Winery review – The Grange of Prince Edward, Prince Edward County, Ontario

February 2, 2012

The Grange of Prince Edward (all photos by Lucy Adam)

While touring Prince Edward County in Ontario last summer, we also visited The Grange of Prince Edward, a winery in the West of the peninsula (Latitude: 43.947510, Longitude: 77.42377). It was the third and last winery we visited that day.

Established in 1999 on the Trumpour farm, the Grange is a family-owned wine business with about 60 acres under vines subdivided into 6 distinct vineyards. On the first vineyard of about 10 acres Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir vines were planted. Today, annual production is about 10,000 cases.

The soils in the West of Prince Edward County are consisting of limestone and clay gravel. The growing seasons are short and the vines need to be buried in the soil to survive the cold winter.

The place is quite impressive. The buildings seem to be new (maybe on old foundations), but the style is very rural, traditional, one could say. Some of the wood is old which gives the tasting room a homely and warm atmosphere.

But the term “tasting room” may be an understatement. The place where the guest can acquaint themselves with the wines is barn type hall with a large bar and round tables along the windows. There are several side-rooms for functions, wine storage etc.

I liked the fire place, the assembled furniture, the way the wines were presented.

A wide range of wines are produced…

…and many awards and medals are displayed

The happy tasters from afar in discussions with the friendly staff

Two very different Pinot Noir wines

The Grange makes Burgundy style wines. We tasted and drank two glasses of Pinot Noir, one from the 2008 and one from the 2007 vintage. Both were exquisite specimen of Pinot Noir with the right varietal expression (I admit here that I lost my tasting notes).

In the end we bought a bottle of the 2007 vintage for about 20 C$, which we took home with us. We would have bought more but were afraid we could not carry them on the plane.

I presented our booty in an earlier blog entry about wines from Ontario.

If only we would have had more time….

Address:
The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery
990 Closson Road, Hillier, ON K0K 2J0
Tel.: +01-866-792-7712 Facsimile: 613-399-2164
www.grangeofprinceedward.com


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


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


Winery review – Huff Estate, Prince Edward County, Ontario

September 21, 2011

Huff estate: wide roads leading to the Inn, the Gallery and the Winery

Huff Estate is one of the big ventures in the wine industry of Prince Edward County in Ontario. It not only produces wines but offers also a modern style country inn and an art gallery. Visitors just drive up and enter a spacious estate for the high end consumer of wine and culture.

Huff vineyards

We came only to buy a couple of bottles of the award winning Chardonnay wines Huff Estate has produced in recent years. I had tasted a glass of the Chardonnay while dining in Picton a day earlier and liked to drink some more of it. We did not linger around although the place was very inviting, I must say.

The cellar door

Lanny and Catharine Huff, both natives of Prince Edward County, started their vineyard in 2001 on a 150 acres lot. The winery followed in 2004. In 2006 the Inn was constructed and in 2009 the gallery was added to the estate.

The tasting room

Huff Estate has two main vineyards, the South bay vineyard and the 62 plus 1 vineyard (15 acres). The grape varieties grown include Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Frontenac and Vidal.

Frédéric Picard, who originates from Burgundy, France is the winemaker. Doug Gyde and Alex Hunter are the vineyard managers.

Huff Estate produces high quality wines which reflect the specific terroir and climate of Prince Edward County. I love their Chardonnay wines.

The two Chardonnay wines are still in Germany. I will bring them to Bangkok in a few days time and then will let you know what they taste like.

Address:
Huff Estate Winery
2274 County Rd.1 Bloomfield On
P.O. Box 300, K0K 1G0
Prince Edward County, Ontario

Open Daily 10am-6pm
Tel: +1-613-393-5802
Fax: +1-613-393-2428
E-mail: info@huffestates.com
http://huffestates.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.