By Rick VanSickle
GreenLane Estate Winery only opened its doors in July, but already it’s starting to build a portfolio of wine for wine lovers to taste and buy.
The Cherry Ave. property in Beamsville is the former home of Birchwood Estate Winery. It was purchased by Robert Paul (who formerly ran the restaurant at EastDell Estate Winery) and partner Roger Elgner, a Toronto financier.
The estates sits on 22 acres of prime vineyards in the Twenty Valley and the new owners are dedicated to producing what they hope are some of Niagara’s finest hand harvested wines from mature vines dating back to 1990.
Only six wines have been bottled to date â€” five under the more affordable, generic label (or second label) called Greetings, which combines grapes from the estate with sourced premium Ontario-grown grapes, and one GreenLane wine, an estate icewine.
The goal for the GreenLane label is to produce wines with a “human touch,” which means all grapes are hand-picked and very little intervention in the winery. As well, the estate will follow organic and biodynamic practices and principals.
For now, consumers can enjoy the entry-level Greetings wines that are priced accordingly.
Here are a few to try (available only at the winery):
GreenLane Greetings Riesling 2009 ($15, 3.5 stars) â€” Aromas of lime, tropical fruits and some minerals. It’s a fleshy wine in the mouth with a touch of sweetness to go with citrus fruit.
GreenLane Greetings Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($15, 3.5 stars) â€” Nice blackberry-cherry aromas on the nose of this lighter fruit-forward wine. The fruits get a boost from licorice and spice on the palate.
GreenLane Estate Riesling Icewine ($30 for 200 ml, 3.5 stars) â€” I hope the winery will reconsider the synthetic cork used at the winery. I’d prefer screwcap, even with icewine, to synthetic. This sweet wine has a nose of apple, apricot, tropical fruits, citrus and honey that follows to the palate. On the sweet side.
Some other wines tasted recently:
Flat Rock Riddled 2007 ($25, Vintages, winery, 4 stars) â€” A fabulous bubbly (68% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay) with a no-fuss beer-bottle style crown cap that simply pops off with no spillage whatsoever. The nose is all about clean, fresh citrus, toast and mineral. It’s vibrant and lively on the palate with a vigorous mousse, lemon-lime zest flavours and razor-sharp acidity. In short, clean, fresh and bursting with flavour with a modern twist on the cap closure. Nice.
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Robert’s Block Riesling 2009 ($21, winery, 4.5 stars) â€” This is Staff’s greatest wine to date, but, heck, it’s only been two vintages so far for the young, dynamic winemaker at her own winery. It starts with sharp citrus, lime, peach and classic mineral notes on the nose. The mineral edge carries to the palate with added orange peel and lime that’s clean and refreshing with such wonderful clarity of fruit. A beautiful thing.
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Pinot Grigio 2009 ($21, winery, 4 stars) â€” Staff has finished this wine with a bit more residual sugar than her debut effort. The result is lifted apple-melon fruit with an added burst of sweet canned pear fruit on the palate. Might be an idea to call it Pinot Gris, to fit the style.
Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 ($20, Vintages, winery, 4 stars) â€” Pretty pear-vanilla aromas on the fresh and fragrant nose. The palate reveals toast, vanilla and oak tones to go with fresh fruits all nicely balanced.
Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2007 ($25, Vintages, winery, 4.5 stars) â€” Certainly among the best Bacos HoP has ever made. A smoky-spicy nose with currants, wild berries, toasty oak and touched with licorice. On the palate the fruits are dark, dense and concentrated with bacon fat, campfire smoke and wonderful texture. A meaty wine loaded with personality.
Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($15, Vintages, winery, 3.5 stars) â€” A nose of lime, grass and grapefruit. It’s tart and fresh in the mouth with fresh-squeezed lemon, lime and grapefruit flavours and juicy acidity.