Driving up the lane to the out of the way Coyote’s Run Estate Winery in St. Davids, the property is evenly split by two distinct vineyards that form the backbone of this country estates’ wine program.
You can’t immediately see the difference, but you certainly can taste it. It’s Black Paw Vineyard vs. Red Paw Vineyard. Or, if you will, Charlize Theron vs. Angelina Jolie. Let me explain.
RED PAW (Angelina Jolie) VINEYARD:
This vineyard has distinctly red Trafalgar clay loam formed by the weathering of the underlying Queenston shale bedrock. The soil is old, some 450 million years old, and stony, rich in iron (where the red comes from) with very little organic content, particularly infertile, and thus good for growing premium grapes.
The wines that emerge from Red Paw, especially in the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, are more fruit forward, opulent, fleshy, curvy, voluptuous (you can see where this is going), sexy, feminine and less restrained.
Which brings us to the Red Paw nickname (not endorsed by the winery, by the way, or Hollywood, for that matter), the Angelina Jolie Vineyard.
Jolie, who starred in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Gone in Sixty Seconds, and is married to the hunky, or so I am told, Brad Pitt who was stolen from Jennifer Aniston in a messy cat fight (that’s a entirely different story), is all of the above and more. She’s a wildly tattooed, curvaceous beauty that oozes raw sexuality from every pour. Both men and women have consistently rated Jolie the Sexiest Person Alive.
Like the Chardonnay that comes from Red Paw, Jolie is slathered in creamy goodness, from the bee-stung lips to her ravishing beauty, it’s impossible not to jump right in and enjoy the lush, rich flavours that are right there in front of you (we’re talking about the wine now, folks).
Now, being an equal opportunity sort of a guy, I thought I would offer up a beefcake analogy that fits the bill here. So, may I suggest Johnny Depp as the male version of Angelina Jolie?
BLACK PAW (Charlize Theron) VINEYARD:
Black Paw is all about the heavier, dark Toledo clay loam that’s more common in Niagara-on-the-Lake. And it’s young (comparatively) at 15,000 years old and was formed from lake-bed deposits from glacial Lake Iroquois. Toledo clay contains more organic matter than Trafalgar and, as a result, this soil holds more water and has higher heat retention. It’s quite tricky to grow vines on this soil, but the resulting fruit develops tremendous character.
Wines from this vineyard express more richness in the body of the wine, with more muted, restrained fruits in their youth, especially with the Chardonnay.
Which is exactly like Charlize Theron, hench the renamed Charlize Theron Vineyard. This classically beautiful star of The Cider House Rules, her raw, gritty performance in Monster and her star turn in the remade The Italian Job, has lit up the big screen with her pure beauty, green eyes and statuesque 5-foot-10 body for years. Black Paw is classic, restrained, complex and elegant, much like Theron’s feminine grace and class, which she carries with her whether it’s on the red carpet or partying in L.A.
Again, I offer up the male version of this scenario (I had help with this part), the very suave and debonair George Clooney.
With the summer release of both the Red Paw and Black Paw 2010 Chardonnays, from a rich, ripe and fruity hot vintage, you can taste and smell the remarkable differences of these two terroir-driven wines. It’s an astonishing feat, considering the close proximity of the two vineyards, merely divided by the road leading up to the winery.
On a warm, summer’s day in Coyote’s Run new open-air Vineyard Pavilion, with a plate of delicious cheeses, and a lunch of BBQ pork and chicken souvlaki, we tasted through the new releases of the estates’ wines with owner (and BBQ chef extraordinaire) Jeff Aubrey and winemaker David Sheppard. This is what I liked from the wines tasted starting with the now-named Jolie and Theron Chardonnays:
Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($22, winery, 90 points) — The Red Paw and Black Paw grapes are picked at the same time and vinified the same way so as to showcase the differences in the two. Both are barrel fermented and barrel aged for eight months in Hungarian oak, a mix of old and new. The nose shows creamy vanilla, pear, sweet spice, minerals and some tropical notes. It’s more fruit-forward than Black Paw and shows wonderful balance already. My suggestion would be to drink the Red Paw before the Black Paw.
Coyote’s Run Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($22, winery, 92 points) — A very complex Chardonnay that shows restraint on the nose with butterscotch, vanilla, poached pear and touch of citrus zest. On the palate, it’s a bit more robust with notes of mineral, flint and gorgeously integrated fruit. An elegant and evolving wine that can cellar for a few years to fully show its true potential.
Coyote’s Run Unoaked Chardonnay 2010 ($15, LCBO, winery, 88 points) — From grapes picked three weeks ahead of any other vintage, it shows perfumed tropical fruits, peach and citrus in a rich, fruity style. Ripe stone and tropical fruits, minerals, medium acid, and a slighty creamy texture (partial malo) in the mouth. Is there a better $15 Chard in Niagara?
Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Pinot Gris 2010 ($25, winery, 92 points) — Rare Vintage estate wines at Coyote’s Run are only made when the vintage lends itself to something special, such as this Pinot Gris. It’s barrel fermented in neutral Hungarian oak and aged for seven months, more for the mouth feel than the spices. It’s finished dry with sweet Bosc pear, melon and tropical notes on the nose. It’s rich and opulent in the mouth with ripe fruits, a creamy feel on the palate and a hint of spice on the finish. Very fine wine.
Coyote’s Run Cabernet Franc 2009 ($20, winery, 86 points) — A blend of Red and Black Paw Vineyard fruit with bramble, cherry, wild berry and tobacco leaf on the nose. It’s a medium weight red with fresh cherry fruit flavours in the mouth to go with raspberry and herbs and some savoury notes. Plenty of acid zip in this wine.
Aubrey also gave us a preview of a couple of wines that are still in development.
The inaugural Five-Mile Red (with grapes sourced from within five miles of Coyote’s Run) 2010, which will complement the Five-Mile White, a popular LCBO brand, isn’t out until next spring but shows promise with juicy blueberry, cherry and spice. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
Another one to watch for is the 2010 Rare Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, the first varietal Cab Sauv made at Coyote’s Run. It will be oak aged in French barrels for 16-20 months when finished. At this stage it shows big, beefy, chunky blackberry and red fruits. It’s going to be a fairly substantive wine when done.
END NOTE: My apologies to anyone who I may of offended by comparing Chardonnay to female movie stars. But I couldn’t help myself.