Friday, April 03, 2009

April 2009 Niagara Trip: 8 Tasted of 8

I had the opportunity to visit two wineries this first week of April 2009. Thursday was between rain fronts being sunny and in the low teens, just right for a drive. The traffic on the QEW was busy but moving nicely travelling south of Lake Ontario through several sub-appellations that define the wine region of the Niagara Peninsula to the most easterly end at the Shaw Festival town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Our first stop was Lailey Vineyard located on the Niagara Parkway nearer Queenston. The website describes the start of planting of the twenty acre site in the early 1950’s by the father of the current owners, Donna and David Lailey and continues to describe their horticultural approach and a dedication to winemaking. The twenty acres are planted with French hybrids and viniferous grapes and another three acres, of heavy but well drained clay, by the Niagara River were planted with Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Semillon and Malbec. Staff were super friendly, a tradition of a family owned winery.

From the dozen or so Lailey wines available the following were purchased for more leisurely tasting:
  • Lailey Vineyard Cabernet-Syrah 2006 VQA Niagara River, 91-1 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $30.20
  • Lailey Vineyard Syrah 2007 VQA Niagara River, 80 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $25.20
  • Lailey Vineyard Vidal 2008 VQA Ontario, 92-3 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $12.20*
  • Lailey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 VQA Niagara River, 87 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $20.20

I’m partial to small family wineries so our second stop took us to Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery close by on Concession 6 north of the town of Virgil. From 1957 through to current day the winery history is detailed on their website.
Owners Ken, working in coveralls, and Renate Dyck follow on a grandfather’s passion for viticulture… saying ‘good wine can only come from good grapes’. We also met their daughter Roselyn, Rosie, and son Warren both bringing new ideas to existing vineyards. The winery itself was incorporated in 2006. Instead of producing award winning wines for other Ontario wineries their Riesling, Vidal, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes are now being hand picked to produce their first vintage of Cattail Family Estate labels.
This time of year not only catches early releases of vintage whites but allows for casual tastings as the crowds are not yet driving the Niagara Wine Route. And owners, I sense, welcome the chance to dialogue between the unrelenting pruning and grooming of rows of vines.
From the wines available at the winery we purchased the following for tasting at home:
  • Cattail Creek Dry Riesling 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 92-3 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $15.20
  • Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musqué 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 90-2 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $17.20
  • Cattail Creek Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88-1 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $19.20
  • Cattail Creek Serendipity Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 82 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $14.20
Then on to the Old Winery Restaurant where the best thin crust pizzas, super sliced steak open face sandwiches and steamed mussels with rice and vegetables are freshly served. 
When a wine has been tasted it will appear in bold and resequenced by rating. Cheers, Ww
LAILEY CABERNET-SYRAH 2006 VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery $30.20 (Tasted April 21, 2009)
Described as “… quite spicy and peppery, with black and green pepper, currants and smoky oak. … mid-weight, lean but fairly compact and dense and smooth. Huge spicy clove and pepper finish. Excellent length. …( D. Lawrason).” My notes: Airing for thirty minutes changes a Brett-like aroma from barn to earthy complementing a red cherry and black pepper nose - OK, if not delectable. A lightish medium-body red having a metallic black cherry flavour edged with a light pepper all lasting through a long finish. This ends bright and dry while retaining some smoothness and I detected no sweetness. Drinking young now this should cellar well for up to four years. Have with pepper steak or rosemary’d rack of lamb, braised back ribs or fried chorizo sausage with whole wheat linguine. For better value, cellar rather than drink now imho. 91 
LAILEY SYRAH 2007 VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted April 16, 2009) 
Described as “… characteristic peppery and meaty character …. Alongside appealing blueberry and blackberry notes. …. Rich and polished…. balanced acidity and cool climate definition. …. (4½ of 5, Christopher Waters).” My notes: A purple glint to a dense ruby colour and, after thirty minutes breathing to dissipate a Brett-like aroma, there’s a fragrance of blackberries and equal parts black pepper. On the way to being full-bodied there is a clean metallic edge to initial flavours of blackberries then through a long finish that includes fine tannins and spice. The texture is smooth almost masked by the tart seam. If ‘cool climate’ means a metallic side to unripe fruit with prominent acid this is it. Have with prime rib or full flavoured stews, ribs or steaks. Perhaps several years in the cellar will softened sufficiently to meet the '4½ of 5' but not now. 80
LAILEY VIDAL 2008 VQA Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery $12.20* (Tasted April 21, 2009) 
My notes: *The price at early release is $12 down from its regular price of $14. There is a glint of honey in the colour and in the nose. The spice of meadow flowers makes this a pleasing sipper with the first sip carrying the spice, green apple and suspicion of sweetness through to a long crisp finish. Serve this chilled at any family or social gathering and the price, pre-release or regular, allows you to be liberal. Should be OK with fresh oysters or warmed crab cakes then on to freshwater fishes grilled on slow coals. Delectable! 92
LAILEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007 VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery $20.20 (Tasted April 20, 2009) 
Described as “Coconut and vanilla notes accent the aromas on this elegant and expressive Sauvignon Blanc. The French treatment also enhances the texture and length of the wine. … a softer, fresher style … that will appeal… (4 of 5, Christopher Waters).” My notes: There’s little about this resembling a kiwi savvy. This should be served slightly off chill for a nose of delicate coconut and vanilla, worth waiting for. The colour is a light blond and a swirl leads to a thin film, fast tears, Iight in body and flavour but long in finish with a tinge of vanilla and a warm sensation on the palate. A pleasing sipper and the acid level is enough to match most finger foods or a lightly seasoned pork tenderloin, cold chicken breast sliced on greens dressing or scallop pieces in a creamy pasta. A drink now. 87
CATTAIL CREEK DRY RIESLING 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery $15.20 (Tasted April 12, 2009)
Described on the back label as “Brimming with refreshing flavours of white grapefruit and lemon, … has crisp acidity and a lingering finish. Great as an aperitif or with salads, roasted turkey, glazed ham, shellfish, soft rind cheeses and sushi. Drink now or age up to 3 years.” [and] ‘180 cases made‘. My notes: This has a light gold colour and aromas of lanolin and lemon, very appealing… and I believe it would cellar for three years bringing more complexity. Has a kerosene tinge to flavours of lemon, pear and apple and a long flavourful finish. Medium-bodied with well balanced tartness so the natural sugars aren’t noticeable. An excellent aperitif or with fresh oysters, crab cakes or mussels in a light oil broth. A bargain for a riesling of this character. 92
CATTAIL CREEK BARREL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery $19.20 (Tasted April 9, 2009) 
Described by the winery as “Caramel, ripe apple and pear intermingled with vanilla and toasted oak. 191 cases made.” My notes: A light gold colour with a touch of tangy butterscotch in the nose. The first sip has a delicate creaminess layered with nippy acid then a flavour of apple/pear takes over leading to a long fresh mineral edged finish. A meal white and definitely an oaked chardonnay with enough tang to pair with planked salmon or grilled chicken breast with herbed rice. Grilled scallops and brown rice did not have the flavour to balance this white. Cellaring for a few years should be OK and may integrate textures bringing out more cream - very young at present. 88
CATTAIL CREEK CHARDONNAY MUSQÉ 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery $17.20 (Tasted April 4, 2009) 
Described by the winery as “… a wine with ripe apple, rose, orange blossom and peach with just a hint of spice. 147 cases made.“ My notes: A light golden colour with aromas of apple, citrus and a touch of spice - let go off chill slightly for more blossom fragrance. This is clean and refreshing from the first sip with more apple and a soft citrus flavours that carry through to a long bright finish. Any sweetness is balanced by the crisp acidity possibly showing in a slight roundness - it comes across as extra dry. An excellent aperitif or sipper with fresh oysters, light seafood, fowl or mushroom finger foods, something with a contrasting but not spicy flavour. Have with steamed mussels, freshwater fishes, lobster dishes or Asian. Cellaring may be OK but I’d try a year at a time. 90
CATTAIL CREEK SERENDIPITY ROSÉ 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery $14.20 (Tasted April 18, 2009) 
Described by the winery as “… flavours of strawberries, raspberries and just a touch of spice. 236 cases made.” and “ a wine with ripe apple, rose, orange blossom and peach with just a hint of spice. 147 cases made.“ My notes: This has a peach tone making this a mid strawberry colour and has a delicate red cherry and stone fruit aroma that needs time to develop in the bowl - let breathe several minutes for optimum sniffing. Off chill, the first sip comes as a surprise coming with just a touch of sweetness, a watermelon accent then quickly switches to a dry finish of mild cranberry and stone fruit. A pleasing sipper as a hot summer appetizer or have with finger foods, a veggie tray and cream dips, mild cheeses, mild sausage pieces or pair with light sushi fare. A drink now reasonably priced for any patio gathering. 82

No comments: