Canada 150
Food & WineNOTL Comes to Ottawa

NOTL Comes to Ottawa

NOTL?  Sounds like some kind of crazy acronym for another of Ottawa's boondoggles to be:  National Organization for Trying Luditism, or a new policy No One Try Lying or even the amazing money grab of the Naval-Gazers On The Lawn ... but no, it is nothing like that, nothing that we can get behind and protest in six months.  NOTL stands for Niagara-on-the-Lake (the prettiest town in Canada, as it was once crowned).  But it was not the townsfolk that came out to lure you down to see the shrubbery and flower boxes that dot the streets, nope this was something much more meaningful and exciting.

I trust you all know of what I speak and were at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday June 1 to sample the 52 wines from 26 wineries ... well, maybe not all of you, but some 200+ Ottawa residence did make their way out and were thrilled by what they found and tasted.

Twenty-six wineries from NOTL, calling themselves collectively and appropriately: The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, have formed an organization to promote their little piece of vinous heaven.  They stage events such as this one, which was a carbon copy of the one started in Toronto a few years back.  But it's not just the NOTL road show they do, these 26 wineries have much more elaborate events, but you have to visit wine country to experience them fully.  They ban together in the spring for The Wine & Herb Festival (May) and in the closing month of autumn for Taste the Season (November) where they sample one of their wines with an interesting food pairing.  A less successful but equally enjoyable event is the one held in February (Wine & Chocolate - you'd think this to be a can't miss pairing, but in some instances you would be very wrong).

On this night the stars aligned just right to bring us some really good offerings from this one fantastic place.  But instead of just gabbing about the place maybe I should let you in on some of the great wines that were on offer - here's a list of my top 5 (some available now, some coming soon):

Cattail Creek 2009 Riesling ($15.95 - www.cattailcreek.ca) - The nose is truly inviting with peach, pear, a tinge of tropical and some melon ... the palate is a multitude of flavours including, but not limited to: lemon, melon, tropical fruits, grapefruit cocktail and pear ... the list seems almost endless. Very crisp palate that continues to evolve in the glass - the biting acidity balances the sweetness and finishes with tropical, pear and mineral notes. This might be one of the best Riesling values in Niagara at under $16. (**** 1/2)

Chateau des Charmes 2007 Old Vines Cabernet Merlot ($19.95 - www.chateaudescharmes.com) - There is no way a wine of this calibre is going to be sold for under $20, but that's just what is going to happen - one of the last remaining '07s to come onto the market.  This wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, has big fruit and big oak.  It's a wine for ageing as the fruit and the wood have yet to fully integrate but when they do watch out.  Scheduled for release in either December or January at the winery; a half dozen is a good order to start so you can taste how it ages over a number of years.  (****+ - **** 1/2)

Colaneri 2009 Corporso ($18.95 - www.colaneriwines.com) - This wine is a total delight by one of NOTL's newest

wineries.  It's done in the Ripasso style (an Italian style that sees finished wine poured over the pressed dried skins that make Amarone - which then starts a refermentation ... the word comes from the Italian for Re-past).  It really brings out the fruit in this wine with lovely cherry and raspberry complimented by sweet vanilla notes; it's ripe, ready and sippable now, but should benefit another 5 years of ageing with no problem.  (**** 1/2)

Coyote's Run 2009 Red Paw Pinot Noir ($24.95 - www.coyotesrunwinery.com) - The boys at Coyote's Run make such good Pinot Noir year in and year out that it's almost criminal, but they also have a peculiar feature to their wines that makes them quite unique.  They have two kinds of clay soils on their property, red and black, and they separate the grapes that grow in each to make separate batches of wine - and believe me when I tell you it sure does prove that soil does make all the difference.  The Red Paw vineyard is the pretty, floral and red fruited one, delicate and delicious with cranberry, raspberry, strawberry and beet notes, a real palate pleaser.  Coming soon to retail.  I look forwards to comparing the Black Paw version when it is ready. (**** 1/2)

Pondview 2009 Bella Terra Cabernet Franc ($28.20 - www.pondviewwinery.com) - The last Bella Terra wine that came out from Pondview was a Chardonnay and it ended up winning plenty of awards; now the folks at Ponview are going to have to find more room on their walls for some hardware as this Cabernet Franc comes out.  A real beauty with a black cherry-tobacco nose with black fruit, tobacco, vanilla and spice on the palate.  I'd rate it as "kick ass" but I suspect that won't fly so (**** 1/2+) will have to do.

What the heck, I'll slip you one more as 'a secret selection', kinda like what the folks at Lailey Vineyard did to me ... they slyly pulled out one of those secreted under-the-table-bottles some wineries bring to a tasting.  The new Lailey 2009 Canadian Oak Pinot Noir ($35.00 - www.laileyvineyard.com) was the best wine they had for pouring tonight: earthy, cola and cranberry on the nose with cranberry, sour cherry and earthiness on the palate, this one has real mouth presence and will be good for adding some Canadiana to your Thanksgiving feast come October, so it's time to buy and lie (it down) till then. (****+)

Please note ... All the above wines are available online or by phone ... wineries have no problem shipping within Ontario, it's out of the province where the trouble begins; we'll get into that another day.

This week's selection also come from NOTL, but is readily available to you at the you-know-where:
Here's something to sip on while you're waiting for your other bottles to arrive, Hillebrand 2009 Trius Sauvignon Blanc ($13.95 - #221804) - an absolute steal of a bottle, one of the best Sauvignon Blancs made in Niagara that year; the 2010 version is also quite nice but search out the '09 while its still available.

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