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A rare, the only in Canada, and delicious Vignoles from Fielding Estate Winery plus other wine reviews


Vignoles is not exactly a household name in Niagara or anywhere in Canada, for that matter.

But this magical little white hybrid, more closely associated with the Finger Lakes region of New York, has a lot going for it. It does well as a late harvest variety, has high sugar levels while retaining high natural acids, and is susceptible to noble rot (botrytis), that converts easily into a beautiful sweet wine.

Fielding winemaker Richie Roberts with the 2010 Vignoles.

The only known Vignoles grown and made in Canada is at Fielding Estate Winery where Curtis Fielding has custom-grafted a mere third of an acre (350 vines) of the precious vines. The winery produces only 38 cases of 200 ml bottles (with more production planned).

The Curtis family planted a small amount of Vignoles when they founded the winery. Fielding and winemaker Richie Roberts were inspired by trips to the Finger Lakes wine region, especially the Anthony Road Winery, where they tasted bottles of late harvest and botrytis-affected wines made from Vignoles that they both felt were exceptional in quality and taste and would translate well to Niagara.

A small amount was made in 2009 from grapes frozen on the vine at Fielding and pressed while frozen (icewine style). None of the 2009 wines was made available for sale (though it was a gorgeous wine with lovely lemon, honey and apricot flavours).

With a larger crop, Fielding decided to sell the 2010 Vignoles, yet only 38 cases are for sale, and most of it is destined for wine club members. If you hurry you might be able to still snag a bottle or two of this special sweet wine at the winery or here from the Fielding website.

The 2010 vintage was harvested by hand on Dec. 9 and basket-pressed at -8C. The juice was allowed to settle before being fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel. The wine was then sterile filtered and bottled in March after being in tank for a short period.

Vignoles is not a recognized grape by VQA, therefore it is not a VQA wine. The alcohol is only 8%, with residual sugars at 210 g/l (compared to the Vidal below at 220 g/l).

Here’s a review of the 2010 Vignoles as well as the Vidal icewine and other newly released wines at Fielding.


Fielding Estate Vignoles 2010 ($35 for 200 ml, 92 points, only 38 cases made) — Like sticking your nose in a bowl of honey and lemon chiffon. Such a defined lemon-lime nose with fresh pineapple and honey notes. It’s textured, luxurious and concentrated on the palate with sweet lime pulp, candied citrus and red apple flavours to go with nice acidic structure, honey and length through the finish. A real treat.

Fielding Estate Vidal Icewine 2010 ($23 for 200 ml, 89 points) — A more traditional icewine from Niagara with wild honey, ripe tropical fruits, peach and marmalade on the nose. It’s intensely flavoured and thick on the palate with honey-sweet tropical fruits and medium acid.

CIMG5999Fielding Estate Chardonnay 2010 ($23, 88 points) — A pretty good mid-range Chardonnay with creamy-vanilla aromas on the nose to go with notes of toasty-nutty oak, spice, warm apple pie and tropical fruits. The palate reveals a spicy, creamy Chard with ripe fruits and balancing notes of caramel, roasted nuts, spice and decent acidity.

Fielding Estate Viognier 2010 ($31, 91 points) — Viognier in Niagara continues to impress me, especially the top examples such as this one from Fielding. The grapes were sourced from Niagara-on-the-Lake, picked to Roberts’ specifications. It is always the last white grape to come in for processing after being picked on Oct. 1. From there it’s sorted by hand, fermented in stainless steel and kept on the lees for three months. Such a gorgeous and intense nose of peach, apple, pear compote and smothered in creamy honey notes. It’s a ripe, juicy, layered and textural beauty in the mouth with peach, pear and hints of exotic white pepper, Christmas nutmeg-clove spice and persistence on the finish. It doesn’t show its 14% alcohol on the palate and Roberts says it’s built to show well through 2014.