By Rick VanSickle and Michael Lowe
If there is a more progressive winery in Prince Edward County than Rosehall Run, we are not familiar with it.
Also in this Canadian Wine Report, we have reviews for two Okanagan Valley wineries, the Bartier Bros. and Lakeside Cellars.
It seems like every vintage there is something that is surprising. Last year it was the Pinot Noir terroir collaboration with between Rosehall winemaker (and owner) Dan Sullivan (above) and Malivoire winemaker Shiraz Mottiar, with both making wines from the other’s vineyard. In 2020, Rosehall introduced its first “Small Lots” rosé made entirely from estate grown Pinot Noir from the south block planted in 2003-2004.
In 2019, Sullivan unveiled a “Small Lots” collection from select single vineyards in both Niagara and PEC where he complemented his estate County Cabernet Franc and Merlot varietal wines with Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot from top single vineyards on the Twenty Mile Bench for a four-bottle repertoire of reds from the warm 2016 vintage in Ontario. Rarely a vintage goes by without something new for wine lovers to enjoy.
Fans of Rosehall will be treated to another surprise if visiting the winery this year. An old friend is being re-introduced by Sullivan and his team with the “St. Cindy redux, a wine that speaks to the coming of age our estate vineyard.” Sullivan tells Wines In Niagara.
“The St. Cindy name was given to the first two vintages of our estate Rosehall Vineyard wines in 2004 and 2005. Subsequently we shelved it in favour of Rosehall Vineyard and then JCR. It was pretty clear from the outset of the 2020 harvest that it was destined to be a special vintage. What made it so exceptional was how well every varietal has expressed the core essence of its inherent nature in both place and time.”
While Sullivan says that every year is an expression of terroir, “rarely is it displayed in such fine detail with such power” in year such as 2020. “Perhaps, (and I’ll admit it may be a small reach),” says Sullivan, “I think our vineyards are starting to display some of the texture and density that accrues from the memory that only ‘vielles vignes’ can invoke.”
For this report, the St. Cindy wines — a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir — were tasted along with a selection of other Rosehall Run wines, and we have to admit, these two wines are extraordinary. Serious collectors of Ontario Pinto and Chard are well advised to get some in your cellar.
Here’s our report, and please note, reviews were written by both Rick VanSickle (RV) and Michael Lowe (ML). Mike stepped in to ably assist with the reviews while Rick was recovering from COVID and temporarily lost his sense of smell and taste.
Rosehall Run Vineyards
St. Cindy wines
Rosehall Run St. Cindy Chardonnay 2020 ($74, 94 points) — The 2020 harvest was quite a short crop coming off a severe and unexpected early freeze in late November 2019. The Chardonnay in particular was most impacted and Rosehall used most of the fruit to render the 2×500 L French oak puncheons with enough unoaked wine to allow for topping and a couple of extra litres of unoaked wine that was used in the final cuvee that topped out at just under 1,000 L after racking and settling. Both the St. Cindy bottlings are unfined and unfiltered, so the racking losses were slightly more than usual as the winemaking team gently racked to ensure the wine was clear of lees. The elevage in one new, light, long toast and one second fill 500 L puncheon lasted from October 2020 to May 2022 — about 19 months in total and “my new associate winegrowing partner in crime,” says Sullivan, “Lee Baker oversaw the careful handling of this wine at the critical juncture of assemblage. His attention to detail in the handling of these wines bodes well for our future success.”
This is a special wine and that is evident on the nose. It is both elegant and generous on the nose with ripe pear, juicy apple, lemon curd, flinty/stoniness, bergamot, and lovely integrated spices. It’s quite rich and creamy on the palate, with PEC derived chalky/flinty notes, pronounced Bosc pear, golden apple, savoury notes, fine oak spices, some fleshiness but balanced out by mouth-watering acidity on a long finish. A beauty of a wine that can age for a few years to come. (RV)
Rosehall Run St. Cindy Pinot Noir 2020 ($79, 95 points) — “Turning to the Pinot Noir,” Sullivan says, “we had more options to work with as far as volumes and cooperage assemblage went. We ultimately decided on 25% new oak from a small forest called Jupilles and the balance 2nd fill Jupilles and Troncais – a total of 4×265 L. Clearly the ripeness of the year is reflected in the abv of about 13.5%.” The cuvaison of the Pinot was not exceedingly long, lasting 24 days, and the ferments were moderated by frequent moving of selected bins in and out of the estate’s cold room and temperature control of the one 25 hL tank used for some of the 2020 estate Pinot Noir. “There was some indigenous yeast activity during cold soak and the wines were pitched with a variety of selected natural cultures to complete primary fermentation,” Sullivan explains. “All of the Pinot was settled for a couple of days and then barrelled down to finish the last remnants of primary (fermentation) followed by a fairly quick MLF in barrel that was done by Christmas.”
This has an intense nose of black cherries, strawberry tart, cassis, brambly/earthy/forest floor notes, elegant spice, and savoury black raspberries. It’s rich and complex on the palate with the full range of ripe red berries, cassis, a touch of anise and fine oak nuances that all comes at you in layer after layer of pleasure. The fine-grained tannins add a measure of structure to this detailed Pinot Noir, and it all comes together on a long, finessed finish. Another beauty of wine that will reward with time in the cellar. (RV)
Rosehall Run Ceremony Blanc de Blancs 2017 ($39, 92 points) — This traditionally made, 100% Chardonnay has an inviting nose of brioche, toasted almonds, quince, grapefruit zest and a rich vein of freshening salinity. It has a vigorous mousse, a creamy texture with apple/pear fruit, flinty notes, citrus zest with mouth-watering acidity on the lifted finish. (RV)
Rosehall Run Indigo 2021 ($25, 90 points) — A fun sparkling blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Chardonnay Musque and Chardonnay from both the estate and Niagara fruit made in the charmat method. It’s fresh and vibrant on the nose with an energetic mousse that tapers off to a gentle bead. Look for melon, citrus zest, green apple, and orange rind. It’s bright and lively on the palate with a kiss of sweetness to go with lemon, melon, apple, lychee, and lovely floral notes with a zesty finish. (RV)
Rosehall Run Rosé of Pinot 2021 ($28, 89 points) — Made from estate Pinot Noir (80%) and the rest Pinot Gris, this lovely rosé has a pretty nose of fresh-picked raspberries, strawberry cream, cran-cherry notes, and subtle herbs. It’s bone-dry and crisp on the palate with a rainbow of red berries, a touch of earth, summer herbs and a clean, fresh finish. (RV)
Rosehall Run Hungry Point Pinot Gris 2021 ($29, 91 points) — A very aromatic Pinot Gris with floral notes of honeysuckle, ripe pear and apple underpinned with honey and pineapple. The palate shows layers of apple and pear up front with honey and mineral notes on the finish. Acidity is bright but held in check, balanced by the ripe fruit which persists on the long finish. (ML)
Rosehall Run Chardonnay Musqué 2021 ($26, 90 points) — The nose shows fresh lemon, green apple, and fruit blossoms with some mineral hints. The palate is fresh and zesty with citrus fruits and apple at the core, balanced acidity, and lingering, stony mineral notes on the finish. I would pair this with grilled shrimp, shellfish in delicate sauces and sashimi. (ML)
Rosehall Run JCR Pinot Noir 2020 ($45, late fall release, 93 points) — ln most vintages, the JCR is the top cuvee for both the Pinot and the Chard. But Sullivan used the quality of the vintage to re-introduce the St. Cindy wines as the crown jewels in 2020. But the JCR is no slouch! The nose shows plump and juicy black raspberries, sun-soaked strawberries, crunchy cranberries, pomegranate, some earthy/savoury notes, and a deft touch with the oak. The palate reveals concentrated red berries, anise and earthy/savoury notes with smooth, silky tannins, fine oak undertones and a lifted, finessed finish. (RV)
Rosehall Run Small Lots Silver Fox Block Pinot Noir 2020 ($39, fall release, 92 points) — Sullivan looks to his favourite Niagara vineyard, Nedelko Vineyard on the Twenty Mile Bench for this Pinot Noir from the warm 2020 vintage in Ontario. It’s a classic iron fist in a velvet glove Pinot with a bold nose of black raspberries, cassis, earthy/spicy notes, and anise. It has firm tannins on the palate but reveals pretty red berries, earthy notes and anise that is all together rich and complex with a spicy, lifted finish. Can cellar for 7+ years. (RV)
Rosehall Run UV 2020 ($44, fall release, 92 points) — The 52% Merlot and 48% Cabernet Sauvignon UV is a Niagara-sourced blend of fruit from the Nedelko Vineyard fruit from the Twenty Mile Bench. It shows ripe black cherries, black currants, cassis and enticing oak spices on the nose that is both riveting and enticing. The dense red and dark berries on the palate are joined by anise/licorice, and fresh turned soil with tannic structure. This is both a bold and flavourful wine, yes, but also nicely finessed on the finish. (RV)
New wines from the Okanagan Valley
The Bartier Bros.
The Bartier Bros. — Don and Michael (above) — grew up in the Okanagan Valley and have one singular goal: To make great wine that is unique and identifiable to its origin. “In the Okanagan Valley, we have a rare and precious combination of growing conditions; relatively high altitude, desert climate (hot days, cool nights), low humidity, tolerable winters from our moderating lakes, young soils lain over glacial till and all of this occurs at a very high latitude from the equator,” the brothers say. “The Okanagan epitomizes all of the great qualities, which the entire global wine industry scrambles to define itself as being.”
Bartier Bros. Rosé 2021 ($19, 88 points) — The blend for this rosé is 41% Gewürztraminer, 30% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Gris and the rest Syrah. The Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer were pressed whole cluster, while the Pinot Gris fermented on skins for 12 days to achieve colour and light tannins. It’s a pretty rosé on the nose with fresh wild red berries, cranberries, rose petals and a touch of zesty citrus. It’s bright and more overt on the palate with ripe raspberries, strawberries and just a touch of summer herbs, light tea tannins and citrus zest on the finish. (RV)
Bartier Bros. Chardonnay 2021 ($25, 90 points) — The fruit comes from the Cerqueira Vineyard Black Sage Terrace in Oliver. It was aged 100% in stainless steel for 6 months. A fresh, elegant nose of pear, juicy peach, quince, lemon zest and stony minerality. It’s crisp and bright on the palate with pure orchard fruits, flinty minerality and a chiseled, zippy finish. Bring on the shellfish! (RV)
Bartier Bros. Grüner Veltliner 2021 ($30, 90 points) — The Grüner Veltliner is blended with 11% Chardonnay and spends four months in stainless steel tank before bottling at 11% abv. It’s made in an attractive, fresh, and lifted style with zippy apple, grapefruit, fuzzy peach, lemon-lime and a floral note. It turns rounder, fleshier on the palate with ripe orchard fruits, apricots, touch of honey, lemon oil and minerals with a juicy, lifted finish. (RV)
Bartier Bros. Cabernet Franc 2020 ($30, 89 points) — This Cabernet Franc is sourced from the Black Sage Terrace in Oliver, B.C. with approximately 10% Merlot in the blend. Maturation in neutral French barrels (14 months) has preserved a fresh, fruit-forward style showing blackberry, plum and herbal notes on the nose and palate. With decanting some savoury, spicy and smoky hints emerge. The medium-length finish is framed by stony minerality and soft tannins. (ML)
Bartier Bros. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre 2020 ($45, 90 points) — This blend is comprised of 43% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre. Macerated for 19 days, the nose expresses lifted raspberries with floral, pepper, cinnamon, and delicate oak aromas. Ripe, juicy red berries dominate a palate which is rounded out by silky tannin and a medium to long finish. The fresh, fruit character of this wine will pair nicely with grilled or roasted lamb with fresh herbs. (ML)
Bartier Bros. The Orchard Row 2020 ($40, 90 points) — This wine is an intriguing blend dominated by Pinot Noir (55%), with 38% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot. On the nose, black cherry and blackberry set the stage with earthy, dried flowers and herbal notes supporting the fruit. Those same fruit elements emerge on the palate followed by earthy, forest floor nuances mid-palate and a chalky minerality on the finish. Pair with dishes featuring mushrooms, salmon, or duck with fruit-based sauces. (ML)
Bartier Bros. The Goal 2020 ($40, 91 points) — This is a blend of 56% Merlot and 44% Cabernet Franc. Ripe blackberries and sweet spice aromas dominate with subtle mint, anise, and dusty oak on the nose. There’s a rich elegance on the palate with plenty of dark fruit and spiciness, balanced with good acidity and integrated tannins and mineral notes on a long finish. (ML)
Bartier Bros. Cerqueira Vineyard Syrah 2020 ($30, 92 points) — The nose is intense with aromas of ripe, fleshy blackcurrant, plum and blueberry with hints of black pepper, leather, eucalyptus, and cedar. On the palate. it’s lush, complex, and structured showing layers of rich fruit with spice and herb notes on a long, mineral-tinged finish. Pair with rich meaty stews or roasted beef and lamb. (ML)
Lakeside Cellars is perched on the eastern shores of Lake Osoyoos and is the culmination of a lifelong commitment to farming. The estate now comprises a 14-acre parcel of land that was originally a vast cattle and agriculture enterprise dating back to 1882. In 2015, Harbans and Harkesh Dhaliwal purchased the historical landmark and resting place of the old Haynes Homestead.
Lakeside now also sits on the site of the first commercial orchard, owned and planted by Leslie Hill. The Hill Ranch stretched 1,100 acres on the eastern slop around Lake Osoyoos. Orchards of cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums, prunes, peaches, pears and apples, were first planted in the Okanagan north of the border.
Upon purchasing the lakeshore property in 2015, the Dhaliwals, Ricky and Danielle Dhaliwal (photo above), have inherited old-vine plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, planted in 1998. Their mission was to continue the tradition of agriculture on the property and guide its rich history towards the current Okanagan lifestyle.
Lakeside Cellars Bubbles 2021 ($22, 90 points) — This fun sparkling wine is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc from 22-year-old vines on the estate’s Osoyoos site. It has a bright and cheerful nose of green apple, melon, pear, subtle herbs, and lime zest. It shows moderate bubbles on the palate with a fresh, dry profile and a bright array of crisp apple, citrus, pear and a clean, lifted finish. (RV)
Lakeside Cellars Rosé 2021 ($22, 91 points) — This beautiful expression of rosé is made with 100% Cinsault. In the glass, it’s pale pink with a slight orange tinge. The nose is highly aromatic showing notes of raspberry, melon, and wildflowers. Crisp, juicy, and dry on the palate, it is loaded with tart, ripe red currants and raspberries which linger on the long finish. Pair with salty cured meats and soft creamy cheeses. (ML)
Lakeside Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ($24, 90 points) — Very floral with orange blossom aromas up front followed with gooseberry, fresh-cut grass, and a touch of melon. Vibrant lemon-lime and peach persist on the palate balanced by zesty acidity. This would pair beautifully with freshly shucked oysters. (ML)
Lakeside Cellars Cabernet Franc 2018 ($29, 91 points) — A deeply aromatic wine showing cassis, black cherry, dried flowers, anise, cedar, and fresh herbs on the nose. The palate is rich and complex with layers of juicy dark berries and plums accented with sweet spices throughout a long finish. It’s balanced with firm tannins and should cellar well for a few more years. (ML)