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Winner’s Circle: Thirty Bench 2011 Riesling was one of the three Ontario Rieslings to be singled out at the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines

When the adjudication of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines came to an end, the judges took a look at the board at the front of the classroom where the final 11 varietals and blends were written. One thing stood out: the strongest category of the competition was Riesling.

Two table wines and one Icewine ranked remained standing after a intensive tasting of 278 Ontario wines. And at the end of the two day long adjudication process, the writing was on the wall so to speak, Riesling keeps on shining through. More than any other variety or wine style, it alone garnered the most praise and attention.

Throughout our summer-long blog, Riesling has been described as a grape that is pure, honest, and versatile. We like to think of it as a front-runner among grapes which has the capability of standing out in a sea of bottles. Even in a blind tasting conducted by 14 different palates, despite the difference of styles that the grape is made into, Riesling is charming, seductive. We were thrilled to see so many singled-out as representing excellence in Ontario wines.

The Inniskillin 2008 Riesling Icewine, Tawse 2010 Sketches of Niagara Riesling and Thirty Bench 2011 Riesling lead the list of winners for the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s wine awards. Don’t forget to check out which wines were selected and the Taste Trails blog that details what it was like to be a judge at the second annual Ontario wine competition.

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When Charles Baker launched his eponymous Riesling in 2005, he was continuing a project started while working at Cave Spring Cellars. While at the Jordan winery, the sales executive made a Riesling he called Django, after noted jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Baker felt adopting the gypsy musician’s name was fitting given he was making wine without owning vineyards or a winery. When he took a job at Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, that idea grew in scale and ambition. He was able to create a commercial wine, working in tandem with chef and vineyard owner Mark Picone and the winemaking team at Stratus.

2027 Cellars‘ Kevin Panagapka says that Riesling is the shining star in Niagara. As an exciting young winemaker specializing in Riesling and other cool climate varieties, he would know.

Cold stabilization at Fielding Estate Winery

Riesling fun fact: Riesling often undergoes a process called cold stabilization.

It is a method used to remove insoluble deposits in the wine before bottling. The wine is stored after fermentation at a temperature just above freezing in metal tanks for one to two weeks until the majority of tartaric acid has crystallized. These crystals appear when the wine is exposed to cold temperatures. Although these crystals (often referred to as “wine diamonds”) are safe for consumption, consumers may find them to be unattractive or mistake them for broken glass. After this procedure is completed, the wine is filtered to remove any remaining yeast or impurities.

So since these crystals are harmless, is cold stabilization an unnecessary process or is it completely essential? I personally prefer a smooth, sediment-free glass of Riesling. ANUPA SIMON

CedarCreek‘s Darryl Brooker and Tantalus Vineyards‘ David Paterson discuss why they love Riesling. Not surprisingly that passion comes through in their work as they produce some of the best Rieslings in Canada, working with grapes grown in the northern Okanagan Valley.

Screwcap closures help maintain Riesling’s purity and finesse

We have come to know and love fresh and fruity Rieslings, in large part because the grape is so honest. It doesn’t hide anything, including its faults. The innate purity of this genuine grape makes cork taint extremely obvious.

How do many wineries avoid sending their flavourful whites on the road to ruin? Screwcaps! This alternative closure keeps wines fresh and pure, while avoiding any problems a cork might present. So, toss your corkscrew aside and start twisting, because faultless Riesling is the best kind of Riesling.