Estate: Committed to creating a legacy for the generations to follow him, 3rd generation wine grower Gary Pillitteri founded the Pillitteri Winery in 1993. Gary began working in the vineyards alongside his grandfather and father in his native Sicily, and carried his passion for viticulture to Canada. Initially he and his wife grew fruits and vegetables on the estate, but in 1998 Gary decided to experiment with making a small batch of Vidal Icewine. Upon winning a gold medal right out of the starting gate, Gary decided to plant vines and open a winery. Today there are just over 100 acres of vineyards, and Gary’s grandchildren [who grew up working in the vineyards] are managing the export side of the winery, establishing themselves as the 5th generation of the Pillitteri winemaking family. Alongside their renowned Icewine, [which is currently receiving many accolades in the UK] the estate also crafts traditional Niagara wines such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
Winemaking: This Cabernet Sauvignon is part of the Carretto line, which is the “table wine” range of Pillitteri. “The wines under this series are versatile enough to be consumed now or can be aged to enjoy in the coming years.” The label depicts a carretto, a colorful, horse or donkey drawn cart native to Sicily and represents an actual “cherished heirloom” of the Pillitteri family.
Vineyard soil is a mix of clay Queenston Red Shale atop clay loam and silt. Grapes were harvested in early November; they were actually the very last grapes to be harvested. “The patience paid off as the fruit yielded reserve quality juices.” Aged for 19 months in oak.
Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, cinnamon and green peppercorn. A layer of flinty minerals underscores cherry [all the cherries really; red, black and sour], black pepper and green olive notes. Baking spices and fruit comprise the dry finish. Easy drinking and a versatile companion at the table.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Stewed meats, BBQ, tomato based dishes and medium aged cheeses.
Cabernet Sauvignon [I could not confirm varietal percentage.]
Niagara on the Lake VQA
$25 [Canadian Dollars]