County Terroir! Every year I arrive at Crystal Palace in Picton as a bright eyed wine blogger checking out the new releases and, by the end of the day, my husband has to practically carry me out to the car. What can I say? I like County wine.
My first stop was at Broken Stone winery who were making their debut this year with a 2010 and a 2011 pinot noir. Prince Edward County is the land of pinot noir giants like Norm Hardie, Dan Sullivan, Richard Karlo, Debra Paskus, James Lahti, and Bruno Francois. It takes guts to debut with pinot noir as your only offering even at a bargain price of $18. The 2010 was a real bargain and a great beginning. They will also be coming out with Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Gris in the future.
While standing at their booth, I became aware of John Szabo, Canada's only Master Sommelier, who was also tasting their wine. Wine groupie that I am, I had to resist an overwhelming urge to ask him to autograph one of their bottles (a full one of the 2010 would have been nice). He mentioned he was giving a seminar next and so that's where I met my downfall.
You can just have a small sip of wine at the tasting booths, in fact that's all they give you, but when you sit down in the seminar tents they pass around some really good stuff and you are not going to pour out the excess. John Szabo sandwiched Rosehall Run's County Cuvée (one of my favourite County wines) between a French chablis and a New Zealand chardonnay to give us the sense of how it fit in the global cold climate chardonnay perspective. It held up extremely well. In the reds, we had a Burgundian pinot noir, followed by a Norman Hardie 2011 Pinot Noir which won hands down with a chaser of Pinot Noir from The Old Third a very small but excellent boutique County winery.
Even though I'd paced myself over the hour of his talk, those were 6 two ounce glasses of wine. I rose deceptively steady and coherent, at least I was fooled into thinking I could taste one or two more.
I use Terroir as a time to catch up on wineries I haven't been to for a while. Exultet were basking in the honour of being asked to have some of their wines poured at Canada House in London England last week. They don't bring those wines to Terroir as they are very pricey but they have developed a less expensive line called X Cru which are pleasing blends in white, rosé and red at a more affordable price.
Dave Bergeron at Bergeron Estates was pleased to pour a taste of his peppery gamay and then insisted I try his new rosé, a gamay and vidal blend. Very good. Dave has also gone into the apple cider business for the past three years and is selling out. He's now bought his own bottling line equipment and suggests cider drinkers come in for the newest batch after July 1. Stop in for pizza while you are there, he makes a really good one.
I finally met the winemaker at 33 Vines, James Maw, a delightful young man who has been apprenticing with Pat Del Gatto. I had heard they were mostly into fruit wines but their chard, pinot gris and rosé were extremely pleasant. Next time we're in Kingston, we'll come home by way of the Glenora Ferry and visit as both Bergeron and 33 Vines are near Adolphustown.
I stopped by the Devil's Wishbone and discovered that my infatuation with Paul Gallagher's light aromatic wines from free run grapes has not ended. The pinot gris is delightful, the rosé from pinot gris sur lie is even better, and the chardonnay that has just been aged for five weeks in Canadian oak barrels from Ameilasburgh is a must have. Paul's philosophy is that he makes wines he likes to drink, just in case he gets left with the extras. Not sure there are any extras, they sold out of the riesling and pinot gris very early last year.
Also saw Brian Mitchell owner/winemaker at Half Moon Bay and got to try his riesling for the first time. He's always been sold out of it when I've been there before, not surprisingly.
My last stop was at Casa Dea, where Paul Battilana handed me a generous taste of their chanat style sparkling white and I learned that they have just hired a new cook for their winery restaurant fresh from Italy. What a great reason to head back to lunch there on a hot summer's day.
When I was unable to come up with the word "sparkling" to describe the wine I'd just tasted, my husband firmly took me by the elbow and we left.
I have been sobering up for the last two hours with antipasto on crackers and That Dutchman's Dragon's Breath cheese I brought back recently from Nova Scotia with copious glasses of water. They would have gone better with wine but I was definitely cut off.
I wonder if John Szabo would have autographed a bottle of wine if I'd asked?
Follow Veronica Leonard on Twitter @travelprose and check out her blogsite at www.thewinetourist.wordpress.com