Several Prince Edward County Wineries make surprisingly good Gewurztraminer Lacey Estates, Sugarbush and Lighthal Vineyards leap to mind but really the climate in Niagara and Pelée Island gives their wineries a better chance of getting the full Gevurz flavour right.
The wine: Carlton Vineyard Outlier Gewurztraminer. 2012 $25
This Showcase wine is called Outlier because it comes from a patch of Gerwurz vines in a section of Carlton Vineyards where it is surrounded by red wine vines. It picked late in the season at full ripeness.
The Winery: Trius at Hillebrand in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Now owned by Peller Estates, Hillebrand has been a pioneer in the Niagara wine industry for over 30 years. Trius was added to the name because of the great popularity of their affordable Trius Red and White blends that have become synonymous with the winery’s success.
The winemaker: Craig MacDonald, named Ontario winemaker of the year in 2008 along with Rob Power when the two were a team at Creekside Estate winery. The Australian born winemaker joined Peller Estates in 2010 and is known for his innovative approach to winemaking.
The reviews: David Lawrason gave it a 92 on Wine Align describing the flavour as having a yellow sultana raisin note among the standard lychee, mustard flower and honey aromas of gewurz. He called it full-bodied, thick, creamy and powerful with a 14% alc and a dry finish.
Why I chose this wine Last year when I visited Niagara with Crush on Niagara wine tours, we went to Trius at Hillebrand. It’s huge, almost palatial, with its vast barrel rooms, walls of sparkling wines in tirage, and tank rooms that would have done a Cruise Missile site proud. In the midst of all this splendour, were two egg-shaped concrete fermentation tanks, one of which had been heavily patched. I guess if you’ve paid a fortune for an egg-shaped concrete tank brought over from Europe, you do try to put Humpty Dumpty together again.
The shape is supposed to speed up and improve the fermentation and was used for their Showcase Carlton Vineyard Outlier Gewürztraminer.
Some wines you just have to try because the story is so good. I shared a bottle with my sister who is a Gewürztraminer fan on one of those languid summer evenings when you eat on the deck watching the sunset fade into night enjoying good food and conversation until the mosquitoes drive you indoors. I remember we explored the wine to see if we could taste the difference caused by the grapes being surrounded by red vines or the wine being fermented in egg-shaped concrete tanks or the late harvesting. I have no recollection of the results of our musings or even the taste, possibly because of the higher than normal alcohol content.
But it made for a memorable evening. Sometimes the back story is as interesting as the wine.