I have a terrible confession. I have a lot of wine set aside for a “special” occasion, and I forget what I have on my wine racks half the time. My beer fridge is in a similar state – I fully intend to write about its contents, then I forget what I have – and I won’t let you drink it if you come over as I’m saving it for an article. Such is the case of the bottle I recently opened of The Big Reach 2015 Riesling from Back 10 Cellars.

You’re forgiven if you’ve never tried Back 10 Cellars before. This Lincoln Lakeshore vineyard located in Beamsville, ON does not have LCBO distribution, and I haven’t seen them on any wine lists in local restaurants. They are a small batch vineyard, established in 2002 on a small 10 acre plot of land. We first heard about them during Crush on Niagara‘s private tour the day before our wedding. Our party consumed 1% of their annual production that day, and I felt like it was only right to buy a bottle to try again sometime. And there it sat for a year on my wine rack…

The 2015 harvest is now long gone, but the 2017 version is available through the vineyard’s website for $22.95 a bottle. Only 256 cases of the 2017 vintage were crafted.

The 2015 version clocked in at a very moderate 9.5% ABV, and the label comes with the instructions to share with passionate people. “There’s hard work, laughter, tears & dedication in every glass,” the label boasts – and we certainly laughed until we cried the day we bought it. 2015 was a rough year – the winter polar vortex damaged a lot of vines, followed by a spring drought period. A rainy June gave way to a hot and dry summer – but adverse weather conditions make for interesting wines.

Appearance: Light straw with greenish hues.

Aroma: Green apple, lime juice.

Palate: Juicy, acidic lemon and lime, tart apples. Faint petrochemical note that is the hallmark of Niagara Riesling – reminiscent of a fresh shower curtain.

Acidity: High – a very mouthwatering wine.

Body: Light body.

Aftertaste: Lime juice.

Food pairing: I served this with pan seared scallops, resting on a bed of leek “noodles” in a parmesan and lemon juice sauce. It was amazing.

Overall: Glad I found it on my wine rack, as it had aged sufficiently and it was prime for drinking. The vineyard is adorable and worth stopping for a taste if you’re in Beamsville.

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.

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

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com