It’s that time of year again – time for my annual pilgrimage to the wine region in my own backyard. It’s time for Cuvée en Route!
What is Cuvée en Route again?
Dreamed up by the fine people at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Cuvée en Route is an annual showcase of the fantastic wines this region has to offer. This year on March 22-24 wineries in the region will share special tasting menus designed specifically for passport holders, often sharing wines you can’t get at a normal tasting. Case in point – my first Cuvée year I had wines from as long ago as 1998!
Cuvée is a great opportunity to taste things you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere (or any time) else.
Cuvée adventures to date
I’ve had the pleasure of participating in the Cuvée en Route passport program for the past three years and it’s become an annual highlight. It’s a great chance to visit old favourites and check out new (or new to me) wineries I haven’t yet been able to visit.
Cuvée has also accelerated my knowledge of the region. Three or four wines at three or four wineries gives you the chance to explore 9-16 wines in one day – not bad for a day’s work! If you do like me and try not to repeat styles or varieties you could easily get a solid impression of what the region is all about.
My tip? Make a point to any Riesling, Gamay, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc on offer. In my opinion these are the shining stars of the Niagara region.
My 2019 Wish List
By now it’s probably obvious that I’m a big fan of novelty and always game to try something new. After doing Cuvée for the past three years in a row I’ve become pretty familiar with the regular participants. Between those and my Niagara faves the list is a bit smaller than the full 30+, but there are still at least a few that pique my interest.
Here’s where I’m more looking forward to going for Cuvée 2019. Surprisingly for me, they’re all in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I tend to stick to the Beamsville Bench instead of NOTL, which is flatter and hotter, instead of the hillier, rockier Bench. This makes the wines in NOTL a bit more ripe and lush. I love me some minerality, but NOTL is what calls to me this time around.
Tasting Theme: Winemaker’s Selection
A journey through a selection of wines from our amazing cellar.
- 2014 Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2017 Riesling Gewürztraminer
- 2016 Viognier
Why I’m interested: I love viognier, so the chance to try a locally made one is appealing.
Tasting Theme: Taste vs. Value
Come and taste Cabernet Sauvignon across various price points and discuss how we choose blends, direct our winemaking and ultimately determine our final wine. You select your best value.
- 2015 Gold Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2015 Platinum Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2017 Bottoms Up Red
Why I’m interested: Thanks to my stepdad I’ve had some older Marynissen wines, but I’ve never been to the winery. Hopefully this year that changes.
Tasting Theme: Unique Varieties
Discover Niagara’s one of a kind wine tasting experience at Lakeview Wine Co.
- 2017 Lakeview Cellars Kerner
- 2015 Lakeview Cellars Syrah
- 2017 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine
Why I’m interested: I had to Google what the heck Kerner was because I’d never heard of it before! Turns out it’s a white grape mostly from Germany. I don’t know it, so I’m IN.
Tasting Theme: Go Behind the Scenes
Taste and tour Niagara-on-the-Lake’s hottest new winery. Walk in the shoes of our winemaking team as we share the trials and tribulations of opening a new winery, years in the making. With glass in hand, tour the estate and enjoy an exclusive portfolio tasting of our limited edition wines.
- 2016 Mile Red
- 2017 Mile White
- 2017 Mile High Sparkling
- 2016 Pinot Noir
Why I’m interested: This winery is brand spanking new, plus they’re offering tours AND sparkling. What’s not to like?
Are you doing Cuvée En Route this year? What’s on your wish list?