CELLAR SALON | The Chris Braney Experience, feat. Closson Chase Vineyards

This Cellar Salon took place a year ago. It was the last salon before COVID forced us to hit a hard pause—but as we crawl towards the finish line of this pandemic, we thought we could release the musings and tasting notes from this awesome evening to remember the great County wine we tasted, the good times we shared and the rising hope that we can do this again someday in the soon-to-be forseeable future.

We had a winery feature and it was the awesome Closson Chase Vineyards, hosted by our bestie and CC ambassador, the magnificent Chris Braney. My palate really appreciates Closson’s wine. They’re sophisticated, respectful of wine tradition, they make the wines the County is known for, they don’t bow to trends and they offer a polished, lovely experience on site at the winery. Adding Chris as the ambassador brings complexity to the tasting—his deep knowledge of the product combined with an innate and vivid capacity for fun was bound to make a salon that hit it out of the park—and it did. The memory of this tasting kept us warm for the whole past year.

Astrid on the Closson Chase Lineup

Bottles of Closson Chase WineJust before the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan last spring, we had the distinct opportunity to sample a well-curated lineup from Closson Chase Vineyards. Closson Chase is, inarguably, one of the wineries that put PEC on the world’s stage for quality pinot noir and chardonnay. Founded by Seaton McLean and Sonja Smits, they released their first vintage in 2004 with Deborah Paskus leading the winemaking team. Deborah retired after the 2014 vintage, and Keith Tyers (formerly of Redtail and Norman Hardie) has filled her boots ever since. Keith continues to raise the bar on quality and innovation, maintaining Closson Chase’s pole position as one of the benchmarks of our DVA.

The lineup today was especially interesting as Chris brought out some library selections not usually offered—The Brock wines were made from grapes grown for the Brock University viticulture program (great wines, but it’s plain to see why PEC has the advantage)—and the Sterling Barrique was fermented and aged in locally grown and produced barrels, made by Carriage House Cooperage.

Today, we were delighted to have Chris Braney host the salon and present the wines. Chris is the brand ambassador for Closson Chase and a passionate advocate for everything The County has to offer.

“I’m so proud and privileged to be the Brand Ambassador for a County winery that creates wines of world-class quality that are produced sustainably, mindful of the environment, and expresses the distinctive flavors of our Churchside and South Clos vineyards. Closson Chase wines reflect who we are – our values and our sense of place.” – Chris Braney

Closson Chase’s 2020 Lineup—

2017 “The Brock” Pinot Noir, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

Floral notes, soft ripe red fruit, with forward cedar and sautéed mushroom on the nose and a slightly balsamic note. The mouth is soft and round with loads of juicy red berries. Finishes with balanced acidity and soft tannins, a very soft and easy-drinking wine.

2017 “The Brock” Chardonnay, Niagara River, ON

Generous nose of lemon custard, white flowers, butterscotch and banana bread. Palate is full and creamy with notes of wet stone and candied citrus peel. Slightly oxidative notes round out the nutty finish.

2017 “Churchside” Chardonnay, Hillier, Prince Edward County, ON

The nose explodes with peach and ripe golden delicious apple, while mineral and lemon custard tones play in the background. White pepper and spice notes open up to ripe fruit and white flowers on the richly textured palate. Flinty minerality is juxtaposed by rich custard and well-balanced by racy acidity through the persistent finish.

2017 “Churchside” Pinot Noir, Hillier, Prince Edward County, ON

Red and black fruits up front with dried herbs and earthy, spicy tones on the nose. The palate brings tangy cherry pie and floral notes with hints of bacon fat and wildflowers. Tightly knit with firm tannins and bracing but balanced acidity, rounded out by soft and slightly smoky oak nuances. Finishes long, revealing layers of complexity that will certainly unwind over time.

2017 “Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hillier, Prince Edward County, ON

Nutty aromas of almond and buttered pecan dominate the nose, giving way to almond blossom and exotic spice. The palate entices with Brioche and caramel notes over juicy ripe tree fruit. Tightly wound on the finish with balanced acidity and wet stone notes, leading to a lengthy and lively finish.

2017 “Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Hillier, Prince Edward County, ON

Lifted aromas of bright ripe cherry and cranberry assail the nose, supported by sweet, dried herbs, wood smoke, and spice. More bright red fruit on the palate, with floral tones and well-managed acidity balanced by fine tannins. The fruit lingers through the finish, carried by ripe tannins and classic Hillier limestone minerality.

 Bonus Taste

2016 “Sterling Barrique” Pinot Noir, Hillier, Prince Edward County, ON

Aged 18 months in Canadian oak barrels, with wood sourced from Sterling, ON. Rich and smoky at the outset, softening with a little surface air and opening to a nose of strawberry, cherry, and rhubarb with lovely floral and dark fruit notes on the finish.


1 Comment
  1. Hello. I am an old friend of Chris Braney. We used to work together in the late 80’s. Saw Chris’ name mentioned in your article. If you could put him in touch with me I would appreciate that. Ken Hilder, 905 431 4812.

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