Sunday, July 30, 2017

Under New Ownership: Coyote’s (Re-)Run



A quality-focused, friendly, fun, dynamic Niagara winery with sustainability in mind. That’s Coyote’s Run, making small batch, handcrafted, estate-grown VQA wines.
    The St David’s operation is re-branding, with a shiny new website and new labels. Purchased in June, 2016 by a Toronto investor who loves high-quality VQA wine, it has a new head winemaker, Chris Protonentis, who worked alongside respected winemaker David Sheppard for three harvests and produced some of Ontario's best wine.
    A grad of the wine/viticulture program at Niagara College, Chris has made wine in Western Australia plus Niagara’s Stratus and Ridgepoint, including apassimento reds and an award-winning white Cabernet.
    Coyote’s Run is just 15 minutes away from Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake with its lovely boutiques, stores and restaurants. The 65-acre property, in the flat, sprawling Four Mile Creek sub-appellation, grows Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
    On the shore of what was ginormous Lake Iroquois in the last Ice Age 11,000 years ago, on one of the warmest sites in Niagara, the vineyard has two distinct soils; Red Paw, ancient red clay yielding bold, expressive wines; and Black Paw, dark, heavy clay that retains warmth and moisture delivering low yields and concentrated flavors.
    A great example of the latter is the 2015 Estate Syrah, $34.95. There’s only 200 cases of this thrilling example of rich, dark, smoky-tarry red with layers of blackberry, cassis and black plum, soon to be online and at the winery (93) or the sturdy Pinot Grigio 2016, $15.95, brimming with summer hay aromas, honeycomb, wet stone and orchard fruit notes (90), winery, online, LCBO.
    Coyote practices integrated pest management and precision viticulture focusing on canopy and environmentally sustainable viticulture. Grape pomace mulch increases organic material. Compost improves soil structure and adds nutrients. Cover crops include red clover, alfalfa and oil seed radish. Pruning, shoot tucking and positioning, leaf and fruit thinning are all done throughout the season to optimize fruit quality.
    Run, Coyote, run!   905-682-8310
    At the speed of digital flight, we now move to the Southwest of France for a pink and fruity moment: Chateau Clamens is a newbie at the LCBO, $18.95 for the delicious Cuvee Julie 2016, a rose of considerable charm (90).    A blend of the little known (around here) Negrette grape and the ubiquitous Syrah, it’s aperitif-perfect and heaven sent for light summer fare such as skewers, grilled meat or fish, salads and casual dining.
    Consistent winner of a slew of accolades, it’s berry-scented, dry and has a fresh citrus-apple tang. From Fronton, just north of Toulouse, the winery’s slogan is: “A thousand hours of sun, poured directly into your glass!” I’ll drink to that!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ranging The Rhone



In thirsty pursuit of Syrah/Shiraz, people tend to forget about its ancestral home, the mighty Rhone Valley, birthplace of many other big beautiful reds as well as superb white, and pink, wines.
    Famous names tumble from the tongue: Cote-Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Cornas, Rasteau, Gigondas, Cairanne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, Tavel, Costières de Nimes, and more.
    From C de Nimes, for example, I’m currently enjoying a delectable Chateau de Nages 2014, a rock-solid, rich extra-dry white that’s a steal for only $19.95. Blended from old vines like Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Viognier and Bourboulenc; unoaked, stony and crisp, with nuances of lemon zest and white grapefruit.
    Crafted by self-admitted “peasant-researcher, perfectionist and doubting Thomas” Michel Gassier, a fervent defender of C de Nîmes and the Camargue, it’s a fine expression of his adored terroir and the richness of this most southerly Rhone appellation.
    Best kept secrets of the Rhone: it’s France’s second biggest wine region with 28 appellations, 5,000 producers, 27 grape varieties headed by Grenache and stretches 200 km along the Rhone River.
    The northern Rhone is the cradle of Syrah (known in Australia as Shiraz) and the typical red blend is Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grapes are used for the northern white wines, Clairette, Grenache and Bourboulenc in the south (white wines make up 6% of the Rhone total).
    Tiny aromatic Condrieu is 100% Viognier. Tavel is the best and most famous rose, which makes up 13% of all Rhone wines. 
    Find out much more about this cornucopia of choice from rhone-wines.com


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wine And Water Really Do Mix



Sprucewood Shores: Good Taste on Lake Erie

To many downtown Torontonians, Lake Erie North Shore sounds as remote as Tierra del Fuego, but you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to get good VQA wine from there. 
    You can start with a generous off-dry, food-friendly Riesling that’s satisfying and delicious, peachy-citrus with dash of Granny Smith apple and lime zest acidity to tempt your inner gourmet.
    It would be from family-run Sprucewood Shores Winery, a premium producer of 21 wines, three currently in the LCBO, including Canada’s only bottled mulled wine, Warm & Cozy, $11.95, infused with orange, clove and cinnamon and served hot. It's only 26 weeks to Christmas -- but campfires are closer, right now!
    Sprucewood delivers anywhere in Canada, but you should really go there in person: it’s a beautiful Ontario tourist destination.
    Winemaker Tanya Mitchell, a trained chemical engineer, honed her skills in Australian wineries and was mentored by Ontario wine icons Carlo Negri and Sal d’Angelo, and it shows. Her focus is on a perfect balance of minerality, acidity, fruit, and finesse in her wines.
    Parents Gord and Hannah Michell bought 52 acres, between Amherstburg and Harrow, in 1991, just a stone's throw from the lake and Tanya's siblings Steve and Jake help run the 15,000-case operation today from 35 acres of planted vineyards.
Versatile Riesling
It’s Tuscan-style winery building with a lovely reception hall, retail store and event space for weddings, tours and tastings as well as a huge grassy area down to the beach and lake.
     Sprucewood's Riesling, by the way, is a $13.95 steal in the LCBO, to perfectly match shellfish, cream-sauced chicken or pork (90).  Also in the LCBO, you’ll find Sprucewood’s highly recommendable range of fresh Pinot Grigio, $14.95 (88), berry-rich Lady In Red Cabernet/Merlot $14.95, and soon their smooth Sauvignon Blanc and deliciously Sweet Select Riesling (great with sauteed shrimp). There’s also a higher end Hawk’s Flight reserve range ($20+).
    Winery phone (519) 738-9253 and www.sprucewoodshores.com