The Time and Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 all day
The Event: annual tour of Niagara wineries by Wine Council of Ontario for WWCC members. There were 11 of us.
The Venue: five wineries: Southbrook, Cattail Creek, Coyote’s Run, Ravine Vineyard (not yet open), and Niagara College Teaching Winery.
The Target Audience: WWCC wine writers.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available, or will be, from the winery.
The Quote: “We need cool water – it was a scorcher of a day!”
The Wines: At Southbrook (581 Niagara Stone Road, RR4, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario L0S 1J0 Canada), we learned that the winery not only has a LEED gold status in its construction, but also that there is biodynamic winemaking (since 2006). They have a periwinkle blue wall (205 metres) that is spectacular. Shades of Pink Floyd…
After lunch we moved on to Cattail Creek (100% of their wines are estate grown), one of Niagara’s newest wineries. Some of their vines are the oldest Rieslings in Ontario.
Coyote’s Run Estate Winery was next, and here we tasted the difference between terroirs which they called Black Paw and Red Paw (black earth and red earth), especially with Cab Franc and Pinot Noir.
A side trip to Michael Olsen’s new co-venture: Ravine Vineyard, a combo food store and winery. Everything was dusty, but we had a chance to see the ravine that was saved from developers.
Niagara College Teachning Winery was unusual in that the instructors assigned to look after us had to disappear to attend their scions’ graduations (one from college, one from high school), both on the same day at the same time! We were left in the capable hands of a student who gave us the real lowdown on what happens at school…took me back to my days, forty years ago!
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2006, $21.95 – good depth of oak, vanilla, toast
-Southbrook Whimsy Chardonnay Canadian Oak 2003, $29.75 – lumber, lanolin
-Niagara College Teaching Winery BF Chardonnay 2006, $18.95 – Gold Medal
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Chardonnay 2006, $27.95
-Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery Off Dry Riesling 2007, $15 – from Alsatian Riesling clones.
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Pinot Blanc 2007, $18 – slight anise finish
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Southbrook Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $18.95 – zesty, higher acid finish
-Southbrook Whimsy Lot 19 Syrah, $32.75 – dynamic oak
-Southbrook Triomphe Pinot Gris 2006, $18.95
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $18.95
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Sauvignon Blanc Fume 2007, $13.95
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $18.95
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Meritage 2005, $37.95
-Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery Chardonnay Musque 2007, $17 – aromatic
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery BF Chardonnay Reserve 2006, $21
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Black Paw 2006, $20
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Pinot Noir Red Paw 2006, $24
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Meritage 2005, $24
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Southbrook Triomphe Syrah 2006, $24.95 – youthful, rich, 10 year old vines
-Southbrook Whimsy Lot 20 Syrah, $32.75 – olives, peppery
-Southbrook Cabernet Merlot Shiraz 2006, $14.85 LCBO – CS39/CF30/M20/S11
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Riesling 2007, $11.95
-Niagara College Teaching Winery Cabernet Franc 2005, $16.95
-Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2007, $18
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Pinot Gris Red Paw 2007, $18
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Red Paw 2006, $20
-Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Pinot Noir Black Paw 2006, $36
The Food: brown bag lunch at Southbrook from “The Good Earth Catering”, formal dinner at Niagara College. At the latter, we ordered off the menu. I’m still not quite sure why the soup of the day was “roasted parsnip” (out of season, hot). Nevertheless, I had gnocchi with parmesan shards, followed by bunderfleisch with parmesan “chards”
(Swiss?), pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin, and a large cheese selection of primarily Quebec cheeses. Wines off the menu were just about all whites, for it was exceedingly hot that night.
The Downside: the heat, especially on the bus.
The Upside: a chance to catch up with many Niagara wines.
The Contact Person: email@example.com.
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 91.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Look it up and you’ll remember it; screw it up and you’ll never forget it.