I’d forgotten how cold Ottawa is in the winter time. Chilly. Icy. Brrrr.
But alcohol is warming, so the first thing I did after I made it to my hotel was make a beeline for the closest wine store. Of course, it’s a little different in Ontario and I ended up at a small LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) in the local Rideau Centre. There was some fellow at the front of the store getting arrested for shoplifting a bottle of Polar Ice vodka and it was slim pickings as far as interesting or unique bottles were concerned.
Given this scenario, I figured my goal should be to find the most premium tasting bottle I could find that isn’t available in BC. It turned out the best I could do was $15.95 without resorting to icewine.
Let’s just say the Rideau Centre LCBO is not exactly carrying a lot of intriguing product from anywhere – let alone the province itself. I went to another private wine store and the largest LCBO in downtown Ottawa later on the weekend and they were equally uninspiring for the most part.
With the few options I had, I picked up this bottle from Wayne Gretzky Estates because I know purchasing his wines means contributions go to charities that benefit children in Ontario. WG Estates also produces wines in the Okanagan (BC) and in Sonoma, California, so while technically I can purchase the brand here, I can’t get this Cab-Merlot blend from Niagara Peninsula VQA.
This wine has a deep ruby colour and light legs with a medium intense nose of all the things you’d expect to find in a Cabernet-Merlot blend such as blackberries, blueberries, damson plum, baking spice and vanilla. There’s no green pepper though to offer that classic cab sav greenness.
The palate is not completely dry although it’s advertised as such; it’s not off dry either, but there is definitely residual sugar in it. The tannins are supple and ripe with little grip and it has a light body with only medium acidity. The medium intense flavours include more plum, black and blue fruit, some tobacco leaf, black pepper, vanilla and clove with nutmeg. The finish recedes quickly.
This is a WSET ‘Good’ wine; young, simple, it’s clean and only a little out of balance – doing its thing unremarkably, but inoffensively as well. It’s not a star like its namesake, but the way the proceeds are spent on deserving kids does make purchasing it a little easier.
Drink now, don’t hold.