Niagara, Ontario wines


Coming from NY, I’m well aware that Seneca Lake has amazing Riesling that gets really close, if not almost the same as German Riesling (Nahe).

I was wondering which winery in Niagara has something similar (or closest to it) where the balance of sweet (residual sugar) and high acidity (colder climate) culminates into a citrus fruit profile (whether candied yuzu, sour clementines/mikan, lemon/lime). Bonus points if it has some salinity to it with a long finish.

I’d also like to know which grape from Niagara produces great wines. I’m guessing cooler climate grapes but would want to know from folks who understands this region better than I. Also, if i can get examples of bottles to try out from visiting the winery themselves, I’d love to check them out as i visit from time to time.

Thank you very much!!

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Aah – Riesling (my favourite grape, although my tastes may be different to yours as I find Seneca Lake Rieslings to be more Mosel in style than Nahe).

My favourite in Niagara is the Charles Baker Piccone Vineyard (made at Stratus). His other Rieslings are cheaper but seem to have less personality.

For ‘everyday’ I choose the Kew Riesling (about the cheapest, so give it a try first – it’s middle-of-the-road) and also [right now] the Norman Hardie 2017 – which might be the closest match for you (but only a small quantity remain).

If you want a little more sweetness, but with balancing acidity, then Cave Springs makes an excellent ‘late harvest’ style.

As for other grapes – it depends!

I find several Chardonnays age well (particularly Southbrook) – but I’m intimidated by their prices. The good ones aren’t cheap and I think that there are alternatives from several countries that are ‘better value’ (although not necessarily better wines).

My ‘best grape’ choice is Syrah! Sadly, very little grown, and the climate here means the vine survival rate is risky. It’s leaner than the ‘French’ Syrahs with more pronounced spiciness. And beware of the ‘Shiraz’ style – much clunkier and sweeter – a hangover from the success of the Australian style. Right now, the only version I’ve seen available is the Stratus – which is NOT for current drinking – much too tannic and (IMO) a bit too highly priced.

In the past my choices have been Lailey and Southbrook – but I don’t see either of those still being available right now.


You are right about most of Seneca being closer to Mosel in style. I’ve come across very few, in specific vintages, where i hit my jackpot (Nahe).

Thank you very much for your insights and recommendations!! I’ll definitely be checking these out with your notes in mind.

Now if i can just find actual legitimate Thai curry that matches Riesling done really well. Much like most Riesling outside Germany, Thai food here has mostly been light and bland compared to the real thing so it’s been tough to pair them properly.


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I just looked up the few Riesling you’ve recommended.

I probably should’ve mentioned i enjoy pradikatswein Riesling (typically from Kabinett to auslese) from Nahe that are around 8~10% alcohol level where we have that high acidity blended with decent amount of residual sugar (but not quite as much as Mosel although i prefer that style more so than dry).

Norman hardie seems to have 11.9% so a bit on the dry side for me. Are there any that fit that criteria? Mosel style between Kabinett and Auslese is fine too but my favorite trends to be the Nahe between Kabinett and Auslese (both either between the 8~10% range).

Sounds like you’re my obiwan! You’re my only hope!

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After drinking my first really good German Riesling ( 1976 vintage ) whilst studying in London. I too was hooked on Riesling ever since. After moving and settling in Ontario, I was initially hoping to get my hands on some good ones at a reasonable price. But sadly, this was not the case. In most cases, I find Ontario Riesling way less complex than their German cousins’ and more expensive. I recalled attending an ’ Ontario Riesling tasting dinner’ at Treadwell, NOTL a few years back ( with Clement ). At least 6-8 of the supposedly best producers were represented. However, to our disappointment and surprise, not a single good one stood out amongst the over 18 samples offered!! However, like you alluded to regarding late-harvest sweeter version ', a Cave Spring special select late harvest Riesling, which was quite balanced and not cloying, was offered and was quite enjoyable…paired with an Apple & Peach pie dessert.

Pearl Morissette does occasionally produce an acceptable off-dry one.

A while back, I enjoyed a bottle of ’ Two sisters unoaked chardonnay, 2019’ , but like you said, at $39 a bottle, the price was a bit intimidating for a ’ local ’ wine!


The Cave Springs Late Harvest is my recommendation.
But try the Kew - has the sugar of a QmP although lacks some acid - but the price is right.

My go-to for Thai is Khao San Road (their textures are exceptional) but I suspect that you may prefer their other destination Nana which seems more authentic.


Drove around last night and barely made it to two locations to pick up everything.

Can’t wait to try these. Thank you everyone!!


Riesling is my personal favourite white too. When I saw this post I thought, “This is a job for Estufarian!” (finds phone booth, dons cape) I’ll be sure to check out the Charles Baker.

I still find recommending Norman Hardie a little controversial, but I suppose he’s done his penance.

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I’m also a fan of the CB Piccone. I really enjoyed a few bottles of the Cave Springs “Adam Steps” Riesling I bought at their retail store in Jordan Station a couple of years ago, but they don’t seem to have any left for sale on their website.

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The Hardie is the driest and the Cave Spring the sweetest if you’re trying to organize the tasting order. The Kew has the lowest acidity andf I recall the Cave Spring as the highest - except the greater sweetness in that wine offsets the acidity, so it doesn’t taste as ‘sharp’.
And Report back on the style you prefer so we can guide you further.

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Thank you very much! I also picked up the Charles Baker 2018 (it was on clearance sale). Where would that fit in I regards to sweetness/acidity compared with the others?

Will report back what we liked!

It depends which CB you got - he has several.
I’d rate the Piccone Vineyard as a solid Kabinett, with ex balance. His others are a bit softer - more QbA. Less sweet than the Cave Springs but the most acidic.

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Sorry, i didn’t specify. I got that one you had recommended. I do love me some Kabinett!!

Tried the Kew old vine last night.
I don’t think I’d go for that bottle again as it was too dry for what we’re looking for.

We found it somewhat sour with a different type of acidity from German Riesling. Virtually no citric acid but more stone fruit. Had the flavor of ripened peach but the sourness of a young peach. Can sense the hint of sugar but a bit too mild. Almost like Pfalz Riesling but not as acidic as that. Wasn’t our cup of tea but not a bad wine for what it is. Is the climate in Niagara warmer than the Nahe/Mosel area?

Also, what would you pair this wine with?

Thanks in advance!

Should go well with Chinese ( Cantonese ) food.

Cantonese food has a wide variety of things though. Also, Chinese food, when it has soy sauce is very tough to pair with wine considering the acidity in soy sauce is so high. What type of Cantonese food?

I’ve now opened and tried the 2018 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard.

A littler more sparkling, longer finish, a lot more acidity than the Kew. Very tart like green apple. Pretty good for $33!! It does taste like a version of Kabinett! Just wish it had a bit more residual sugar. They definitely could reduce the alcohol level down to 9 to 9.5% to gain a bit more residual sugar. Do they shift how much they ferment their wine from year to year? If so, I’d be looking for a lower alcohol% to get what I’m looking for! 11.2% is quite high (and as a result, dry)

A bit off course, but we can tell you know your stuff.

Someone thought we should receive, and we did, this local to you bottling:

Most Cantonese preparation of seafood and fishes tends to have a slight sweetish bias as well as a light-handed approach/procedure to showcase and highlight the delicate and umami sweet characteristic of the ingredients. As such, my go to wines have always been off-dry German or Alsace Riesling and/or Gewurztraminer. Sauteed lobster or Dungeness crab with premium top soy is a prime example.

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Riesling has frequently been criticised for being “too sweet” - I’m speculating it’s a hangover from the ‘Liebfraumilch days’. With that level of sweetness, Ontario can’t compete on price as our yields are much lower, so it’s just not marketable. It makes more sense to try an ‘Alsace-style’, or leave the grapes to sit on the vine with the hope of making an ‘icewine’ - which, a generation back, were very marketable. That latter option leaves the door open to being botrytis affected and there is ZERO market for that style in Canada. So the botrytis grapes and the frozen grapes get lumped together in Icewine, giving a ‘botrytised icewine’. Personally, I value the ‘purity’ of an Icewine, so that mixture doesn’t appeal to me. In Ontario, Vidal is more resistant to botrytis, so I prefer that grape to the Riesling that is reputed to be the star grape for Icewine (in a German Eiswein I’d choose Riesling as they use the botrytised grapes in a BA or TBA). If you want Kabinett: - it’s hard to beat Germany!

I drink the Kew with pork dishes - for sure if they have a touch of sweetness. The Norm Hardie works with Middle-Eastern foods. The Charles Baker is my go to with Indian food. With Asian - it depends on the spicing but as a guide I’d choose lower acidity (e.g. a Margaret River Chardonnay - which uses vanilla tones, rather than sweetness, or possibly Pinot Gris - although that grape is a minefeld of styles) but we started this discussion with a question about Niagara wines, so I restricted my response to those - if we’d started with “which wine goes with Asian food” (say) it would have gone in a different direction.

And responding to BoneAppetite on Inniskillin icewine - again, I despair at the inclusion of botrytis grapes (emphasis my personal opinion) but even ignoring that, the pricepoint causes a recoil - they may be good , but if I can afford $100 per 750ml bottle I have a multiplicity of choices!

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Hmm so it sounds like what I’m looking for doesn’t exist in Ontario. Hopefully i can find Seneca or German at a decent price but it seems i may be better off bringing back a couple bottles whenever i visit the US.

I don’t mind branching off to wine that goes well with Asian food. What I’ve noticed though, is that most Asian food in GTA (whether that’s Korean, Thai, or Indian) doesn’t have nearly the spice level or complexity that is seen when it’s done right. So things that i know pairs well wouldn’t likely work as the food component falls short. Perhaps that means i need to start trying wines that are a bit less sweet than I’m used to when pairing.

-8 to 10% German Pradikatswein Riesling (Mosel/Nahe) pairs extremely well with true Thai green curry.
-old vine Cab Franc from Loire Valley pairs very well with most Korean food as there’s a lot of green veggies featured in Korean food (from green spicy peppers to perilla leaves to red/green lettuce)