Sunday, March 8, 2009

Niagara Tour, March 2009

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Niagara is a magical place. I've always known that, but everytime I go up, there's always new things to learn. As each producer makes and begins building a library of vintages, the subtleties and characteristics of Niagara's terroir begin to unveil. I believe in this region. Now, more than ever, there is a unity of place, in the wines that are being produced here. However, producers must be aware of the dangers that the globalization of wine tastes bring - we must continue to be unique. There must only be Niagara wines being made here. Wine cannot be altered to fit the trends and public tastes that are so fickle and callow. I've tasted it - there is such thing as a Niagara wine, but how many people are willing to sacrifice in order to allow the terroir to sing in all its glory?

All the people we met were as friendly and welcoming, as Niagara's wineries always are. Everyone was willing to share their knowledge of the region's wines, without hesitating to recommend other producers to seek out and try. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and came away with greater appreciation for the wine, and the people. The wines we tasted were, at their best, incredibly pure expressions of fruit and earth. Of course, there were many simple wines, but even these were well-balanced, and food-friendly. Only two wines we tasted were undrinkable - a hybrid variety and an archaically made wine. There was consistency of quality, and the wines were honest interpretations of vintage and varietal. No sign of over-manipulation - the over-oaked, overripe monsters that plague so much of the New World.

As the sub-appellations of Niagara begin to reveal their personalities and characters, there is palpable excitement in the area. This is a dramatic and important time for Ontario wine, and local wine lovers. I feel privileged to be along for the ride.

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