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Reviews & Accolades 01.2020


2017 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92, Annual Buying Guide, January 2020

2017 Cabernet Franc, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92

Cave Spring’s old vines and sheltered position at the base of the Niagara Escarpment contributed to the success of this Riesling, a robust, firm wine from a cool, wet vintage. While the flavours are delicate – lime zest and pink grapefruit with a sparkly minerality – the texture makes it mouth filling. It has a pithy grip that suggest this would stand up well to meaty fish dishes; it should age well too. This retains an elegant line despite the meatiness of its dark, spicy fruit and roasted red pepper flavours. It’s also floral and mineral, with pencil-lead scents and fine-grit tannins that will hold their own with a steak. – Tara Q. Thomas (12/19)

2018 Pinot Gris, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 90

This counts as one of the most surprising wines I’ve tasted this year. Pinot Gris isn’t a grape you’d closely associate with Riesling specialist Cave Spring. It isn’t a variety that usually rises to such heights in Ontario. But here is a stellar expression that offers spiced apple flavours with an enjoyable honeyed character and appealing texture. The price makes it even more attractive. – Christopher Waters (12/19)

2017 Riesling Icewine, Lincoln Lakeshore – Rated 93

This starts out with floral, apricot, lanolin and white pepper aromas and flavours, finishing with honey details. Balanced, showing fine cut and length on the aftertaste. Drink now through 2030.

2017 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

Intense aromas of peach, apple, pine and stone are the hallmarks of this sophisticated dry Riesling. Harmonious and vibrant, with good concentration and a lingering aftertaste of orchard fruit and mineral. Should develop notes of lanolin and honey with age. Drink now through 2027.

2017 Riesling Indian Summer, Lincoln Lakeshore – Rated 90

Floral, apricot, lanolin and lime flavours are the hallmarks of this subtly sweet white. Light-footed, with a vibrant character and a long finish. Drink now through 2028.

2017 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 89

The aromas are reminiscent of a Mosel spätlese, exuding floral, peach, lime and slate notes, yet this is bone-dry. Balanced, with a chalky feel on the mouthwatering finish. Drink now through 2024. – Bruce Sanderson (11/19)

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Nine Wines from Canada and Northern Europe You Should be Drinking Right Now

The future looks challenging for some winemakers (globally), but others are just hitting their stride – particularly those in Canada and Europe’s far north.

2017 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

Planted among the Niagara Escarpment’s limestone caves in the 1970s, Cave Spring’s CSV wines are made from some of the oldest European vines in the region. The world-class Riesling has been made in an increasingly dry style over the years as full ripeness becomes regularly achievable and now has a radiant green plum and medicinal herb character with perfectly balanced acidity. – Sarah Heller, MW (11/19)

2017 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 90

Made in Cave Spring’s crowd-pleasing house style, this refreshing Riesling is marked by mouthwatering sweet and sour citrus flavours. Zesty with a balancing sweetness, it makes a terrific aperitif or food-friendly (and vegan friendly) dining companion. – Christoper Waters (10/19)

Ontario, Canada: Cave Spring –

Respected pioneer (known for) CSV old vines Riesling, Chardonnay. Elegant estate labels age gracefully: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and top late-harvest, Icewine. – Hugh Johnson (10/19)

Cave Spring Cellars Riesling CSV Vertical, 1999­­–2016

Today, after over 30 years in the business, much-acclaimed Cave Spring Cellars produces world-class wines from the likes of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. And one wine in particular, the Cave Spring Vineyard Riesling, ranks with the world’s best in its category… A portion of the CSV’s vines are among the oldest vinifera vines in Canada, planted in 1975 and 1978. Only 5% or so of the vineyard’s best grapes are used to make the estate’s CSV wines… Pavan chooses to press his grapes softly with an overnight skin contact; he ferments at 16–18°C, and the fermentation can last anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on the vintage. Pavan has been using indigenous yeasts for the past eight years or so to make the CSV Riesling (by contrast, the more entry-level Rieslings of the Peninsula and Escarpment lines have been made with large portions of indigenous ferments only since the 2015 vintage). Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, and the wine spends roughly five months on the fine lees prior to bottling. Until recently, (cont.)

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Pavan has aged the wine in stainless steel, but he has begun experimenting with large oak barrels (such as old 500-liter puncheons); as of the last five vintages, about 20% of the total wine blend is aged in wood… the CSV Riesling often showcases notes of fresh citrus (especially lime and pink grapefruit) and yellow plum; in warmer vintages, more exotic fruit notes dominate. With age the wines develop a very recognizable note of licorice or anise. Cool-year wines are especially juicy and vibrant, and though a steely mineral, flinty undertone is always present, outright diesel fuel nuances are more apparent in warmer vintages (such as 2002 and 2007).

2016 2015 2014 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2005 2004 2003 2002 1999

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Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated Rated

92+ 92 94 94 91 90 89 96 91 94 90 87 95 91

– Ian D’Agata (3/19)

2017 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92, Best Buy

Cave Spring’s old vines and sheltered position at the base of the Niagara Escarpment contributed to the success of this Riesling, a robust, firm wine from a cool, wet vintage. While the flavours are delicate – lime zest and pink grapefruit with a sparkly minerality – the texture makes it mouth filling. It has a pithy grip that suggest this would stand up well to meaty fish dishes; it should age well too.

2016 Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 92

With blackberry flavours highlighted with green-peppercorn notes, this is a rich, juicy Cabernet Franc. Blended from vineyards across the Niagara Peninsula, it makes the best of the warm vintage, retaining enough bright acidity to carry the flavours to a crisp close. Bring out the meatiness in the middle with a steak cooked black and blue. – Tara Q. Thomas (12/18)

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2017 Riesling Icewine, Lincoln Lakeshore – Rated 95, Editors’ Choice

Thick, concentrated flavours of apricot marmalade, papaya and tangerine dive deep down into the core. This fruit-driven flavor riot is amply annotated by a lush seam of caramel, and the flavors go on and on. One half size bottle will happily serve 4-to-6 sweet tooths.

2017 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 93, Editors’ Choice

Sourced from the estate’s oldest vines, this mineral-drenched, bone-dry wine fills the palate with texture and deep flavours. Rather than flesh, the emphasis is on skin phenolics—grapefruit pith and peel in particular. There’s a sense of light oiliness, not at all unpleasant, and a graceful, lingering finish.

2017 Riesling Indian Summer, Lincoln Lakeshore – Rated 93, Editors’ Choice

Solidly in the dessert wine camp in this vintage, this checks in at 102 g/L residual sugar. Peach, apricot and ripe nectarine fruit flavours abound, with a drip of honey. It’s juicy and big, but never cloying, and finishes with a suggestion of dry straw.

2017 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91

This tart and delicate wine packs a lot of flavour in its dry frame. Grapefruit and nectarine are the dominant fruit flavors. It’s sappy and long, with a faint hint of petrol. – Paul Gregutt (3/19)

2016 Cabernet Franc Estate, Beamsville Bench –

Coaxing the best out of Cabernet Franc has been a serious behind-the-scenes project at Cave Spring. The winemaking team now has a string of rich and rewarding estate-bottled examples dating back to 2012 to show for its efforts, with the newly released 2016 showing impressive concentration and complexity even in its relative youth. Taken from a single block of 18-year-old vines, this was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in a mix of new (20 percent) and older French oak barrels. This is a rich and full-bodied red that’s bright and ripe, with dark fruit, cedar and savoury notes on the palate. Length isn’t an issue here. Drink now to 2026.

2016 Pinot Noir Estate, Beamsville Bench –

Selected fruit from five blocks at Cave Spring Vineyard goes into making this beautiful and refined Pinot Noir. Gentle handling and aging in older (second and third use) French oak barrels has nicely framed the core of red fruit with some fragrant spice notes and softened the tannins. This is firm throughout. Beamsville Bench Pinot tends towards muscle and sinew; it’s bigger boned than expressions from other sub-appellations, but with real charm, focus and length. This is right up there in terms of quality. – Chris Waters (3/19)

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2016 Pinot Noir Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92

The rare and elusive top-tier Estate Cave Spring Pinot Noir is a stunner in 2016, full of bunched aromatics where red fruit lives with health, wealth and potentially, in infamy. The lightning strike of red berries and fine acidity is exactly what Pinot Noir needs and breathes when it’s feeling fine. This fruit is crystal clear, wonderfully transparent and spoken with great Beamsville Bench clarity. The emotional response is palpable and who could not be appreciative of a wine so wound up and yet so refined. Terrific accomplishment for the Pennachetti clan. – Michael Godel (3/19)

2016 Pinot Noir Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 91

The 2016 vintage was a stunning one for the winery’s Beamsville Bench fruit. If you don’t think of Cave Spring as an Ontario Pinot player, then this should prove a perspective-changing find. Rather stern and well-structured with flavours consistent of perfectly ripened fruit. Offering loads of textural appeal with grippy, chewy but not drying tannins and well-balanced acidity. The fruit is very clean and bright but with the concentration to last for another 4-5 years. – Sara D’Amato (3/19)

2016 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 94

The CSV (Cave Spring Vineyard) Riesling is one of Niagara’s true benchmark wines – it navigates through vintage variation with aplomb and grace, including, or perhaps especially, the warmth of 2016. After another year in bottle (my first saved note for this wine is from March 2018), there’s the beginning of some evolution. It all begins with the subtle enticement of the nose: you sense an airy depth, surrounded by dry stones, enfolding some hints of lemon and green apple fruit and a sprig of thyme, and now a growing element of dried honey and a light resin. The palate focuses instantly: essentially dry, with bright acidity that holds the snick of residual sugar as a richness rather than overt sweetness, so that the palate is slightly rounded as befits the warm vintage. Yet the wine is still light-bodied and elegant – pristine, with full-on minerality and just the beginning hint of some Riesling rubber. As pure, direct and focused a wine that I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste from Niagara. – Tim Appelt (3/19)

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2019 Smart Buys Ultimate Guide to Value: 90+ wines at $30 or less

This has concentration and intensity, with an impression of sweet fruit despite being dry. Peach, apple, lemon and stone notes prevail. The finish is mouthwatering and chalky. Drink now through 2024.

2016 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90 2016 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90 – Keith Newton & Bruce Sanderson (2/19)

Canadian Cabernet Franc Soars to Stunning Heights

North of the United States, in the land of ice and snow, you can find some truly outstanding wines. This is especially true in Canada’s Niagara region not far from Niagara Falls. Some people don’t believe me when I tell them this. Others immediately start talking about New York’s Finger Lakes District. No offense to the Finger Lakes, but I’ve tasted hundreds of wines from there on many occasions. And if you put them up against the wines from Canada’s Niagara region, it’s frankly not a fair fight. Canada wins by a knockout – or maybe a slap shot since we are talking about our hockey-loving neighbors to the north. But I will say that the Finger Lakes and Canada’s Niagara region do share something in common. For many people, wines from here start and finish with their refined Rieslings. But if you do manage to make the trip to Canada’s Niagara region (which is only a few hours farther away than the Finger Lakes) make sure you taste some of their delicious red wines. And while many wineries there make many great reds, a few in particular excel at producing outstanding Cabernet Franc red wines… What I love about the best Cabernet Franc wines from Canada’s Niagara region is how lush and dry they taste straight out of the bottle. These single-grape wines also have a complexity and finesse which makes them an absolute pleasure to drink now or over the next several years

2017 Cabernet Franc Dolomite, Beamsville Bench – Recommended

Cave Spring is another great, all-around winery located a short distance from the banks of Lake Ontario I’ve been a big fan of for many years. And if you want a great meal in an elegant surrounding, the winery’s restaurant next door to the tasting room is a perfect place to eat and enjoy their wines with a stunning view of the vineyards. The 2017 Cave Spring Cabernet Franc Dolomite was absolutely dy-nomite as well, as Jimmy Walker used to say on “Good Times.” The flavours in this wine built in intensity from start to finish. Soft and raspberry-like at first, the flavours lingered for nearly a minute after each sip. Let me add that the 2017 is a young wine that will definitely benefit from a few more years of aging. – Ken Ross (1/19)

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Top 100 Winery Of 2018

Our Top 100 Wineries are playing at the top of their game. They astonished our tasting panels and critics any number of times this year. It’s not easy to do in the midst of more than 15,000 wines. They come from all around the world, from Napa Valley and New York State to the Andes and remote corners of northwest Spain…

Cave Spring Cellars, Ontario

The Pennachetti family’s range of savoury, mineral wines has established Ontario as a major player in cool-climate viticulture. When Len Pennachetti helped his father and grandfather make wine, it was from Vitis labrusca grapes: In the 1970s, most people believed Ontario was too cold to support vinifera varieties. The Pennachettis proved this untrue when, in 1973, they bought a vineyard at Cave Spring, a gentle slope protected by the Niagara Escarpment, a tall cliff left behind by the glaciers that formed Niagara Falls. They planted some of the region’s first riesling and chardonnay, eventually growing the estate to 151 acres, with another 28 under long-term lease; fully half of the plantings are Riesling. And it’s not all ice wine, the regions most famed wine: By fine-tuning details like planting densities, leaf thinning and vineyard drainage, the Cave Spring team puts out nine iterations of Riesling, most of them dry, each showcasing a different aspect of the region’s varied terroir.

2016 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 93

Ontario’s talents with Riesling show in this blend from multiple appellations in the Niagara region. It far outperforms its $16 price: It’s a powerful, elegant Riesling in a Rheingau-like mode. The ripeness of the warm, dry 2016 vintage comes across in the wine’s texture, nearly meaty with extract, but the flavours are all about lime zest and stone. The acidity keeps the wine feeling chiseled and lean, the taut structure ready to take on something as rich as roast sturgeon.

2016 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92

The Pennachetti family was among the first Riesling growers in the Niagara region, planting vines in 1978. This 2016 comes off some of the oldest vines, their concentrated fruit reflected in dense peach and passion fruit flavours. Yet the wine is as dry as a stone, the nap of the mineral flavours and the spice of alcohol lending texture and grip. It’s built for richer dishes, white meats and cream-sauced fish, and could easily benefit from a year or two in the cellar.

2015 Cabernet Franc, Niagara Escarpment – Rated 90

While Cave Spring puts out a fine Pinot Noir, its Cabernet Franc wines suggest the Loire as Ontario’s optimal red wine role model. The winery’s first Cabernet Franc vines went into the ground in 1989; this wine comes off more recent plantings. With its rich black-cherry fruit kept brisk by smoky, foresty scents, it’s the sort of red you’d be happy to find in any bistro – or in your fridge on a Friday night. – Tara Q. Thomas (12/18)

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NV Blanc de Blancs, Niagara Escarpment – Rated 91

Cave Spring seems to be off the main radar when it comes to traditional method sparkling wine, perhaps because of their excellence with riesling, which overshadows the whole portfolio. Yet they are quietly making some of the finest bubbles in Ontario, and this latest bottling of Blanc de Blancs continues the streak of deliverance. This is marvelously fresh, complex and complete, creamy and richly flavoured, featuring a fine mix of white-fleshed orchard fruit and gentle toastyautolytic character, almonds and apple blossoms. At the price point, it overdelivers, easily equaling much higher-priced traditional method sparkling wine. – John Szabo (12/18) Impressively complex at a steal of a price, Cave Spring’s traditional method Chardonnay offers the nervy sophistication you’d expect from a top quality nonvintage Champagne. Elegantly packaged for a festive occasion, lightly austere and notably polished. – Sara D’Amato (12/18)

2016 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92

This fine Riesling comes from the two oldest blocks in the Cave Spring Vineyard on the Beamsville Bench. The vines are aged 39 and 43 years, remarkable given Ontario’s annual winter chills. The soils are typical glacial tills of stony clay, derived in large part from limestone and dolostone. Subtle, teasing scents suggest fresh orchard fruits and forest leaves, while the flavours are intense, complex and finely woven. The palate offers a slightly richer though still-vivid profile of summer fruits, now, with more holly and ivy complexities. Drinking window 2018–2025.

NV Blanc de Blancs CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 91

With six years of lees-ageing prior to disgorgement, this traditional-method, single-vineyard Chardonnay has classically teasing scents of bready citrus. On the palate there’s huge drama here with its plunging, searching acidity and driving apple and lemon flavours (malolactic was blocked). This vintage is only available at the winery, but one must hope the cultured Cave Spring team have been secreting away larger quantities of subsequent vintages. – Andrew Jefford (11/18)

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Cave Spring is located a little closer to the Lake on the Beamsville Bench. “We have been doing this for 44 years and still don’t really know what we are doing.” says Tom Pennachetti, who’s family started the company in 1986 together with winemaker Angelo Pavan in Jordan Village. Understatement! The Blanc de Blancs Brut (Chardonnay and Chardonnay Musqué), with 36 months on the lees, dances with acidity, and the 2009 Blanc de Blancs CSV is absolutely great, showing intense yellow citrus fruit beneath toasty aromas. The Rieslings range from the basic dry to the cherry blossom Dolomite to the white pepper, fennel-perfumed Adam Steps and finally to the wine that indeed deserves the title iconic – but would never ask to be named it – the CSV. Made from some of the oldest vinifera vines in Canada, with extended fermentation and lees contact, its smoky, mandarin aromas become more pronounced over the years. The wine plays between dry and ‘feinherb’, is relaxed and extremely tight at the same time and can hardly be imagined as becoming too old. And if enough has not already been said, the other grape varieties also express the cool climate in a stylish and elegant manner. – Ursula Heinzelmann (11/18)

2016 Chardonnay Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

The 2016 Chardonnay Estate is a blend of grapes from three vineyard parcels at Cave Spring Vineyard, ranging from 32 to 38 years of age. This is a ripe yet dialed-in expression of Chardonnay, which shows the warmth of the vintage but doesn’t lose its brightness or purity. Thoughtful management in the cellar called for a 50/50 blend of tank and barrel fermented lots, with 20 percent new French oak and an 80/20 mix of selected and indigenous yeast strains. It calls to mind some of the more showy Cave Spring vintages from the past – 2003, 2007 and 2010 – but with more harmony and length. Drink now to 2024. Highly Recommended. – Christopher Waters (11/18)

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Icewine, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 92 CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90 Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90 Indian Summer, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 89

– Bruce Sanderson (10/18)

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2018 New World Winery of the Year Award Nominee

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has announced the nomination of Cave Spring for its prestigious 2018 Wine Star Award in the category of New World Winery of the Year. Cave Spring is among only five wine estates worldwide, and the only Canadian winery, to receive the distinction. Nominated alongside Cave Spring are Bodega Garzón (Uruguay), Felton Road (New Zealand), L’Avenir (South Africa) and Trapiche (Argentina). – Editorial Board (10/18)

2016 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 94

2016 is another brilliant vintage for the CSV Riesling, delivering significant depth and intensity, and complexity. The palate is rich and extracted, with genuine concentration, low-yielding fruit, marked salinity and stony character, and excellent length. Classy and stately, and surely age worthy as well – in my experience, the CSV Riesling in warm vintages like 2016 really ages brilliantly, and this is one of the best yet. – John Szabo, MS (10/18)

2015 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula

The Rieslings of Cave Spring are among the best and most consistent in Canada. this entry level wine, just off dry, filled with lime aromas, peach and rosemary. A light touch of residual sugar accentuates its very juicy character, but the acidity typical of the grape and of the Peninsula’s terroir, balances it all and gives the wine tone and brightness. Delicious as an aperitif, it is also well suited for Thai-inspired cuisine, curried seafood or ham roast. – Véronique Rivest (10/18)

2016 Chardonnay Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 89

This is a quite fine, elegant, lighter style of Chardonnay with well meshed apple, spice and citrus front and centre, and oak well in the background – a style Ontario cando well, and should do more often. It is very well balanced… with a hint of sweetness up front but a dry, clean finish. Very good length. – David Lawrason (6/18)

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2016 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 94, Editors’ Choice

Produced from the estate’s oldest vines, this is a worthy reserve. This wine shows impressive depth and intensity, with powerful fruit flavors led by Satsuma orange and Meyer lemon. There is a touch of spice and an underlying minerality. A sensational value, but just 50 cases were exported to the U.S.

2016 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 93, Cellar Selection

Ageworthy, succulent and polished to perfection, this estate-grown wine features some old-vine fruit. It offers a range of citrus fruits, backed by juicy, refreshing acidity. There’s depth and structure for long aging, but it may be difficult to keep hidden in the cellar for very long. Drink 2020-2035.

2016 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 93

The sheer intensity of this icewine is almost beyond description. Dense fruit flavors of Meyer lemon and tangerine gelato shine on the palate. The sweetness is concentrated, with an impression of maple sugar and cotton candy, all upon a foundation of viscous acidity.

2016 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91, Editors’ Choice

Taut and tangy, this is firmly anchored in crisp, ripe flavors of apple, pear, tangerine and a dash of pineapple. It’s topped with a phenolic texture and drinks like a dream.

2016 Riesling Indian Summer, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91

This off-dry wine offers aromas and flavours of apples and honey. It is balanced enough that it could be paired with spicy Asian noodle dishes, as there is ample acidity to curtail some of the sweetness…

2015 Cabernet Franc, Niagara Escarpment – Rated 89, Online Edition – Paul Gregutt (5/18)

NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, Niagara Escarpment – Rated 91

Bone-dry and sharply chiselled with acidity, this serious sparkler unfolds with suggestions of green apple, pear, lemon zest and stone. Subtle toastiness and curd-like citrus add depth and length. The bubbles are needlepoint-tiny and refined. – Beppi Crosariol (5/18)

1B-3836 Main Street, Jordan, Ontario L0R 1S0 Canada | +1-905-562-3581 |

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Cave Spring | Reviews & Accolades  

Cave Spring | Reviews & Accolades