Ontario Vidal – A Blind Taste Test

I confess that I haven’t spent much time tasting Vidal. While I do enjoy it as an icewine and Lighthall’s Progression (a Vidal-based sparkling) is a personal favourite, I can’t say I’ve spent much time drinking Vidal table wine. That may change after a recent tasting session arranged by the amazing André Proulx.

André challenged our notion that Vidal wasn't a go-to table wine by procuring several selections from Ontario (mainly Niagara) and inviting a few friends to taste them blind and see what we thought. Going in, I wasn't sure what to expect or if I'd find any favourites. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

While it was a mixed bag, I was once again impressed with the magic of wine – here were six bottles made from the same grape, much of it in the same region, and each bottle was completely different. The winemaker really does make a huge difference in how the final product develops and we each had opinions about our favourites and least favourites.

There was one wine that seemed a bit oxidized, so I’ll write that off as a bad bottle and not review, but the rest were solid, well-made wines. My two favourites – selected completely blind – were the 2013 Sandbanks’ Dunes and 2011 Lailey Vineyard. A big surprise for me was the 2012 Monarch Vidal from Pelee Island. While not my favourite, at $8.99 this is a pretty impressive value wine, especially if you like a floral wine. I also liked the 2013 Lailey Vineyard, which had a sour gummy worm quality on the finish that was really refreshing.

Some overall things about Vidal – it’s a fairly high acid grape and each of these wines showcased that. Some, like the Lailey, were much more balanced than others. Peach and green apples figured prominently in my tasting notes – I now consider these to be hallmarks of Vidal for me, as is a certain funkiness we were all joking about by the end. It’s not a bad thing, just a slightly vegetal note that was more pronounced in some wines than in others.

This was a valuable lesson in not being judgemental about a wine grape. I walked away impressed by the range of Vidal being produced in Ontario and looking forward to trying more in future.

Special thanks to Angela Aiello for hosting our event and having some of the most fun tasting notes!

Be sure to check out even more posts about this evening from André and Jason Solanki.