If you don’t live in the County, I guess it would seem that basically all of our wineries seem like they’re off the beaten path. When you live here, however, (and frequent those types of institutions) Danforth, Closson, Greer, and Loyalist show up as the big winery drags, while everything else requires various levels of adventuring. So Kirstyn Mayers, our former features editor and great friend to LIFE AU LAIT, created an awesome lineup of wine from the more remote streets and regions of PEC. If you know Kirstyn Mayers, you know that she’s a total genius who not only understands wine in a deep way, but also what’s important and cool in the industry—a killer combo.
Kirstyn on ‘Off The Beaten Path’
The County is forever changing and growing — there’s always something new to taste, somewhere new to explore. But even when you live here, it can be a challenge to make the trek to visit each and every winery. I brought together a few bottles from some of the most out-of-the-way places that cover a range of wine styles. Some of these are on my regular tasting route, while others I don’t get to nearly as often as I’d like. Come venture off the beaten path with me and discover a new favourite.
Most Memorable Wine
Trail’s ‘Oh Julius’ got everyone talking. What would we pair it with? When would we drink it? We returned to the topic several times, so it was no surprise that this wine got the most votes. A close second was Lighthall’s Pinot Gris, with its surprising and delightful honey and apple nose. From the ‘elsewhere’ lineup, was easily Gaia Assyrtiko ‘Thalassitis’—delicious and totally unfamiliar.
Trail Estate “Oh Julius” Pet Nat, Niagara/PEC 2019
A vibrant, effervescent orange wine with loads of tropical fruit on the nose. Aromatic Riesling, Viognier, Muscat Ottonel, and Gewürztraminer were destemmed and fermented on skins for one week, with another 17 days of skin contact before pressing. This wine was made with no sulphur or additives. Dubbed “the breakfast wine” at the salon, it finishes with a puckering tang of citrus that is certainly an eye-opener!
Exultet Estate Pinot Grigio, South Bay PEC 2017
A complex and more generous pinot grigio than you would expect from the name, but that’s not surprising in the world of Exultet. White floral and citrus notes on the nose over a mid-weight palate that echoes the nose with precise Asian pear, mineral, lychee fruit, and spice. Finishes long with a zesty, mineral flourish.
Lighthall Vineyards Pinot Gris, South Bay PEC 2017
Juicy aromas of ripe cantaloupe and pear with a distinct honeyed note on the nose. Baked apple and flambe’d pear on the palate as the honey continues to add intrigue, carried by a creamy texture from aging in neutral oak in line with the Alsatian winemaking style.
Redtail Vineyards Chardonnay, Hillier 2019
Fermented in new and neutral French oak barrels, then aged on lees in tank to preserve bright acidity and steely minerality. Sharp toasted notes up front give way to creamy lemon curd and fresh golden apple. Completely dry with rich texture and plenty of weight on the palate, this wine finishes with the complexity and length of a classic white Burgundy.
Domain Darius Gamay Nouveau, Huycks Point, PEC 2019
Harvested in late October from a single vineyard on Huycks Point Road and bottled one month later, this Gamay was made in the Nouveau Beaujolais style with partial carbonic maceration. It’s dry, approachable, and delightfully fruity with red cherry and violet aromas over a slightly stemmy, liquorous note. Zero oak contact and a short resting period retains the freshness of this light-bodied red.
Long Dog Winery Pinot Noir “The Otto” South Bay PEC 2015
Pronounced cranberry aromas and earthy, floral notes on the nose. Palate is spicy with slightly reductive notes of dried cherry and brandied orange zest. Finishes dry with a tangy, spicy note and fine oak tannins.
Gai’a Assyrtiko “Thalassitis” Santorini, Greece 2017
(Say it like this: Yay-Ya) Assyrtiko is an indigenous white grape in the region. Planted on volcanic soils at high elevations, the vines average 70 – 80 years old. Pronounced minerality on the nose, underscored by lemon zest and a lingering floral note. Complex and intriguing on the palate with fresh pear and an underlying creaminess from lees stirring, it finishes with a crisp mineral note.
Gai’a Agiorgitiko Nemea, Greece 2016
Intense aromas of spice and dried black plums opening up to a rich, velvety midpalate replete with cardamom, caramel, and a solid core of blackberry fruit. Finishes long with soft tannins, oak influences, and more spice.
Cos Frappato, Terre Siciliane IGP, Italy 2017 *Organic*
Surprisingly fresh and fruity, not what you would expect from Sicily, whose red wines tend to be on the jammy, low-acid, high-alcohol end of the scale. Vibrant, lifted aromas of fresh cherry, wild strawberries, and spice. The light-to-medium bodied palate gives up herbal notes, licorice, and graphite, finishing dry with fine tannins.