Where is PEC in Vintages Essentials?

Vintages Essentials129Vintages Essentials Magazine from the LCBO is out. This classy magazine tells Ontario wine lovers the essential top 130 wines to have in your wine cellar. There is not a single Prince Edward County wine on the list.

There are a 25 from Niagara, three from BC and  102 from the rest of the world.  The LCBO is a government owned monopoly in Ontario, it rakes off a lot of taxes from the sale of wine both through its stores and at the wineries themselves and yet it seem to think that only a couple of dozen Ontario wines, spread across the entire spectrum of wines and only from Niagara grapes, can be called “essential.”  What is the criteria?

I find this so ironic. Two weeks ago, I interviewed Norman Hardie, a leading Prince Edward County winery owner and winemaker, who said “The amazing terroir and soils of Prince Edward County have allowed us to make world-class wines.” Continue reading

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A Year of Canadian Wines – #TGCWC

For the past year, I’ve been participating in the Great Canadian Wine Challenge. The rules of the Challenge were simple: you could only drink Canadian wines for a full year. There were some exceptions. 1. if you were a guest and the host served something else (even though you brought them a bottle of Canadian wine as a hostess gift), 2. if you were a wine writer / sommelier / judge and you had to drink an international wine as part of your work or 3. if you were out of the country and there was no Canadian wine to be had.

I made it through the whole year within the guidelines. I did receive two bottles of Durbanville Hills wine from South Africa to critique for pairing with chocolate. Now the year is over, I’ll go looking for  these wines in the LCBO. As South African born if not bred, I have an interest in their wine industry, I did get an exemption for wine offered at other people’s houses or events and  finally, I was in the South of France   ( I loved Madiran) for three weeks and the Danube for two so got to sample some very different wines there. Everything else was Canadian.

I started the Challenge off last September looking for affordable wines in Prince Edward County. I  found a selection of these at Sandbanks Winery, Waupoos, Casa Dea, The Grange of Prince Edward,  Broken Stone, Rosehall Run, Huff Estates, Lighthall, and 33 Vines for wines under $20. The prize goes for the best bargain went to the Grange for their Stoneboat white that was priced “cheap” but tasted eminently drinkable for a vin ordinaire or a party wine. Also among the bargains were barrel aged Pinot Noir from Keint-He and Long Dog in the mid twenties and Charnat style sparkling from Hinterland. These were all featured in one of my last examiner.com blogs  Bargain Hunting for Prince Edward County Wines Continue reading

Golden wine at the rainbow’s end

Crunching themes of versatile winter whites, my favourite wines and Saint Patrick’s Day lead me to one special winery for Wine of the Week #11. Rosehall Run Winery in Prince Edward County, is where Dan Sullivan, whose forbears came over from Ireland in the 1850s, keeps his gold in a bottle.

jcrThe wine: JCR Chardonnay 2011 $29.95.
It was made from  grapes harvested from the oldest chardonnay vines on the estate, barrel fermented. and aged for 14 months in 30% new and 70% spent large French oak puncheons.  The barrel fermentation allowed the lees (spent yeast)  to coat the barrel softening the impact of the oak, giving a creamy taste to the wine.

The owner/winemaker: Dan Sullivan.
Sullivan began as an amateur learning from some of Niagara’s leading winemakers during his days of home winemaking when he bought and pressed Niagara grapes. These days, Dan is a director  of the  Ontario Wine Council  and has been a certified Canadian Wine Judge. His wines, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs have received international attention.

The winery: Rosehall Run estate winery is owned in partnership by Dan and Lynn Sullivan with Lynn’s brother-in-law Cam  (JCR) and sister Cindy Reston as silent partners.  It is located between Hillier and Wellington on the Greer Road in Prince Edward County. Continue reading

Versatile Winter Whites

During this snowy March, I’m reveling in white – beautiful white wines that live in my wine cellar full of memories of a lovely day and a lovely taste. These are my “go to” wines, that have to be replenished and provide an incentive to go wine touring again. This is my choice wine for Week 9 of 2014.

The wine: The Devil’s Wishbone Riesling

The winery: The Devil’s Wishbone
A beautiful old barn winery on County Road 7, near Lake on the Mountain in Prince Edward County, Ontario. It has a spectacular view of Prince Edward Bay. For years it was run as very successful vineyard, its unique terroir produces different flavours in many of the popular vinifera and so were in demand at other wineries for County blends and cuvées.

Paul Gallagher

Paul Gallagher

The winemaker: Paul Gallegher . Paul left a successful business as an accountant in Toronto and started the vineyard in Prince Edward County in 2002 as part of his rehabilitation from a stroke in 1998. Over the years, Paul has been selling grapes to other vineyards but making wines only for his own consumption. In 2011, the barn and the wines were ready to meet the public. Continue reading

Rot – It’s a Good Thing

“Do I smell rot?”  Jan asked as she swirled her Long Dog 2007 Otto Pinot Noir.

We were wine touring in Prince Edward County with cousins from France. They’re not French; they are part of a colony of Brits who have retired in the pastoral countryside of the Midi Pyrenees area of Languedoc but they love wine touring.

We had a lovely wine tasting at Huff Estates , where nothing disappoints. I left with a bottle of Vidalescco and she with a First Frost.

Then on we went  to Karlo Estates where the vineyard manager showed us grapes just out of the de-stemmer and we’d gone on to a full tasting there as well after thoroughly exploring their lovely old barn. They walked away with the Merlot and I bought the white  (heaven in a glass) port.We’d had lunch at the Barley Room at the Waring House  where the men enjoyed the Barley Days  Loyalist Lager.

I’d saved Long Dog Winery for last as their Pinot Noir vines are the oldest in the County and they have a selection of beautiful and surprisingly affordable Pinot.

The word “Rot” hung in the air. Continue reading

Where do wine flavours come from?

Sisters' at Karlo Estates

Sisters Day out for a wine tasting at Karlo Estates wirh Richard Karlo

Citrus, red stone fruit, chocolate, leather, grass, almonds…

“So how do these flavours get into the wine?” my sister asked, ” Is it bees?”

It was Sister’s Day, and we were touring Karlo Estates Winery in Prince Edward County. I mumbled something about terroir, but Sherry Martin, the incredibly articulate partner of owner / winemaker Richard Karlo gave us a mini seminar on where all those different flavours come from. She must have fielded this question many times before.

“The best wine is made in the vineyard.” she began. Continue reading

Veraison & Verjus at Closson Chase

220px-Pinot_Noir_Grapes_-_Cristom_Vineyard_-_Oregon_in_early_veraison

A grape cluster in the early stages of veraison as the grapes start to ripen one by one

There was a joyful tweet that went out from one of the Prince Edward County wineries in early August. “Veraison has started!”

Veraison is that time of the year when the grapes start to ripen and change colour . The clusters are quite beautiful as they don’t all ripen at once. A cluster can have all possible shades between green to deep purple.

It’s also the sign to the viticulturalist or vineyard manager to get the pruning started. Although they could let the vines carry as many grapes as they can grow, the juice would be thin; however, if the grapes are pruned back to the best bunches, it forces the plant to give the grapes all its attention and the flavours will be more intense.

The pruned off grapes however don’t need to be wasted they can be turned into Verjus, an unfermented grape juice that is a mix of pressed ripe and unripe grapes that can be used in cooking or is great in martinis or salad dressing. Continue reading