The Terroirist - VQA Variations
Part five in a continuing series.
The world of wine that we live in is not always the world of wine that we drank in. An example of this occured on Tuesday when the Vintners Quality Alliance made a decision to revolutionise Ontario wine. Taking its cue from such areas as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and California; the Ontario Vintners embarked on a three year study to examine the terroir and wine styles from various parts of the Niagara Peninsula. What they found was telling.
Throughout the Peninsula, there were pockets of land that produced markedly different styles and quality of wine. Minor variations in the soil, weather, and geography of the areas had a noticeable effect on the grapes that were produced there. As a result, 10 new sub-appelations - Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara River, Four Mile Creek, St. David's Bench, Creek Shores, Lincoln Lakeshore, Vinemount Ridge, Beamsville Bench, Twenty Mile Bench, and Short Hills Bench - were created. As well, two larger sub appelations, Niagara on the Lake (comprising the first four sub-appelations) and Niagara Escarpment (comprising the last three sub-appelations) were founded.
So what is this all going to mean for you, the wine lover?
At first, not much. I would be very surprised to see a sudden rush from most wineries to start slapping these appelations on their labels (Chateau des Charmes being a likely exception). You will start seeing the wineries experiment with it - perhaps on their smaller and more premium bottlings. It will take about a decade until the change is ubiquitous, and until consumers will instinctively know the difference between a Beamsville Bench or Niagara River wine like they already know between a Beaune and a Pommard.
Oh yes, and the recommendations...
Stratus Cabernet Franc 2002 (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario) $32.00, 665034
Stratus is a relative new kid on the Ontario wine block, but they're already turning heads. Cabernet Franc, a grape mostly only found alone in Ontario and the Loire is very different in each of those two regions. In Ontario it generally produces very full, juciy wines, and this Stratus is no exception. Cassis, green pepper and smoke dominate the aromas and palate, while a crisp vein of acidity balances the mouthfeel and the finish keeps going on and on.
Tenuta Santa Anna Pinot Grigio 2004 (Friuli, Italy) $16.65, 963306
Pinot Grigio is a wine that people either seem to love, or ignore completely. Unlike Chardonnay or Sauvignon, there's rarely anything to hate about a well-made Grigio, but often not much to adore about them either. Friuli is up in the north of Italy, by the Alps, and the wine shows it with it's character. Apples, pears, and citrus govern the nose, while the palate expresses apples, mineral notes, with only a touch of citrus. This is a wine that is flavourful enough to be enjoyed on its own, but has enough body to stand up to cream dishes as well.
Something to Dream About
Krug Grand Cuvee Non-Vintage (Champagne, France) $214.95, 349688
If you're looking for a Channukah present for your friendly neighbourhood Terroirist, this would do nicely. Yes, I know it's over $200, but in terms of value for money, this really is one of the best priced Champagnes out there. It's a big, hefty wine, full bodied and yeasty, but with a supple, refined texture. Everything works well together, and the aromas of ginger, vanilla, and berries dominate, with underpinings of tobacco. If you're looking for something to replace Frexinet this new-year, this probably isn't it. But if you're going for the bling, this is miles ahead of the Dom Perignon or the Cristal. Everybody should try the Krug at least once in their life - preferably on somebody else's dime.
The Terroirist is published every other Thursday
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