Niagara College Teaching Winery (Day 1 Stop 3 of Ontario Wine Country Tour)

Wines on Display

I don’t know why we hadn’t yet made it to Niagara College. At Tastecamp, we had stayed at White Oaks resort which is walking distance to the winery but we had such a busy agenda that we’d never made it over even though we had wanted to. Intent on hitting as many new wineries as possible on our tour with Ontario Wine Country, Niagara College Teaching Winery easily made the list. I was particularly interested in the “Dean’s List” wines which I had heard a lot about.

Don’t let the brevity of this review fool you. Niagara College Teaching Winery has a lot of wine on offer – just with us trying to recoup some time we kept this visit brief an we focused on a couple of the Dean’s List wines in order to get our schedule back on track. I’d like to go back and spend more time at the winery as there’s lots more to discover. There’s all kinds of information, and one really neat wall displaying the work (wines) of Niagara College grads.

Large Tasting Bar Can Accommodate Many Guests

It turned out our enthusiastic host, Jennifer, was also from Ottawa. She had worked as a sommelier at the Empire Grill, a local restaurant with a great wine list that we used to frequent. We had a good chat about what had brought her to Niagara and how she was enjoying her almost snowless winters…at least this year!

Here’s what Jennifer suggested we sample:

Wines Tasted

2009 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay: With 10 months on oak, the nose gives off aromas of butterscotch and baked pie. On the palate the fruit and oak seem in great balance, with apple, light citrus, and peach notes in a toasty, sweet spice envelope. The acidity remains fairly high and the finish is long with light butter and apple notes. A nice deal at $18.95.

2009 Dean’s List Pinot Noir: This wine claimed second place at Cuvée later the same day that we tasted it. With spice and black cherry notes on the nose, the palate adds black raspberry notes and a smoothing vanilla component. This is a well integrated wine with moderate acidity and tannins that hold through the cherry-vanilla finish. Lovely example of Pinot from a great year in Ontario. $32.95, and worth every penny if you love Pinot.

2010 College Rosè : Jennifer suggested this as one of her favourites and pointed out that they were almost sold out, setting off the “Rare” alarm. Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, the nose and palate are all strawberry with a hint of raspberry on the finish. It is dry and has resreshing acidity. We’ve already opened a bottle since returning and guests were surprised (they had never tried a Cab Franc Rosè before). $11.95, but likely all gone by now. Watch for the 2011.

2009 Dean’s List Cabernet Franc: This wine also happened to wine 3rd place at Cuvée that evening. I detected a slight herbal/menthol nose behind the red cherry and plum. The palate added raspberry to the cherry and plum, complemented by smoky, cedar notes. Well integrated tannins, this is quite drinkable now. Very interesting and delicious wine. $27.95

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