Between the Lines Winery

Located in Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada, Between the Lines Winery is run by brothers Greg and Yannick Wertsch. They grew up in Germany working their grandfather’s vineyards, when the family came to Canada their father purchased land in order to carry on the family’s winemaking traditions. The name of the winery is a reflection of the roads in the area, which are labeled north/south as Line 1 Rd, Line 2 Rd, etc. [If they had used their surname, the pronunciation would have resulted in it sounding like “Worst Winery”]

Greg studied Wine Economics at Geisenheim University in Germany. He is the more public face of the winery and manages the marketing and day-to-day operations. Yannick studied winemaking and viticulture at Niagara College, and then continued at Weinbauschule University in Weinsberg, Germany. He is known as “the quiet one” and focuses on winemaking, “allowing the region to speak for itself instead of influencing it through aging or other winemaking processes”. Their red wines are only briefly barrel aged in order to maintain the terroir and preserve the fruit character.

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Greg explaining his innovative ‘Origin’, sparkling Vidal single serving cans. At the time of my visit it was unreleased. It is now taking the market by storm and receiving fantastic reviews.

During our visit*, I had the immense pleasure of a private tasting with Greg. Knowing your soil is one of the foundations of winemaking and Greg provided in-depth detail about the distinctive terroir of their 40 acres of vineyards. Pockets of glacial deposits cut across the land, so the soil can dramatically change every couple of feet. The main soil is mixed, sandy loam, whilst the glacial deposits are heavy clay. They take advantage of these contrasting characteristics to suit different varietals needs. Cabernet Franc is planted in the lighter soils, as it receives more heat, whilst Chardonnay is grown in the clay deposits, as clay remains cooler in the heat.

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Between the Lines Riesling 2014
Their Riesling is the result of years of listening to what their customers are looking for and experimenting with different fermentation approaches. People were not interested in a dry Riesling, so they use maolactic fermentation on half the volume of the wine. Malic acid confers granny smith and buttery notes and removes some of the acidity and dryness.
Fresh and fruity with citrus, apples and minerals. Light, clean and crisp, this is perfect for summer sipping.
$15 [Canadian Dollars]

Between the Lines Gewurztraminer 2014
Well balanced, with a fantastic play of sweetness and acidity. Loaded with fresh fruit [peach, apricot traces of mango] along with hints of buttery fruit tart, culminating in a fruity finish.
11.5% Alcohol
$15 [Canadian Dollars]

btlpinotnoir

Between the Lines Pinot Noir 2013
The 2013 harvest saw the Pinot Noir grapes coming in with high alcohol; they did open fermentation in order to reduce the level. Aged for 3 months in French oak barrels, the wine was very aromatic with aromas of cherry and sun warmed bricks. Soft cherry and black cherry flavours are backed by a food friendly acidity, finishing with hints of earth and dried cherry. [The brothers are honored that this has been selected as the official Red Wine served and sold at Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for 2016. In fact, during our visit, they were in the process of removing the original label and replacing it with one chosen by the Assembly.]
13% Alcohol
$16 [Canadian Dollars]

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Between the Lines Meritage Reserve 2013
Aged for 18 months in oak, Cabernet Franc is the star of this blend. Bright tart fruit harmonizes with a streak of almost smoky minerality. Fantastic with hearty dishes.
12.5% Alcohol
$28 [Canadian Dollars]

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Between the Lines Vidal Icewine 2013
Decidedly different from many Icewines, this is wonderfully balanced with a vibrant acidity to break up the sugar. Gorgeous, rich pear, peach, and honey flavours are never overwhelming. This is fantastic with both sweet and savory dishes.
11% Alcohol
$40

*During our visit to NOTL [Niagara on the Lake] in Ontario, my husband and I booked an all day, private winery tour with Niagara Vintage Tours. Check out their fantastic array of tours and packages here. Our driver Chris, was incredibly engaging and all around fantastic. He took the time to learn what we were most interested in, and focused the tour around those aspects.

Ravine Vineyard Gewürztraminer Niagara Peninsula VQA 2014

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Estate: Ravine Vineyard was founded on an existing farm whose history dates back over 100 years. It is located in the St. David’s Bench sub appellation of the Niagara region of Canada. St. David’s Bench is about 2% warmer then other areas on the Niagara Escarpment, is at a higher elevation, and also has lighter soils with good drainage capabilities. There are 3 different vineyard sections of the estate, the upper bench, the hillside slopes and the lower bottom level, each with a different soil type and planted with a varietal best suited to its composition. Originally the land was part of an ancient drainage system, incorporating Niagara River and Lake Iroquois. Reflecting this, the hillsides have thin soil yet rich in minerals; the bottom [originally the lake bed] is dense with organic material and humus.

Winemaking: The 34 acre estate is farmed organically and sustainably, all the way to the fruits and vegetables that are grown for their superb winery restaurant. All grapes are hand harvested and gravity flow is used in the winery for its gentle affect on the juice. The Gewürztraminer was aged in stainless steel, only 297 cases produced.

Tasting Notes: Gold in colour with aromas of minerals, honeysuckle and hints of petrol. Nicely structured with clean fruit notes paired with zippy spice, finishing with honeyed fruit and crisp minerals.

[Wonderfully easy drinking and super versatile, it was a fantastic companion to a wide variety of dishes at their wonderful restaurant: wild foraged mushrooms on toast with brandy peppercorn cream, grilled vegetables and raclette tart, and my husband’s roasted duck breast with lentils and red wine poached pear. Unfortunately I ran out of time as one tends to do on holiday, and only had dinner there without touring the winery. It will definitely be on my list for my next visit to Niagara on the Lake wine country.]

100% Gewürztraminer
Niagara Peninsula
Canada
13% Alcohol
$22 [Canadian Dollars]

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Calcaire 2009

zindhum

Sweet, heady and luxuriant, juxtaposing spice and mineral notes make for a surprisingly refreshing glass.

Estate: Although it had a name change in 1959, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht has been owned by the same winemaking family since 1620. Leonard Humbrecht expanded the vineyards in the 1960’s and 70’s for a total of 100 acres of vineyards that today is son Olivier runs. Famed as one of the world’s only winemakers with a Masters of Wine designation, his wines are renowned for “their purity, intensity and, above all, their faithful expression of each individual vineyard site”.

Philosophy: Olivier Humbrecht is passionate about biodynamic methods and continuing on the lengthy family tradition of expressing the terrior of the land, “the taste of the vineyard is always clear and unmistakable”.

Winemaking: The estate was certified organic in 1998 and biodynamic in 2002. Zero additives are used, limited amounts of sulfites and only native yeasts

Tasting Notes: Bright gold in colour with aromas of peach, ginger and honeysuckle. Concentrated tropical fruit flavours wrap around a sweet honeycomb and join a scattering of floral notes, whilst spicy ginger and minerals comprise the zippy finish.

100% Gewürztraminer
Alsace
France
Produced and Bottled by Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
13.5% Alcohol
$20 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2016

Rated 91 points by Wine Spectator

Trentino Winemaker’s Lunch at Del Posto: An Intimate Glance at Cooperation, Dedication, Stories and Superb Wines

I was honored to be invited by The Consortium of Trentino Wines to attend their winemaker’s lunch at DEL POSTO restaurant in October. The Trentino region produces about an equivalent amount of both red and white wines, using indigenous and international grapes. The focus of the lunch was to highlight the character driven sparkling and white wines, which have drawn significant acclaim. With its unique location and history of German influence, the area produces white wines that display easy drinking fruit and mineral flavours with a backbone of crisp acidity that are emblematic of the region.

The fundamental motif of wines presented was one of mutual cooperation amongst growers and winemakers. Cooperative wineries offer small family growers an opportunity to retain and work their ancestral lands, where otherwise there would be no economic opportunity to do so. The generally small plots of land these farmers own are on steep slopes of the Dolomites in the Alps, necessitating all vineyard processes to be done by hand. The cooperative provides the growers with the freedom to maintain their family cultivation traditions that have been passed along from generation to generation, along with the benefit of access to modern winery facilities and international marketing resources.

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Matteo Mattei and Andrea Pedrolli at Del Posto, NYC, October 28, 2014

I was seated with Matteo Mattei, General Director of Cantina D’Isera and Andrea Pedrolli of Cantina Roverè della Luna. It was such an amazing experience to enjoy phenomenal wines and a lovely lunch in a relaxed atmosphere with Matteo and Andrea. I had the opportunity to seek their insight on their processes, and feel that experience reciprocated by producers on their first trip to the United States, exuberant to share their passion with a new land.

The highlights of our wonderful conversation [my Italian is rather rusty] revolved around the protection of the environment and the preservation of the culture of the generations of families that live and work on the land. Farmers know that they are passing the land down to their future generations, and therefore vineyard cultivation is done without the use of chemicals [although not certified and not advertised].

The wine that Matteo presented was a sparkling wine made solely of Chardonnay grapes in the Champagne method. This is his family’s “Sunday wine”, it is meant to be enjoyed throughout the long family meals traditionally held on Sunday. It is light, airy and its purpose is to be a palate cleanser for all of the wonderful food served. Every house [family] in the area has their own version, Matteo’s grandfather passed the tradition down to him. “It’s a story, not a wine.”

The inner workings of the co-op were presented in great detail from Andrea. She relayed how involved the individual growers are in all stages of the wine making processes. In addition to typical interactions of living and farming in close proximity, they hold a yearly “sharing of ideas” meeting, which becomes a very vocally democratic process for determining changes (if any) to all aspects of wine-making operations. Additionally, I received a sneak peak into next year; she said the summer of 2014 was very rainy, “luckily this didn’t damage the quality of the grapes, the vintage is safe” but they will unfortunately have a reduced production.

Andrea, with her English skills, reflected the spirit of the cooperatives, she was there to promote her wines, yet also was instrumental in translating for her fellow winemakers. Just as important to her was promoting and disseminating knowledge of the Trentino region, in addition to her wines.

Cantina D’Isera 1907 Riserva Brut Trentodoc

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Winery: Cantina d’Isera was founded in 1907 under the name Cantina Sociale when the area was still under the rule of the Hapsburg Empire. Today there are over 200 members that cultivate 230 hectares of land. The cooperative operates under the principle that “A good wine is born in the vineyard”.

Philosophy: To “appreciate and love the wines created from the passion of man and the generosity of the hills of Isera”.

Tasting Notes: Pale straw in colour with a sparkling mineral aroma. Delicate apple and floral notes glided on an undercurrent of silky bubbles, whilst clean minerals comprised the elegant finish. Incredibly refined and easy drinking, this is a glass you keep reaching for.
100% Chardonnay
12.5% Alcohol
€8 [Average price in Italy, it does not have a US importer yet.]

La Vis Ritratti del Diaol Chardonnay 2012

ritratti
Winery: Cantina La Vis is located in the Avisiane Hills and dates back to 1850 when the Cembran family began producing wine. Officially established in 1948, today the cooperative has 800 members that cultivate more than 800 hectares of vineyards. The label is the work of Giovanni Segantini, a Trentino born artist known for his landscape paintings of the Alps along with rustic scenes of people such as peasant, farmers and shepherds, working the earth. Noted for the connections people have with nature, the cooperative chose his paintings as they resonate with their own ideals and people, the growers are passionate and proud of their interwoven relationship with the earth.

Winemaking: The grapes were sourced from a single estate vineyard located on a steep hill. It is the highest quality wine they make, with only 9000 bottles produced in this vintage. Unoaked, each vintage is known to age quite well.

Tasting Notes: Brilliant gold in colour with aromas of lemon along with hints of pineapple. The lengthy finish of slate minerals complimented rich lemon and buttered bread flavours. A wonderful display of rich plush flavours that maintain a delicate edge.
100% Chardonnay
13.5% Alcohol
$55 [average price]

Roverè della Luna Winchel ‘Quaranta Jugheri’ Gewürztraminer 2012

winchel
Winery: The cooperative of Roveré della Luna was founded in 1919 by 14 winemakers passionate about crafting excellent wines. It is located in the most northern village of Trentino at the base of an “immense calcareous landslide” in an area known for its oak trees. Today the cooperative consists of 300 members cultivating over 420 hectares of vineyards in the DOC’s of Trentino, Alto Adige and Valdadige.

Winemaking: A dynamic, holistic approach is given to winemaking. The “extremely modern” winery is based on the people and the passion they have for growing and producing wines, respect for the land, along with a dedication to research and innovation. This is their first vintage of Gewürztraminer, grapes were sourced from the Winchel vineyard, and only 1480 bottles were produced.

Tasting Notes: Deep gold in colour with radiating aromas of juicy peach, rose and traces of petrol. Fresh apple and peach flavours harmonized with spicy ginger and crushed white peppercorn, whilst clean minerals lingered refreshingly between each sip.
100% Gewürztraminer
13.5% Alcohol
No. 0028 of 1480

Fondazione Edmund Mach Castel San Michele Moscato Rosa delle Dolomiti IGT 2012

moscatorosa

A luscious pairing: Moscato Rosa with chocolate hazelnut mousse bar, spicy hazelnuts & citrus syrup

Winery: Fondazione Edmund Mach was founded by the Tyrolean Parliament in 1874 when they opened an agricultural school and research center in the former Augustinian monastery of San Michele in Trentino. They chose renowned Austrian Dr. Edmund Mach to run the center, with a goal of increasing agricultural production. Today the farm consists of 120 hectares of vineyards and apple trees, a distillery, and a wine cellar located in the 12th century Augustinian monastery. This blend of modernity and antiquity creates “an atmosphere suspended between history, where the art of winemaking has been practiced uninterruptedly for almost a thousand years”. In addition to the winery, the farm “promotes and carries out research, scientific experiments, education and training activities technical assistance and extensions services to companies”. The center strives to improve and advance “cultural and socio-economic growth in the agricultural sector”, using a model of sustainable agriculture and “low environmental impact”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from 2 vineyards; Becchetti, which was planted in 1960, and Oberrauch, planted in 1988. Moscato Rosa is somewhat of a rarity, as there are very few vineyards planted with it, and yields tend to be low. It is not classified as late harvest or passito since the grapes “accumulate unusual concentrations of sugar, resulting in wines with high alcohol and natural residual sugar while retaining excellent levels of mouth-cleansing acidity”.

Tasting Notes: Brilliant red-violet in colour with radiant aromas of rose and red berries. Sweet raspberry and cherry flavours were complimented by candied roses and hints of spicy clove. A vivid acidity and wonderfully dry finish maintain a balance with the sweet notes, making this fantastic with desserts, especially chocolate.
100% Moscato Rosa
Vignetti delle Dolomiti IGT
12.5% Alcohol
$20 [average price]

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J.L. Wolf Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer 2012

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A lovely, easy drinking Gewürztraminer with a lively acidity that balances the sunny sweetness.

Estate: The J.L. Wolf estate was founded in 1756 and produced highly regarded wines for more the 200 years. After a small decline in the late 20th century, it was revitalized by Ernst Loosen, of the Dr. Loosen estate in 1996. Villa Wolf is the estate’s “value-priced line of varietal wines”.

Philosophy: Ernst Loosen acquired the J.L. Wolf estate with the goal of producing “powerful, traditionally crafted Pfalz wines to compliment his lighter Dr. Loosen wines from Mosel”.

Winemaking: Sustainable viticulture is practiced, along with minimalist intervention in the production and cellar. Grapes for Villa Wolf wines are sourced from the estate along with contracted growers.

Tasting Notes: Light gold in colour with balmy aromas of spicy ginger, apple and traces of sweet herbs. Apple, peach and sweet lychee flavours harmonized with a lively acidity along with clean minerals and hints of ginger spice on the perky finish.

100% Gewürztraminer
Pfalz
Germany
Bottled by Villa Wolf GmbH
12% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now thru 2016