Stratus Vineyards ‘White’ Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2013

Estate: Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, Stratus Vineyards was the world’s first fully LEED-certified winery in the world in 2005. The 62 acres of vineyards “are divided into 44 distinct blocs. Each one, its own small ‘somewhereness’.” The soil consists of layers of mineral-rich earth, resting on a limestone foundation, resulting in a “clay-loam mosaic” of individual soil types. The sustainable estate grows 10 varieties of red grapes and 6 varieties of white. In 2009 Stratus enlisted famed winemaker/viticulturist Paul Hobbs “to bring additional international perspective to its operations”.

Philosophy: “The wine we grow is dependent on the health of the land on which it is grown. We farm our vineyard and guide our winemaking as though our children’s future depends on it. Each vintage bottled is a reflection of this ongoing commitment.”

Winemaking: Aged for 562 days in French oak, 20% new.

Tasting Notes: Light gold in colour, highly aromatic with honeysuckle, pineapple, green vegetation, caramel with a pinch of sea salt and petrol. Layers of apple, pineapple and peach glide atop bright acidity, orange and caramel shine on the nutty finish. Complex and engaging, I found this best on its own, as food tends to overpower the intriguing nuances of flavour.

Blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon & Viognier [I could not verify variatel percentages.]
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Canada
Estate Bottled by Stratus Vineyards
13.8% Alcohol
$38 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Pillitteri Estates Winery ‘Exclamation Cellar Series Winemaker’s Select’ Merlot Niagara on the Lake VQA 2012

Estate: Committed to creating a legacy for the generations to follow him, 3rd generation winemaker 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: “Hand selected by winemaker Aleksandar Kolundzic, from a select number of barrels as his personal favourite.” Barrel aged in French oak for 24 months. The inspiration for the label of the ‘Exclamation Winemaker’s Select’ wines derives from the 23 stainless steel chairs commissioned by Gary & Lena Pillitteri that now hang on the walls in the barrel cellar at Pillitteri Estates. [The number 23, and combinations of 2’s and 3’s has been significant to Gary Pillitteri throughout his entire life, the estate also has a line of ‘Twenty-Three’ wines.]

Tasting Notes: Garnet in colour with aromas of black cherry, black pepper, sea salt and caramel. Black and red cherry driven, with grilled herbs, a streak of sea salt minerality and silky tannins. Black pepper, smoky caramel and chocolate keep you reaching for more on the lengthy, velvety finish.

Merlot [I could not verify varietal percentage.]
Niagara on the Lake VQA
Canada
14% Alcohol
$68 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2019

Château des Charmes Cabernet Sauvignon Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2015

Estate: Paul Bosc, a fifth generation French winegrower who holds degrees in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, founded Château des Charmes in 1978. Paul brought his young family to the Niagara on the Lake region of Canada in the 1960’s “with the idea that growing our own grapes was the best way to make fine wine”. The estate consists of 280 acres of vineyards in four locations all within the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.

Paul established himself as a pioneer in the region, from planting traditional French varietals to employing cutting edge techniques such as installing wind machines to protect the vines from the cold. In addition to being recognized for their progressive, groundbreaking work with traditional French grapes and methods, their wines have garnered accolades for their balance, finesse and quality. Paul Sr still has an active role in the vineyards, his son Paul Jr is President of the estate, and Paul Jr’s wife Michèle is the Director of Marketing.

Philosophy: “We are custodians of the land.” Crafting wines that are “food friendly and age worthy. We hope you will call them delicious”.

Winemaking: Committed from the very beginning to sustainable practices, the family is a charter member of Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. Chemical treatments are never used, and sustainable methods such as hedge vine canopies, and under drainage are utilized. Naturally occurring yeasts are used for the majority of the wines. All by-products from the winemaking process [stems, skins, seeds] are returned to the vineyards as natural fertilizer. Their extensive cellars are geothermal and do not require any heating or cooling, especially impressive considering how cold Canadian winters can be.

Grapes were hand sorted in the vineyard. Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels with regular stirring of the lees.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with cheerful aromas of cherry, wildflowers, black cherry, black pepper and a trace of roasted jalapeño. All the cherries [red, black and a pop of sour] glide atop polished granite minerality and smooth, fine tannins. Crushed pink peppercorn dusted fruit along with a hint of vanilla comprises the moderate finish. Super food friendly, give this a pour with almost anything!

100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Canada
Estate Bottled by Château des Charmes
13% Alcohol
$15 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2018

Château des Charmes Blanc de Blancs 2012

Estate: Paul Bosc, a fifth generation French winegrower who holds degrees in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, founded Château des Charmes in 1978. Paul brought his young family to the Niagara on the Lake region of Canada in the 1960’s “with the idea that growing our own grapes was the best way to make fine wine”. The estate consists of 280 acres of vineyards in four locations all within the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.

Paul established himself as a pioneer in the region, from planting traditional French varietals to employing cutting edge techniques such as installing wind machines to protect the vines from the cold. In addition to being recognized for their progressive, groundbreaking work with traditional French grapes and methods, their wines have garnered accolades for their balance, finesse and quality. Paul Sr still has an active role in the vineyards, his son Paul Jr is President of the estate, and Paul Jr’s wife Michèle is the Director of Marketing.

Philosophy: “We are custodians of the land.” Crafting wines that are “food friendly and age worthy. We hope you will call them delicious”.

Winemaking: Committed from the very beginning to sustainable practices, the family is a charter member of Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. Chemical treatments are never used, and sustainable methods such as hedge vine canopies, and under drainage are utilized. Naturally occurring yeasts are used for the majority of the wines. All by-products from the winemaking process [stems, skins, seeds] are returned to the vineyards as natural fertilizer. Their extensive cellars are geothermal and do not require any heating or cooling, especially impressive considering how cold Canadian winters can be.

Grapes were sourced from all 4 of their vineyard sites “in order to help maintain the consistency of aromas and flavours in the cuvée each year”. Produced using Méthode Traditionelle, aged on the lees for a minimum of 24 months.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with enticing aromas of lemon, honey and buttery toast. Flavours are delightfully consistent with the aromas; with creamy honey and lemon drizzled on buttered toast, surrounded by subtle, soft bubbles. A touch of minerality and citrus define the zippy finish. Fantastic on its own, or with a wide range of light dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: This is a yummy wine for sipping while making dinner. It’s fresh and crisp so it will also pair with many appetizers; from smoked salmon to grilled scallops.

100% Chardonnay
Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA
Canada
Estate Bottled
12.5% Alcohol
$29 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now

Stratus Vineyards Cabernet Franc Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2013

Estate: Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, Stratus Vineyards was the world’s first fully LEED-certified winery in the world in 2005. The 62 acres of vineyards “are divided into 44 distinct blocs. Each one, its own small ‘somewhereness’.” The soil consists of layers of mineral-rich earth, resting on a limestone foundation, resulting in a “clay-loam mosaic” of individual soil types. The sustainable estate grows 10 varieties of red grapes and 6 varieties of white. In 2009 Stratus enlisted famed winemaker/viticulturist Paul Hobbs “to bring additional international perspective to its operations”.

Philosophy: “The wine we grow is dependent on the health of the land on which it is grown. We farm our vineyard and guide our winemaking as though our children’s future depends on it. Each vintage bottled is a reflection of this ongoing commitment.”

Winemaking: Aged for 552 days in French oak, 23% new.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with expressive aromas of cherry, red grapes, baking spice, graphite minerals and a hint of caramel. Cherry, blackberry and black cherry meld with minerals and an herbaceous streak. Silky tannins pair up with soft toasted oak and vanilla on the plush finish. Fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

100% Cabernet Franc
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Canada
Estate Bottled by Stratus Vineyards
13.5% Alcohol
$38 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2020