I always look forward to the New York wines releases at the LCBO. The buyers there consistently select some of the very best offerings from the region, and yet they often fly under the radar of the general populace due to the fact that their shelf placement in stores appears to be entirely arbitrary; sometimes they’ll be located right next to the Californian section, sometimes the Pacific Northwest section, and once I even found them hidden beside the Greek bottles. Let’s just say they are never usually the easiest of wines to find.

Saying all that, there seem to be decent inventories of all five of these wines distributed all over Ontario, so if you are looking for something a little different from the same old, same old, these excellent bottlings will do just the trick!


2020 Hermann J. Wiemer “HJW Vineyard” Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York State (Alcohol 12.5%, Residual Sugar 14 g/l) LCBO Vintages $68 (750ml bottle)

This is up there with some of the best Riesling I have tasted in North America, and certainly gives even the top tier Niagara Rieslings a good run for their money. While you may call me a turncoat for saying that, I’d suggest you pause for a second and let this biodynamically farmed bottling transport you to the Finger Lakes. 

Although the Finger Lakes aren’t a million miles from the Beamsville Bench, the terroir is vastly different. Shallow topsoil over shale bedrock is the order of the day at the HJW vineyard, whereas the best sites on the Beamsville Bench are often a mixture of limestone and clay, so it’s akin to comparing the proverbial apples to oranges.

Speaking of apples and oranges, you’ll find a fair bit of both here. The complex and curiously evolved bouquet is gloriously expressive, especially when allowed to warm a little in the glass. One will find an abundance of clementines, Golden Delicious apples, peaches, Manuka honey, and a lovely musky, floral element reminiscent of magnolias. There’s also a distinct lemony tang that reminds me of opening a fresh red tub of UK Brylcreem.

As if the nose wasn’t delicious enough, on the palate the wine really comes into its own, expressing a sense of elegance that is rare outside of the finer wines of Germany. As well as this elegance, there’s an underlying weight and power here. The lemony tang returns in the mouth, alongside a defined mineral core that extends out into a lengthy finish like a resounding clarion bell.

Like all the very best Rieslings, this wine will only benefit from considerable time in the cellar.


2021 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York State (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 10 g/l) LCBO Vintages $29.95 (750ml bottle)

Dr. Konstantin Frank’s wines never fail to impress, and this 2021 dry Riesling is no exception.

This release sees fruit sourced from both of their vineyard sites in Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake, with some of the vines dating away back to 1958. The Riesling vines across both sites have quite the interesting selection of clones, utilising 88, 90, 11, 318, 239, 49, 110, 38, and 356.

There’s a delicacy present here, with gentle aromatics of citrus (lemon/lime) alongside freshly cut green apple, and peach/apricot notes. 

In the mouth there’s certainly the firm and crunchy acid profile one would expect, but its tempered by an attractive apple/peach fruit core leading out to an extended stony mineral finish, and it’s that wonderful finish that makes this wine for me.

2021 was a wet and challenging vintage in the Finger Lakes, but Dr. Frank have done a smashing job here. The five months ageing on lees give this wine excellent texture on the mid-palate, something that I have found lacking in many of the 2021 Rieslings.

This is drinking well now, but will only benefit from 5+ years in your cellar. So many of these Riesling are consumed way before they really have a chance to blossom. Patience reaps some marvellous rewards here.


2020 Forge Cellars “Classique” Dry Riesling, Seneca Lake, New York State (Alcohol 12.5%, Residual Sugar 10 g/l) LCBO Vintages $34.96 (750ml bottle)

Using grapes sourced from 16 lieux-dits made up of gravelly loam, clay, and shale with limestone, located on the southeastern side of Seneca Lake, this wine serves as a flagship for Forge Cellars, and I can wholly understand why they are as proud of it as they are.

Forge Cellars refers to the 2020 vintage as “the vintage of the sun” due to the many “sun-drenched” days that marked its progress, and I feel that they capture this vintage perfectly in this bottling.

Long spontaneous ferments (some of which last for most of the summer) in a combination of neutral cooperage and stainless steel bring about a complex wine with admirable finesse.

The nose brings enticing aromatics of tangerines and peaches with a wondrously seductive honeysuckle florality.

In the mouth, the acidity is medium-plus, with the wine drinking surprisingly broad on the palate. There’s a beautiful minerally finish here, finishing absolutely bone dry despite the generous peachy fruit profile.


2021 Lamoreaux Landing Unoaked Chardonnay, Finger Lakes, New York State (Alcohol 12.2%, Residual Sugar 8 g/l) LCBO Vintages $24.95 (750ml bottle)

In order for an unoaked Chardonnay to shine, the fruit has to be picture perfect, and Lamoreaux Landing seems to know what they are up to in that department.

The wine grew on me as the nose opened up in the glass, the bouquet becoming more and more expressive. There’s a whole load of ripe Anjou pear here, with Provençal herbal notes, green apples, and some lemon zest. There’s a touch of reduction, but this blows off really quickly.

In the mouth, one doesn’t even really notice the 8 g/l of residual sugar. The acidity is medium-soft and almost sherbert-like in nature, but it picks up on the back of the palate, where it comes over as lemon rind. It’s actually quite a rich and satisfying example of unoaked Chardonnay.

I found this wine a delight to drink all by itself, but I certainly see it alongside some poached shrimp, pan-fried scallops, and sautéed clams.

2021 Boundary Breaks Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, New York State (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $35.95 (750ml bottle)

This wine is a perennial favourite of mine, and I was seriously impressed with this 2021 release.

Labels occasionally get the better of me, and this one certainly did. The embossed label with its raised contour lines really won me over, as it’s incredibly handsome and well designed.

This wine is actually a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot. The Cabernet Franc most definitely dominates here, with the Merlot playing its usual role in blends by filling out the midpalate.

On the nose, one will find a hell of a lot of black cherries, a certain earthiness, a whiff of graphite, and absolutely none of the greenness many associate with the variety, especially in cooler climates. 

On the bing cherry palate, this medium weight wine is deeply savoury, with good, ripe, grippy tannins accompanied by a cranberry/raspberry acid tang, which really shows well when served with a bit of a chill. There’s a lovely bitterness on the back of the palate, where one will find echoes of the graphite found on the nose.

This was an extremely challenging vintage as it was almost constantly wet, and so it’s astonishing that winemaker David Breeden coaxed such a damn good wine from such adverse conditions. Excellent stuff.

(All wines rated out of a possible five apples)