The trio of dry or dry-ish Rieslings are the heart of the submissions here (although the sweet wines stole the show in the end). I liked them all about as well in terms of scoring, but for different reasons. The CSV, of course, is the outlier with a bit of oak. You either accept that or you don't, but it is quite impressive. The regular Riesling is a fine bargain. It shows beautiful balance between the sugar and acidity. It is a little less stern than the Estate Riesling. In many ways, it was my favorite of the table wines, but that depends. The brooding Estate Riesling has ample acidity, but also a hint of petrol. They have pros and cons, depending on your likes and tastes. How they develop may be the final answer. None are really easy wines that force you to drink them now, although the regular Riesling comes closest to that profile in theory. These are Certified Sustainable (Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario).
2020 Riesling Niagara Peninsula | Rating 90
The 2020 Riesling comes in with 16 grams of residual sugar, 8.7 of total acidity, 10.7% alcohol and a pH of 2.8. The acidity mostly gobbles up the sugar here, or perhaps it might be equally accurate to say the sugar nicely counters the acidity. This seems mostly dry or dry-ish, even with that little burst of sugar on the end. It is closer to medium dry than medium sweet, easy to use as a table wine. It also shows good concentration, a nice finish and a classic demeanour. The sugar means that this doesn't have quite the purity of expression as the Estate Riesling also reviewed in this report, but it does have purer aromatics and a balanced demeanor. As the submission closest to a bargain price (by all of $3), this is an overachiever that has grip and tension on the finish, plus some chance of aging well. How it develops and holds may be the final answer to how much of an overachiever it is. Let's be a little conservative just now. It will be better next spring, but it is a perfect food wine right now. It should hold throughout the decade, probably longer.
2020 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench, Estate Grown | Rating 90
The 2020 Riesling Estate comes in at six grams of residual sugar, 7.8 of total acidity and 12.4% alcohol. Dry but perfectly balanced, this is a little sterner than the regular Riesling, but it never becomes shrill, even if it is always fairly intense. Elegant and classic in aromas, it also adds a bit of petrol on the nose. Then, it follows with considerable grip and tension and a respectably long finish. This is young and unevolved. It seems to have ample potential. The petrol is under control today. I liked how it developed as it aired and warmed in the glass. Needless to say, this dry and somewhat stern Riesling is strictly a food wine. It should age and become more clearly a winner, but it could use a year or two more in the cellar.
2019 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench, Estate Grown | Rating 91
The 2019 Riesling CSV was partly aged in neutral French oak (about 45%, with another 5% also with skin contact) for 10 months, with the rest in stainless steel. It comes in with four grams of residual sugar, 9.2 of total acidity and 12.3% alcohol. Wood changes all wines, including Riesling, so this is a little different. However, the old wood on only some of the juice means that this will have no vanilla or flavor alterations as such. Wood mutes the grape a little, to be sure, so that's a given if you object. It still has Riesling character, though, and the flip side is that this becomes an interesting food wine on many levels. (It will really need food.) There is plenty of grip on the finish, the acidity easily asserting itself over the wood and supporting the fruit. The mid-palate also shows good concentration. Overall, it is a wine with both power and focus. It has a chance to age very well, for another decade at least, and probably develop more too. This is nicely done. It will be interesting to see how it develops. Give it another year or two if you can, but it is approachable now.
Other Cave Spring Vineyard wines reviewed:
2017 Riesling Select Late Harvest, Lincoln Lakeshore, Estate Grown | Rating 90
The 2017 Riesling Select Late Harvest is unoaked and sourced from partly frozen grapes on the vine. It comes in with 100 grams of residual sugar, 7.8 of total acidity and 13.1% alcohol. This has a touch of petrol, controlled sugar and beautiful focus. It lingers nicely on the finish and shows off good fruit as well as some acidity. The sugar fades a bit with air; this doesn't seem nearly as sweet as that 100 grams might suggest. It is mostly refreshing and not at all cloying. This should age pretty well, but it drinks great today too. It is a far more restrained dessert wine than the Icewine also reviewed this report, but it does well for its very different style. The price references a half bottle.
2019 Riesling Icewine, Lincoln Lakeshore, Estate Grown | Rating 95
The 2019 Riesling Icewine was harvested frozen on the vine. It is unoaked and comes in with 245 grams of residual sugar, 14.9 of total acidity, 9% alcohol and a pH of 2.73, if you're interested in those details. The Select Late Harvest also reviewed in this report is lovely, but when you get to the high-end Icewine here, you're in another ballpark. This has plenty of body and a fair bit of sugar, but the acidity cuts both and shreds the sugar. I loved the racy demeanor. That makes this lively and a little tense. The aromatics are classic Riesling and the flavors are pure and fresh. It always seems transparent. This is a beauty that should age very well. They do tend to change notably in style as they age, so keep that in mind. In the meanwhile, it is drinkable now, likely better in a year or two. The price references a half bottle.