Monday, June 01, 2009

June 2009 Niagara Trip: 10 Tasted of 10

The weather was sunny with very cool high winds. Recent rainfall gave a lustrous look to every green thing - perfect for an interesting drive along the quiet, meandering Niagara Wine Route.

I had just downloaded and printed the Shopping List for Vintages June 6th release and noticed several bottles from an artisan winery new to me: Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery. Fifteen acres of forty are the Renaceau vineyards on the gradual slope of Mountainview Road as it climbs the Niagara Escarpment on the Beamsville Bench. Planted with viniferous grapes in 2003 the vines are producing crops for Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Semillon VQA varietal and blended wines. The spring of 2008 marked the first releases of the 2006 vintage wines - around 1700 cases. Natalie Spytkowsky, the winemaker, is from neighbouring Angels Gate Winery while the Roman family tends everything else.
  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Chardonnay Reserve 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 94-3  -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $25.20
  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Riesling Reserve 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 94-3  -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $25.20
  • Rosewood Estates Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86 -- V, Beamsville, Canada, #112169 $17.95
  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Trois Femmes Rosé 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, 86 -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $18.20
  • Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 84 -- V, Beamsville, Canada, #112177 $17.95
  • Rosewood Estates Gewurztraminer 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 83 -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $18.20

During the same week I received a Newsletter from Calamus Estate Winery, an artisan winery visited for the first time last October. The e.mail announced the release of two whites, a 2008 vintage of our favourite 2007, their Pinot Gris, and their 2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. We quickly planned a trip and weren’t disappointed.

Most of the wines listed below were brought home from the wineries for a more leisurely tasting while two were purchased from Vintages June 6th release. Those tasted will be resequenced by rating and shown in bold. Cheers, Ww
  • Calamus Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-3 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $15.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery ‘Vinemount Ridge’ Riesling 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89-1 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $17.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery ‘Barrel Aged’ Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $17.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery ‘Half Penny’ Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $13.20
(r-v - Rating-Value)


ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ TROIS FEMMES ROSÉ 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #Winery $18.20 (Tasted June 6, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Rich in mouth-feel, yet surprisingly dry with balanced acidity. Our 100% saignée Merlot Rosé presents us with strawberry jam and fresh wild raspberries… lip-smacking... Enjoy this … with grilled Cajun shrimp, pork medallions, gourmet pizza and summer salads.” My notes: This has a pleasing-to-the-eye peach tone. The nose is a delicate almost ripe strawberry with a touch of ginger, not distinctive but there. The first sip leaves a roundness on the lips and a light flavour of strawberry tinged with raspberry. Have as a summer sipper for its dry berry medley and moderate finish. Pair with seafood as a dry white alternative. May cellar as long as a year but basically a summer drink now. 86

ROSEWOOD ESTATES GEWURZTRAMINER 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #Winery $18.20 (Tasted June 27, 2009)

My notes: This has a clean light golden colour and an aroma of honey, a tinge of wildflowers and, fortunately faint, a scent of must. The honey goes forward to the first sip giving flavours of peas and green apple a silky texture. On top is a seam of spice and acid. Finishing with mostly spice and delicate peas/apple mix in the background this is an unusual sipper. A mix of grapes from various Benches may have confused my buds. Overall it's not a gewurz I'd have in for friends. 83

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ RIESLING RESERVE 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 12.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted June 17, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Created in a classic off-dry style… cold fermented in 100% stainless steel tanks to maintain its varietal character. The bursting intensity of mineral, lime and citrus notes on the nose lures you to the palate layered with vibrant and refreshing acidity where a touch of citrus fruit zest teases your mouth. Drink now or cellar for the next 5 years.” My notes: Rosewood Estate’s 2006 Riesling (#112698 @ $17.95) was released by Vintages on June 6th whereas this 2007 Reserve Riesling was purchased on our visit to the winery. A very delicate aroma, perhaps of wild flowers, and a very light blond in the glass builds anticipation of the first sip to determine the character of this riesling. Crisp, dry, chalky edged, assertive lime and lemon flavours all following through in a long mineral tinged finish makes this very interesting. Refreshing to the end and suitable for anyone looking for a summer cooler with a polite tang. Have by itself, with fresh oysters or pair with whitefish entrées and quaff with bacon on a bun or lobster pieces cold or hot - a very flexible riesling. Drinking well now but could cellar for several years. 94

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 14.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted June 30, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Our 3 barrels were aged sur lie in premium French oak barrels for 10 months. The malolactic fermentation was stopped half-way which allows the wine to maintain the clean citrus characteristics of the Renaceau vineyard. Developing notes of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla framed by just enough acidity makes this wine a perfect pairing to veal, pork tenderloin and pasta dishes with cream sauce. Drink now or cellar for 5 years.” My notes: The ‘Reserve’ on the label makes a difference of $6.75 from #112151 @ $18.45 in Vintages June 6th release. The light blond colour carries just detectable aromas of the French oak treatment. The film is light and tears develop and flow quickly. The first sip grabs the buds and layers them with faint flavours of quince and butterscotch both silky textured. Closer to a Chablis than a Meursault but really reflecting the terroir of the Renaceau vineyard and a ’Rosewood’ style, perfectly blending process with fruit. The finish is long, delicate, full of butter with some citrus leanings. Quite sip-able now and will likely mature nicely over the next several years. Have with shellfish or regular fishes, not too seasoned so as to complement the delicate nature of this chardonnay. 94

ROSEWOOD ESTATES PINOT NOIR 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #112177 $17.95 (Tasted June 9, 2009)

A Vintages release on June 6, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by local reviewer John Szabo M.S. (undated) as “Fruit from the Wismer Vineyard. Clean, fresh, fruity, nice potential. Dry, fullish, lots of baby fat, smooth, silky tannins/texture, great depth. If it continues on this road this will be an exceptional value. Just a light filtration before bottling.” And another local, Gord Stimmell, gives it 90/100 saying “... it has lovely beetroot, strawberry and cherry aromas. And rootsy cherry and earthy wild berry flavours. A solid pinot for less than $20.” My notes: The sticker on the bottle says this is a gold medal winner at the 2008 Canadian Wine Awards. The colour is a slate ruby and the thin film leaves light tears on the glass. After airing for twenty minutes the nose is negligible, a soft beetroot, and a sip follows through with this theme: beetroot, wild strawberry and earth, faint and in equal portions. The texture is silky, nicely balanced with fine tannins giving the finish some length. This is likely referred to as ‘Burgundian‘. Cellaring for two years may add more character - don’t think so tho’. Passable with prime rib, hamburgers or meaty pizzas. 84

ROSEWOOD ESTATES SEMILLON/SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #112169 $17.95 (Tasted June 11, 2009)

A Vintages release on June 6, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by local reviewer John Szabo M.S. (undated) as “Clear, sharper, more piercing aromatics than the 2006, seems to be a little more green fruit: green apple, seems more sauvignon-dominated (though only 23% overall). Dry, fullish, intense ripe, acidulated tropical fruit emerges on the palate, pineapple, kiwi, grapefruit. Long finish. Great new world.” My notes: A light golden blond colour with soft aromas of saffron and honey. The first sip introduces some sweetness to a dry lining of delicate citrus and quince setting off the flavours. Passionfruit and gooseberry are noted by their absence. The finish is drying with citrus remaining to refresh the palate. Have with light finger foods or as a before and after sipper when the finish can build. Pairing with freshwater fish or grilled scallops on basmati rice should be OK. A drink now. 86

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY ‘VINEMOUNT RIDGE’ RIESLING 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 11.8% D, #Winery, $17.20 (Tasted June 16, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Grown on the escarpment of the Niagara sub-appellation Vinemount Ridge, our 2007 Riesling exhibits classic citrus and fruit flavours. Pair it with steamed mussels, baked ham or pasta with cheese sauce.” My notes: There’s a light mineral aspect to the nose to let you know it’s riesling. The colour is a light golden, crisp and clear. Served well chilled the first sip refreshes as flavours of faint honey, lime and apple blend together, a combination to cleanse the palate. The finish has only a suspicion of sweetness being basically dry with a silky seam of green apple and honey. Have with fresh oysters, mildly spicy mussels or a scallop or shrimp pasta dish. Drinking well now and could cellar for a few years. 89

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY PINOT GRIS 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 12.2% D, #Winery $15.20 (Tasted June 2, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Pinot Gris has become a signature wine for Calamus. Our 2008 was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. It shows lightly honeyed peach and apricot flavours, with tart acidity and a light minerality on the finish. Try it with grilled jumbo shrimps or smoked salmon.” My notes: The 2008 shows crystal clear tinged a delicate gold in the glass - no peach that I could see. The nose is of fresh apricots when just off chill and the first sip has a natural peach stone flavour with the apricots still showing in a long finish. A moderate acid balances a suspicion of natural sweetness altho’ the finish comes across as a touch of dry clay. This was perfect with fresh fiddleheads and shallots accompanying a grilled chicken breast filled with spinach and feta with sweet potato fries. Cellaring for a few years shouldn’t be a problem. A value PG. 92

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY ‘HALF PENNY’ ROSÉ 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 12.4% D, #Winery, $13.20 (Tasted June 7, 2009)


Described by the Winery as “Our 2007 rosé is a masterful blend of select wines from a stellar vintage; ruby coloured with notes of cranberry and ripe raspberry. It is crisp and clean with soft tannins and medium acuity. Try it as an aperitif or pair with turkey, ham or fish. Also try with vegetarian dishes, light cheeses or Asian inspired teriyaki or mild curries. The wine is a blend of 25% Pinot Gris, 30% Gewürztraminer, 20% Riesling, 20% Chardonnay, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.” My notes: I refer to a blending of whites and adding a red for tinting a `faux rosé`. Not that this should detract from enjoyment of the resulting rosé but to distinguish this method from saignée in which red grape skins remain for a few days for colouring. The shade in this case is a delicate peachy pink and the nose has a slight peach stone base edged with the mineral hint of clay. Crisp and dry, having the nip and flavour of almost ripe berries and a finish that quickly goes from fruit to dry bramble. Fairly shallow as a sipper losing appeal after a glass altho could be a summer sipper for its refreshing dryness. Ignore the shading and pair as an alternative dry white for sea food or white fowl dishes. 82

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY ‘BARREL AGED’ CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 12.6% D, #Winery, $17.20 (Tasted June 30, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “The 2007 Vintage was a spectacular one in Niagara with wines presenting excellent extraction and complexity – a vintage to remember. Our Chardonnay was aged 18 months in French oak barrels and shows notes of spice, caramel and subtle fruit.” My notes: This has a crisp blond colour and aromas of delicate pear blossom and faint vanilla needing time to develop in the bowl - air twenty minutes or serve just a bit off chill. The film is firm with slow legs and the first sip shows equal parts grassy spice, sour apple and butterscotch. Better to have with a cold buffet than sip by itself altho‘ the unique style could be appealing to some. The finish is soft, balanced on the tangy side and fairly long. There is a touch of French oak and lime but the fruit I’d say is too indistinct to maintain a presence. Flavours did not go well with bbq’d pineapple and shrimp skewers and soy’d brown rice - have with freshwater fish and plain rice dishes. Rather than drink now lay down for three years to see where it goes. 84

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