This week’s sub $20 wine pick not available in the LCBO comes to us from Palatine Hills near the lakeshore of Niagara-on-the-Lake. With his background fruit farming, proprietor John Neufeld Senior’s philosophy is that winemaking “begins in the vineyard”. This might explain why all of the fruit for their wine come from their hundred acre estate, planted in the early 70s, in order to keep a careful eye throughout the growing season. Perhaps too, because it provides plenty of fruit for this small family run estate to ply their craft.
What becomes clear at Palatine Hills is that they are uninterested in making wine for a select few, opting instead to make their wines accessible to everyone for any occasion (on any budget!). It is this, and the local icewine festivals, that lead us to our selection of their 2011 Vidal Select Late Harvest.
As much as I’ve always enjoyed dessert wine (icewine, late harvest, botrytis effected), the price and the “pomp” seem to have relegated it to once-a-year territory. Ice wine in particular appears in danger of becoming exclusively “for the tourists”. While a real shame, I understand it. How often do you host a dinner party worth topping off flawlessly (and pairing a dessert perfectly) with a $50 to $120 bottle of sweet “Niagara Gold”?
This brings us to the Palatine Hills 2011 Vidal Select Late Harvest, the second pressing from their Vidal Icewine. It carries all of the same flavours of the Vidal Icewine, but not as intensely and, I’m told, with half the sweetness.
This late harvest is no shrinking violet, however. Though newly released, because it is a seven-year-old wine it has a beautifully dark amber colour. I’m struck by its vivid notes of tangerine and lemon custard on the nose and rich peach and honey on the palate.
I’ve often heard, and been offended at the suggestion that I should use my $80 bottle of Icewine as an ice cream topping, but with this $15 dollar bottle (yes, that’s no typo!) I could absolutely imagine drizzling this beautiful example of Niagara generously over a bowl of heaping vanilla bean ice cream, topped with fresh raspberries and another two ounces to sip alongside.
Palatine Hills Estate Winery 2011 Vidal Select Late Harvest ($15) 12.5% alc/vol
Location 911 Lakeshore Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0