Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 2011 Niagara Trip: 5 Tasted of 5

Faraway Fields
I became a tourist today squeezing in an impromptu visit to three Niagara  wineries: Southbrook, Pillitteri  and Lailey . Along with several buses loaded with tourists my Elantra found room in the spacious parking lots.  Inside each winery there was ample room at the tasting counters for the personal attention of each host.

I had wanted to order one of each of the Pillitteri Exclamation series but found the online ordering level, a case of twelve, outside my budget. I could order a mixed case but twelve times the average is still $300 - $400 plus delivery. The winery did not offer to package a smaller amount so I did without. The remaining alternative was an 80 minute drive, twice 80 for a return trip, to visit several wineries of choice. It was a good driving day and we had nothing else planned as my BH and I set off just after lunch on the middle of the month Thursday. Unfortunately - or fortunately depending on your viewpoint - by this time all of the Exclamation Merlot had been sold to an Asian buyer.

With gas prices the way they are it's unlikely I'll be able to taste many unlisted wines this year. I feel like I'm in no-man's-land, not a tourist - just an unwanted Niagara wine-ooh. I wonder how many of us are out here: restaurant owners, import sippers/amateur tasters, shut-ins, workaholics, single parents, ie. everyday Ontarians that just can't make the trip?

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites and other:

  • Pillitteri Exclamation Cellar Series Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  93-2  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $35.20 
  • Pillitteri Exclamation Cellar Series Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 93-2  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $38.20 

  • Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  91-2  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $21.95  ($18.10 at the LCBO? #172338#117572)
  • Pillitteri Exclamation Series Reserve Chardonnay 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $23.20 

  • Southbrook Connect Organic 2010 Rosé VQA Niagara Peninsula,  88-1  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #168492 $18.95
(O - Winery, r-v - Rating-Value)


SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.1% D, #Winery  $21.95  (Tasted June 24, 2011)
The back label says ‘Made from grapes from our organic and Demeter certified vineyard‘. 162 Cases produced.  My notes:A golden colour on pouring with citrus, mild apple and lees forming a subdued nose. Serve chilled then let go off chill to catch interesting changes. The film flows tears quickly and leaves broken lacework behind. The first sip is silky, on the light side of medium-bodied with a dry nip and muted caramel apple, pineapple flavours. Leaning to process while retaining delicate fruit gives this a refreshing elegance at the start and through to a moderate mineral finish. Seems warmer than 13% - would pair nicely with chicken schnitzel or seafood. Cellaring for several years would likely bring out more caramel - I’d start with four.  91
SOUTHBROOK CONNECT ORGANIC 2010 ROSÉ VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery  $18.95  (Tasted June 30, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 28, 2011 and rated 4 1/2 of 5 (90-93) by Rod Phillips  (April 14, 2011).  The back label claims ‘A smart choice from organically grown grapes.’ and their websites says ‘A fragrant nose of strawberry/rhubarb pie, fresh red raspberry, orange zest and brushed lavender. The palate delivers these same elements, with lively acidity for a refreshing finish.’ 341 Cases produced.  My notes: 100% Cabernet Franc grapes from ‘Niagara Peninsula’ which includes sub appellations outside Niagara-on-the-Lake. A clear-as-crystal crushed strawberry colour with a scent to match adding an equal touch of rhubarb. The film is thin and quickly recedes evenly from its rim. The first sip bursts with the sweetness of mature fruit and ends with a mild tartness - cream persisting throughout. Could be an alternative social sipper offered chilled solo or with a tray of soft cheeses - went very well with an assortment of salty crackers. Distinctly Niagara and a drink now.  88
PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CELLAR SERIES RESERVE  CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 12.0% D, #Winery  $23.20  (Tasted June 24, 2011)
143 Cases produced. My notes:  The colour is a crisp golden and there’s an aroma of mild buttery toffee. The film slides down without breaking to form tears. There’s a spice note to the first sip and a pleasing tang that refreshes then carries into a long finish. A buttery smoothness stays on the tongue while muted flavours of honeydew melon and lemon stay through the finish. A distinct style that has more emphasis on process than fruit.  Sipping would have interest for some - not for all. Went well with Longo’s grilled salmon patties and fresh Ontario asparagus. This may go grassy if cellared a few years - try yearly.  88

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CELLAR SERIES RESERVE  CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.5% D, #Winery  $38.20  (Tasted June 30, 2011)

8694 Cases produced.  My notes:  Take care with the roughness of the beautifully styled bottle - it may scratch table surfaces. By the rosy edge to the light ruby colour there’s a small percentage of Cabernet Franc in this Sauvignon - but the winemaker says not. The black current aroma takes no time to show altho’ more delicate than an Oz or Chilean. The colour is a deep and rich ruby and a swirl brings a modest film forming fast tears. A pleasingly intense blackcurrant and blackberry blend noticeably tart with matching tannins that trail off slowly leaving a metallic edge on delicate woody fruit. An interesting sipper - I’d call it youthful still having room to add more silk - 5+ years. Pair with a tenderloin of beef, rack of lamb or kobe sliders.  93

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CELLAR SERIES RESERVE  CABERNET FRANC 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery  $35.20  (Tasted June 23, 2011)

1111 Cases produced.  My notes: First impressions are of a carbon hued ruby fairly dense in the glass and aromas of red cherries, a slight mushroom and white chocolate gradually filling the bowl. The film appears thin on the sides taking little time to flow fast tears. Silky smooth on the front with some tooth cleaning to start the finish. Tannins, nicely balanced by acids, combine with mild berry flavours then fade slowly ending with a smooth touch drying to the lips. More than polite this has sophistication from the interesting start and then evolving throughout. Sipping or pairing would make good use of this charmer. Have with veal schnitzel and vegetable medley or chorizo and stirfry beef in a white wine sauce and farfalle. Cellaring for several years should add to textures.  93

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