Reviews & Accolades

Read what some top wine critics from North America and beyond are saying about the wines of Cave Spring.

Download our Reviews & Accolades 2016.

2014 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91

2014 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

2014 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 88

2014 Pinot Noir, Niagara Escarpment – Rated 88

– 12/16

2014 Riesling Indian Summer, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91

Tangy, late-harvest style Riesling, creamy and sweet with ripe apple and peach fruit.

2014 Pinot Noir, Niagara Escarpment – Rated 90

Silky and ripe with cherry and savory style; crisp, balanced and long.

2014 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 88

Clean and racy with dense style and showing notes of mineral and petrol; fresh and smooth, long and juicy.

– Anthony Dias Blue (12/16)

2014 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench

The CSV label is the top tier from this prolific Riesling producer. Hailing from vines more than 30 years of age, this shows a complex nose of wet clay, lime peel, mint candy and yellow grapefruit peel. Medium-bodied, the palate is fresh and almost effervescent with bright acidity and a tangy grapefruit finish.

– Courtney & Erin Henderson (11/16)

2014 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula

Every year around this time, late-harvest, fortified, and other sweet wines experience their annual uptick in attention. No wonder: They pair perfectly with the traditional food of the season, and they work brilliantly as stand-ins for dessert... Fortunately for consumers, there is a vast selection of these wines to choose from, produced around the world, and at price points ranging from affordable to special-occasion-worthy... Canadian ice wine is also a great option. The current release 2014 Riesling Icewine from Cave Spring is delicious: sweet but not at all cloying, with flavors of peach and nectarine, cut through with lemon acidity for freshness.

– Brian Friedman (11/16)

Le Jugement de Montréal 2016: Cave Spring Among Winners

More than a dozen sommeliers, reviewers, journalists and bloggers from Québec wine world gathered at Toqué! Restaurant in Montréal on October 6, 2016, tasked with judging the products entered into the sixth annual Jugement of Montréal (JDM) wine competition.

The theme of this year’s JDM was “A world in bubbles”, with more than 35 sparkling wines from around the world submitted in two price categories. Entered into the category of wines priced between $25 and $50 per bottle was Cave Spring Cellars NV Blanc de Blancs Brut. To the delight of the judges, this traditional method sparkling wine from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula placed second overall, nudged out of first spot only by a top grower Champagne and finishing ahead another. Both Champagnes were priced more than 30% higher than the Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs.

Sparkling Wine Between $25.00 and $50.00:
#1) Champagne Brut, Charles Collin, France, $45.00
#2) Blanc de Blancs Brut, Cave Spring, Niagara Peninsula/Canada, $34.00 ($29.95, ON)
#3) Champagne Brut, Charles de Vercy/H. Blin, France, $45.00

2013 Gewürztraminer, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

On the sweeter side of off-dry, with a fleshy, thick texture carrying opulent tinned peach, apricot and lychee fruit lifted by spicy ginger. Try it with spicy fish or chicken dishes.

– Beppi Crosariol (9/16)

2012 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench

Among the first to plant vinifera in Ontario, the Pennachetti family established themselves here in the 1970s. While Riesling is their “thing,” everything bottled at this estate exceeds expectations. This one is juicy and creamy, full of nectarine, linden leaf and straw.

– Christy Canterbury MW (8/16)

2013 Carbernet Fran Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 17/20

Smoky, herbal, full of fragrance and ripe cherry fruit. Long, perfumed and succulent. Really great – gets the green element of Cabernet Franc without any underripeness. Drink 2016-2020.

2014 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 16.5+/20

Gentle citrus and floral fragrance. Tight, punchy, slightest sweetness on the finish. Sherbet lemon finish. Drink 2015-2020. – Richard Hemming MW (6/16) 

2014 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 89

Flinty, steely, wet gravel aromas lead to a serious attack of lime-drenched flavours edged with salt.Tastes crisp and dry despite the almost 18 grams of residual sugar in the wine (classic example here of how acidity hides sweetness). Long steely finish.Terrific value that works particularly well with spicy foods, so bring on the Sriracha and chilies.

– Carolyn Evans Hammond (5/16)

2013 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench

This beautiful, stylish Riesling shows why some parts of Niagara, such as Beamsville Bench, have such a reputation for the variety and why Cave Spring is considered one of its foremost expressions. Sourced from 40-year-old vines, this is what Tom Pennachetti calls “a complete wine.” Yes, you expect Tom to be positive about these wines, but I have no objection at all to this characterization. What you find in this bottle is a wine where the individual components shine and the integration is stellar. The fruit shows depth, breadth and complexity on the nose and palate, and the acidity is not only pitched perfectly for the fruit, but adds a fresh, clean and juicy character. It’s vibrant and delicious now, when it’s merely two years old, but it will develop different but equally attractive traits as it evolves. Your choice to drink or hold. Better still, buy a few bottles and enjoy its evolution periodically until 2020.

– Rod Phillips (3/16)

2014 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 91

Venerable Cave Spring Cellars quietly continues to make some of Niagara’s most reliable wines, and have been particularly en form in the last few vintages. Long time fans will not be surprised to see the 2014 Cave Spring Cellars Riesling CSV Beamsville Bench recommended here, the latest release of one of Canada’s most consistent and best, made from the estate’s oldest vines, the oldest of which have already celebrated their 40th birthday. It’s tightly wound and still a long way from prime drinking, but this shows classic styling, more stony than fruity, mid-weight but authoritative and palate gripping, with palpable chalky texture and great length. Revisit in 2-3 years, or leave in the cellar for a decade or more. 

2013 Carbernet Franc Estate – Rated 90

Also impressive from Cave Spring is the 2013 Cabernet Franc Estate, a fine and floral, ripe and lightly cacao-inflected expression with delicate structure, lively but balanced acids and very pretty styling all around. In 1-2 years this will have fully digested its oak component, leaving a perfumed and silky wine in its place. Best 2017-2023.

– John Szabo (03/16)

2013 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 94, EDITOR’S CHOICE

Smooth as silk and deeply concentrated, this outstanding icewine offers pressed apple, peach, pear, apricot and papaya fruit in a seamless, dense and immensely flavorful core. A streak of butter and honey carries it into a long, splendid finish.

2013 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 93, CELLAR SELECTION

Elegant and detailed, this is a dry, racy wine with well-balanced flavors of lemon, lime, citrus and mineral. It’s quite fresh and perfectly proportioned, with exceptional length. Delicious already, it can easily age until 2025 and probably well beyond.

2012 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92

Produced from the estate vineyard’s oldest vines, this CSV bottling is a dry, leesy, textural wine, with dominant flavors of citrus flesh and rind along with green apples. There’s a strong streak of mineral also, and a well-balanced finish of medium length.

2013 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 91, EDITOR’S CHOICE

This drinks dry, with a strong mineral component. Mainstream flavors of apple and slate lead into a firm, concentrated palate with a long, pure finish.

2013 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 90, BEST BUY

This is an elegant Riesling, with pleasing, gin-like botanical scents and flavors. Along with the fresh herbs come citrus notes of Meyer lemon and Key lime, finished with a gentle hint of honey.

– Paul Gregutt (12/15)

2013 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91

Sweet and juicy, yet elegant, too, revealing apricot, honey, quince and elderflower flavors, this is long and balanced, with fine cut on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 390 cases made.

2013 Riesling Indian Summer, Select Late Harvest, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 90

Peach, apricot and floral aromas and flavors highlight this delicate, off-dry white, with accents of lanolin, grapefruit and white pepper adding depth. Fine, mouthwatering finish. Drink now through 2018. 630 cases made.

2013 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 89

Balanced and mouthwatering, this white is slightly austere in aroma, offering pine, rosemary and apple, gaining generosity on the palate, with a white peach note. Drink now through 2018. 560 cases made.

– Bruce Sanderson (10/15)

2013 Chardonnay Estate, Beamsville Bench

Ontario winemakers and pundits are pegging 2013 as a great white wine vintage in Ontario (and please abide my opinion that great white wine vintages are more important than great red wine vintages here in the homeland). This is a tender yet ripe and quite elegant chardonnay. Lighter and fresher than many but has some textural weight and creaminess at the same time.

– David Lawrason (12/15)

2013 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 91

This comes from two blocks on the Beamsville Bench, the vines 36 to 40 years old. Picked over the first two weeks of October, vinified cool for four weeks, then stopped by chilling, it’s a powerful riesling, the ripeness of the grapes reading in the wine’s rich, broad texture. In the midst of all that smooth, smoky savor, a crisp apple crunch and minty herbal note keep it lively, ready to take on pan-fried trout stuffed with fennel fronds.

2013 Riesling, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90, BEST BUY

Closer to Clarc Valley than the Mosel in style, this is limey and dry, almost chalky in its mineral savor. The acidity bristles through the wine, highlighting the meaty, firm build and smoky savor, with a persistence that feels like hunger – a hunger for pork belly, perhaps, or a creamy shellfish stew.

– Tara Q. Thomas (12/15)

Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench

There’s probably no better estate than this in all of Canada, given its long track record for excellence, the large number of wines made and its willingness to innovate. The CSV is a benchmark Canadian Riesling which embodies the richer, riper but very mineral, peachy style typical of the Beamsville Bench.

– Ian D’Agata (9/15)

2013 Chardonnay Musqué Estate, Beamsville Bench - Rated 91

Made from an unusually musky (hence the name) clone of the familiar chardonnay grape, this is a Niagara signature worthy of wider recognition. Cave Spring Cellars co-founder and winemaker, Angelo Pavan, does a splendid job of harnessing the fruit’s apricot jam, citrus and floral characters, unshrouded by oak-barrel aging, and one can sense the subtle muscat grape and spicy overtones well into the long finish. Crisp, clean and intriguing.

– Beppi Crosariol (9/15)

2013 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula

Plantées à partir de 1976, les rieslings du domaine comptent parmi les plus vieilles vignes de Niagara. Un style demi-sec (19 g de sucre résiduel) combiné à une haute acidité permet au vin de trouver un équilibre remarquable, si bien qu’on a l’impression que c’est presque sec. De bonne définition avec des notes de pêche et de poire. Parfait avec les fromages.

Planted beginning in 1976, the Riesling vines at this estate count among the oldest in Niagara. While medium dry in style (19 g of residual sugar), a high level of acidity delivers remarkable balance, giving the impression of near dryness on the palate. Well defined with nuances of peach and pear. Perfect cheese wine.

– Patrick Désy (7/15) 

Ontario Riesling Diary: Day 3 – Let me be Franc with You

Cave Spring are most famous for their CSV Riesling and that was the main reason they were my last appointment yesterday evening. However, they also make some excellent Chardonnay (ranging from Blanc to Blanc sparkling to the elegant, discretely oaken ‘Estate’), and some Cabernet Franc that has a perfume, vibrancy and lightness of touch that no other producer in Ontario quite achieves. The 2013 vintage ‘Niagara Escarpment’ bottling will be a great introduction to this style for many people, and the more concentrated ‘Estate’ bottling makes a serious statement that will impress others. These wines are just about to be bottled, so please be patient. Patience will also be needed for the top Cave Spring Rieslings from the 2014 vintage. The 2014 ‘CSV’ Riesling has intense peach and citrus aromas (not just lemon, but mandarin too) and marries terrific concentration with a tingling mineral freshness, the hint of residual sweetness (technically it is medium-dry) perfectly balancing the generous acidity. The 2014 ‘Estate’ is a smaller scale version of this wine, and the 2014 ‘Adam’s Steps’ is a more succulent (a lot of orange, some pineapple and passion fruit) wine with serious mineral saltiness at the finale. Normally, I don’t do tasting notes here, but let me be frank with you, these are some of the best Rieslings Cave Spring ever made and deserve this attention. Maybe they’ll age as well as the great 1999 ‘CSV’ I drank here last time.

– Stuart Pigott (5/15)

2012 Riesling, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

2011 Riesling CSV – Rated 90

2011 Riesling Indian Summer – Rated 90

2012 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 88

– Bruce Sanderson (12/14)

2012 Riesling Estate – Rated 90, BEST BUY

Ontario’s Beamsville Bench falls just under the Niagara Escarpment, a narrow band of cool clay soils mixed with an ample amount of limestone, sandstone, dolomite and shale. Winemaker Angelo Pavan pulls this wine from several plots of Riesling, including some nearing 40 years old. It’s ripe and racy, the juicy lime fruit driven by a firm core of acidity, with gingery spice and chalky minerality. Take a cue from the winery’s Inn On The Twenty and pour it with a pork loin and mustard-laced spaetzle this winter.

2012 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 88, BEST BUY

Cave Spring sources this wine from vineyards throughout the region. It’s bright and zingy, a lemony white with thirst-quenching ease.

– Tara Q. Thomas (12/14)

2012 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench – Rated 92 EDITOR’S CHOICE, #65 in the Top 100 Wines of 2014

2011 Riesling Indian Summer – Rated 91

2012 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 90, BEST BUY

2011 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90

– Sean Sullivan (12/14)

2012 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench - Rated 94

“...this is up there with the greatest Riesling ever produced in Canada, maybe THE best...It is so beautiful on the palate with substance and electricity that transcents...This beauty grabs you from the first sip with its range of flavours, subtle spices and mouth-watering acidity to the complex array of slinky minerals and nuances that build in intensity. It is lithe yet assertive. It is succulent yet focused. It is, in a word, seductive...”

– Rick VanSickle (12/14) 

2012 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 94

“...this is up there with the greatest Riesling ever produced in Canada, maybe THE best...It is so beautiful on the palate with substance and electricity that transcents...This beauty grabs you from the first sip with its range of flavours, subtle spices and mouth-watering acidity to the complex array of slinky minerals and nuances that build in intensity. It is lithe yet assertive. It is succulent yet focused. It is, in a word, seductive...”

– Rick VanSickle (12/14)

Best White Wine on Earth: The Riesling Story, Stuart Pigott

(Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2014)

Top 10 Rieslings – Under $15/€10:

  1. Leitz, Ens-Zwei-Dry (Rheingau)
  2. Pacific Rim, Dry (Washington)
  3. Charles Smith, Kung Fu Girl (Washington)
  4. Cave Spring, Niagara Peninsula (Ontario)
  5. Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Valley (Washington)
  6. Pacific Rim (Washington)
  7. Loosen Bros., Dr. L (Mosel)
  8. Red Newt, Circle (New York)
  9. Nik Weis, Urban (Mosel)
  10. Pacific Rim, Sweet (Washington)
Top 20 Riesling Producers - Medium Dry

Cave Spring (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario)
“Since its founding in 1986, Cave Spring has been perfecting a just-off-dry style of Riesling. The most recent addition to a range topped by its CSV is the dazzlingly elegant Adam’s Steps. Every time I taste these wines, they get better!”

Top 20 Riesling Producers - Sweet

Cave Spring (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario)
“The Niagara Peninsula produces a lot of ice wine, and although the Rieslings are often the best, they seldom achieve the wonderful purity and brilliance that Cave Spring seems to manage every time.”

Ontario's Delicious Riesling Contradictions

“ ... In Ontario, vines older than 30 years are rare and have an aura of holiness.That certainly applies to some of the first Riesling officially planted on the Niagara Peninsula at Cave spring Vineyard, six acres of which date back to 1978...

What does this mean for the wine in the glass? ...the five main Rieslings in this house area are medium-dry, although this is a rather inadequate description for some of the best white wines on earth. With its apple, peach, and floral notes, the regular Niagara Peninsula Riesling is rounder and less tart than the other wines in the range – also because more than a third of its grapes come from vineyards on more fertile soils below the escarpment. It’s Dolomite Riesling, made entirely from fruit grown on the escarpment, is more elegant, although less aromatic than the Estate Riesling, with its elderflower aroma and a mineral note (yes, it’s real!) that help it taste pretty dry. The Adam Steps Riesling is even more floral, with a lemony freshness and a supermodel silhouette. It is a high-end Niagara Riesling for a rather friendly price.

It was quite something to sit with the Pennachettis and Angelo Pavan and taste through the CSV Rieslings (the top wine of the range) going back from 2012 to 2003, not least because during my previous visit in 2004, I’d tasted the last of those wines, which had just been bottled and was still unreleased (the current vintage of this wine is usually three years old). Then, I had described it as being like a “tightly wound watch spring.” Nine years later, it was richly textured with caressing flavors of toast and cooked quince. Even more delicious were the more powerful 2005 and 2007 CSVs, with their herbal and fennel notes. At one and two years of age, respectively, the 2012 and 2011 CSVs were still like tightly wound watch springs but packed with flavor (the ’12 with exotic notes; the ’11 smelling of flowers and apple). Also of sensational quality are the ice wines, of which the 2008 is still youthful, with a slew of exotic fruit aromas and a dazzling interplay of fruit, acidity and heaven. The late-harvest Indian Summer is less opulent but still luscious in flavor, with an intense peach character. These are a stunning sweet Riesling duo in any context.

The best all-out icewine I tasted in five cold days was, for the record, Cave Spring’s magnificent 2008 Riesling: deep, concentrated and authoritative, freighted with fruit allusions from mango and pineapple all the way to green apple and quince, yet layered with cream, too. Less electrically jolting than a Mosel classic, but perhaps richer in pure sensual allure.

– Andrew Jefford, (02/14)

What surprised me, though, were Ontario’s dry wines, harvested before the frosts. The most consistent performer, in my opinion, is again Riesling: The Cave Spring Rieslings are outstanding: intricate, concentrated, detailed, expressive and limpid. Like all of Ontario’s best wines, they seem to occupy a kind of ‘middle earth’ position between Old and New Worlds: a little fuller in structure and more sub-tropical in their fruit repertoire than most German classics, yet more graceful, subtle and quietly expressive than Rieslings from the Clare or Eden Valleys.

– Andrew Jefford, Decanter (05/14)

Cave Spring’s winemaker, Angelo Pavan, doesn’t look for publicity and celebrity status the way some of his colleagues do. He just works consistently, and produces terrific wines, vintage after vintage.

– Rod Phillips (10/13)