Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Report from ... The Wine Writers Tour of Niagara – June 25, 2008

Being an Ontario wine journalist who focuses primarily on Ontario wine this tour was about the company – other wine writers - a day to spend talking and tasting wine with some of the best in the business. I didn’t care that I had been to these wineries countless times before (Cattail Creek, Coyote’s Run, Niagara College) and have tasted through their portfolios, there’s always something new to learn. Speaking of new, we did stop by the new Southbrook and learned a few things and had a 20-minute lay over at a new (as in just being built) winery for a look around. So let’s see what kind of nuggets I can pass along to you.

Southbrook Winery (arrival 11:30am) …
… that wall everyone talks about is there so that you’ll talk about it – get it.
… that “colour” that you’re talking about as either hideous or beautiful is call “Queen’s Reef” and is part of the periwinkle blue family.
… finally, about the wall anyway, it’s 205m long.
… organic sheep will help maintain the Southbrook vineyards, you heard me “organic sheep” – they will make their arrival sometime in July.
… they are the "only LEEDS certified winery in Canada"* and 2nd in the world (the other is in Oregon).
… Triomphe (reserve) wines will remain; the Triomphus line (super premium reserve) will have it’s name changed to “Poetica” and there will be a competition for Canadian poets to see who’s verse will adorn each year’s label. Time to get out those pens and dust off your rhyming couplets.
… in 2006 they harvested 10 tons of their own fruit, in 2007, 60 tons, hence they are still buying much of their fruit from growers.
… another 75 acres were purchased beyond the tree line, making the total holdings of Southbrook land 150 acres.

Wines of Notes:
2007 Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc - $18.95
2006 Triomphe Chardonnay - $21.95
2006 Whimsy Syrah (Lot 19) - $32.95

*This quote was made by Southbrook owner Bill Redelmeier ... upon further investigation I discovered that they are the first to be Gold LEEDS certified in Canada. The very first LEEDS certified winery (complete winery) in the world was our very own Stratus winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake (who hold a Silver certification).

Cattail Creek (1:30pm) …
See my review of this winery

Wines of Note:
2007 Chardonnay Musque - $17.00
2007 Off-Dry Riesling - $15.00

Coyote’s Run (2:45pm) …
See my In the Cellar with Dave and Jeff

Wines of Note:
2006 Black Paw / Red Paw Cabernet Franc Comparison - $20.00 each
2006 Meritage - $24.00
2007 Black Paw Pinot Noir – sneak peak: big, black, robust, meaty wine. Earth tones are hidden by supple tannins; raspberry, black cherry and a touch of cranberry. Nice licorice mid-palate. Still six months to go in barrel, but so far this one’s amazing to taste right now. Only 120-case production expected.

Ravine Winery in St. David’s (4:10pm) …
Surprise visit to this new winery in St. David’s (Niagara-on-the-Lake) to meet the principles Paul (cook), Alex (winemaker), their father (I’m bad with names or I missed it) and Michael Olson (Olson Foods fame). The property has a 34-acre planting of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Riesling, it was the first peach farm in Ontario and boasts 13-to-24 feet in top-soil. Olson is setting up a division of his popular food establishment on the property (Olson Foods @ Ravine Winery) where they will serve sandwiches and sell foods in a relaxed atmosphere (much as in the same vein as Olson Foods at Port, in St. Catharines) overlooking the vineyard. Olson is scheduled to open July 5, Ravine wines will be served and sold there hopefully by August with the completed retail space for the winery opening next summer (2009). And in five or six year, look for Paul to open a fine dining restaurant on the property, but first he must complete his apprenticeship under some pretty big names in both Germany and France. This will definitely be a winery to watch.

Wines of Note:
Look for the 2007 Riesling Estate off-dry (~$20) – This fabulous Riesling has flavour and smell to spare, could be because of the one-fifth botrytis affected grapes that went into the blend. A nose that is very orangy-grapy and peachy; flavours are very grapey and peachy with a long apple finish that seems to go on forever. This wine reminded me of Italian Moscato D’Asti without the fizz and even more length of flavours. This tasty wine bodes well for the future of this new winery.

Niagara College Teaching Winery (4:45pm) …
… news from NCT is that their new 3-million dollar Wine Education Building breaks ground this summer (2008) and is set for completion in the summer of 2009 – it looks pretty impressive if all goes according to Hoyle.

Wines of Note:
2007 Riesling - $11.95
2007 Dean’s List Sauvignon Blanc - $18.95
2006 Dean’s List Chardonnay - $27.95


aka skippy said...

Isn't Stratus LEEDS certified?

Michael Pinkus - Grape Guy said...

Skippy ... you are absolutely right - see the above amendment to the post.