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

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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.


Winery review – Closson Chase Vineyards, Prince Edward County, Ontario

September 23, 2011

I know that not that many people visit my blog entries on Canada, its wineries and wines. However, that may be, I am going to continue to introduce some of the places we have visited during our summer vacation. I have two reasons for this:

1. because I believe that Canadian wine is worth to take note of (tasting and drinking!), and
2. because I am convinced that in the next couple of years some of the Canadian wines will hit international wine markets and might be more readily available to consumers outside the Americas.

The Man from the Mosel in front of the famous Closson Chase entrance

The evening before we visited Closson Chase Vineyards, we had a glass of its 2009 Chardonnay which tasted strange, very strange. In hindsight I think it was off.

However, in some of the brochures collected from the Picton tourist office I had read a story about Deborah Paskus, the iconoclast viticulturist and celebrated wine-maker of Closson Chase, which led me to believe that we have to go and see the place with our own eyes.

Closson Chase was established in 1999. It produces exclusively the Burgundy varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, some from its own vineyards, some from leased properties nearby.

We visited Closson Chase on the 2nd of August, a beautiful summers day. The cellar door is located in Hillier on the Western side of Prince Edward County.

Closson Chase has about 30 acres under vines. The soils are
limestone rich. The low yields and the French inspired vinification and barreling are responsible for the superior quality of its wines.

In 2009, Jancis Robinson, the guru of the international wine circuit, called Closson Chase Vineyards one of the two finest producers in Ontario.

The historic barn

The cellar door and tasting room is housed in a century old barn which has been restored. The day we visited an exhibition of moden art was shown on the premises.

The back side to the entry where the garden is located

The garden where we tasted the wines

The tasting at Closson Chase Vineyards is pricy in comparison with other place on Prince Edward County. For a tasting of three wines one had to pay 12 C$ (uff!!!). We drank two glasses of unoaked Chardonnay, and one glass of Pinot Noir.

The garden ist just wonderful located on the back side of the old barn. We sat their completely satisfied. The wines were stunningly good. We bought a bottle of Chardonnay and one Pinot Noir to take home to Bangkok. Only one bottle “survived” the journey. More about the Pinot Noir when we have it with a meal.

Closson Chase is a must visit if you are in Ontario.

A Closson Chase vineyard

Old vines with grapes

Address:
Closson Chase Vineyards
629 Closson Road, Hillier, Ontario K0K 2J0
Tel: +1-613-399-1418
Fax: +1-613-399-1618
E-mail info@clossonchase.com
www.clossonchase.com


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.


Winery review – Marynissen, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

August 27, 2011

Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake

We were pressed for time when visiting the Niagara peninsula area. Therefore, we decided to visit only one winery. Our choice was Marynissen Estates, situated in the Niagara-on-the Lake wine region of Ontario.

The cellar door of Marynissen

Marynissen Estates was founded by John Marynissen who came to Canada from Holland in 1952 and started growing grapes with his wife Nanny in 1953. Since 1990 the winery is up and running. John was one of the pioneers of the Canadian wine industry. He was renown for his wine-making skills. In 1978 he was awarded the title “Grape King”. John was the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Ontario.

His daughter Sandra encouraged him to invest in a winery. In 1996 and 1997 Marynissen Estates won awards for the best red wine. Today, Sandra continues the family tradition. The cellar door is located in an unassuming shed. When we entered the tasting room it was buzzing with customers.

The sale is on

There is wine

We were served by a nice young lady, Ellie was her name. She was very friendly and efficient and helped us find our wines. We started tasting a flight of white wines.

Margit, Dominik and Ellie opening a bottle

The whites included the Marynissen 2008 Summer Solstice, a 2008 Riesling and a 2008 BFBA Chardonnay. Dominik just loved the Riesling and decided to buy a case to take it home.

We were constrained because we had already six bottles in our luggage to bring home to Germany and felt a bit uneasy. Riesling could not be my choice anyway. We were heading to Trier, Mosel, to Riesling heaven so to speak. We decided not to take owls to Athens.

The Summer Solstice

This wine is an interesting blend of Gewuerztraminer (50%), Riesling (30%), and Chardonnay (20%, not a very common mixture of grapes for a white wine.

2008 Marynissen Riesling

Barrel fermented, barrel aged Chardonnay

We also tasted some of the red wines. I loved the Cabernet Merlot blend and the Syrah of which we bought a bottle to take home.

The Marynissen Cabernet Merlot blend

The Syrah we brought back home to Germany

Around the cellar door are some of the Marynissen vineyards. I immediately noticed the “strange” way the vines are pruned. I had learned earlier that in some parts of Ontario the vines are buried in the ground during the cold winters. This is of course very costly and very labour intensive. The year old canes are covered with soil and in spring dug out and clipped back to the trellis.

A Marynissen vineyard

The vines with grapes

The “head” of the trunk of the vine which in Australia is about one meter from the ground, is located right above the ground in Ontario so that it can be easily covered by top soil in winter (also called “hilling”).

Marynissen Estates is a great place to visit. I highly recommend it to anybody wanting to explore Canadian wineries and vineyards.

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


Wines of Ontario – 2007 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay, Ontario

August 25, 2011

One of the best Chardonnays I drank while touring Ontario, Canada was the ‘2007 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay’. I bought it in a bottle shop in Ottawa, a very interesting capital city, where we had a great time.

Le Clos Jordanne is a kind of joint venture between the old and the new world wine industries, a partnership between Vincor Canada (a Constellation company) and the Boisset family of Burgundy. 130 acres under vines is not a small investment either. Only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are produced.

The village reserve Chardonnay is a cuvée of organically produced fruit from three vineyard locations. I liked its zest, the fine acids, its creaminess, the good structure and the long finish. Boy did we enjoy this elegant drink with our seafood pasta.

At our last day in Ontario we visited the Niagara falls and passed Le Clos Jordanne but had no time left to drop in and taste some more of their wines because we had to get to the airport in Toronto. What a shame. We’ll do it next time.


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