Post-TasteCamp North interviews: Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape

TasteCamp North, held on both the Canadian and the American side of the Niagara river on May 13-15, was a lot of fun and very instructive for the thirty-some wine bloggers and writers present. Pursuing a tradition started by Lenn Thompson for the first two TasteCamps, held in his home turf of New York State, I’ve decided to ask bloggers from outside the region to answer a short series of questions detailing their impressions of the region.

Today, the Q&A goes to Jeff Lefevere, author of the highly-regarded Good Grape blog, who has also started blogging on Forbes.com.  Jeff is one of the most serious tasters I know: in events like TasteCamp, I’m always impressed with the way he goes through everything with great concentration and commitment, and a capacity to cut through the clutter and get to the point.

Was this your first visit to Niagara – in Canada and/or the US?

Yes.

Had you ever had any Niagara wines before? If so, what was your impression of them?

My tasting baseline was strictly limited to Ice wine – Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs.  I hadn’t tried any table wines.

After your visit to Niagara, how much has your impression changed?

Radically.  I go into emerging region visits without much research so I can view it without prejudice.  I had no idea the quality Niagara is producing in still wines.  No.  Idea.

What did you appreciate the most?

There seems to be a regional identity in place and the expression of fruit across unoaked chards, Pinot, Gewurtz, Riesling is very pure, very elegant, and very nice.  The reds were fantastic and such a discovery – ethereal and light without the heavy extraction.

What impressed you the least – or what needs improvement the most?

I was surprised in that the Rieslings were a little  uneven.  There seems to be a real delineation in between Niagara-on-the-Lake and wines inland on “The bench.”

I expected to see a continuation from the Finger Lakes north with Riesling being a regional stalwart, but it’s much more diverse with a much stronger sense of what grapes thrive.

What was the most unexpected thing for you, during TasteCamp?

The level of sophistication of the wineries: Most of the facilities we visited were world-class.  I didn’t expect the grandeur.

What would your wine of the weekend be?

Both of the ’09 Chardonnays from Tawse:

- 2009 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay

- 2009 Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay

And, the lineup from Thirty Bench was stellar, as well.

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