CELLAR | In February, We Drank Riesling & Lit Fires

To be fair, this Cellar Salon happened in February, one year ago. It was the second last 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 the last two salons 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.

So many of my favourite wine tasters and winemakers adore this grape for its complexity and dynamism, for its gorgeous acidity and friendliness towards food—but, I often struggle with Riesling and, I’ll be honest, I haven’t had many and was looking forward to this salon. Riesling likes a cool climate, so I guessed it would do well in the County, but was surprised to see the lineup Astrid had put together. The 6 wines were dramatically varied by year and style. The range was dramatic—one wine won bronze at last year’s National Wine Awards, one had been affected by Botrytis from a few years back, several used a combination of County and Niagara grapes, another blended three varietals.

So why isn’t there a lot of Riesling grown here in Prince Edward County? I called Cam, my friendly local wine advisor, to discuss and he pointed out that, unlike Niagara, Riesling simply doesn’t ripen here and that those precious acres might be better utilized growing something that really does work in the County—like Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Astrid on Riesling

Riesling might well be the “king” of white grapes. There is a riesling for any palate, any occasion, and whether it’s bone-dry, sweet, or anything in-between, there is no doubt of its allure. Its perfume alone is intoxicating, and the many iterations of its expression is a testament to its broad appeal. Today’s lineup highlights a range of styles, terroirs, and vine maturity, highlighting riesling’s many personalities.


County Selections

Del Gatto Estates, Waupoos 2018

Pale straw color with green tinges. Fresh and fruity on the nose with green apple, lemon, and stone fruit notes that echo through the lingering, racy finish.

Sugarbush, Hillier 2018

Medium straw color, developed bouquet of lemon drop and stone fruit, fresh and lively on the palate with steely minerality and a kiss of sweetness on the finish.

Stanners Vineyards, Hillier 2016

A combination of Niagara and PEC fruit. Medium amber color with gold-toned reflections. Nose opens to vibrant stone fruit and brioche, creamy on the mid-palate with flavors of apple and lime, finishing with a flourish of fresh-baked bread.

By Chadsey’s Cairns, Hillier 2014

Medium straw-amber in color, lemon citrus and white flowers dominate the nose, a hint of apricot on the palate, finishing with lemon drop and grapefruit zest, wrapping up with an earthy note.

Trail Estate Vineyards ‘Field Blend’ (Riesling, Geisenheim, Gewürztraminer) Hillier 2016

60% Geisenheim, 24% Riesling, 16% Gewurztraminer – all fermented on skins. Medium-deep yellow straw color, complex aromas of tangerine and lemon zest with an alluringly juicy, exotic, spicy note. Rich and opulent on the palate, riesling character asserts itself on the finish.

Huff Estates “Off Dry” Ontario 2017

Pale straw color with bright yellow-green reflections. Well-developed nose of lychee, melon, peach, and lemon drop, giving way to a mid-palate that is balanced with acidity and fruit.

Elsewhere Selections

Clemens Busch ‘Trocken,’ Mosel, Germany 2018

Biodynamically farmed from vines with an average age of 50 – 60 years. 60% barrel-vinified and 40% stainless steel, yielding a complex and medium-sweet wine greenish-yellow in color. Green apple and lime zest on the nose, with a distinctly honeyed note on the back (a bit of botrytis perhaps?). Finishes soft with a slightly savoury, herbal note.

Nigl “Dornleiten,” Kremstal, Austria 2017

Clear and bright, pale straw in color with light green reflections. Bright fruit on the nose with lime, lemon, and notes of baking bread and fresh peaches. The palate is light, lively, and slightly spicy with an elegant mineral lime finish.

Willm ‘Réserve,’ Alsace, France 2018

Medium straw yellow in appearance, with lifted aromas of lime and peach that are reiterated on the richly textured palate. Finishes fresh, lean, and bone-dry with a kiss of lemon.


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