Winery review: Del-Gatto Estates, Prince Edward County, Ontario

November 30, 2011

Del-Gatto Estates Winery

In the morning of August 2nd, we visited Del-Gatto Estates Winery, located in Cape Vesey, in the eastern part of Prince Edward County, Ontario.

It should remain the only winery in the East of the island we had a chance to visit because of time constraints.

The tasting shed looked a bit lost but was easy to find.

Del Gatto Estate is a family business which was established by Pat and Heidi Del-Gatto in 2002. The land was purchased a year earlier. On about 6 acres various grape varieties were planted.

Vinifera grapes have a hard time under the harsh climatic conditions found in this part of Canada. Therefore, Pat planted mostly hybrid varieties. Among them are the whites Vidal Blanc, Geisenheim (GM322), Chardonnay, Traminette, Frontenac Gris and Seyval Blanc. The red varieties include St. Croix, Leon Millot, Baco Noir, and Frontenac.

The Del-Gatto vision is “to create quality, hand crafted and distinctive, affordable wines”.

The cellar door with the Italian flag

Inside the tasting shed

Tasting two rosé wines, one three hours the other three days on lees

We tried the Vidal and two rosé varieties as well as the Cabernet Franc. All of the wines were quite distinct from what we had tasted so far. The hybrid varieties make interesting wines, usually with high acidity, a modest fruitiness, a medium body and a not too long finish. It takes a while to get used to their distinct taste but after that….it’s lovely all the way.

Since we could not take many bottles on the plane back to Europe, we decided to buy only two: the Vidal and the Cabernet Franc. The former we consumed with out friends Dominik and Kymm in Stratford, the latter we took back to Bangkok.

New plantings

On the back of the tasting shed, some of the vineyards are located. We found the newly planted lot next to a well established in the photo one below.

The stony soils are not very deep but mineral rich. Rare Waipoos and Solmesville clays are found in this part of the island. Also terroir and climate are very different in the East of Prince Edward County.

We learned that hybrid varieties do not have to be buried in the ground during the ice cold winter, which is also called “hilling” (covering the vines with soil). This saves about 5000 $ per ha. However, vinifera varieties have to undergo this procedure. The de-hilling takes place at the end of April. It is very labour intensive work.

The annual production at Del-Gatto Estate is about 400-500 cases.

Hybrid grape varieties

Young grapes on the vines

A bottle of Vidal

Back label

The 2010 Vidal

The cellar door staff was very friendly and helpful. We loved this place, despite the little blandness of the surroundings. The exploration of the Eastern part of Prince Edward County was truely enjoyable. You should see for yourself.

Address:
Del Gatto Estates Winery
Bella Vigne
3609 County Road 8
Picton, Ontario
K0K 2T0
Te: +1-613-476-8198
email: info@del-gattoestates.ca
www.del-gattoestates.ca


Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, Prince Edward County, Ontario

August 20, 2011

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Factory

On our second day at Prince Edward County, Ontario we went to the east side of the island to explore the scenery and to visit a winery (Del Gatto Estates Winery) and the cheese factory of which we had heard so much of.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Factory cheeses have an extremely good reputation. The company produces cheeses made of goats, sheep and cows milk. Rumor has it that the company reached its five year target after the first year!

It was the second of August, the sky was blue and we were in euphoric holiday mode. The drive to this most eastern place on Prince Edward County through the lush country side was very pleasant.

A fancy assembly place

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Factory is a division of Cressy Gourmet Investments, which is an incorporated and privately owned environmentally and “socially responsible” enterprise. The company has won many environmental awards for energy efficiency but also for its cheeses.

A veggie garden in front of the factory

Boards explaining the energy efficiency

…and the building material used

Peeping into the factory where the cheeses are made

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company won 5 of 21 awards given to Ontario dairies at the recently held American Cheese Society 2011 Annual Cheese Competition held in Montréal. Winning cheeses were as follows:

“1. Fellowship – 2nd – International style, open sheep and mixed milk
2. 1yr old Premium Goat Cheddar – 2nd – aged cheddar between 12 & 24 months, all milks
3. Premium Goat Cheddar – 3rd – cheddar from goat milk, aged less than 12 months
4. Rose Haus – 3rd – washed rind open category made from cow milk
5. Cape Vessey – 3rd – washed rind open category made from goat milk”, says the FT website.

Cheese tasting

Our booty

We could not resist buying a few cheeses (for about 90 Canadian dollars), some of them we should enjoy with our hosts in Stratford, others we took back to Germany.

The factory is a good place to visit at the island. You should not miss it when visiting Prince Edward County in Ontario.

Address
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
4309 County Road #8
Picton, Ontario, Canada K0K 2T0
Tel: +1-613-476-5755
Fax: +1-613-476-5855
email: ft_info@fifthtown.ca
www.fifthtown.ca

The map how to get there:

Source:http://www.fifthtown.ca/artisan_cheese/visit/directions_map/


Winery review – Black Prince Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario

August 18, 2011

The Black Prince Winery in Picton

The Black Prince Winery was the first winery we visited after our arrival in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario. We came by car on road number 33 from Kingston crossing by ferry to the “island” respectively the peninsula. The ferry ride was somehow a bit romantic and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

The tourist information office in the picturesque town of Picton was our aim. Quickly we found our bed and breakfast accommodation called “Saraswati” which doubles as a cancer and naturopathic care centre. The two guys in this office were extremely helpful.

After we had dropped off our stuff at Saraswati, we had some free time on our fingertips. We used it for a quick winery visit before dinner. The only winery in Picton is the Black Prince.

The vineyards were planted in 2000 and the winery opened in 2003. At that time only two other vineyards were operational in Prince Edward County.

Cellar door entry to the Black Prince

“Total terroir, local grapes, local barrels, local wine located in the heart of beautiful Prince Edward County”, is the motto of this winery.

Where does the name come from?

The search for an appropriate name lead the owners to research the “Edwardians”. One of them was the Black Prince. He was the eldest son of Edward III, and became a legend in his own lifetime. “He was one of the most successful commanders during the 100 years war and a model of chivalry and courtesy”, says the winery’s website. Since he also ruled over parts of Aquitaine, which included Bordeaux, his connection to wine was obvious and he qualified as name giver.

Lots of wine is displayed in the tasting room

We tasted two flights (three wines) of whites and one of reds. The whites included a 2010 Vidal, a 2007 Gewuerztraminer, 2008 Chardonnay, and a Pinot Gris. The reds were a Baco Nero, a 2009 Cabernet Franc, and a 2009 Merlot.

We liked the Merlot best. It had very nice aromas of cherries, was fruity, and medium bodied. The previous vintage of the Merlot was an award winner. At 17.75 C$ is seemed modestly priced for Canada.

We bought the Vidal, a frost resistant hybrid variety widely planted to produce ‘Icewines’ in Canada, the Gewuerztraminer and the Cabernet Franc as well as a bottle of Merlot. More about the Vidal another time.

Because the staff in the tasting room was so friendly we bought a few bottles. We had a great chat with the lady behind the counter and were very enchanted when we left the place. This was a great start to our Prince Edward County wine tasting tour.

I highly recommend visiting the Black Prince.

Address:
The Black Prince Winery
13370 Loyalist Parkway,
Highway #33,
Picton, Ontario
Canada K0K 2T0
Tel: +1-613-476-4888
Fax: +1-613-476-0075
Toll Free: 1-866-470-9463
www.blackprincewinery.com


Boxing day with wine from Canada: 2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah

December 28, 2012

Marynissen Syrah

2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah

We had Canadian friends over for boxing day lunch. They had come from Beijing (where they now live and work) and were on holidays in the kingdom. It was a wonderful opportunity for a reunion, and we made the most of it.

I had prepared various meets on my barbecue (on my Weber, also from Canada): large chunks of beef and pork skewers. It was easy to select the wine.

The bottle of ‘2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah’ from Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario was just the right stuff.

I had only this one bottle which was hand carried all the way from Ontario, then stored in my mothers house in Trier for a while, until I had space in my suitcase to carry it to Bangkok.

In short: this was a true rarity.

Marynissen Syrah 2

2007 Syrah by Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake

When we visited Canada two years ago, we had also visited some wineries in Prince Edward County as well as near the Niagara falls. Marynissen Estates was one of the latter.

You can look up my archives of the Man from Mosel River where you will find reviews of Del Gatto Estates Winery, Closson Chase Vineyards, Huff Estate and The Grange of Prince Edward County Estates. My glands go berserk when these names come over my tongue.

Marynissen Syrah 3

The back label

2007 was a ripper of a vintage in Ontario with little rain and many dry and sunny days.

I do not know if I could taste all what is written up here on the back label. The wine is definitely a Rhone style wine. The colour is a very dark and beautiful deep red.

It stinks when you catch the first whiff with your nose. Burned tire aromas come to mind. But when you got used to that, it is the most beautiful drop of red you can imagine. Smooth and full, intensive dark fruit. I wish more wines were made that way.

My experience is that you cannot get Canadian wines outside Canada. The only exception is ice wine which is offered in duty free shops in airports, mostly from Inniskillin Wines.

But if you happen to know where to get Canadian wines in Thailand, please let me know.

The wine regions of Canada are certainly worth a visit.

Address:
Marynissen Estates
1209 Concession 1
RR#6,
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Ontario, Canada L0S 1J0
Tel: +1-905-468-7270
Fax: +1-905-468-5784
info@marynissen.com
www.marynissen.com


My life as a blogger – good bye 2011

December 15, 2011

I am terribly frustrated right now. Sorry folks. After traveling in China where there is no access to my blogging site, wordpress.com, I have finally reached free Mongolia. I was looking forward to finalize and present a couple of stories to you which I carry with me since our holidays in Canada and wanted to share with you some notes on the excellent wines I brought back with me.

However, the internet in the hotel is so slow that I can hardly up-date my beloved the Man from Mosel River blog. At least the photos cannot be uploaded and what’s the point without them?

Alas, the other functions seem to work. So let me share some thoughts about the year which is soon coming to an end. 2011 was a very busy year for me. My job required more and more traveling, mostly in Asia. This brought me to interesting places. That was the good news. But it also left me less time on my hands for writing up my posts.

In the past, I usually had some time for further research and consequently could beef up my little stories with some additional facts and figures. These times are over, it seems. My stories are becoming shorter and shorter. I try to make up for this by adding more pictures. But is this a solution? No.

I noticed with surprise that I have almost completed my 5th year as a blogger. There were occasions when I wanted to call it a day and move on, do other things in my life. So far I have returned to my blog and tried my best to keep it up. Giving up is not an issue any more. I might have to change a few things.

When I visit blogs and websites produced by the professional wine and food writers I feel utterly inadequate. Goodness me, how poor is my writing, how limited my knowledge? I should add fancy stuff, little video clips here and there. In fact I do have some, but just not the time to cut and edit them so that they become interesting. But I enjoy visiting blogs of other, non-professionals but enthusiastic wine bloggers.

My own little vineyard in Australia, Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn, was not successful from a commercial point of view. It has become a hobby, an expensive one, I freely admit. But we are hanging in there and hope that the mothballing can one day be lifted.

Well, I was warned. You all know the joke, how to make a million dollars in the wine industry: invest ten million. Well, we sold out our 2004 vintage of Merlot, the best one we ever made. The 2006 vintage is doomed, it seems. We might “resurrect” the 2008 Merlot; finally label the bottles and bring some on their way to Germany.

My feelings of the running hamster in the wheel were mitigated by the moments of glory, the moments when I sat and enjoyed good food and fine wine, among friends and family mostly or at times in a far away place all by myself. I just love to eat and drink fine stuff.

The comments I receive are of course also encouraging. It seems that some people are reading my stuff. Some of them like what I write and let me know about this. My stats are not bad in my view. I have moved up all the time over the last five years.

So what was my highlight of 2011? Let me select three issues.

1. the Rieslings from my native Mosel land
I had the opportunity to taste more fine Riesling wines from the Mosel, the Saar and the Ruwer, and actually I cannot get enough of them. They are the best for me, no doubt. The quality of these wines has gone up over the last years. The producers experienced one excellent vintage after the other. It is such a pleasure to indulge in these wines. Unfortunately, these wines are difficult to get where I live. Since wine is heavy I carry these Rieslings bottle by bottle when returning from trips to Germany.

2. my visit to Prince Edward County, Ontario and Canadian wines in general
The family vacation to Canada in July this year gave me the opportunity to explore some of the wine regions there, particularly Prince Edward County. I was very surprised by the high quality of these wines, especially the Chardonnays and the Pinot Noirs. The islands is very picturesque, the hospitality of its people is great, there is good food and excellent wines. the number of wineries is sizable but many of them are family businesses and not agro-industrial complexes of huge size. But Canadian wines you cannot get hold of overseas, except maybe for the sweet desert wines on offer in some airport duty free shops.

3. the attendance of my first ever wine conference, the 3rd international symposium on tropical wine in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is more famous for its beaches, its cuisine and its nightlife than its fine wines. But let me tell you that the quality of its wines in general is very good and that many wines are just excellent. There are fewer than 10 wineries in the country, and not all of them have a resident wine-maker. But the people behind the wines, the vintners, winery owners, vineyard managers and oenologist, are passionately loving their soils and grapes and produce wines of international standards. The number of international awards won by Thai wines has multiplied in 2011. The good news is, that these wines are available in Bangkok where I live.

Next Monday morning I will be on my flight to Melbourne for a three week Christmas vacation. I already know that instead of blogging I will spend most of my time on the farm, in the vineyard, planting trees (one of my passions) and enjoy the tranquility of the Victorian countryside. I will take long walks, and spend hours among family and friends. I will just be there and relax. I will not think too much of the future of my little vineyard neither of my professional future.

I would like to thank all my readers and the casual visitors for coming by and having a look. I hope you come again. Let me know if you like or dislike something and share with me your own experiences and stories. A good story is always worth to be shared.

Cheers folks, happiness, good health and long life also in 2012.


The wines of Canada – Booty from Ontario

September 19, 2011

The six bottles we brought home from Ontario to the Mosel

Unfortunately wine bottles are rather heavy. Among the four of us we were able to carry six bottles with us. Some of them I had to leave behind in Germany, two of them made it to Bangkok.

I have already written about Marynissen Estates, the lovely winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. About the other four producers I intend to post in due course.

The two bottles in the middle of the above picture are from Huff Estate in Prince Edward County. Also Del Gatto Winery is located on this island, as is Closson Chase Vineyards and The Grange of Prince Edward County Estates.

I had the great opportunity to visit all of them and taste some of their wines. Great stuff what the Canadian wine-makers produce, I must say.

Stay tuned for more stories on Canadian wineries.


Cry from the wilderness – the wines of Canada

July 28, 2011

Bruce peninsula

This is just a teaser, a reminder that the Man from the Mosel River is still alive and kicking.

We are traveling through Canada. In fact we are visiting our friends Dominik and Kym Franken in Stratford on the Avon river in Perth County, Ontario. Stratford is the Shakespeare and music town of North America. It is most famous for its annual Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Dominik and I, we go back many years, in fact decades. We shared a flat during our university years in Bonn. He also loves wine and good food, a passion we share.

But before I can write something about Canadian wines, I will have to visit a Canadian winery, which has not happened yet because we are exploring some of Ontario’s nature and wildlife parks right now.

But, as always, there is light at the “wilderness tunnel”. In a couple of days from now, we will visit Prince Edward County, one of the three wine regions of Ontario. The other two are the Niagara Peninsula, Canada’s largest wine growing region and Pelee Island at Lake Erie, Canada;s most southerly wine region.

I will write more about Canada and its wines later. Stay tuned.