Black Prince Winery was another winery where other wines were being poured, this time wines from Harwood Estates also hit our collective glasses. The big news here wasn’t the wine it was what they are putting the wine into: the Prince has an interesting barrel program. An Ontario company called The Carriage House Cooperage are currently making Prince Edward County barrels (Canadian oak barrels sourced from wood grown wild in the County), which Black Prince is experimenting with. Here we tried a Chardonnay using the new kind of barrel and a double shot of Cabernet Franc – one aged in French wood the other in Prince Edward County wood – with dramatically different results. Terence Van Rooyen (consulting winemaker for the Black Prince), proclaimed “this redefines local”.Our next stop was at The Grange of Prince Edward County where a delicious lunch of local perch, lamb, wine and lots of fixins’ was prepared for us by acclaimed local chef Michael Potter, who addressed the topic of local food with wit and good humour talking about “happy sheep with a glint in their eye” and local products being the source of real flavour. Also pouring wines at the Grange were the wines of Sugarbush and Sandbanks wineries. I tasted the Sandbanks 2008 Riesling back during Terroir (when it had just recently been bottled), even back then I was blown away by this wine; now with a few more months of bottle age it has integrated nicely and not only gets my vote for wine of the visit, but quite possibly wine of the day. A brief tour and tasting in the barrel cellar with winemaker Jeff Innes had him proclaiming, “While the County is known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay I thing Cabernet Franc is a grape to watch, a real hidden gem here, it’s pretty consistent every year.”
Final stop was Huff Estates, where winemaker Frederic Picard allowed us to sample one of last three bottles of his (and the County’s) very first sparkling wine (2004 Cuvee Frank L. Huff, Blanc de Blanc – now sold out). Then we did a tasting comparison between the 2003 and 2007 Chardonnays – the ’03 was really holding its own, despite being very lightly oaked. Huff’s current wine that should be on your table, “toute suite” as the French say, is the 2008 Riesling sourced from Niagara fruit.
Back to the hotel (this time it’s the Clarion in Belleville) – quite the array of interesting rooms here. Now off to the top secret Wine Writers Circle of Canada’s annual BBQ … sorry, wish I could let you in on that but it’s members only.