Sunday, October 26, 2008

Calamus Estate Wines: 6 Tasted of 6

The route to Calamus Estate Winery, especially with brilliant October colours, meanders attractively on the slope of the Niagara escarpment. We went south from Vineland on Victoria Avenue just past Featherstone Estate Winery then left on Sixth Avenue through Ball’s Falls and a slow right onto Glenn Road, a short connecting road from 6th Avenue to 19th Street. A matter of convenience in assigning boundary lines locates Calamus as the only winery in the most southerly sub appellation of Vinemount Ridge, however ~21 of 42 acres on the Ball’s Falls property is cultivated for vines in the terroir of Twenty Mile Bench. The second Calamus vineyard, Bartlett Creek, with ~11 of 14 acres planted with vines, is at the western end of the Beamsville Bench. So far the labels carry the less specific but more prevalent VQA designation of 'Niagara Peninsula'.

From their website: “The varietal breakdown is: 8 acres of Chardonnay, 7 acres of Riesling, 3.5 acres Pinot Gris, 3.5 acres Gewürztraminer, and .5 acre Vidal in whites, with 5 acres Cabernet Franc, 3 acres Cabernet Sauvignon and 1.5 acres Merlot in red grapes and a small amount of Pinot Noir.”
Calamus has a capacity of 8500 cases.

The Ball’s Falls site is quite a work in progress. Extensions to the original dairy barn still show new timbers while inside the tasting room fourteen inch ceiling joists show the marks of their previous owners, telephone repairmen. Well restored the tasting room comfortably serves samples of the 2006 and 2007 vintages. Outside, a portable bottling operation was quickly producing cases of their rosé and meritage wines to be available the next day.

The Calamus wine list shows those available for our tasting. We brought away the X’d whites so we could spend some leisure with them along side a home cooked meal or two.

It was ‘worth the drive to Vineland’ to sample their hospitality and to experience a Winery in the making. If planning a visit to the Niagara Peninsula and to Calamus the Twenty Valley website is an excellent place to start.
When tasted each wine will appear in bold below.
Cheers, Ww


CALAMUS GEWURZTRAMINER 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.6% D, #Winery, $13.20 (Tasted October 28, 2008)

Winery notes: Unique aroma of lychee nut, apricot & peach. Flavours of floral rose petal & spice with a lovely long finish. Try with fresh fruit, smoked salmon or Asian cuisine. (RP90-93, Winepointer #17). My notes: A tinge of gold in the glass and a light fragrance of honey and wild floral. If served chilled let go slightly off chill for a smooth texture and flavouring of spice, apricot and crushed stone fruit, medium-bodied The finish is long with a buttery edge and lasting spice and stone fruit flavours. An interesting sipper for an afternoon on a sunny patio with a tray of cheeses and fruit. Pair with grilled whitefish, Chinese fare, or even proscuitto wrapped asparagus. A drink now. Ww89

CALAMUS PINOT GRIS 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.2% D, #Winery, $15.20 (Tasted November 2, 2008)

Winery notes: All Canadian Wine Championships 2008 Silver Medal. All about balance. Rich fruit & crisp acidity. Refreshing attack to clean finish. Delicious for sipping & dining… Rod Phillips (RP87-89, Winepointer #6). My notes: Shows as a crystal clear, pale gold tinged a delicate peach in a tulip glass - very appealing. Just off chill the fragrance is also delicate, I’d say a peach fuzz or stone fruit tone followed by flavours of fresh apricot. I’d swear there’s some sweetness, but it’s only a suspicion, in the long finish. A lightly tart sipper by itself or with bacon wrapped scallops, crab or lobster, fresh oysters or pair with grilled telapia done in a tomato and pepper sauce. An elegant white for the dinner table. Ww90

CALAMUS WHITE 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.3% D, #Winery, $12.20 (Tasted November 2, 2008)

Winery notes: Lovely versatile blend of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. Great balance of fruit & acidity with a long full finish. Sip on its own or serve with light savoury dishes. (RP87-89, Winepointer #17). My notes: A pale blond colour with almost imperceptible aromas, I’d say a fruit blossom and spice combination. The texture is nicely rounded with flavours that hint at green apple without a full tartness but balanced with a mild sweetness. The fullness in the finish fades slowly leaving a dry apple seed pithiness until the next sip. For me and as a sole sipper this has an unusual flavour blend - didn’t pair with either apple or bosc pear slices or cheeses from edam, aged cheddar to bella blu… might go well with mussels in a curry sauce or a chorizo and mushroom pie. A drink now. Ww85

CALAMUS RIESLING 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.0% D, #Winery, $16.20 (Tasted October 30, 2008)
Winery notes: Luscious fruity, just off dry speaks to the quality of the 2007 vintage. The flavours ripe & elegant mesh with crisp acidity. Rod Phillips, (RP87-89, Winepointer #6). My notes: A very slight lanolin and lemon bouquet and pale golden colour - must be off chill for best sniffing. ‘Mesh with crisp acidity’ is right on, the hint of sweetness being well masked by a bright accent to delicate nutty flavours. Not a demonstrative riesling making this for anyone looking for a refreshing sipper. Nicely rounded and leaves a clean reminder on the palate. Have with seafood appetizers or with mild cheeses. Pair with sole, pickerel or lobster pieces. Cellaring a short time, two years, may bring out some highlights not yet developed. Ww87

CALAMUS VIDAL 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.3% D, #Winery, $11.20 (Tasted October 29, 2008)

Winery notes: Tropical fruit nose and delicate floral notes. Slightly sweet finish. My notes: A pale golden blond colour and having the faintly sweet fragrance of lemon blossoms. The first sip shows a smooth texture and polite nip followed by flavours of sweet grapefruit with a slight stone fruit tone, medium-bodied. The long finish reveals a touch of sweetness with soft flavours that fade slowly. A sociable sipper - as an aperitif or with fresh oysters or a dim sum luncheon. Pair with freshwater fish, Asian fare or oysters Rockefeller. A straight forward drink now and a value for an off-dry house white. Ww85

CALAMUS VIDAL ICE WINE 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 11.6% D, #Winery , 200ml $20.20 (Tasted November 3, 2008)

Winery notes: Wonderful… honey, apricot and apple pie texture….. It’s delicious. Lynn Ogryzlo, Niagara Express, Nov. ‘07. My notes: An elixir the colour of a fine brandy and aromas of honeyed bosc pear. I prefer to use a wide necked amarula glass so my nose can almost touch the surface. A high viscosity gives a smooth texture and slight acid a sharp edge to an otherwise concentrated pure fruit juice. Finishes moderately long leaving a brightness behind. Have with a fruit tray or pour over mango gelato for a treat. Cellaring for four to eight years will likely add caramel tones. I’d say the sugar code is between 6 and 8. Save for an occasion and crowd that is looking for a special addition to a fruity dessert. Ww94

(RP - Rod Phillips)

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