New in Vintages

The following winery—2027 Cellars—is one of a handful of Niagara’s virtual wineries. Kevin Panagapka is owner and winemaker. Kevin’s father, Don, is a Wine Judge of Canada and a master home winemaker. Apples don’t fall too far from the tree and Kevin began his wine career as a youngster—a ‘cellar hand’ for his dad at bottling time in the basement of their family home; he’s been around wine most of his life and it shows in the fabulous wine he’s now producing. His focus is on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling as he feels these are well suited—a good opportunity to ripen each year—to the macro-climate of the larger region and sources from carefully chosen, specific sites which he determines are optimum for each. Kevin purchases fruit from specific rows in premium vineyards and fully manages the viticulture aspects such as grape yield, leaf pulling and overall health of the vines. He bottles single-varietal table wines, most wild-yeast fermented and unfiltered, and also makes Vintage and Non-Vintage, traditional-method sparkling wine from a Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend. As you’ll see above and below, his wines are stunning. They reach heights that place them amongst the best Canada produces. There are limited quantities in the Vintages or Ontario section in the LCBO of the following two wines—it’s worth the effort to source a few of each… and it’s worth acting quickly when the three above are finally released. The following two you can source now, but they won’t last long.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard-Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2012 

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $30.00 (421362) 13.0% alcohol 

Delicate, alluring aromas of buttered toast, mineral notes and green apple presage a glorious, creamy mouthful of tang-laden flavour with peach, pear and lemon citrus to the fore. It’s medium weight, deftly balanced and stylish, even at this early stage. Flavours persist through the lingering aftertaste, focused and pure. Drinks beautifully now, will improve in bottle—consummate food wine, pour with pan-seared scallops or tuna, roast pork and more. Owner/winemaker Kevin Panagapka adds to his sterling reputation. (Vic Harradine) 

***** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Queenston Road’ Pinot Noir 2012

VQA St. David’s Bench $35.00 (421370) 13.0% alcohol 

Here’s a fabulous Pinot with great purity of fruit, complexity, balance and delectable flavour. Funky aromas of earthiness, savory bits, spice and dark toast are pried from the subdued nose. Palate-coating flavours of juicy, tangy sour cherry and spice-infused black berry interweave with notions of anise and cocoa. It finishes with a balanced, complex replay of palate flavours garnished with ripe, supple tannin and charm—it was tough to spit. Good to go now and on to the early 2020s. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar 
Jean Leon ‘3055’ Merlot/Petit Verdot 2014

DO Penedès $18.95 (437699) 14.0% alcohol

From humble beginnings, ‘3055’ was Jean Leon’s number working as a cabbie in NYC. Aromas of mixed spice, sprigs of herbs and dried currant set the table for a racy line of red raspberry, pomegranate and passion fruit interweaving with red plum and strawberry on the palate of this very young, medium-bodied, organic, 60% Merlot/40% Petit Verdot red blend. It’s smooth, dry and refreshing, part of the wine spending just four months in oak. (Vic Harradine)