The cupboards were looking rather bare at home, so it was time for a run down to Niagara to stock up on winery-exclusive finds from the Escarpment and its surrounds. Here are some of our purchases, and a few favourites that I reluctantly had to go without, but still highly recommend.
Cornerstone 2002 Cabernet Franc - Hubby is quite particular when it comes to cab franc. The only one from Niagara that he's liked thus far was an '01 from Lailey. But this one fit the bill: juicy, ripe raspberry, medium bodied. For a six-year-old wine, this is holding on quite well, with a firm tannic structure and fruit that still shows through.
Tawse 2007 Carly's Block Estate Riesling - This beautifully crafted, small production (less than 100 cases) off-dry was simply divine. Ripe pear, tropical fruit, with a complex floral and spice nose. Medium-to-full bodied, balanced, this one will be great with food, even though I'm more than happy to drink it on its own. We lucked out in getting a taste; with stock so low, it wasn't open for sampling, but we happened to be there at the same time as a big-wig winemaker from California, so Allen nabbed the bottle and poured us a generous mouthful. Done. Sold.
Tawse 2007 Chardonney Musque - Mineral, floral, honeyed, medium acid and medium body. Halfway between the heaviness of the traditional oaked chard and the steel-fermented variety, this "mistake by the Lake" tends to present well on the Escarpment.
Hidden Bench 2006 Fume Blanc - Done in the style of a traditional sauvignon blanc in a stainless steel barrel instead of a tank. Fume has this wild, gamey, mushroom nose that always throws me off, but the palate is all about minerality and citrus. It will be great with oysters, complimenting that briney, saltwater flavour of my favourite mollusk. (Sadly, Hubby wasn't a fan, and with limited cooler space, the rule is we have to both like it to buy it.)
Rosewood 2007 Gewurztraminer - I've never seen hubby buy a bottle of wine so quickly. This is a classic gewurz, with honey and clover on the nose and a complex palate of rose water and lychee.
Rosewood 2006 Mon Cherie - With a strata of beehives tucked into a forested valley out back, Rosewood also produces their own line of mead. My brain tried to pigeon-hole the flavour of this medieval beverage under "dessert wine", but on the second sip, it slipped neatly into the same category as rose. Round mouthful of strawberries, cherry and bubblegum, with a long, LONG finish that stayed with us on the drive to the next spot. (Side note: remember that Bazooka smell from the candy store trading cards that passed hand to hand on every Grade 2 playground? The rep from Rosewood explained the aroma wasn't from the gum, it was from the white powder - a derivative of beeswax - that usually coats this cheap chew. Again, it's all about the nose; those good 'ol memory cells trigger a heartwarming recollection of chomping on a mouthful of bubblicious-ness.)
Southbrook 2007 Sauvignon Blanc - Very much like a New Zealand s.blanc, this one shows traditional notes of mineral, citrus and zest, with a high acid content and solid structure.
Southbrook 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon - My preconceptions about how long Niagara wine can age have been tossed; this cab sauv was solid on its own and will be positively stellar with food. Cherry and rhubarb pie flits in and out of the balanced foundation of acid and tannin.
Cattail Creek 2007 Gamay - The only reason we don't have a bottle with us is cuz we ran out of room in the cooler (and I won't punish a good wine with a hot trunk.) Beautiful ruby colour with bright pink tones, the nose full of raisins, plums, and a surprising streak of espresso beans. Tastes like raspberries and peppercorn, with just the slightest tinge of green bean. The tannins were much more pronounced than I expected, but they worked well.
More on the views, the people and the food later ...