger, dill, roasted almonds, vanilla, limestone, cinnamon, cloves, oak spice and honeysuckle on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: South African wines in my view are best value wines you can get

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with Chilean sea bass with lemon, dill and capers.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Best Buy at sale price and Top Pick

Tasted: November 6, 2019

LCBO: 570952

ANGELS GATE ARCHANGEL BRUT CHARDONNAY BLANC DE BLANC 2013, Traditional Method, VQA Beamsville, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $29.95 (Clearance price: $21.00)
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Canada
Region: Beamsville Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Angels Gate
Alcohol:  12% Alcohol/Vol.

A nice balance Blanc de Blanc that has some complexity, good acidity, fruit and most importantly, taste good.

Positives: Golden straw in colour with a fine mousse, this wine features light brioche, lemon, kiwi, green apple, and limestone.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 7-10 years on its own or pair it with triple cream Brie.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy at the clearance price

Tasted: November 17, 2019

LCBO: 227009

CANYON ROAD CHARDONNAY 2018, California, United States of America


Cost: $9.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO General Listing
Country: United States
Region: California
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Canyon Road
Alcohol: 13% Alcohol/Vol.

An entry Chard that has character, and I really like its creamy texture, but it’s not fat, tropical fruit yet has acidity as backbone and it’s only 13% alcohol. May I stress that it only has 13% alcohol for a California Chard!

Positives: Bright gold in colour featuring pineapple, mango, lemon meringue, yellow plums, yellow apples, crème brûlée, butterscotch, cinnamon and dill.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Canyon Road Winery is located in Alexander Valley, which is one of my favourite AVAs.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with triple cream Brie.

My Opinion: Recommended

Amazing Buy

Tasted: November 9, 2019

LCBO: 552513