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Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc: Oakville Sommelier


This week I was reminded of what a tremendous gem we have in the Niagara Peninsula wine region of Ontario as I revisited the Niagara College Teaching Winery (NCTW) - Wine Visitor + Education Center, the first and only commercial teaching winery in Canada.

Located in the St. David's Bench sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake, this cool climate grape growing area famous for Icewine is an excellent place for the production of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc wine. Today I tasted three of these varietals:

2010 Dean's List Chardonnay - Report Card: Minerally bouquet with flavours of peach, pineapple, and pear, drink now until 2015. Barrel-fermented predominantly in French oak barrels, also some Hungarian and American oak.

2009 Dean's List Canadian Oak Pinot Noir - Report Card: Coconut and raspberry bouquet with Burgundian style flavours, drink now until 2018. Canadian oak barrels are made with Quercus Alba, the same white oak species used for American oak barrels. The aromatic compounds in this oak can contribute to coconut and spice aromas in the finished wine. Interesting fact: Ontario is one of the few wine producing areas in the world where both the wine and barrels are made in the same place.

2011 Dean's List Cabernet Franc - Report Card: Smoky, vanilla, red berry bouquet with flavours of red and blackcurrants, and dill, drink now until 2018. Solid wine from a challenging vintage marked by higher than average temperatures and storms, and a rainy harvest season.

Staffed by students in the Niagara College Wine Business Management program, the NCTW provides visitors with an insightful introduction to Ontario wine along with opportunities for touring and tasting award-winning wine made by students in the Winery and Viticulture Technician program.

Thinking about wine, what is happening in Oakville? The Ontario Wine Society (OWS) Halton chapter is hosting, "Wine and Chocolate" at Julia's Ristorante on January 29th.

So there you have it: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc