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Casing Prince Edward County: five fabulous, under-the-radar wines

Prince Edward County
Exultet Estates 2010 The Blessed Chardonnay
Exultet Estates 2010 The Blessed Chardonnay
$35 | Prince Edward County | 90 points
Gerry Spinosa and his family planted their first vines behind an old cheese factory in 2004. Their ethereal chardonnay has already won two gold medals at the Ontario Wine Awards. The texture is delicate and silky; spicy oak, nutmeg and resin need a year of aging to integrate with the ripe peach and honey flavours. 1106–1112 Royal Rd., Milford, 613-476-1052.

Hinterland 2009 Rosé
Hinterland 2009 Rosé
$37 | Prince Edward County | 90 points
Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras specialize in sparkling wine at their retrofitted dairy barn on Closson Road. Their new pinot-based pink sparkler is dry and has mild raspberry fruit, minerality and brilliant effervescence. 1258 Closson Rd., Hillier, 613-921-7003.
Lighthall Vineyards 2011 Progression
Lighthall Vineyards 2011 Progression
$20 | Prince Edward County | 88 points
In 2008, North Bay native Glenn Symons purchased the limestone-strewn Lighthall Vineyard, which was already famous for chardonnay. Chards are still a focus, but this year he has added a dazzling sparkler based on winter-hardy vidal grapes. It’s simple, fruity and just a touch sweet. It dances with racy acidity and minerality. 308 Lighthall Rd., 613-767-9155.
Stanners 2010 Cabernet Franc
Stanners 2010 Cabernet Franc
$25 | Prince Edward County | 91 points
The 2010 vintage was exceptional in P.E.C. By blending grapes from young County vines with more mature lots from a nearby Casa-Dea estate, the owner, Colin Stanners, has made one of the finest Ontario cab francs to date. It’s bright with raspberry-pomegranate flavours and floral and tobacco nuances. Lovely minerality on the finish. 76 Station Rd., Hillier, 613-661-3361.
The Old Third Vineyard 2010 Pinot Noir
The Old Third Vineyard 2010 Pinot Noir
$42 | Prince Edward County | 91 points
Old Third is a serious pinot-focused property with vines farmed on a Closson Road ridge. Vintner Bruno François has crafted a complex pinot with cran-strawberry fruit and a nose of thyme, oak spice and earth. It’s mid-weight and smooth, yet edgy on the finish. It’s a firm, mineral-laced style that will age well over the next two years. 251 Closson Rd., Hillier, 613-399-2554.

(Illustration of Lawrason: Jack Dylan)

Scores: David Lawrason assigns scores on a 100-point scale. They reflect a wine’s overall quality.
A rating of 95 to 100 is outstanding; 90 to 94 excellent; 85 to 89 very good; 80 to 84 good.