Friday, August 1, 2014

Rich, Robust Red Wine From Canada's Niagara Peninsula

The wines of California are what I am usually awash in, so the opportunity to taste wine from Canada doesn’t happen very often for me.  I have my good friend Kevin Johnson to thank for this one.  In a previous life for both of us, Kevin was the best damn music director a radio station ever had, and I don’t say that simply because he sends me wine from his travels in the northern realm.  It is nice to be thought of kindly, and I think of Kevin that way very often.

When I think of Canadian wine, I think of icewine - even though I know there is more to it than that.  This is a table wine from Niagara-on-the-Lake, a beautiful place I visited once and would love to see again.  The wine is the Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Reserve Rich and Robust Red VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012.

Even in that lengthy monicker, the term "VQA" does rather jump out.  What does “VQA” mean?  It stands for “Vintners Quality Alliance,” and is a regulatory and appellation system similar to France’s AOC or Italy’s DOC.  Further sub-appellations allow for the different terroirs of Canada to be more specifically identified.  Jackson-Triggs Winery is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, within the Niagara Peninsula - Canada’s largest wine appellation.

The Jackson-Triggs name is a blend of the winery founders’ names, Allan Jackson and Don Triggs.  They established the winery in 1993.  Winemaker Marco Piccoli has worked in Italy, Germany and Argentina, and claims to infuse a bit of himself in each of his wines.

The Jackson-Triggs Rich and Robust Red is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.  On the Jackson-Triggs website, an explanation is given that the winery makes both Syrah and Shiraz.  The distinction comes down to New World vs Old World, with Shiraz being the version with the bigger, bolder fruit-forward experience.

The fruit for this wine is from the Delaine Vineyard, in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula.  Oak aging is carried out over six months in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol is restrained, at 13.5% abv and the wine retails for $14.

The dark wine has a medium feel in the mouth, with prickly tannins.  A nose of blackberry and cassis jumps from the glass, while on the palate the fruit is forward as well.  Notes of dark berries and black pepper are graced with a touch of vanilla oak.  The finish is rather tart, with a peppery flavor lingering.  Ultimately, this red blend does not taste like world class wine, but it does deliver enough to keep afloat the expectations of a Cab/Syrah blend for under $15.

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