You probably haven’t heard of Ridgepoint Wines – the tiny Vineland, ON vineyard does not have LCBO distribution for their VQA wines. We stumbled upon it once by accident while driving around the Niagara Escarpment on our way to go hiking. Located next door to the sprawling Megalomaniac Winery and across the street from Tawse Winery, it’s quite easy to drive right past Ridgepoint and overlook it. But to do that would be a huge disservice to yourself if you like innovative local wines.

Owned by the children of Italian immigrants, Ridgepoint Wines plays around with Old World winemaking techniques including Appassimento and Ripasso winemaking. Appassimento is the technique that makes Amarone such a glorious treat – the grapes are first dried out, then pressed into wine, producing a rich, full-bodied wine that is high in tannins. Ripasso is a second pressing – literally meaning to “pass over” the skins again and age a wine on the leftover pressings from the Appassimento wine, producing a more economical option that is still full of flavour. They are techniques commonly associated with Valpolicella and Amarone from the Verona area of northeastern Italy, and not commonly employed in New World winemaking.

We have some neat wines sitting on our wine rack at home from this vineyard, waiting around for the perfect occasion. There are 2 vintages of a white Cabernet Sauvignon (pressed without the skins – I’m not sure what to serve these with or at what temperature, and until I do, they will continue to sit around), as well as a rare bottle of Ontario Nebbiolo – a finicky grape that doesn’t take well to Ontario’s climate most years, so most vineyards don’t bother, but some summers work out in the grape’s favour.

We got into a bottle of Merlot Ripasso 2012, which retails at the vineyard for $25 a bottle, and can also be ordered through their online store. We picked it up at some point in person, but please don’t ask me when. Regardless, this vintage is still available, and sits at 14.5% ABV, which should age well for a few more years if you are so inclined. It’s drinking quite nicely right now.

Appearance: Medium ruby colour, rim showing signs of age with a bring outline.

Aroma: Aroma reminds me more of a Bordeaux-style because of the varietal. Cigar box, leather, vanilla, mocha, smoke, dried leaves, dark cherry.

Palate: Dark cherry, cloves, baking spice, leather, sweet tobacco, figs, anise. Medium, grippy tannins.

Acidity: Medium plus acid that should preserve the wine nicely with the relatively high alcohol concentration.

Body: Medium plus, leaning towards full body.

Aftertaste: Long lingering dark cherry aftertaste.

Suggested food pairings:  This wine commands a meaty dish. We served this with steak served medium rare and asparagus.

Overall: I would recommend decanting this wine as there is definitely a bit of sediment. It’s really lovely, and at $25, it’s quite a good value for the quality you’re getting. This should drink nicely through 2021 or so.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around. A dedicated Booze Hound, Shawna completed the Wine Specialist Certificate at George Brown College in 2018.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com