A Visit to the Beamsville Bench

We have world class wines in the Niagara region that is just under 2 hours away.  So, I visited a few of the smaller boutique wineries in the Beamsville area to check out what’s new.

The first stop was Calamus Estate Winery.  It is unique since it is the only winery that has an observatory on the top floor.  It was purchased last year by the Van Helsdingen family.  Shortly thereafter, they hired the talented winemaker, Kevin Panagapka, to take care of their winemaking.   My favourites here were the Pinot Gris, Chardonnay (both oaked and unoaked), Cabernet Franc, and their Cabernet Sauvignon (we tasted it from the used Bourbon barrel it’s aging in, but it should be bottled shortly).

Next was Featherstone Estate Winery.  Featherstone is owned by David Johnson, winemaker and vineyard manager, and Louise Engel, who manages the winery and tasting room.  It’s an eco friendly winery that uses no insecticides, uses cover crops to control weeds and enrich the soil, and sheep to prune the lower shoots and leaves from the vines.  The way they control the birds that like to eat their grapes is unique as well.  Louise uses her Harris Hawk, Amadeus, to keep them at bay.  Be sure to try their Cabernet Franc, Rose, Riesling, Canadian oak Chardonnay, and Phoenix Gewürztraminer.

Our last stop was Greenlane Estate Winery.  Dianne Smith is the General Manager and Winemaker here.  I spoke with her a number of years ago and was impressed at her dedication to make sure they had perfectly ripe fruit for their Cabernet Franc.  If you like to travel with your pup, this is a dog friendly winery since Dianne brings her 2 dogs to work regularly.  Try their Rose, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet/Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

As customary, my ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by the British wine writer, Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.

Greenlane Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 ★★★ $13.95 (Winery, Order Online)  Dry with remarkable upfront ripe tropical fruit and lemon, and still fresh with good acidity.  If you want something cold for the patio, this is wonderful to sip by itself or try it with mango salad.

Marchesi di Barolo Gavi di Gavi 2017 ★★★½ $22.95 (Vintages)   A lovely Piedmont medium bodied, dry white with high acidity that exudes lemon, herbs, green apple, honey, and wet stones. It is a versatile wine that can be served with many dishes, but it is excellent with shrimp pasta.

Gran Feudo Rose 2017 ★★★★ $13.00 (LCBO)  A deep pink rose made from mostly Tempranillo with notes of strawberry, ripe red cherry, herbs and minerals from the Navarra region in Spain.  Excellent with appetizers, but will stand up to main courses as well.

Greenlane Rose 2018 ★★★½ $17.95 (Winery, Online)  A pale pink wine in the Provencal style made with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and some Riesling for aromatic lift.  Expect watermelon, grapefruit, lemon, and raspberry in this dry, medium bodied Rose.  Nice with a veggie and cheese plate or sip it by itself on a hot day.

Akakies Kir-Yianni Rose 2018 ★★★½ $13.95 (Vintages)  Although Greece is not particularly known for Rose, wines like this one could change that.  Medium pink colour with strawberries, rhubarb, lemon, grapefruit, and raspberry fruit, it’s very good and would match nicely with BBQ chicken marinated with lemon, rosemary, and garlic.

Chateau de Manissy Le Moulin Notre Dame Tavel Rose 2018 ★★★½ $16.90 (Vintages) If most Roses are too light for your taste, you need to try one from Tavel in the south of France. It’s a bigger, bolder, darker wine that will stand up to food with bigger flavours. This one is almost full bodied with intense red fruits plus it’s organic.

Fairview Goats Do Roam Red 2018 ★★★★ $12.95 (LCBO)  This dry red is from South Africa and its name is a very cute take on the French Cotes du Rhone wine region.  It’s a great value that’s very dark in the glass with flavours black plum and cherry, blackberry, strawberry, black pepper, and spice. You need this for your BBQ meals.

Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages 2017 ★★★½ $17.95 (Vintages)  Beaujolais can be lightly chilled even though its red, which makes it an appealing choice for the summer.  Beaujolais Villages is sourced from better vineyard sites.  So, expect a deeper colour and flavours of strawberry, herb, cranberry, and candied cherry.  A good choice for your charcuterie and cheese plate.

Kim Crawford Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2016 ★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages)  A good medium bodied red from one of the best areas for Cabernet and Merlot in New Zealand. It has black plum and cherry with cedar, dark chocolate, and a little coffee. Good with your grilled pork tenderloin.

Rymill Coonawarra MC2 2015 ★★★★½ $18.95 (Vintages)  This blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Australia’s best region for growing Cabernet, Coonawarra.  It’s dry with pronounced cassis and other dark fruits, cedar, tobacco, eucalyptus, and vanilla with ripe tannins.  It has a lot of complexity for the price point.