This month’s feature, The Roost, is a boutique winery located in a place where you may not think of grape growing – The Blue Mountains, near Collingwood. It’s owned by the husband and wife team, Jessica, the winemaker, and Michael, the vineyard manager. They planted their home vineyard in 2013/14 and The Roost opened to the public in 2017. With their 2020 harvest completed, the winery is closed to the public until Spring, but you can still order their wines online from their website.
This is not a well known vineyard area. The winters are cold (it is a ski area) even though they are tempered by the moderating effect of Georgian Bay. Despite that influence, they still need to cover some of their more sensitive vines with textile blankets to protect them from winterkill. Due to the severity of the weather, most of the grapes planted are cold climate varietals. These lesser known grape varietals include Frontenac, L’Acadie, and Marquette. These have been bred specifically to produce good wines, yet still survive cold winters.
Jessica obtains much of her fruit from their 5 acre home vineyard. Due to the climate, the focus of their winemaking is white grapes that ripen earlier. That being said, red wine lovers should not despair. They do make reds from early maturing grapes from their own vineyard, like Marquette, as well as fruit purchased from Niagara and local growers, like Four Wheel Farm near Creemore.
Looking at their wine portfolio, you will likely see some that you haven’t tried before and that’s a good thing! I’ve tried to give you a head start on some of their wines in this month’s blog. As mentioned, they do take online orders and will continue to ship over the winter. Check their website for discounts offers and enjoy some local wine!
My ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by 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.
The Roost Chardonnay 2018 ★★★★+ $48.95 (Winery) This remarkably rich, traditional Chardonnay was a small lot premium project from the warm 2018 growing season. It has a creamy palate with vanilla/nutmeg spice, butterscotch, toast, lemon, yellow apple, and dried pineapple with a brilliant seam of acidity for balance. Pair it up with equally rich flavours like chicken in a mushroom garlic cream sauce.
The Roost Chardonnay 2019 ★★★½+ $38.95 (Winery) Stylistically different from the 2018, this cooler vintage is lighter on its feet: aged partially in oak and partially in stainless steel. The vanilla oak spice is still there, but takes a back seat to the fresh green apple, citrus, and a degree of honey as a back note. It’s enjoyable to drink alone, but try to save some for your next roast chicken dinner.
The Roost L’Acadie 2019 ★★★½+ $22.95 (Winery) If you’ve tried Nova Scotia’s off dry style, this white will be a revelation. It’s bone dry clocking in at medium bodied. The nose shows intense pear, fresh grass, mineral, and there’s fresh lemony acidity on the palate with a long finish. If you like seafood, especially oysters, this will work beautifully.
The Roost Pinot Gris 2019 ★★★★ $24.95 (Winery) This is a racy, pale, dry, cool climate take on Pinot Gris (which leans a little towards the Pinot Grigio style) made with fruit from Four Wheel Farm near Creemore. It’s all about lemony, green apples with grapefruit peel and wet stone on the nose with just a trace of petrol along the lines of an aged Riesling. This strikes me as food wine that could easily cut the richness of roast pork for an enjoyable pairing.
The Roost Terroir Rosé 2019 ★★★½+ $24.95 (Winery) Four Wheel Farm’s 14 year old Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc vines supply the fruit. It’s a dry wine with bright acidity to frame the slightly herbaceous strawberry, cranberry, and McIntosh apple flavours. Sip it as an aperitif to remind you of summer or match it with a Quattro Stagioni pizza.
The Roost Rosé 2019 ★★★½ $19.95 (Winery) Made with 100% Pinot Noir from Niagara, this pale wine is a simple pleasure that reminds me of French Provencal Roses. Its acidity and dry character combined with its enlivened red berry and rhubarb shadings would make it a great wine for almost any food, particularly seafood and salads.
The Roost Marquette 2019 ★★★★+ $28.95 (Winery) Marquette, their flagship red, is a unique grape developed in Minnesota with Pinot Noir in its lineage. At present, it’s dry and medium bodied showing sour red cherry along with black cherry, florals, smoke, and clove spice, followed by a lingering finish. This wine has the potential to develop in the short term if you can hold onto it for a year. I had a chance to taste their sold out 2018 vintage to see how it changes as it matures and it’s worth the wait. So, try to hold it until mid-2021 to let it reach its full potential for your red meat and mushroom dishes.