It is amazing how lifestyles change in a matter of less than two years. We definitely used to go out, much more often. We now eat in, way more often, but the silver lining is that we are actually drinking some of the wines that we have forgotten about, or had gotten mislaid. My father’s family ended up in Canada, after the genocide and they were in the Hamilton and St. Catherines area of Ontario, which is now wine country, fifty years ago, it wasn’t, but that is another story. My Bride and I still like to go to that part of the world, and once the current “world leaders” figure out, how to open up the longest peaceful border in the world, we will go back again. After all, give me a day or two and I will be speaking Canadian like a native.
One of the mislaid bottles of wine was from the Niagara-on-the-Lake wine region, or as the locals like to say NOTL. We visited and tasted and left with wine from Small Talk Vineyards. The closest that we found to some of the small wineries of Michigan was Small Talk Vineyards. They are a fifty-year-old private estate and as soon as you pull up to their parking lot, you know that it is going to be fun. Splashy vibrant colors attack you immediately. There is a huge sign saying “Come In, Come In.” You just know that it is going to be a fun visit, because they are having fun. The tasting room is like a patio with more vibrant colors. The wines are front and center, and in case you missed the bottle from what they are pouring from, there are huge posters on the walls duplicating not only the front label, but the back label as well, because the front is what you say, and the back, may be what you are thinking. The wines, were as much fun as the winery. Small Talk Vineyards Burning Ambition Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA 2012 was a Riesling and Gewürztraminer blend that was aged in Stainless Steel. They are a family-owned small batch winery, originally bought in 1954 as a fruit and poultry farm, and in 1985 they began planting a vineyard. It now has seventy-eight acres and grows eleven varietals. We had a nine-year-old white wine and we took a chance and chilled the wine to have with dinner, as we have had some great results with some older Riesling wines, as well as some older Gewürztraminer wines. We were very happy, as the wine was still youthful with a great floral nose, fresh fruit and just the right number of spices. When I just recently did a Google search, my original article on our visit was the sixth site mentioned, just a bit of bragging. Of course, it was our last bottle, and it made me think of the sign that they had on our way back to the parking lot “Good riddance, we thought you’d never leave.”
Henry of Pelham Family Estate Baco Noir Ontario VQA 2019 was the first wine from Canada that I had from my local wine shop, and it is a winery that I knew of, but we had never visited while we were on either of our trips to Niagara-on-the-Lake region. Three sons ages nine, fourteen and sixteen were the creators of the original vineyard that they planted shovel by shovel in 1984, while their parents were back in Toronto. The first harvest was in 1988 and they didn’t even have barrels initially for the first harvest. The wine was successful and they were one of the early wineries for the area. This fruit is grown in the Short Hills Bench of the Niagara Peninsula. Baco Noir is a Cold-Hardy hybrid that was developed for North America, especially in the North-eastern parts of the United State and Canada, but it is also found in Michigan and Ohio that I know of for sure. The grape is a blend of the French Folle Blanche and the local Grande Glabre. It is a popular grape for Northern climes as the grape matures quickly on the vine, with high acidity and the winegrowers try to extend the growing season as long as possible to tame the acidity. These grapes are grown on the original vineyard site of Henry of Pelham, and was one of the earliest known planting of grapes for Canada in 1842. The wine went through full maceration and fermentation in Stainless Steel and then aged for six to eight months in American Oak, of which twenty-four percent was new. The wine was a nice dark red with notes of currants and blueberries, some spice and a nice toasted oak finish. So, I guess it is time for me to take off my chesterfield and go into the parlour and watch “Hockey Night in Canada” -eh?