Love Local – A Journey to Cave Spring Cellars

Our ongoing series continues to spotlight local Ontario wineries; this month we feature Cave Spring Vineyards and a selection of their wines (plus a few extra Local and International wines).

The founding partners of Cave Spring, Len Pennachetti and Angelo Pavan (who is also the winemaker), have a vision for their winery.  They feel, like the vintners in the world’s other great wine regions, you should focus on planting the right grapes in the right places.  The Pennachetti family were among the first to plant Riesling and Chardonnay grapes in the Niagara region in 1978.  After the brutal winters of 2014 and 2015, they decided to hone their focus to the grapes they feel suit the Niagara terroir the best; that is, those that consistently ripen and withstand our winters.  Those are: Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Pinot Gris, with a small amount of Gerwurztraminer since they love the grape.

Like their vineyards, Angelo’s winemaking has evolved over time.  He now uses more old oak than new and an increasing number of his wines are fermented with indigenous (wild) yeast instead of using commercial yeast.  He embodies the philosophy that great wines are made in the vineyard and it is the winemaker’s job to guide process along while not to intervening too much.  It’s a great vision for their winery.

Cave Spring was one of the first wineries that I fell in love with in Niagara in the late 1980s and they are still one of my favourites.  Do visit their tasting room in Jordan and try what they have to offer.

All ratings out of 5 stars.

Cave Spring Chardonnay 2018 ★★★½ $15.95 (LCBO) Little, if any, new oak used here, but this fruit doesn’t need to be hidden behind oak.  It has very nice golden apple richness, mineral, and lemon with a medium body. It’s fine to drink alone and equally good with citrus marinated chicken from the BBQ with roasted potato and aioli.

Cave Spring Estate Gewürztraminer 2017 ★★★★ $18.95 (Vintages and Winery) This white is off dry and full bodied.  This is a mixture of pure lychee fruit blended with rose, honey, minerals, pineapple, candied orange peel, and clove spice.  Pair it with a mild vegetarian curry, smoked salmon, or Thai food.

13th Street Burger Blend White 2018 ★★★½+ $14.95 (LCBO)  For my fans of Italian Pinot Grigio, give this Niagara blend a place at your BBQ. It’s the perfect wine to enjoy outside in the summer sun. I’m not sure serving it with beef burgers, but for a glass before dinner or with chicken burgers, the juicy, off dry lemon/lime flavours will brighten up your gathering.

Cave Spring Dolomite Brut Sparkling NV ★★★½+ $27.95 (Winery only) Here’s a 100% Chardonnay summer sparkler! Lemon, golden apple, apricots, and minerals with the breadiness you would expect from a traditional method sparkling. You should sip it in your Muskoka chair with your ice bucket beside you to keep it cold.  If you have any left by dinner, it’s a great pairing with grilled chicken sausage with sautéed pepper, onions, and mushrooms.

Cave Spring Rose 2018 ★★★+ $13.95 (LCBO) Match this with the spicy heat from a pizza topped with hot Sopressata.  The fruitiness will cool the spice from the pizza to make a good match. You may pick up a little sulphur when you open it, but this blows off to showcase good red currant, cranberry, and orange fruit with a medium body and good balance.

Abras Torrontes 2017 ★★★★ $16.95 (Vintages)  The fruit for this wine is from the Cafayate Valley in Salta province in Argentina, recognized as the best place to grow this indigenous Argentine grape.  It’s fresh, dry, medium bodied, and brimming with peach, pear, apple, and wet stones with a lemony, lingering finish.  Try it as an aperitif or with grilled shrimp.

Carte Noire Rose 2018 ★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages) Typically dry, medium bodied, Grenache based Provencal Rose with notes of strawberry, pink grapefruit, lemon, herb, and white pepper.  Try it with your seafood course, which is one of the typical pairings in the south of France.

Cave Spring Cabernet Franc Dolomite 2016 ★★★★ $24.95 (Winery only)  Dolomite gives an insight into what Cabernet Franc is capable of delivering in Niagara.  Sourced from their own vineyards on the Beamsville Bench, it’s dry, almost full bodied, and shows black raspberry, black cherry, crushed red currants, cedar, vanilla, and a bit of mint along with some meaty, savouriness.  It’s a happy pairing with red meat or your gourmet burger creations.

Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ★★★★ $24.95 (Vintages) It’s hard to find California Cabernets below $25 that deliver good Cab fruit.  This one does.  Expect a dry, nearly full bodied red with intense ripe black cherry, cassis, black raspberry, vanilla, coconut, sage, and black currant jam with a little herbaceous leafiness combined with lots of acidity and tannins.  It cries out for a BBQ steak or grilled Portobello mushroom caps if you prefer.

The Lackey Shiraz 2017 ★★★★+ $17.95 (Vintages)  Shiraz is the Australian name for the grape much of the world calls Syrah.  This is a full bodied, developing, well balanced wine aged in a mix of old and new oak.  Intense flavours of blackberry, black plum and cherry, meatiness, cedar, leather, earth, and black pepper.  It delivers a lot for under $20.  If you like BBQ ribs and sauce, pick this wine to pair.