By Rick VanSickle
Not to be “contrary” here, but when Pinot Noir-ist and Chardo-nista Kevin Panagapka steps away from his core varietals you have to wonder: What the hell is going on?
The 2027 Cellars winemaker and owner, now with his own retail shop attached to the Calamus Winery in Jordan, has just released a proprietary white blend called Contrary — made from Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. Put this under the category of “I thought I would never see this day.”
Ever since I’ve followed Panagapka (pictured below outside his retail/tasting facility at Calamus winery) from those early ground-breaking single-vineyard Pinots, Chards and Rieslings as a virtual winemaker working out of rented spaces, later adding sparkling, then more single-vineyard Pinots and Chards, rosé, more sparkling wines, new licences and finally a tasting room and the ability to sell directly to consumers, and now this: 2027 Cellars Contrary.
“This is a wine that we never thought we would make,” 2027 Cellars says in a news release. “With our focus on single-vineyard wines, this went against all we had worked toward.” But “just for the fun of it,” Panagapka decided to see what they would be like blended together. “The resulting wine was too good to not bottle, and ‘Contrary’ was born.”
And, people, it doesn’t end there. Also new to the portfolio is a Pinot Gris. Mind you, it’s a single-vineyard Pinot Gris, a single-vineyard Gris made by Panagapka. But still, the world seems a little upside down right now. Now, it should be said that these are two new wines done in the Panakapka way — attention to detail, low intervention and, in the case of the Pinot Gris, with the minerality touch he brings with all his single vineyard wines.
We have new reviews for those two wines, plus two core wines, a single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. All are available here online or for curbside pickup.
2027 Cellars Contrary White Blend 2019 ($16, 88 points) — Made from a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, this has a fruit-laden nose of lime, peach, apricot, delicious apple and lemon blossom. It’s ripe and packed with flavours of orchard fruits, apricot and just a hint of sweetness. Backyard staple this summer.
2027 Cellars Falls Vineyard Pinot Gris 2019 ($25, 89 points) — Hand harvested from the Falls Vineyard comes this first Pinot Gris made under the 2027 Cellars label. It was cold fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled early in February to protect the aromatic fruit component. A lovely minerally expression of Pinot Gris with a nose of white peach, honeydew melon, tangerine, crisp apple and citrus rind. It has energy and verve on the palate driving apple, peach, melon, ginger and lime zest on a dry, vibrant finish.
2027 Cellars King Street Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 ($30, 92 points) — The King Street Vineyard on the Twenty Mile Bench was cropped at 2 tonnes per acre and the grapes were hand harvested and hand sorted. The fruit was destemmed and 30% of it was crushed prior to a two-week cold-soak and maceration, followed by wild fermentation. The resulting wine was pressed into tank and then racked to Burgundian oak barrel (40% new), where it aged on its primary lees for 14 months before being bottled. It has an earthy/meaty entry on the nose, turning to savoury cherries, brambly raspberries, red currants, spice and anise. Lovely Old School Pinot with rustic/earthy/meaty notes to go with dark cherries, anise, licorice, smooth tannins, light spice and minerals through a perky finish.
2027 Cellars Wismer Vineyard Fox Croft Block Riesling 2019 $23, 93 points) — The grapes were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed for gentle juice extraction. The wine was racked off the lees after 48 hours of cold settling, and fermented in stainless steel at 12 C over the course of three weeks. It was bottled in January 2020 to preserve aromatic fruit intensity. I’ve always loved how Panagapka handles his sourced Riesling, especially from the famed Wismer Vineyard Foxcroft Block. This is such a baby at the moment and needs time to full express itself. It shows a pretty nose of lime, grapefruit and citrus rind with waves of stony minerality. The palate reveals ripe stone fruits, fresh saline notes, rocky minerality, touch of ginger and lip-smacking acidity through an electric finish. I see this aging well for 10+ years. Really nice Niagara Riesling.