2016 Norman Hardie Vin Gris de Ponton

This 2016 offering from Norman Hardie is his first attempt at orange wine, albeit it doesn’t have a substantial amount of skin-contact but that doesn’t stop it from being delicious and a supremely interesting Pinot Gris. It’s no surprise that an innovative and cutting-edge winemaker like Norman Hardie would be at the forefront of the orange wine trend in Canada with one of just a handful of producers producing this type of wine in the country.    IMG_2365

The Vin Gris de Ponton underwent 10 days of skin-contact, 9 days of this were part of a cold soak and a one day fermentation with natural yeast. This wine to me displayed a wide range of fruit aromas from subtle Meyer lemon to ripe white peach and cooked apples. As well, Prince Edward Counties distinct soils shine through with a hard to place mineral quality that is a benchmark of Norm’s wines. The wine displays medium alcohol, medium to medium + body, acidity and finish. A creamy mouthfeel and in my books another success.

This wine with all of its interesting character could definitely be enjoyed on its own but I see this pairing with a variety of foods, especially poultry, fish or semi-hard cheeses. While I will continue to enjoy the Burgundian like Chardonnay and Pinot that Norm grows so well in the extreme cold-climate region of PEC, this one was a real treat. One of only two orange wines I’ve had. I won’t judge the style as a whole but I did prefer this 10 day skin-contact wine to the 3-month skin-contact Italian wine I had almost a year ago now. It’ll be Interesting to try more as this style is starting to see some commercial success and evolve.

 

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2010 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Pinot Noir

Henry of Pelham Winery, a name with a story behind it, apparently came to be long ago in the 1840’s when a long since passed relative built a tavern on the land and signed the liquor license Henry of Pelham. It was done for a ruse at the time as a reference to a past British prime minister, Sir Henry Pelham. Fast forward 140 years and the land which had past down through generations was about to be planted with grape vines. The name was born.

The Speck Family Reserve wines come from their oldest Estate vineyards in the Short Hills Bench area of Niagara. The wines are only made in select years and from clones specifically selected for the conditions. The story goes that the three Speck Bros. spent many a summer hand planting the vines in the early 1980’s. FullSizeRender (2)

The 2010 season was a particularly warm one in the Niagara region with higher than usual daytime temperatures. You wouldn’t be able to tell with this wine though as it has retained excellent acidity, which has helped to keep the wine tasting fresh. After 8 years this wine has really come into its own. A previous bottle almost two years ago did not show near this level of development. Red cherries, cranberries, dried violets, plum, citrus peel, light vanilla and a very defined earthy/sous-bois type character. The acid and tannins have come in to balance and the finish lingers on your palate. This is a supremely interesting and contemplative Pinot Noir that in some ways also reminds me of a young Barolo. Sometimes, only rarely you get a wine that’s in the perfect place for the potential of that wine. This is never going to be better or more interesting than a Grand Cru Burgundy but it’s of exceptional quality and drinking, in my opinion, at its peak.

Have a favorite Niagara wine? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Ben

2014 Gerard Bertrand Corbieres

Gerard Bertrand appears to be an interesting and outgoing individual. With a variety of well made wines produced all over the south of France the man must certainly keep himself busy. When tasting these wines, sometimes even blind, I’m taken aback by their quality, especially at their relative price points. For me this is especially true when speaking about their red wines. Their wines from Corbieres and Tautavel are particular staples in our home as they pair splendidly with juicy steaks, tomato based dishes and soft cheeses.. So basically three of my favourite things. FullSizeRender (1)

The attention to detail in this wine is somewhat surprising given the sub $20 price point as all grapes are hand picked. Various maceration methods occur with 10-18 days of carbonic maceration for the Syrah and traditional maceration for the other two varietals. After this and a Malo fermentation the grapes are combined in barrel to age for 8-9 months. It’s just amazing how the different characteristics come together to produce such an easy-drinking and pleasant wine that is still able to maintain purity of fruit along with savoury notes, acidity, minerality and excellent mouthfeel. Notes of red cherry, raspberry, black plum, creme de cassis, Provencal herbs, pepper, vanilla and toast.

This wine is good, beyond good for the price. It’s a wine that would prefer red meat but could honestly stand up to most anything savoury. Past vintages of this I’ve had have been slightly less ripe than this one. Something not preferred by everyone but a personal preference for me. This is a great buy from Gerard Bertrand. This is a great introduction to the wines of this region. Bertrand, well one of the bigger producers definitely keeps an eye to quality and makes wine true to the regions terroir (which happens to be the name of this series of wines).  Makes me all the more excited to dig into some of my bottles of 2014 Gerard Bertrand Cigalus over the coming years.

 

Have a wine from the South of France I should try? I’d love to know what you think!

Cheers,
Ben

2016 Moulin de Gassac Picpoul de Pinet

Picpoul de Pinet is a bright and acidic wine from the south of France. Specifically the wine is from a small corner of the Languedoc near the Mediterranean. This 100% organic vineyard was bought recently by Mas de Daumas one of the rockstar wineries of the south of France, which has expanded operations over the last 10 years. The region is widely known for its limestone soils which give the wines a salty wet rock character. IMG_2349

This wine is fresh and crisp and would be excellent served cold on a warm summers day. While it definitely has a refreshing character this example also appears to be more ripe than some of the previous examples I’ve had the pleasure of trying. Some of these wines made from Picpoul Blanc that I’ve had can be downright austere. This one happens to be on the riper side of things with a little more body and zest. Notes include lemon, lime, melon, grape, citrus blossom and that wet rock character I was talking about. This wine calls for seafood, could see it being really good with some scallops in cream sauce or buttered lobster. Given that extra bit of body and ripeness of fruit I’d probably go with an even more acidic Picpoul when serving with oysters or less rich seafoods. Thats a personal taste thing though as I usually like a highly acidic wine with my seafood.

Have a favourite Picpoul de Pinet or Picpoul grown somewhere else? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Ben

 

5 Canadian Wines That You Must Try

While there’s a lot of good wine coming out of Canada as of 2018, there’s still very much the perception on a global scale that the Canadian wine industry is all about ice wine and bulk wine. There’s definitely a mix of both of these things, but the truth is most producers are now producing good quaffable well-balanced wines that pair with all kinds of dishes. Some are even producing outstanding wines from nobel grape varieties that rival their old-world counterparts.

Norman Hardie Pinot Noir

Benjamin Bridge Sparkling

Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Pinot Noir

Cave Springs Riesling

Pearl Morrissette

Trius Brut

Closson Chase Chardonnay

2013 Elouan Pinot Noir

This Elouan Pinot Noir is more reminiscent of many Russian River Valley Pinot’s I’ve had. It’s definitely in a riper style than I’ve had from other Oregon producers but still very pleasant with enough acidity and structure to carry the wine through to the finish.

Much of the Oregon Pinot I’ve had was from single vineyards in the Willamette Valley. That’s not the case with this wine. It’s instead sourced partially from there but also from two warmer sites in Umpqua and Rogue. Both of which help to give the wine that riper style that I talked about. Certainly not as ripe as Meiomi, at least in this vintage. IMG_2299

The style is not the only California connection when it comes to this wine. It’s made by Joseph J. Wagner of the infamous Wagner family who own Belle & Glos, Meiomi and Caymus. Based on what’s indicated on the bottle for this vintage it was bottled in Acampo California. Not necessarily a bad thing given all the fabulous modern wineries in California, however, it does for me at least raise some concerns about the freshness of the fruit.

At least in this case the fruit appears solid, lots of red fruit, namely red cherry, cranberry and red plum. Mild savoury notes of rhubarb and mint with wet stone and earth notes. This is actually my favourite Wagner Family wine to date, it’s definitely made in the riper style that I talked about but not as over the top as some of their other wines. I don’t think I’d sit here and contemplate it any further as it’s not my favourite style or that kind of wine but if you like them more California and less Burgundy this wine could definitely be for you. For me, I’ll be making a chicken sandwich later and I think this would pair just fine with this or other poultry.

Ever had this wine? Have a favourite Oregon Pinot? I’d love to hear about it.

Cheers,
Ben

 

 

2015 Petrolo Inarno Val d’Arno di Sopra

Super quick note tonight. This wine is definitely moreish and very easy to drink. It is exactly the kind of wine that you should eat with a big plate of Bolognese or Lasagna. It’s a great value and a terroir driven wine made by the Tuscan powerhouse Petrolo. No trouble here to tell that this is a Tuscan Sangiovese. IMG_2276

This is an incredibly fresh and zippy Tuscan wine from Petrolo. Aged in cement without any oak influence, the pure fruit character shines through. This wine shows distinct cherry, redcurrant and wild strawberry fruits with a tomato leaf and thyme herbaceous character. Leather, smoked meat and a smoky character coming through on the finish here. A great value quaffable wine! Would definitely drink this again and again.

Have a great weekend everyone!
Cheers,
Ben