The best thing about the Show is the chance it gives me (and everyone else) to be adventurous. Stuck in a wine rut? This is the place for you. Here are a few of my favourites from this year's selection:
Yering Station Little Yering 2005 Cab/Shiraz/Merlot (Australia; Best In Show - Red) - Fruity, jammy nose; flavours of raisins and tobacco leaf, accompanied by a chewy texture; high acid, solid tannins that linger on the finish.
Colio Lake and River Series 2009 River Rock Red (Lake Erie North Shore, Ontario) - You might remember seeing this in the purchase list for the $100 Challenge. Sweet floral/strawberry nose, only a hint of the cabernet "funk" (franc); none of the bitterness of a franc, this blend is sweeter, with a good balance between acid and tannin.
Colio Lake and River Series 2009 Moonlight White - Floral nose; high acid, tangy and refreshing; biting finish that keeps going ... and going ... and going ...
Vina Chocalan 2007 Reserve Syrah (Maipo, Chile) - Leathery nose, with hints of cranberry, raspberry and smoked meat; smooth texture, medium tannins; well-balanced, with a long, warm finish.
Clos du Bois 2007 Merlot (Sonoma Valley, California) - Jammy - plum and fig; fruit-forward on the palate; medium tannins, mid-length finish, well-balanced. A bit more "oomph" than your typical middle-of-the-road merlot, which is welcome.
Dirty Laundry 2009 Woo Woo Vines Gewurztraminer (Summerland, BC) - Buttery, syrupy, floral nose; thick mouthfeel to match; creamy, candied fruit on the palate. Good pairing with bloomy rind cheese.
Colaneri 2009 Syrah (Niagara, Ontario) - A bit green, with subtle notes of clove, cherry and smoke on the nose. Elegant.
Lailey 2006 Cabernets (Niagara, Ontario) - 50/50 split of cab sauv and franc. Notes of cedar, slightly floral and exquisitely refined. This is what hand-crafted, passionate winemaking tastes like. I always enjoy chatting with Derek Barnett; his 2001 cabernet franc is the benchmark against which all other francs are measured, in my book, anyway. ("Come by the booth downstairs, I have some of the cab franc under the table ...")
Coyote's Run 2007 Meritage (Niagara, Ontario) - Remember, it rhymes with "heritage". Deep purple bowl, juicy nose and tastes of cherry, plums and cassis; well structured.
Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California) - Sorry, I didn't catch the vintage on this one. I was too busy swooning. Just as amazing as their Chardonnay. Plush, well-balanced fruit and tannins, with a luxurious finish.