You thought I forgot about the wine, right? No way!
Our first stop was to Black Prince Winery. We tried two wines while there, and I must admit I was not impressed with either of them. More over I was definitely not impressed with the lack of service. To be completely ignored when we walked in was one thing, then to be given attitude when we asked for a sample was quite another. We quickly left.
Thankfully our tour of the rest of the wineries was a pleasant experience.
Huff Estates was next on our list.
The following day was the true test of our mettle. We would try and visit as many wineries as we could manage before we had to drive home.
Our first stop was to a “Garagiste” a wine maker who makes small batch vintages of superb quality
in a small garage-sized winery. This can only be Sugarbush Vineyards.
I love the opportunity to speak directly to the winemakers. Robert ( the winemaker) was the one offering the samples to us, and it was great to experience his passion and enthusiasm. Some very good wine is coming out of his tiny little plot.
Next we were off to Karlo Estates.
Karlo is one of the few wineries to experiment with port style wines. I wasn’t a fan of their port ( it had an unpleasant medicinal aftertaste) but they do make a wine from one of my favourite grape varietals : Petite Verdot.
I wish I had taken pictures of the country side, we had a beautiful sunny day and it made the driving pleasant. Taking all of the little back and side roads made us appreciate the beauty of the county.
But enough site seeing, we had work to do.
Taking route 33 had us driving close to Baie Wellington, a blustery lake (or lac if you’re French) shore and the perfect place to build a winery. It is exactly what the good people at Keint-He winery have done. They specialize in Burgundian varietals, primarily Pinot Noir.
It was the Pineaux Sauvage that really caught my attention. This is a Tokji style, botrytis affected wine made purely from the Pinot Noir grape. Aged for three years in Hungarian oak barrels ( unusual because most wine in aged in traditional french) and rare because of the grape used.
Having a look at the aspect of the vineyard ( the way it is laid out) will give you a good idea of how the weather will affect the grapes. Botrytis or Noble Rot likes certain weather conditions: damp mornings and dry warm afternoons. Being this close to the lake made for perfect conditions.
We had the good fortune of tasting the wine just as it had been opened and another sample that had been opened about a week. It was phenomenal! The just opened sample changed colour right before our eyes, as the air hit it, it darkened into a deep burnished gold. It had typical botrytis characteristics of earthy truffle with dried orange and apricot. The older sample had the same nose but more caramel. It was more like a Madeira in style, and will last opened for weeks. What a great experience.
Still following route 33, our next stop was Chadsey’s. The acreage was once an apple orchard and the tasting room once the press house. During the time of our visit most of the growers were busy picking their fruit and were shorthanded for tasting staff. So, visitors were met with a small wooden chair at the entrance to the tasting room upon which sat an old brass school bell. The paper underneath the bell instructed us to ‘ring the bell close to the silo, as we are working in the barn”
Chef did as the note said and rang the bell near the silo, and viola! Instant person!
Here too were botrytis affected wines. The picture of the chalk board shows the percentage of affected grapes that have gone into the wine.
The land also houses an old graveyard dating back from the pioneer days. I appreciated the fact that they have respected the heritage of this place. Again, I found myself regretting I did not buy more when we were there.
We then made our way to Sandbanks Estate Winery, a place we had been to several times. We enjoy the product they put out and drink it quite often at home. But as any savy wine drinker knows, the good stuff can only be bought directly from the winery. I have always liked the Baco Noir this winery does, its one of the red grape varieties that likes the County soil. But, to understand the true expression of grape and soil, you need to try the reserve Baco Noir. Several bottles followed us home.
Our final stop was to Stanner Vineyards. Our greeting committee consisted of a large black lab with a very happy tail. It’s nice to be greeted so enthusiastically!
Mary graciously invited us into her tasting room and asked us about our travels. We asked about her wines, and before you knew it, we were being ushered into the press room for our own private tour.
We got to see up close and personal all of the equipment and barrels used for their operations. Once we tasted her award winning wines we knew we could not leave without them, again regretting not buying more. Her 2009 Pinot Noir was a delicate feminine wine with a long finish, no wonder it had placed second. The Cabernet Franc we chose is one of the few that has done well in the County soil. I will save that one for a hearty meal in the dead of winter.
Chef and I plan on returning again in late summer , or early fall. We have more wineries to visit, and certainly more wine to taste. Of course we will visit some of our favourite wineries again…maybe we need to bring a larger vehicle.