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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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


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: 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.