John Szabo | Grapevine Magazine
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John Szabo

2012 Norman Hardie County Cabernet Franc2012 Norman Hardie County Cabernet Franc, Prince Edward County ($25)

Hardie’s 2012 County Cabernet Franc is a true post-modern marvel of full, fleshy ripe flavours and lifted, perfumed aromatics. There’s no mistaking the varietal character. Even its herbaceous side is nicely toned down, and attractive strawberry and strawberry-leaf flavours mingle with rose petal, cinnamon, marzipan, and a subtle dried leaf, umami note that makes you salivate. Acids are ripe, but lively, and the palate offers surprising flesh even if on a light frame. Yet, what’s most unbelievable is the alcohol: just 9.9% (even if 10.8% is declared on the label). I can’t think of anywhere on the planet where you can make wine with this ripeness at such low alcohol. But in any case, don’t expect a big, full-bodied wine; this is cabernet franc at its most ethereal, perfumed and elegant, to be enjoyed with a light chill—a perfect spring/summer wine. Rating: 91 Points. (John Szabo).

2012 Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Riesling2012 Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Riesling, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula ($27.95)

The Felseck vineyard generally yields the more approachable and early maturing wine in the Hidden Bench range, and coupled with the warm, benevolent conditions of 2012, this wine is drinking beautifully right now. I always appreciate the palpable chalky texture and marked minerality that seems to have become a typical feature of Felseck over the past several vintages. And the palate comes across as essentially dry, with wonderfully crisp acids balancing a barely noticeable 8 grams/litre of residual sugar. Good to very good length. Rating: 91 Points. (John Szabo).

2014 Malivoire Moira Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé2014 Malivoire Moira Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula ($21.95)

Martin Malivoire is the original believer in serious rosé. From his start in the mid-nineties, “Lady Bug Rosé” was one of the core wines in the portfolio, born of his love for the dry rosés of Provence. But although Lady Bug is now made in a more commercial off-dry style, a recent trip to southern France re-ignited his passion for dry, pale pinks, and he directed his winemaker Shiraz Mottiar to make a purpose-grown rosé from premium Moira vineyard pinot noir in 2013. Mottiar experimented with six techniques to achieve the desired results, and the wine, set to be released in the Spring of 2014, is excellent: very pale, delicate, bone dry, with a subtle streak of cherry-strawberry-pomegranate fruit and a whisper of fresh herbs, crunchy acids and perfumed finish. A serious rosé-lover’s rosé, destined for the table. Rating: 91 Points. (John Szabo)

2011 Closson Chase Chardonnay Closson Chase Vineyard Unfiltered VQA2011 Closson Chase Chardonnay Closson Chase Vineyard “Unfiltered” VQA, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

The 2011 CCV Chardonnay is the ripest yet from Deborah Paskus in the County at 13.1% alcohol, although hardly over the top. It’s already quite open and inviting, with impressive richness and succulence and fully ripe apricot-nectarine-tree fruit flavours—a feat at such modest alcohol levels. The texture is silky and glycerous, seemingly full bodied, but with dancing acidity, and the length is excellent. A very approachable and immediately appealing wine all around, best now-2016. Rating: 91 Points. (John Szabo)

2011 Closson Chase Chardonnay unfiltered VQA2011 Closson Chase Chardonnay unfiltered VQA, Prince Edward County ($29.95)

The 2011 CCV chardonnay is the ripest yet from Deborah Paskus in the County at 13.1% alcohol, although hardly over the top. It’s already quite open and inviting, with impressive richness and succulence and fully ripe apricot-nectarine-tree fruit flavours—a feat at such modest alcohol levels. The texture is silky and glycerous, seemingly full bodied, but with dancing acidity, and the length is excellent. A very approachable and immediately appealing wine all around, best now-2016. Rating: 91 Points (John Szabo)

2011 13th Street June’s Vineyard Riesling VQA2011 13th Street June’s Vineyard Riesling VQA, Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95)

The 2011 is perhaps the best riesling I’ve tasted from 13th Street’s June Vineyard, which may be chalked up to the fact that the vineyard, planted in 1999, has now come of age, and that winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas, who joined in 2009, understands the site that much more. In any case, it has a fine, complex, quite minerally, just off-dry, but balanced style, complete with wet rock/limestone and a nice mix of citrus and orchard fruit. Yet, the overall impression is less of fruit and more of savoury-earthy flavours, which linger impressively. Fine concentration and depth overall. 90 points (John Szabo)

2012 Fielding Rock Pile Red Tufford Road Vineyard2012 Fielding Rock Pile Red Tufford Road Vineyard, Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95)

This is produced from Fielding’s Tufford Road Vineyard in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, a site that’s much better suited to red Bordeaux varieties than their vineyards around the winery. This is a blend of 60% merlot and 40% cabernet sauvignon planted in the mid-80s and aged 20% in new wood, mostly French oak. The result is an attractive, authentically herbaceous, but not green wine, with juicy, crunchy fresh red fruit flavours. Acids are lively, oak unobtrusive, and tannins relatively subtle and polished. A nicely assembled blend all in all, for current consumption or short-term hold. 87 points (John Szabo)

2011 Casa Dea Riesling VQA2011 Casa Dea Riesling VQA, Prince Edward County ($16.95)

Generally a go-to name in the county for value, Casa Dea offers another cracking, steely and tight riesling here for the money. Although still a touch sulphury on the nose (just swirl your glass a few times or carafe before serving for maximum enjoyment), it’s all about the stony, petrol-like minerality, with green apple fruit very much a secondary feature, and the wine is all the more interesting for it. This is just hitting a perfect stage of maturity—I’d drink over the next 1-3 years. 88 points (John Szabo)

2012 Rosehall Run Winery Pinot Gris Cuvee County VQA2012 Rosehall Run Winery Pinot Gris Cuvee County VQA, Prince Edward County ($21.95)

Rosehall Run’s latest Pinot Gris has an authentic pale “Gris” colour from short skin contact, while the nose is clean and moderately intense and the palate full-ish and quite rich and nicely structured. This has both weight and marked oyster shell minerality on a fully dry frame, with that typical “steel cut” profile of The County; a versatile, crisp and lively white for current enjoyment. 87 points (John Szabo)



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