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It’s a brave new world for Niagara’s Rosewood Winery


The Roman family refuses to look behind them. What’s past is past and nothing will change that.

As I sip the Rosewood Semillon Select Series 2013 with Krystina Roman (top photo), sales/marketing and self described “social bee” at the Beamsville Bench winery, it’s with a tinge of sadness that this is the last vintage of that wine.

Those vines are all gone, along with the estate’s Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, all victims of the horrible Ontario winters of 2014-15. Mother Nature almost took their Pinot Noir, too, with the winery skipping the 2014 vintage and likely the 2015 vintage. But Roman expects a full recovery in the vineyard from that Bench stalwart.

This photo taken last spring shows the deal Merlot vines on the right at Rosewood. A sad, sad sight.
This photo taken last spring shows the dead Merlot vines on the right at Rosewood. A sad sight.

“There’s no more Merlot on the Bench,” Roman laments. “It’s all gone. It’s a sign we shouldn’t grow Merlot. It sucks, it’s scary … but Ontario will rise from this, we will rise from this.”

As for the Semillon, such a gorgeous and pure expression of the grape from Rosewood: “That’s a really hard wine to say goodbye to.”

The holes in the estate vineyards are being replaced. Pinot Gris and Gamay will replace the Semillon; Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot will replace the Merlot. Thankfully, the Rosewood portfolio is deep enough and spread over enough varietals that the devastation of the winter kill won’t put too much of a strain on the winery as it uses what it has left and will source what it needs to preserve its core wines while the newly-planted vineyards come into maturity.


The mood is upbeat at Rosewood. With winemaking consultant Ross Wise now full-time at the winery as the head winemaker, Roman is excited about the future.

“Ross hasn’t had a chance to flex his wings yet,” she says. “He’s such a vineyard focused winemaker.”
Wise finished the 2013 vintage but “the lineup here doesn’t reflect him yet.” Roman says the 2015 vintage will be his “show.”

Wise, she says, is “fully with us now … he’s ours and it was worth the wait, I think.”

Here’s what I liked from the upcoming and current portfolio at Rosewood as we tasted with Roman recently in the barrel room of the winery.


Rosewood Origin Series Mina’s Block Riesling 2014 (low $20s, release date TBA, 89 points) — The Mina’s was bumped up to the Origin Series from the Select Series for the 2014 vintage. Fruit is sourced from the estate’s 21st Street Vineyard on the Twenty Mile Bench. The nose shows grapefruit, orange blossom, lime and mineral notes. The palate reveals tart, refreshing citrus with a minerally-lime finish in a racy, dry style through the finish.

Rosewood Select Series Mina’s Block Riesling 2013 ($18, winery, 90 points) — This vintage is the first that Mina’s has been wild fermented, a process that didn’t occur with the 2014 vintage. The nose is a bit more robust with grapefruit, peach, stone fruit and underlying minerality. There’s more sweetness on the palate with juicy citrus and orchard fruits that are balanced out by fairly lively acidity.


Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling 2014 ($15, Vintages Aug. 22, 89 points) — At 9.9% abv., this is Rosewood’s lowest alcohol wine they have made. It has an interesting nose of marmalade, citrus, lime, Mandarin orange and crisp apple notes. It’s bright and juicy on the palate with citrus, orchard fruits and a smidge of sweetness on the finish.

Rosewood Origin Series Eighty-Six’d Chardonnay 2013 ($30, winery, 90 points) — Made with love from William Roman for his sister Krystina, with the fruit coming from a vineyard planted in 1986 (her birth year). This Chardonnay is wild fermented, unfiltered and unfined. The nose shows baked apple, citrus, tangerine and toasted vanilla spice. It’s quite delicious in the mouth and well balanced with mango, apple and subtle citrus against a backdrop of honey, cream and spice. Shows finesses through the finish.


Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir 2012 ($22, winery, Vintages release end of Sept., 88 points) — A nose of warm black cherry pie, nutmeg and cinnamon with black currant jam. A lovely, comforting Pinot with delicious oak spices on the palate yet balanced out by freshening acidity.

Rosewood Select Series Merlot 2012 ($22, winery, 90 points) — The fruit for this wine, the second last Select Series Merlot to be made from estate fruit at Rosewood, is sourced from three premium vineyards on the Beamsville and 20 Mile Bench. The nose shows a rich concentration of plums, cassis, cherry, nutmeg and oak spices. It shows the hallmarks of the vintage on the palate with a lavish display of black fruits and black cherry with an abundance of spice and ripe tannins. Wonderful Merlot and offered at a bargain price.


Rosewood Origin Cabernet Franc 2013 ($26, Vintages in October, 91 points) — Rosewood always does a nice job with Cab Franc. This one is wild fermented and is highly aromatic with thick cherry, herbs, bramble and a rich melange of barrel spices. It has lovely texture on the palate with smooth tannins, bold black cherry fruit, herbs, spice and well balanced through the finish.

Rosewood Locked and Loaded 2013 ($20, Oct.-Nov. release, 88 points) — An easier, lighter version of the Lock, Stock and Barrel that is Merlot dominant with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Future vintages will focus on the Cabernets with the loss the Merlot vineyards. The nose shows cherry, raspberry and currants with light spice notes. It’s balanced on the palate, but not overly concentrated, and built for mid-term drinking.


Rosewood Lock, Stock and Barrel 2013 ($35, Nov.-Dec. release, 90 points) — A red blend that combines all five traditional Bordeaux grapes. It’s quite dark in the glass with concentrated cherry, cassis, licorice, toasted spices and herbal notes on the nose. It’s rich and spicy on the palate with a melange of red and dark fruit to go with a structured feel on the palate and good acidity for balance.



Rosewood Mead Royale 2014 ($17 for 500 ml, LCBO, 92 points) — This is a barrel fermented and barrel aged wine made from the honey of bees raised on the estate. The nose shows wildflower honey, creamy pear, lanolin and white flower notes. It possesses such gorgeous texture on the palate with sweet wild honeycomb, almonds, vanilla cream and a smooth, rich delivery through the finish.