Sunday, August 03, 2008

'Featherstone Estate' Wines: 5 Tasted of 5

It seemed to be a ‘perfect storm’ except ‘storm’ is entirely wrong for a visit to the Niagara wine country – ‘perfect calm’ is more like it. After the heaviest rainfall in July, August started clear for the holiday weekend, the temperature and humidity were tolerable for a short drive and I had just received Rod Phillips Winepointer #12 which featured Featherstone Estate Winery‘s 2007 white releases.

Featherstone Estate, located on the slope of the Niagara Escarpment, has vineyards to produce at most 4000 cases of wine a year and has not as yet been featured by LCBO’s Vintages. This is to change in the near future. Their website is well worth visiting for more detail of their pesticide free horticultural practices which includes falconry and sheep grazing and their dedication to wines.

The 2007 vintage whites released in July were grown, produced and bottled by the winery using grapes from vineyards on the heavy clay of Twenty Mile Bench. Only three of the wines reviewed in Winepointer were available at the winery, however, it was worth the trip to try some of the 2006 vintage produced with the broader VQA of Niagara Peninsula.

The tiny ‘tasting room’ served all purposes and it quickly became very cozy on a busy Sunday afternoon but the Featherstone people are a precious reminder of how hospitable the Niagara wine route can be. As before, as wines are tasted they appear in bold. Cheers, Ww (G - General Listing, V - Vintages, VC - Vintages Collection, O - Other, RP - Winepointer )
  • Featherstone Old Vines Riesling 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, RP90-93, Ww88 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $17.15
  • Featherstone Estate Bottled Gewurztraminer 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, RP90-93, Ww87 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #064592 $18.95
  • Featherstone Estate Bottled Unoaked Chardonnay 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ww86 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $14.15
  • Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, RP87-89, Ww84 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $17.15
  • Featherstone Estate Bottled Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ww80 – O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $17.15
FEATHERSTONE OLD VINES RIESLING 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada, 10.5% D, #Winery $17.15 (Tasted August 10, 2008)

Winery notes: The vineyard for this Riesling was established on the Featherstone property in the late 1970's. The grapes are Weiss clone, famous for the fresh citrus and clean mineral character they impart to the wine. An exceptionally well balanced and intense wine with delightful lingering flavours- lemon-lime, grapefruit, mineral and a touch of petrol. This vintage expresses the quintessential nature of Niagara Riesling, pure and simple. My notes: A clear liquid in the glass except for a slight greenish tint and aromas of lavender and lime, slight but there. The first sip has a bright lemonade touch and finishes clay-like on the palate with a layer of lime, dry and crisp, and a hint of petrol. Serve well chilled then watch changes as it goes off chill. I’m tempted to try it with a maraschino and cube as an aperitif. Have with fresh oysters or a shrimp ring. Pair with rice dishes with a lemon drizzle and scallop pieces or lobster claws. A style setter for Niagara rieslings – definitely not old world and a drink now. Ww88

FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada, 10.5% D, #Winery $17.15 (Tasted August 12, 2008)

Label notes: This wine is named in the honour of the 5 sheep who helped to make it. The sheep were used in the vineyard to eat away the grape leaves that shaded the grape clusters. This exposes the grapes to sunlight enhancing their ripeness and quality – and ensuring an exceptional wine that is crisp and refreshing with a pronounced citrus character. My notes: A light blond colour leaving a thin film on the glass when swirled and aromas of almost detectable field flowers, citrus and honey. Served chilled but sipped off chill this is light-bodied with faint citrus flavours and ending tangy with a light clay finish. A sociable white to have in for family and friends – somewhat delicate as a meal white unless for cold chicken slices on greens or bocconcini, sliced tomato, vinaigrette on baby spinach. Was OK with roasted chicken breasts stuffed with basil, sundried tomato and brie. A drink now. Ww84

Niagara, Canada, 13.0% D, #064592 $18.95 (Tasted August 9, 2008)

Label notes: This wine has everything going for it – intense grapefruit and rosewater aromas, a little spice and zesty freshness. Because it is off-dry, it pairs well with a variety of foods and is best enjoyed with Asian dishes, vegetarian entrées or roast chicken. Great also as an aperitif, chill lightly and take to parties. My notes: The first Featherstone to be released by Vintages on August 16, 2008. A light golden colour with a nose of light kiwi or at least an appealing perfumed aroma could be ‘grapefruit and rosewater’. Better off chill the flavour is a blend of soft apple, pear, honey tones and a moderate citrus zest, smooth and lasting into a long, off dry, peach seed finish. The texture has a ‘Twenty Mile Bench’ roundness and is lacking the crisp spice of a european gewurz - not 'bad' just different. Serve as a conversation sipper for a buffet social – or as an aperitif with a platter of shellfish nibbles with plum sauce, a chinese banquet or lightly grilled white fish with an orange sauce. A drink now. Ww87

FEATHERSTONE ESTATE BOTTLED UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 13.2% D, #Winery $14.15 (Tasted August 5, 2008)

Winery notes: What does chardonnay taste like when unembroidered by oak? Our estate grown chardonnay has aromas of citrus, sweet apple purée, pear and melon with a rich mouth feel. Clean and crisp, it suggests alfresco summer meals. Can also be enjoyed anytime you just want to think about summer. My notes: A crisp blond colour with aromas of pear, melon and lemon grass - if you sniff hard. Light legs and a flavour of pear and melon with enough smoothness and spicy tang to add interest as well as balance a slight sweetness. Refreshing and holding long enough to confirm the flavours then leave a light spice on the palate - seems as tho’ there’s some semillon in there somewhere. More of a meal white with enough zest to pair with sliced cold chicken on greens, grilled telapia on asparagus spears or a shrimp/scallop penne - was great with a seasoned sliced chicken breast/ mushroom/ pepper/ shallot stir-fry. A drink now and reasonably priced to keep a few cellared for next summer and still not lose the fruit. Ww86

FEATHERSTONE ESTATE BOTTLED SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.8% D, #Winery $17.15

Winery notes: This wine has lots of tropical fruit flavours (lemon, lime and kiwi) with the typical straw and grassy note. Zesty, refreshing and incredibly drinkable. It’s a summer’s day in a glass, full of vitality and spirit. Enjoy slightly chilled with a patio lunch, as pre-dinner sipping or with seafood appetizers. My notes: A ‘sniff hard’ bouquet, mostly of apple sauce with a grassy edge - and reasonable legs when swirled. A smooth texture with a puzzling blend of fruit: initially some green gooseberry shows, then a light lime followed by creamy apple although the flavours never assert themselves until fading quickly to a crushed lemon seed finish. Having with nibbles of seafood spread on breads or a shrimp ring, somewhat mild in flavour, would be interesting or pairing with grilled halibut or cod, not battered, with chips or onion rings. Not for cellaring and could be past peak. Ww80

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