After we hosted this salon at MH, but before writing this piece, I attended the very cool blind wine tasting competition, The Judgement of Kingston. In its fourth year, the competition pits three PEC wines against the same varietal from another wine region in the world. This year, the grape was the beloved and revered Pinot Noir and the competitor was New Zealand. Spoiler Alert: County took the gold.

Pinot Noir is one of those handful of special things in the world that don’t have to hit you over the head to be great, it’s on the lighter side of the reds, with fruit-forward qualities and some earthiness or gamey qualities. Top somms, critics, and collectors all agree that this grape produces notable quantity of the world’s greatest wine.

Our gold win was a wine we’d included in the Cellar Salon Pinot Noir lineup five days before: Stanners Vineyard’s Narrow Rows Pinot, 2017. A gem.

Astrid on Pinot

I consider myself a pinotphile, so this theme is my personal favourite. No matter where it is grown and produced, Pinot Noir is diverse, versatile, and full of surprises. In the County, it’s so easy to delight and astonish. With so many distinct terroirs and the remarkable range of styles and quality, I love to see the look on people’s faces when they are awakened to the many faces of “the heartbreak grape.” For the Elsewhere selections, Burgundy was an “of course,” and the Sancerre was a delight, but introducing our Salon guests to California’s Santa Lucia Highlands appellation definitely gave me the greatest satisfaction. Cheers!



Most Memorable Wine

Home pick was very close again, but the discussion between tasters helped to focus the three choices from “favourite” to most memorable or surprising choice. The winner was the first up taste: Three Dog’s Malcolm’s Vineyard Pinot, 2017. Long Dog and Stanners were hot County contenders. For elsewhere wines, the CRU “Vineyard Montage” 2014 got a lot of talk—this wine was exciting universally, though I’ll abuse my editorial privilege and add that the François Feuillet Chambolle-Musigny was my favourite.

County Pinot, Part I: Wine Re-Cap (October 29)

Three Dog Winery “Malcolm’s Vineyard” Sophiasburgh Ridge, PEC 2017

Bright and lively with fresh raspberry on the nose. Light bodied on the palate with gorgeous bramble fruit, spice, and a hint of cherry cola that dances on the finish.

Karlo Estates, Lake on the Mountain, PEC 2017

Earthy up-front with wildflowers and field berries on the nose, cherry, cranberry, redcurrant and pipe tobacco notes, finishing with a lick of caramel and spice on the mineral-laden finish.

Long Dog “Top Dog” Reserva, South Bay, PEC 2016

Spice, earth, and pepper over ripe and dried cherry on the nose and just a hint of smoke. Finishes spicy and dry, perfectly balanced with distinct mineral freshness and fresh red cherries.

Closson Chase “Vineyard” Hillier, PEC 2017

Cherry, cranberry, and rhubarb on the nose, giving way to herbal, floral freshness, wood smoke and spice. Bright red berry fruit caresses the palate and finishes with fine tannins.

Stanners Vineyard, “Narrow Rows” Hillier 2017

Intense aromas of ripe black cherries, cranberries, and star anise. Packs a plummy punch on the mid-palate with earthy notes and spice, rounding off with exceptionally bright cherry, cedar, vanilla, and a slightly meaty note.

Lighthall Vineyards “Mes Trois Fils” South Bay 2017

Deeply colored and replete with concentrated cherry, pepper, baking spice, and a hint of leather on the nose. The lush, medium-to-full-bodied palate offers flavours of dark cherry-chocolate, raspberry, and sweet cream. Spice, vanilla, dried fruit, and smoke unfold on the finish with ripe tannins and balanced acidity.


CRU “Vineyard Montage” Santa Lucia Highlands, California USA 2014

Concentrated nose with cherry pie, spice, vanilla, and just a hint of tomato. The opulent palate delivers a punch of flavour you won’t soon forget, with complex layers of pomegranate, fresh cherries, black pepper, blackberries, and cocoa. Hints of olive, sweet tea, and exotic flowers on the back with hints of toasty oak that linger through the long luxe finish.

Jean-Marie Reverdy Sancerre “Heritage” France 2014

Harmonious and expressive with up-front aromas of smoke and grilled meat, overladen with ripe, dark berry fruit, and well-integrated oak. On one hand, quite savoury; on the other, a purity of languid red fruit dominates the core. Finishes with ripe oak tannins and a hint of wet stone.

François Feuillet Chambolle-Musigny, France 2013

Floral and fresh up-front with pure red berry and cherry fruit and just a hint of baking spice and smoke. Complex on the palate with layers of sweet red brambly fruit, chamomile, spice, and elegant, well-integrated tannins that carry the fruit through a satisfying finish.



1 Comment

    After a lengthy deliberation, a distinguished panel of wine experts and critics – Tony Aspler, Melissa Pulvermacher, Jennifer Huether, Magdalena Kaiserand Michael Godel – selected Stanners Vineyard’s 2017 “The Narrow Rows” Pinot Noir as the Gold Medal winner of the 4th annual Judgement of Kingston wine event. Silver and Bronze spots were taken by two New Zealand pinots, Villa Maria (Marlborough) and Thornbury (Central Otago). Meanwhile, the voting public selected Thornbury, a New Zealand pinot noir, as their first choice, with Stanner’s taking second place and another New Zealand pinot, Greystone (Waipara Valley) coming in at third.

    Commenting on the results, Professor Lubomyr Luciuk, one of the organizers of the Judgement of Kingston, said: “We are again seeing just how fantastic the wines from The County are. Against some very good New Zealand wines, our local winemakers have again done very well. That said, it’s also clear the public really enjoyed all of the New Zealand wines meaning everyone “won” at this blind wine-tasting event. Even better is how our silent auction raised over $6,000 for local and regional charities – Martha’s Table and the Christmas Hampers of Hope. We’re very grateful to all of the wineries and other donors who support our efforts and to our corporate sponsors. Next year the Judgement of Kingston will be on Saturday, 7 November, and we’ll be featuring chardonnays from The County compared with some of the best from Niagara, another one of the great Ontario wine-growing regions.”

    For more information about the Judgement of Kingston go to

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