Riesling reserved for Charles at the Picone Vineyard.

By Zoltan Szabo and Jamie Drummond

A funny thing happened on the way to the website editing…

Ever since I sat down with a bottle of Charles Baker’s 2008 Picone Vineyard Riesling I have been swearing to write a damn good review of it. Just before the holidays, Charles Baker himself handed me a bottle of the juice in question, and I admit that both procrastination and “contractual” (read: familial) obligations have in so many ways prevented me from scribing the glowing review that I wished to. So it was with some surprise, and a certain degree of appreciation, that I absorbed Zoltan Szabo’s review of what has to be my favourite Canadian Riesling. Zoltan’s descriptors so much echoed my own, but he presented his notes with such honesty and attention to detail. This earnest appraisal was coupled with a personality and eloquence that my tasting notes were so sadly lacking.

What Charles has captured within this bottling is most exciting to my acidically-assertive-Riesling-hungry palate. Not only are we seeing a wonderful example of cool climate Riesling, but we are also experiencing a delightful expression of Ontario Riesling in the 2008 vintage… of Niagara Peninsula… of the sub-appellation of Vinemount Ridge… and most importantly the subtleties of the Picone vineyard itself.

A “killer” wine in every which way. Oh… And did I mention balance?

Over to Mr. Szabo…

2008 Charles Baker “Picone Vineyard” Riesling Vinemount Ridge VQA
The 2008 vintage was pretty cool, producing somewhat leaner and more acidic wines, a perfect year for Riesling. When the previous vintage of this Riesling has “broader shoulders” – is fuller and more tropical – the 2008 “dances more lightly” over the palate, is more intense and is certainly possessing more vividity. It’s just like taking a bite of a juicy, sweet and sour green apple. It is also limey, with an underlying soft nuance of apple blossoms, and with plenty of limestone accents. There are 23 grams of residual sugar in each litre, but it still tastes tart, and finishes with a zesty and minerally strike. Baker does it again, bringing us a superb “Riesling lovers’ Riesling” that is immediately asking for food. I tried it with traditional Transylvanian “kocsonya” (jellied smoked pork hock, feet and skin, sprinkled with sweet paprika and served with a drizzle of white wine vinegar and pickled red onions on the side) and I was joyful and very happy.