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.

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 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 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 De?sy (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, Decanter.com (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)
More than three decades ago, the Pennachetti family helped to pioneer the cultivation of noble European grape varietals on the Niagara Peninsula with the planting of their first Riesling and Chardonnay vines at Cave Spring Vineyard. First named by European settlers in the late 18th century for the limestone caves and mineral springs found on the site of their estate vineyards, Cave Spring is nestled along a gently sloping terrace of the Niagara Escarpment. In 1981, founder Len Pennachetti built a house on the vineyards and five years later the Pennachetti family took the next step, partnering with winemaker Angelo Pavan to found Cave Spring Cellars in the village of Jordan. They have now expanded to more than137 acres, all within the Beamsville Bench sub-appellation overlooking Lake Ontario.
– Allen Meadows (06/13)
  • 2010 Pinot Noir Dolomite 87
  • 2009 Pinot Noir Estate Bottled 88
  • 2008 Chardonnay CSV 89
  • 2010 Chardonnay Estate Bottled 90
  • NV Blanc de Blancs Brut 89
The Wines of Eastern Canada - Forget the misconceptions
… (in Ontario) Rieslings are at home on the elevated limestone benchlands (of the Niagara Escarpment) and offer a wide range of styles, starting with those close to traditional German wines with significant levels of residual sweetness and moving on to dry versions that are comparable to the best Austrian wines. Rising above the others are the wines at Cave Spring, where the range of Riesling is at the highest level and nothing short of textbook quality. At the top is one of the best wines of the entire country, the CSV, which is released at three years from vintage and is worthy of comparison with the greatest varietal offerings of the Old World.
Cave Spring Cellars
It is not only one of the best estate wineries in Canada but also in the whole of North America. The quality of the entry level wines is very high, and the Beamsville Bench Rieslings, from the slopes of the Escarpment, are nothing short of tremendous. The range of Rieslings is wide, boasting 7 of the 20 labels produced by the winery, from wines in the Kabinett style to dry wines with great ageing potential. Fifty hectares and over a half a million bottles produced. The Pennachetti family, originally from (Italy’s) Marche region, expresses a sense of Italian heritage that resonates through the village of Jordan, where a top restaurant, hotel and spa are attached to the winery.
Cave Spring 2009 Riesling CSV, Beamsville Bench – Rated 93
Cave Spring 2008 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula – Rated 91
Cave Spring 2010 Riesling Estate Bottled, Beamsville Bench – Rated 90
Cave Spring 2004 Blanc de Blancs CSV Brut, Beamsville Bench – Rated 88
– Giovanni Ascione (12/12)
Angelo Pavan and Len Pennacchetti, the founders of what is arguably Canada’s best winery, have been friends since the age of five. The two have blazed a path of quality winemaking and sound business moves, such as their decision to work with nothing but vinifera varieties at a time when most Niagara wineries were still leaning heavily in the direction of hybrids, which everyone at the time felt were better suited to Niagara’s frigid winters. Founded in 1986, Cave Spring is one of Canada’s premium riesling producers, but it has also been very successful with varieties such as pinot noir and cabernet franc. The vineyards are mainly located in the high-quality Beamsville Bench VQA, but Cave Spring also makes pinot noirs from grapes grown in the Twenty Mile Bench VQA, another top-quality Niagara sub-appellation. The estate is also home to the restaurant On the Twenty, one of the best food destinations in Ontario’s wine country.
– Ian D’Agata (02/12)