Vineland Estates Winery is nestled along one of the most gently rolling slopes of the Niagara Escarpment. With a view of Lake Ontario below its low hills to the north and rich undulating vineyards sprawling around in every direction, it's not surprising how much tourist business it attracts. During my first visit, the 2000 Red Meritage -- a benchmarked Bordeaux assemblage with a $125 price tag -- drew most of my attention. Today I was able to concentrate on their icewines. Currently composed solely of Vidal grapes, Vineland Estates' speciality wines include a new Late Harvest as well as two icewines, one from 2002 and another one recently released as their 2004 vintage.
I started with the 2004 Vidal Select Late Harvest (just released and not pictured above). It's a bracing concoction with notable acid and strong citrus flavours. Its silky texture reminded me of the lemon-lime syrup at the soda fountain: crimp the hose that dispenses the carbonated soda and you double up on the concentrated sweet stuff. But that's not to say that the 2004 is too sweet. It's grounded by that palpable acid and real nice note of butter. Great.
For the 2002 Vidal Icewine (pictured third from left), hints of syrup flow like divine nectar. It has more honey than the Late Harvest -- a delicious sweetness that suggests pear or that juice you get in fruit salad. It has great balance in its rounded attack. I was able to linger over a few small portions of this wonderful treat since I had just finished a full plate of lunch. A full stomach is not factor because of the alcohol content, which is low (around 9% for each of these three bottles), but rather for the richness and intensity of this golden exilir.
On to the 2004 Vidal Icewine (pictured first): I immediately sensed a bigger "throat feel". It's what I would describe as a puckering tannin effect that you get as the icewine goes down. For me, the 2004 icewine offers more than I am apt to take. It was at this point that I wished I had some of Riesling icewine that had kicked off my 2005 almost a year ago now.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that the Vidal has been good to Vineland Estates, garnering many accolades including the Grand Vinitaly Award. Aside from that, Vidal icewine is more commonly produced by Ontario vintners than Riesling icewine and is generally more affordable too. And for that reason I would heartily recommend any of these wines. I think that in particular the 2004 Select Late Harvest and the 2002 Vidal Icewine, which is priced in Quebec a few dollars cheaper than it is in Ontario (yes, it does happen!) are both wise selections.
Finally, John arranged these wines for me. Thanks to him for the suggestion. This flight is the first one that Doktor Weingolb has taken, so it only seems perfectly suitable that eiswein be the feature.