The first time I was in Prince Edward County, I was chatting to a guy behind the upstairs bar at Norman Hardie Winery. His name was Duarte and officially, he was in tech in Toronto, but confided to me that he spent an inordinate amount of time as a ‘cellar brat’ in this very special wine region. “It’s more like Sonoma than Napa in personality”, he continued, “but the terroir is Burgundy.”
Today Duarte Da Silva lives in the County full time. He’s the Exec Direc of the Prince Edward County Winemakers Association (PECWA) and he still spends a lot of time in a lot of County cellars. In the several years after that convo, I heard that Burgundian terroir refrain a number of times, but I think I loved it the most when Kirstyn Mayers wrote last February in our ‘Inside The Bottle’ piece, “You can call it Old World, Burgundian, or cool climate, but one thing is certain—it’s all County.”
Astrid on Burgundy
“We round off November with a “Taste of Burgundy” themed Salon, celebrating the region that is, in many ways, the old world equivalent to Prince Edward County. Of course, we’ve got a long way to go before we catch up with France in terms of wine, but let’s just focus, for now, on the common ground. Burgundy is complex, but it’s also intrinsically simple. Chardonnay (and a tiny bit of pinot gris and auxerrois) for the whites. For the reds, we have pinot noir and gamay. In this sense, we are kindred, as pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris are what we seem to do best. Our terroir is remarkably similar, too. Both regions sit on fractured limestone with a very shallow subsoil, though geologically speaking, the county is much older. It only stands to reason that this is where we’re headed, so I would view this comparative tasting as a glimpse into the future as much as an homage to wine’s most storied history.”
Most Memorable Wine
I felt that it looks like there were some interesting choices in the County lineup for this salon. Some underdogs made the cut, while other, more obvious representations of “County Burgundies” weren’t shown. It’s important to note two things here: first, that our mission here is to taste and share the the wines of PEC. That means that we won’t necessarily always stack the lineups in ways that are expected, but rather in ways that contrast and complement one another to make a meaningful tasting. Secondly, not all bottles are available at all times, so different wineries will make the lineups at different times—look out for “County Burgundies, Part II”. This lineup was fun because of its diversity. Ultimately, Exultet’s “The Beloved” took the most memorable award at this salon—it was not only delicious, but very few of us ‘cellar rats’ in attendance had tasted it, so it was a special experience. In the ‘Elsewhere’ category, the 2016 Domaine Gachot-Monot Côte de Nuits-Villages
Sugarbush Vineyards Chardonnay, Hillier 2018
Very representative of the Chablisienne style of chardonnay, you’ll find aromas of churned butter, ripe melon, and flinty mineral over a silky palate that offers lemon curd, ripe melon, and notes of key lime over crisp limestone acidity.
Long Dog Chardonnay “Bella Bella,” South Bay 2014
Aromas of pineapple, butterscotch, and honey, with hints of citrus that cradle a smoky, savoury note with flavours of pear, melon, and restrained vanilla notes. Often described as the “most Burgundian” of all county chardonnays.
Casa Dea Estates Gamay, Hillier 2017
Opens to a lively purple color, showing aromas of peppery black fruit. On the palate, bramble berries and juicy black fruit dominate with light tannins and tangy, yet balanced acidity and a whisper of oak spice.
The Grange of Prince Edward Gamay Noir, Hillier 2016
A more old-world styled gamay with cherry, redcurrant, cranberry, and notes of saddle leather up front over a palate that offers roasted, smoky, and grilled notes and a ribbon of ripe black fruits. Finishes dry with mineral freshness.
Karlo Estates “Estate” Pinot Noir, Hillier 2016
Deep, dark, and expressive with aromas of black tea, cherry, cedar, and tobacco, giving way to a palate replete with cranberry, cassis, cigar box, truffle, and a hint of clove and leather on the back end with elegant tannins that linger on.
Exultet Estates Pinot Noir “The Beloved,” South Bay 2016
Richly perfumed nose of jammy black cherry fruit and spice. The palate is surprisingly full-bodied with opulent fruit and vanilla notes and just a hint of oak spice over a voluptuous creaminess that just doesn’t quit.
Domaine Bellanand Pouilly Fuissé, France 2016
Mineral and white fruits rise to the fore with lemon, melon, and beeswax on the nose, echoing on the rich, round palate with notes of of butter, honey, and hazelnuts. Finishes dry with a tangy kiss of red apple.
Domaine de la Ranche Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais Cru, France, 2015
Deep purple colour with intense aromas of mulberry, cherry, and black berry fruit. The palate is rich, yet fresh; medium-bodied with notes of dark chocolate, wet stone, and pepper dancing through a grippy mineral finish.
Domaine Gachot-Monot Côte de Nuits-Villages, France 2016
Opens with soft aromas of fresh, tart cherry fruit and underbrush, giving way to blackcurrant, mushroom, and notes of cinnamon on the palate. Meaty, savoury notes round off on the back with still-youthful tannins and mineral underscoring the finish.
Bonus Pour: Failla Pinot Noir “Keefer Ranch,” Russian River Valley, California 2015
Floral and bright with aromas of tart cherry, pomegranate, cherry cola, and orange zest with just a hint of forest mushroom. Soft, stylish, and delicate on the palate with bright cherry, cola, and a slight savoury note that is typical of the Russian River Valley.