2017 was a magical vintage for Chardonnay. A long cool growing season with perfect September weather…warm days and cool nights allowing for beautiful physiological ripeness and maintaining fresh acidities.
Traditionally our Cuvée L Chardonnay has been a blend of Niagara and Prince Edward County fruit. Our 2017 is 100% Niagara, a blend of 4 different barrels from 4 different sites in the Niagara Escarpment. While these sites were delicious on their own, the combination of the flavours from each of these sites creates something magical. The sites are all clay/limestone based but are from four different elevations. The different elevations of the sites created a beautifully mineral driven and balanced Chardonnay, think refined Burgundy.
Due to a devastating late spring frost (May 23rd!), we lost most of our County crop in 2015 resulting in a minuscule yield of County grown Chardonnay. The resulting grapes acquired beautiful phenolic ripeness, perfectly in balance with fresh natural acidity and were bottled under our “Cuvée L” label.
Chardonnay was grown on 5 separate sites, all within 2km of the winery. Clonal selection was 80% clone 76 and 20% clone 95. The idea of blending the sites is to build complexity and richness from slightly different terroirs. Gentle, whole-cluster pressing of the fruit into horizontal stainless steel tanks where fermentation starts with indigenous yeasts from each individual vineyard block. Fermenting juice was then transferred to four 500L French oak barrels to complete ferment. The new oak component being 25%, the rest being 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill. Larger format barrels are used as a medium for better oak integration. Wine spent 12 months in oak before being transferred to stainless steel, on lees for an additional 10 months. The wine went sulfur free for 18 months and was bottled unfined and unfiltered with a minimum sulphur dose before bottling.
This is a 70% blend of Niagara Chardonnay and 30% County Chardonnay. Each of the components were fermented separately. Aged separately until November 2013 and then blended and put back to old 500 litre Fench oak barrels for an additional 6 months. While 2012 was a remarkably early year, we were blessed with warm days and cool evenings during the critical ripening cycle; these moderate temperatures allowed the grapes to obtain great phenolic ripeness while maintaining freshness and acidity. The wines were fermented with lots of lees which brought great structure.
While many reserve wines are big and bold, our wines are the opposite: our house style is very reserved. We produce wines with layers of nuanced flavours, rather than big, upfront flavour. This is only our second "Cuvee L" Chardonnay in 10 years, I think it exhibits the true potential of the clay/limestone soils and cooler temperatures we work with here in Southern Ontario.
Our "L" series wines are only made in the finest of years. Typically a blend decided for the specific year, the Cuvee "L" combines the lighter, more aromatic County wines with the more full bodied Niagara wines. The sum of the parts (two different terroirs) allow us to make a very complex wine. This is a 65% blend of Niagara Chardonnay and 35% County Chardonnay. Each of the components were fermented separately. Aged separately until November 2009 and then blended and put back to old 500 litre French oak barrels for an additional 6 months. 2008 was a magically cool year allowing us to achieve phenolic ripeness ahead of sugar ripeness. The wines were fermented with lots of lees which brought great structure. Malolactic fermentation only started in May 2009, finishing in August 2009. The wine went almost a full year sulphur free. This wine has great richness and minerality. Finishes with wonderful finesse.
Ian D'Agata , Stepen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright straw-gold. Very refined leesy, smoky nose offers complex aromas of creamy pineapple, peach and banana. Smooth, rich and dense, with deep flavors of banana, pineapple and ripe citrus fruits with a strong mineral overlay. Seems deeper, more refined and more complex than the other chardonnays here. Made from a blend of 60% Niagara and 40% Prince Edward County fruit.
Jamie Goode , The Wine Anorak
A blend of County and Niagara only made in the best years. Mineral, taut, matchstick nose. Lovely precision with some pith, spice and nice pear and citrus fruit. The palate is so fresh with great acidity and lovely structure. Very bright with a bit of pith and grapefruit, and lovely precision.