deVine Thoughts

June 26, 2008

Niagara Riesling

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Tags: , , — Mel @ 1:25 pm

megalomaniac melAuthor: Melissa Priestley

With the temperatures climbing and Canada Day just around the corner, I’ve turned my wine-quaffing attentions towards Canadian whites – specifically the Rieslings coming out of Niagara. For those who still shun Canadian wine, I dare you to try a Niagara Riesling and tell me it’s not tasty.

Niagara has, arguably, the best climate in Canada for growing Riesling; the Okanagan in B.C. is just too hot, causing the grapes to lose that edge of acidity that makes them so refreshing in the warm weather (not to mention enhancing their versatility in food pairing – seriously, these things work with everything from seafood to chips and dip). Niagara’s climate is moderated by the presence of the Great Lakes and the Niagara Escarpment, which prevent the icy Arctic winds from decimating vineyards in the winter. The summers are warm but not hot (though I’m told the humidity is murder), making it difficult to grow later-ripening grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, but providing ideal conditions for the earlier-ripening Riesling.

I find that Niagara Rieslings typically display classic aromas of petrol, perfume, and citrus, though I’ve definitely found some with some surprising aromas, like rose petals and spice. Then again, it could just be me. In terms of the palate, I love the Niagaras because they usually keep things on the drier side; there may be some sweetness but it’s almost always tempered by a backbone of nervy acidity. If I were to compare them to the Germans, I’d say that the Niagaras tend to sit around a Kabinett-style of sweetness – but don’t quote me on that, as I’m sure there are loads of exceptions.

I’ve tried a few good ones lately, notably the 2006 Megalomaniac Narcissist, which has a fantastically clever label to boot. Who says marketing isn’t important? Cave Spring’s 2006 CSV Estate Bottled offering is also pretty darn tasty, and the Vineland Estates Semi-Dry has a beautiful bouquet of rose petals – I bet you could fool almost anyone at a blind tasting. Henry of Pelham’s 2002 Speck Family Reserve is also good, but be forewarned: this is a seriously petrol-laden wine. Rubber boots, anyone?

2006 Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling – $31.99

2006 Cave Spring CSV Estate Bottled Riesling – $34.99

2007 Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling – $15.99

2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling – $38.99


  1. Good write-up Mel. There was a big wine gathering in Niagara last weekend ( folks) and they had an arranged visit to Cave Springs. All were wowed by the wines offered, especially the Rieslings. Wonder how their `05 Cab Franc is gonna turn out?

    Comment by bob parsons — June 27, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  2. Hard to say – their last one smelled like szechuan beef to me. Mmmm Chinese food.

    Comment by Mel — June 27, 2008 @ 7:30 pm

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