Rosehall Run winemaker Dan Sullivan calls the 2014 vintage “the best year ever for classically structured, intense and refined Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in my dozen years of winemaking in Prince Edward County.”
But he admits that timing was everything for growers and winemakers. The season got off to a slow start with snow on the ground until mid-April and a winter of severe cold. Most County winemakers bury their vines in the fall and that paid off with minimal bud damage (unlike other regions in Ontario.
Work in the vineyard, such as early leaf pulling, shoot thinning and an early green harvest, helped provide needed warmth for the grapes early in the season.
A warm September was the saving grace, says Sullivan, as the vines shifted into another gear and the resulting fruit came in “clean, ripe and lean with good acidity, excellent flavours and balance.”
The estate-grown Hungry Point unoaked Chardonnay, bottled in early February, was the first wine released by the winery and “captures the essence of both time and place in bold, youthful, pure, crisp flavours,” said Sullivan, pictured left.
Here are three wines just released by Rosehall along with a selection of other wines from Niagara, including Fielding Estate, Chateau des Charmes and Henry of Pelham.
Rosehall Run (Prince Edward County)
Rosehall Run Hungry Point Pinot Noir 2013, Prince Edward County ($25, 91 points) — A nose of swirling cherry, savoury spice, red plum and a core of minerality. It’s gorgeous on the palate, though shy at first, it opens up to brambly cherry-raspberry fruit, fine oak spice, layers of fruit and crisp acidity. Classic County Pinot Noir.
Rosehall Run Hungry Point Unoaked Chardonnay 2014 ($20, 89 points) — Delicious and personable unoaked Chard with a nose of peach, apple and guava fruit with underlying mineral notes. It shows a full range of fruit — mango, pear, apple, guava — and minerality on the palate that’s perfectly balanced and refreshing through the finish.
Rosehall Run The Righteous Dude Riesling 2014 ($20, 91 points) — The fruit is sourced from a single vineyard on Niagara’s Twenty Mile Bench. It shows a nose of fragrant lime, grapefruit, apple skin and lovely minerality. It’s made with a kiss of sweetness with citrus and river rock minerality on the palate that is carried on a beam of vibrant acidity. Juicy, sweet-tart fruits, and minerals define this fine Riesling.
Fielding Estate Winery (Niagara, Beamsville Bench)
Fielding Estate Chardonnay 2013 ($22, 88 points) — Aromas of ripe peaches, apples, integrated spices and underlying citrus fruit. It has lovely texture on the palate but the fruit is the star attraction with oak playing a supporting role. Friendly Chardonnay.
Fielding Estate Cabernet-Syrah 2012 ($25, 90 points) — The blend is Cabernet Sauvigon (45%), Syrah ($30) with rest Cabernet Franc. The nose is gorgeous with sweet cassis, blueberry, wood smoke, bramble, blackberries and mocha spice. Nicely balanced on the palate with a complex array of blueberries, cassis, currants, pepper and spice.
Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($30, fall release, 92 points) — A very difficult variety to work with in Niagara but 2012 offered a warm reprieve to achieve optimal ripeness. The nose shows rich barrel spices against a background of ripe blackberries, cherries, bramble, earth with nothing overdone. It’s structured with fine tannic grip on the palate and shows delicious currants, blackberries and cherries with an array of oak barrel spices. Very fine, with both balance and finesse. Cellar worthy.
Henry of Pelham (Niagara, Short Hills Bench)
Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2013 ($50 for 375 ml, 93 points) — A gorgeous and enthralling nose of profound honeycomb, citrus, marmalade and rich tropical fruits. It’s silky and luxurious on the palate with sweet compoted peach, citrus and pureed tropical fruits against a honey-rich background. Plenty of acidity here, to bring this into balance on the palate. Icewine at its finest.
Henry of Pelham Select Late Harvest Vidal 2012 ($20 for 375 ml, 90 points) — A late harvest Vidal that shows lively, fresh aromas of peach, marzipan, lychee and a touch of spice. It’s a different style of Vidal with flavours of peach, mango and nutmeg spice that’s juicy in the mouth but not cloying. A tasty sweetie.
Chateau des Charmes (Niagara, St. David’s Bench)
Chateau des Charmes Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2013 ($14, 88 points) — Not sure there’s a better value Chardonnay being made in Niagara. On the nose there’s pear and citrus notes with light vanilla spice. It is restrained on the palate but opens up to a wonderfully balanced wine with pear, cream and spice all nicely balanced.