People Are Talking About VQA

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity, thanks to Trina Hendry of Hendry PR, to be a part of the very first preview tasting of the LCBO's fall Ontario VQA lineup. For those who don't know, Wine Country Ontario says VQA stands for Vintner's Quality Assurance, which means "the wine is made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes, which have been approved through a strict quality-assurance program". Tuesday's tasting was the initial stage of the LCBO's upcoming "People Are Talking" campaign to promote VQA wines.

"People Are Talking" is a twist on previous years' LCBO Go Local campaigns, encouraging people to engage via social media and events, to talk and learn about some of the whopping 137 wines from 50 Ontario wineries being featured in LCBO stores around the province.

We got to sample nineteen wines at the preview event, with a guided tasting through six. Taking us through the guided flight were Flatrock Cellars' founder and President, Ed Madronich and Rosehall Run's owner and viticulturalist, Dan Sullivan. Both of these guys spoke very passionately about the current state of Ontario wines and the great people making them. Now, I can't speak as poetically as these two about wine, nor as I do about food, so I'll present my impressions simply.

Wine Look Smell Taste

Vinology White (Flatrock Cellars) - $16.95
  • a blend of chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir and viognier
a clear, pale gold sweet, with a touch of earth and hay
  • ripe green apple
  • a touch thin on the tongue
Rosehall Run Liberated - $15.95
  • a blend of chardonnays from different vineyards
very pale, almost completely clear petrol, eraser, sawdust sweet at the front, but with a touch of woody bitterness at the back
Crush Riesling Gewürtztraminer (Peller Estates) - $12.95 pale gold with an almost peachy tinge very sweet, with a toch of oil or chlorine taste matches smell in sweetness, but a bit of tightness at the very, very back
Rosehall Run Defiant - $18.95
  • blend of Pinot Noir with a very small amount of Zwiegelt
a light to medium cherry red sweet, cherry and something else I could not pin down. Varnish? Cocoa?
  • characteristically pinot noir
  • assertive, but not aggressive
  • a light tartness and bite
Vinology Red - $18.95
  • blend of merlot, pinot noir, cabernet franc and syrah
deeper ruby colour chocolate, berries
  • nicely balanced sweet/tannic, raspberry
  • tastes young, but pleasant
  • the one that most made me think of food, specifically grilled meat (yes, even before reading the back label)
Creekside Estate Cabernet/Shiraz
  • very deep burgundy, almost bloody (in a good way)
  • semi-opaque, with nice legs
brown butter, pink gum eraser, blackberry jam slightly sweet, with a pleasant tightness all around the mouth

There was definitely something for a variety of tastes on display, at terrific price points. None of the six guided tasting wines we tried were more than $20. The most expensive we tried was the sparkling rosé at $34.95! After the guided flight, the rest of the wines were set out, with some delicious hors d'œuvres. The rabbit pâté profiterole was a favourite, with the blackberry compote adding a tany complexity to the smooth, savoury rabbit.

I quite enjoyed the Henry of Pelham 2007 Pinot Noir (very smooth) and, surprisingly, as I'm not a lover of whites, the Lakeview Cellars Riesling Reserve.

The "People Are Talking" campaign runs September 16 to October 13, 2012 and will feature all the wines mentioned here and many, many more. Be sure to visit your local LCBO, where you'll also find 21 VQA wines within the Vintages section. Then on September 22 and 29, you can take part in your own tasting, with locally-sourced food pairings, at one of these LCBO event kitchens.
  • Summerhill - 10 Scrivener Square, Toronto
  • The Kingsway - 2946 Bloor Street W, Toronto
  • Bayview Village - 2901 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
  • Orion Gate - 54 Steeles Avenue, Brampton
  • Millcroft Centre - 2000 Appleby Line, Burlington
  • Rideau Street - 275 Rideau Street, Ottawa
  • Nepean Crossroads - 543 West Hunt Club Road, Nepean
  • Roundhouse - 3165 Howard Avenue, Windsor

You can find out more about these tastings and other events, including Taste Ontario at the LCBO Go Local site. In the meantime, you can get involved by using the hashtags #LCBOgoLocal and #VQA on Twitter and Instagram, talking about Ontario wines on Facebook, or creating a VQA board on Pinterest. Get drinking. Get talking.

sparkling rosésix winesVinology WhiteCrushLiberatedEd MadronichCreeksideDefiantVinology Redback labelDan SullivanMore winerieslingfoodtriosausage phyllotrout crepequicheprofiteroles


Anonymous said...

Great write up! We also fawn over our VQA release in BC, the org itself hosts an event called Bloom each May that I rarely miss. Insightful to meet the winemakers and taste their wares, love to take you there if you're ever in this hood. - Heidi

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