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?
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.