It’s always been a family affair at the Niagara-on-the-Lake winery PondView.
The family-owned operations are headed by Lou and Adriana Puglisi (top photo), who turned a large grape-growing tradition, that was handed down from one generation to the next, into a major winemaking operation in just a few short years.
The Puglisi family story begins in Sicily, Italy many years ago. The family first grew vines and produced their own wine, as many Italians did. When Giuseppe Puglisi emigrated to Canada in 1965, he brought with him his passion for grape-growing and winemaking. It is his son, Lou, who has been passed the torch and now carries on the family tradition and has taken it to a new level.
The first wines released at PondView were from the 2009 vintage. Out of the gate the wines, which are made by Fred Di Profio (above), showed great promise. I was impressed with the debut release of the Chardonnays and was able to revisit the PondView Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 after Puglisi pulled one from his cellar to taste.
It had aged beautifully, with gorgeous creamy pear and soft apple notes, with room to improve further.
I tasted the range of PondView wines with Puglisi, Di Profio and winery manager Marcel Morgenstern last week and was impressed with the growth of the portfolio. The top tier Bella Terra wines include a classy range of Bordeaux-style reds as well as the award-winning Bella Terra Chardonnay.
Di Profio also pulled a barrel sample of the winery’s first appassimento-style wine — a Cabernet-Merlot blend made from grapes dried in a greenhouse and finished at 17% alc. The wine is a big bruiser and will impress fans of Amarone style wines when it’s bottled.
Here’s what I liked from the tasting.
PondView Viognier 2014 ($17, winery only, 88 points) — A third of the fruit is barrel-fermented to give the wine a bit of complexity and texture. The nose shows creamy pear and apple with a nice apricot component. It’s crisp on the palate with apple, mango and pear fruit that’s propped up by natural acidity through the finish.
PondView Dragonfly Pinot Grigio 2013 ($17, LCBO, 87 points) — An expressive nose of apple and melon. It’s bright and crisp on the palate with fresh apple and a touch of melon and citrus through the finish.
PondView Bella Terra Chardonnay 2012 ($25, winery only, 91 points) — What a difference a few years makes. When I last tasted this wine, the 2009 vintage, is was a completely different wine (see review below). The earlier version was heavily oaked (American oak) and all forward fruit and opulence. The 2012, even in the warm vintage, shows restraint and finesse. The nose is fresh and balanced with apple, pear and citrus notes with light caramel spice and minerals. The oak has changed to all French with only a third new barrels. It’s elegant and balanced on the palate with a mélange of fruit and lightly toasted spice that offers a poised and seductive Chardonnay through the finish. A beautiful wine.
PondView Bella Terra Chardonnay 2009 — The wine was aged in 100% new, 60% French and 40% America oak for 12 months. It starts with rich, spicy vanilla, toast, apple tart and tropical-pear fruit on the nose. It’s rich and layered on the palate with integrated, yet well-defined fruit and spice that’s persistent and lingering through the finish.
PondView Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 ($17, winery only, 89 points) — This was fermented in in stainless steel but made in the sur lie method with the wine resting on the less for 6 months to give it a creamy texture. Nice aromatics of poached pear, lemon, grapefruit and apple. It’s rich on the palate with fleshy fruit, cream and apple notes through a long, lush finish. Pondview owner, Lou Puglisi, pulled a bottle of his first vintage, the 2009, from his cellar to compare and I was impressed with the aging potential. The wine was still alive and had integrated beautifully with bottle age. I love this style of Chardonnay that gives immense pleasure without the use of oak.
PondView Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 Unfiltered ($35, winery only, 91 points) — Gorgeous nose of concentrated cherry-kirsch, raspberry, cassis and touches of anise, bay leaves and a range of spices and herbs. It’s thick, rich and flavourful on the palate with good concentration of succulent fruit flavours, a balanced approach to spice and tannins and structure through the finish. “I truly believe Cabernet Franc is the flagship red for Ontario,” Puglisi said during our tasting.
PondView Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 2012 ($35, 90 points) — From older vines at the estate, 20-plus years, with a rich, bold nose of blackberry jam, old-fashioned raspberry, cherry, kirsch, blackberry and fine oak spices. It’s structured and beefy on the palate with bold fruit flavours, firm tannins, integrated spice and licorice, earth accents. Cellar 10-plus years.
PondView Bella Terra Meritage Unfiltered 2012 ($40, 91 points) — The top wine from the estate, it’s a blend of one-third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. A very nice and harmonious nose of meaty/beefy/earthy fruit, cherry/raspberry, gorgeous barrel spice and raspberry pie. Wonderful structure on the palate with blackberry, cassis, cherry and a lavish array of spices. Already nicely balanced but will certainly improve with aging.