The Late Great County Wines
But despite our notoriety as a wine region, PEC winemakers face some real challenges: our winter temps are harsh and the other three seasons are capricious by nature, keeping us on our toes with floods and frosts. While the resulting wine is, so we say, even better because of struggle and the care required to nurse these berries to fruition, our yields are low by comparison to other wine regions and the limited cases that the wineries produce each year often sell out. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s good, because the wineries can survive financially to tackle another season, but it’s also not good, because it renders many of the older vintages, basically inaccessible. Often, even the wineries themselves have incomplete historical libraries of their own wines and so much of the late, great County nectar has become the stuff of legend—bordering on myth.
This set the scene for the best new idea in Prince Edward County’s wine space: A no-holds-barred tasting salon that would give us all access to back-to-back tastings of County wine.
All hail Coravin
The final cherry on this sweet pie was the advent of a new technology: Coravin, a wine access system that allows bottles to be tapped by the ounce. It pushes the wine out and displaces the oxygen so that the remaining wine won’t be compromised by oxidation (I’m thinking Nobel Prize level furthering of civilization here.) The Coravin system means that Jordan and Astrid could offer almost anything in the cellar…by the ounce. This set the scene for the best new idea in Prince Edward County’s wine space: a no-holds-barred tasting salon that would give us all access to back-to-back tastings of County wine: vertically, horizontally, and comprehensively.
Let’s Do This.
Jordan called me—”Let’s do this together,” he half-asked, half-pronounced. Obviously, I was into it. I wanted to taste seven seasons of this dynamic terroir back-to-back like crazy. Or to geek-out on the coolest of the County’s cult wines. Or get deep into why our beautiful County Chards are totally different from all the other Chards. And more than that: I wanted us all to be able to. And the final piece of the puzzle would be to document it all, right here in LIFE AU LAIT so we could look back at what we’d seen and done here and these wines would live on in spirit and record. It was obvious to me that this was the best thing ever and it could only be executed here and now and all together in The Cellar at Merrill House.
The Cellar Salon
The first one, naturally, was sparkling wines (to christen our launch.) Coravin isn’t compatible with sparklings, but what the hell—it made sense to begin with bubbles.
The Deets Going forward, we’ll be hosting The Cellar Salons every Tuesday at 3pm on a new theme. Next week: Big Reds. We meet in the conservatory bar, through the parking lot entrance: no password needed. Yet.
The List Now the sky’s the limit. We’re assembling a master list of our wine-loving friends, peers, and regular attendees (so we can extend the discussion about the wine or give “member” specials, from free flights to tasting prizes to choosing the next theme) until we reach our membership cap, at which point it will be one in, one out (this way we can keep us and members on a first name basis.)
The Setup The Each week we’d choose six County wines and three old world wines for comparison on the theme. The price points per ounce would vary depending on what we were tasting, but we figured a taste of something rare and precious would always be far more accessible than the whole bottle and the other awesome wines would be even more reasonable. We designed different shapes and sizes of flights for different experiences and budgets. At the end of each session, we’d all choose the most memorable wine of the night. Something that stood out on the panel and deserved a shout out.
The Record Later in the week, we’d follow up the salon with an article summarizing the event, the theme, the wine, the tasting notes, the reactions, and the night’s favourite, and a saveable infographic card outlining the wines and Astrid’s tasting notes. Essentially, we’d build our secondary library here, on record for posterity.
The Inaugeral Sesh: County Sparkling | October 5th, 2019
Most Memorable Wine…
Taste these wines together at The Cellar or to buy a bottle, visit these County Wineries