Valentine’s Day is past and I have a plethora of dark chocolate to take me through the cold nights of February, perfect for pairing with red port. For several years, Karlo Estates‘ Van Alstine red was the signature Prince Edward County port-style wine but, these days, there is serious competition.
The Wine: Harwood Marquesa 2011 $29
This is a port style wine made from a blend of Marquette and Cabernet Franc grapes, aged for 12 months in old American and French oak barrels. 18% alc.
The Winery: Harwood Estates
Opened in 2009 near Hillier, Harwood is a family business run by Don and Judy Harwood, John Rode and Kerry Wicks. The winery is off grid with solar, wood and propane providing their energy sources. Something that proved really beneficial with the power outages this winter.
The winemaker: The 2011 Marquesa is a joint effort of the former winemaker Lauren Horlock, and the current winemaker, Ben Serpa. Serpa is a Niagara College graduate who has worked in Niagara, Australia and the Azores before coming to Harwood in Prince Edward County.
The commendations: The best critics are always the consumers and Marquesa scored a Silver in Natalie MacLean’s Great Canadian Wine Match in the Wine and Cheese pairing competition in 2012.
Why I chose this wine:
When I first visited Harwood in 2010, I loved the people but wasn’t as enthusiastic about the wine. On my return in 2012, Lauren Horlock had been their winemaker for a year and their new releases were all wonderful and winning medals. She left for the States to get married that year but passed the wine thief on to Ben Serpa and things kept getting better and the awards kept coming. My first taste of the 2011 Marquesa was in March 2013 during Maple Madness and I was really impressed by its flavour and smoothness. The flavours are described as blackberry jam and cinnamon spice aromas on the nose, spiced currants and ripe cherries on the palate. They even sold it in dark chocolate truffles.
Ben tells me the Marquesa 2012 will be even better. It is from all Marquette grapes, aged in American and Canadian oak from Carriage House Cooperage of Prince Edward County. This will be his wine from start to finish and will probably be released later this year.
Buy the 2011 in the spring and the 2012 for Christmas and make your own comparisons. Because Marquette grapes are not on the archaic list of hybrids approved by VQA, it is not sold at the LCBO. To try this unique wine you must visit the winery or order online from their website.
Please share your favourite Harwood wine with our readers in the comments below.
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