Thursday, May 1, 2008

Report from ... Rosehall Run Tasting at Allen’s – April 29, 2008

A few months ago, maybe more, I wrote a newsletter focusing in on 3 wineries in Prince Edward County (Newsletter #62) that were must visits if you were to trundle off to the County. They were/are leading the charge for County wines and showing great examples of what could be done on the Ontario-winemaking frontier. One of those wineries was Rosehall Run. Today they packed up the pick-up and brought, what seemed like, the whole famn damily along for this tasting of their portfolio – new and upcoming. I also should mention that the tasting took place at Allen’s on the Danforth – where visitors were treated to owner John Maxwell’s smiling face upon entry … I have to admit every time I see John I want to call him Allen, so John if you are reading this when I shake your hand and pause I am deciding between calling you John or Allen – I guess it’s better than calling him Joan Allen … now back to the Rosehall Tasting. There were 9 wines being poured this afternoon and a few really stood out in my mind when I left.

Since they started making wine, Rosehall has made a Sullyzwicker – a blend of aromatic whites that is pleasing to the palate and the nose. The 2007 Sullyzwicker (white) might just be the best so far. Comprising of 59% Erenfelser, 28% Riesling and 13% Muscat Ottonel, this white is a pure patio/poolside pleaser – John, serve it on your patio with appetizers and watch the people flock in. The nose seems simple enough, with lots of fresh ripe apple and peach aromas; but it’s in the mouth where the wow happens. Pineapple, mangoes and other such tropical fruits accost the tongue – making this one a delicious and pleasant summertime sipper. What’s more, there’s no corkscrew needed – this one’s a screwcap, the first time Rosehall has used such a closer. Another screwy white is the 2007 Fieldstone Vineyard Riesling ($19.95) – a 100% Prince Edward County Riesling. This one’s mineral driven more than fruit driven. The nose is slightly muted, could be due to its recent bottling, but the mouth shows signs of life already. Tight white peach flavours are beginning to emerge with a soft mid-palate, leading to a mineral- and citrus-driven dry finish.

On the red side of the room, Dan Sullivan, winemaker and owner, has tried his hand again at Ontario’s best grape, Cabernet Franc. Last year’s Cold Creek Franc was a delight, the new 2006 Cabernet Franc ($17.95) is a little more restrained and not as ageworthy – but still very tasty – it’s a drink-now-while-waiting-for-the-’05-to-come-around kinda wine. The nose is subtle with red fruit and a touch of smokiness; while the flavour profile brings more to the table. Red fruit, cinnamon, a touch of tannins on the finish – but the best part of this wine is that it is smooth and silky – a wine you shouldn’t be afraid to stick in the fridge and give a little chill to. Finally, I trust Dan to give me something ballsy, at least once a year, and he delivers in spades. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.95) may not be county fruit, but it’s all Ontario. 20 months in new French oak has given this wine power and punch. The nose is leathery, black cherry and black raspberry; the flavours mimic the nose though it switches the leather for more cedary notes, all with the addition of vanilla-cinnamon undertones. Rich and tannic, this wine will be sitting pretty in ten years time – right beside that 2005 Franc. Good work Dan – this year is shaping up nicely.

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