Saturday, September 8, 2012

Aging well

September is one of my favourite months.  It is my birthday!  And harvest.  Such a great time of year.  A perfect time to tour vineyards and contemplate the art of aging well.

During our stay at Niagara on the Lake, we happily toured  five different wineries:  Peller, Inniskillen, Strewn, Riversview, and Rief.

Peller was where Rob and I enjoyed the Estate Tasting, right in the vineyard, sampling the grapes and tasting the wine as it was poured into the glass:  merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and meritage.

Only the two of us had signed up, so we had the undivided attention of our guide as he escorted us through the fruit ripening and terraced in the field.

The gardener in me appreciated how the roses stood sentry to indicate the presence of aphids on the vine, how inconspicuous the grape blossoms were, how rocks had been tumbled under vines to prolong the heat of a summer's day, how the number of pips in a fruit or the shape of a leaf could be used to identify one grape against another; how bunches were culled to intensify flavours.

Merlot was surprisingly thick-skinned and the cab franc even more so.

blossom on cab sauv grapes
An earnest young man gave the tour, a second generation vintner going to sommelier school; obviously knowledgeable about green details, like the pheromone strips dangling on the wires.  In his early twenties, he was learning the serious business and exact science of wine.  Thankfully, he was also generous with his pours and divulged that one of the wineries in Niagara has recently attempted an amarone, with some small success.

It would be fun to go on a poetry of wine tour, though, and have a passionate soul quote great literature, verse and mystical qualities of wine.  Maybe I could start assembling passages?

I loved the cool cellars, and seeing the hundreds of casks laid to age so respectably in their French or American oak.  Imagining the barrels being coopered, turned, and toasted to release their flavours.

I tasted one of the nicest glasses of the tour in Rief's sensory garden.  The space was been planted in collaboration with Richter's herbs to showcase the distinct colours and aromas of different wines.  Talk about the perfect setting to savour a glass of first growth pinot noir before hopping back on our bikes to continue our tour...

Rob and I picked up several bottles of ice wine along the way.  I admit I am a bit dubious about Ontario reds, but ended up buying a few bottles of award winning Cab Sauv from Peller.  It tasted of sun, of standing in a field on a late summer's day, and of course, of aging well.

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