The Demystified Vine is back after a short hiatus. I have been studying my wine-loving butt off for my Sommelier certification. It is all done now, and I am ready to roll again! Thank you for your patience!
The last stop: Vineland Estate Winery
Located on Moyer Rd. in Vinelands, we rushed off from our tasting at Tawse to make it to Vinelands before they closed. When we got there, I had told the ladies behind the tasting bar that they should have been expecting us as relayed by Brian Schmidt. We all had a chuckle because they had wondered when we were all going to arrive, and they had just been discussing that we might not make it! It was the snow, obviously. Oh, and probably all of the great wines and food we had been trying. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try as many wines as I would have liked, because of timing. They were closing shortly, and we did have a long snowy drive back into Toronto. However, the wines I did taste were fabulous, and I was so pleased to see a single varietal Pinot Meunier and Fume Blanc being produced!
Vineland Estates opened its doors in 1983, and is run by a brother duo: Allan (President) and Brian (Winemaker since 1991). They are third generation wine industry professionals. Vineland Estates has consistently won numerous medals ranging from bronze to gold. Their winery also features an extra-special little thing: a bed and breakfast! If you’re feeling like the fully-rounded experience of a winery tour of the Niagara Bench, be sure to check out their quaint accommodations for the ultimate in the Niagara countryside.
Brian Schmidt, born in Kelowna, calls his winemaking style “minimalist by nature”. I think that a winemaker needs absolute confidence in his abilities in order to pull off minimalism with ease. Understanding the terroir one is working with, the varietals being used, and knowing the various winemaking techniques inside-out with such success year after year is impressive. I was quite pleased with all of the wines that I tasted, and look forward to trying more in the future!
Let’s begin with their 2011 Chenin Blanc. This wine is predominantly Chenin, but it includes 13% Riesling. A medium-intensity wine, this off dry beauty was filled with lemon tart notes, honeysuckle, and was beautifully balanced with acid and sugars. A pleasing wine with a clean finish.
The 2011 Gewurztraminer was a real treat. I personally adore Gew wines, and this was a fun wine with an interesting mix of violet, rose, and tropical fruits. I thought it was the closest Canadian wine to an Alsatian Gewurztraminer that I have ever tasted. Considering our climatic and terroir differences, this little finding was quite pleasing. The finish was filled with chalky lemon, and lingered on and on and on…
The only winery in Canada that I knew, up until that day, to be making a Fume Blanc, was Clos du Soleil out of the Similkameen Valley in Keremeos, BC. I was so excited to try out Vineland Estates’ Fume Blanc for the simple fact that I love Fume Blancs, and I wanted to do some comparing and contrasting. Vineland Estates’ Fume Blanc is part of their Reserve line of wines, and it is a unique and handsome beast. The vintage is 2007, and it is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and the abv is 12.5%. Tropical fruit, butterscotch, herbaceous notes, and tart lemons pleased my nose and palate. This wine was high acid, and had the most interesting long finish filled with smoke and flint. Yum.
I always enjoy a good rose that includes Pinot “Dusty” Meunier, but one won’t often find a single varietal wine from this grape. “Dusty” is typically used in blending, and rarely sees itself stand alone. Not at Vineland Estates! Brian did everyone a service by making and sharing this fantastic wine; good on you, Brian! The 2011 Pinot Meunier is a close relative of Pinot Noir, and so it holds some similar qualities to its “brother”. This wine was earthy and dusty. Its lighter body brought on red cherries and dark fruits which communed in the glass. A gravelly finish completed the tasting experience. I also bought a bottle of this. How could I resist?
Lastly, I tried two Cabernet Francs. I thought their 2011 Cabernet Franc was just delightful. A bold expression of Cabernet Franc, and yet completely approachable. I enjoyed the dance of red and black fruit, with a light smokiness from the oaking on the palate. Cherries and cloves, oh my! Such an interesting complexity for a lighter bodied wine! While I would have preferred to purchase another bottle of liquid Cabernet Franc gold while I was at Vineland Estates, alas, I could not. Their 2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve was off the charts delicious! I’m not sure if it was the touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and hint of Merlot that did it, but my tasting notes which are currently beside me say, “Wow!” Smooth cherried earth, a good tannic structure, and a long finish brimming with both tart and spiced fruits, cloves, and pepper…Need I say more?
Thanks for joining me on my Niagara Bench wine tour journey!