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Some Thoughts

May 31, 2009

Well let me write what I wanted to write last week before I was side-tracked.

This wine region is still in its infancy. We know what should work but now there are people who are basically breaking the rules. Sometimes rules just become an excuse for not trying.

So here are some of my thoughts:

Syrah really shouldn't work. Its Southern French and the Aussies have made it their hallmark so why does the local stuff taste so good? It had issues this winter but lets look at the 3 that I really like. Muscedere's is expensive, but very good. Aleksander's is wonderful and Smith and Wilson's is fabulous. We seem to have some great success. Nay-sayers will say its a fluke and these wines will disappear as the grapes die, but maybe not. I really like the local syrahs as they dont have that jammy over-ripe characteristic that I hate. There's a textural note and basically I like cool weather grape varieties as I find that they are more refined.

Pinot Noir: Again I was led to believe that it won't work. Clay soil, too humid BUT taste them. Pelee's cheap won won the Pinkis challenge and awards at the all Canadian. I just don't get it as I think it is the worst one made down here, but it is the cheapest too. Sal D'angelo started the Pinot thing down here and his is wonderful as is Muscedere's, Viewpoints and Aleksander's. Sprucewoods is a fine patio sipper and may be a wee bit light for alot of foods but it is great by its own. So Pinot here is settling in.

Chardonnay: this is where this area shines. The best wine in the area is ViewPiointe's Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. It is also $30 so it should be. All the wineries do a Chardonnay and they are all different. Exotic fruit, green apples, its all here. They are just so nice and for the oak eaters out there Pelee's Barrel Fermented is just for you. It too oaked for me but hey who am I to say.

The Bordeaux Blends. Meritage is a big thing here and again it is done well. The climate allows the grapes to fully mature without getting too much sugar, so the wine ends up 12-13% alcohol like France. There is acid still there for Malolactic Fermentation to eat so it comes out great. Cab/Merlot blends are done well down here. I enjoy them and at the proper alcohol I tend not to become a “weeble” every night.

Just remember that grapes don't like clay, its too cold, too hot in the summer, too humid and if your not on the lake, forget it…..oops double gold for Muscedere Pinot and its here, on clay, off the lake and the only good wine comes from the Okanagen….right??????? We can do it here..all of the county was graped before tobacco took over…its like what they said about Sonoma.Can't ripen grapes there either…guess I'm just too stupid to realize.

The wineries themselves are growing and improving. The biggest steps forward have been accomplished by Aleksander and Erie Shores. Both were fine before, but I taste so much more now. They have raised their game and others haven't improved as fast so its just getting better. A good thing is that I see no regression in quality from anyone so that makes me happy.

So where are we headed. Napa east…no. Sonoma …well maybe. I really see us as the area that tries but won't get the recognition. The writers are in Toronto so they go to Prince Edward County and Niagara. Its three hours down here and why should they come to Windsor…oi its terrible…oh my hair gets dirty driving thru. I've heard them all. Lets just hope that our American cousins find out as we have Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and the home of the Ghoul, Parma Ohio are all closer than Toronto. Just remember that the marina's on Lake Erie are about 3 hrs from Cleveland by boat and there is the ferry to Sandusky. So lets let Toronto go and cater to American's.

What we need are integrated restaurants. By that I mean ones that focus on local produce and wine. I read Ted Whipp's column on CR 34 where I habituate and was saddened by learning that one of the food stands had never seen a local chef and she would be happy to work with them Shame on the chefs. I guess its easier to call a green grocer than to get off your ass and go to the county. Oi. So until the majority of chefs get their heads out of their asses we will not grow as a region and while we are at it the restaurants MUST push local wines. It may take time and effort but it will pay dividends. Go to Niagara and try to see Yellow Penguin on a wine list…no mainly local local local. That is what we need.

Poor guys like John Driedger of Calabria in Cottam to carry the water for the restaurants. He and other enlightened people can only do so much.

But I am optimistic. In the 5 years that I have gone local I have been pleasantly surprised about the quality and really don't miss other areas. Oh yes I still buy from France, Italy, Spain and California but not as much, because I can just go down the road and get local stuff thats just as good. So when the Lickbo goes on strike (93% voted to strike) I'll be happily ok and well versed on whats here and well I will get along just fine. Well for vodka, I will have issues…oh well.


BTW email me at essex_wine_report@ if you want to comment and I will post it.

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