NIAGARA UNCORKED: Serving no wine before its time
The Eleventh Post from Two Sisters Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The blend is an opulent red. (Bob Tymczyszyn/Standard Staff/Postmedia News)
I join Adam Pearce in the restaurant at Two Sisters Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
In the background is the clatter of pans and staff getting ready for the lunch and dinner guests later in the day.
Somehow it’s fitting, to be in here talking. Because the winery and kitchen are so symbiotic.
“Food here is as serious as our wine,” says Pearce.
The native of Thunder Bay is a graduate of the Niagara College wine program who first worked at Fielding Estates before moving out west to Pentage, a boutique winery near Penticton, B.C.
He returned to Niagara after five years when he and his wife decided to start a family and wanted to be closer to home.
A chance to work at the new winery which opened in the fall of 2014 was a good fit for the hardworking winemaker who doesn’t mind long days during the harvest.
“We look like a big winery but we only make 10,000 cases of wine,” says Pearce.
“We have a small group making the wines. I’m ultra hands-on, the more people you add the more you lose control.
“It means long hours. As harvest starts we’ll be going hard until Christmas, 26-hour days are not unusual.”
On either side of the road that leads up to the estate, you’ll find Cabernet Franc that he says was planted in 2007, the vines showing good age, producing more character in the wine.
“We really benefit the proximity to the river and the lake. Get a really nice convection. We get an earlier start in the spring and usually a pretty long hang time in the fall.
“That’s the fun thing here, it’s not without it’s challenges. Make the best wine every year, not the repeatable. Every year we typically get dealt a different hand by Mother Nature.
“We want to farm the grapes the way I want to make wine, cropping ultra low with our target of ultra premium.”
The winery and owners are committed to an extended barrel program, says Pearce.
“Most of our reds are 30 months in barrel, a year or two in bottle.
“Were just releasing some ’13s,” adds Pearce.
Some other wineries are already releasing their 2016s.
“I think there’s an expectation when people are paying $30 to 40, 50 or $60 for a bottle of wine.
“We’re going for texture, age-worthy wines.”
Right now, the wines are not available at the LCBO. You’ll have to visit the winery or restaurant because he says 95 per cent of the wine is sold through the estate, with a small amount in restaurants in Toronto or Ottawa.
“Food here is as serious as our wine. We sell solely our wine, and our wine has to work with our dishes.
“That was the mood they wanted to create here.”
Add to that a competent friendly and knowledgeable staff in the tasting room and you’ve got the complete experience.
I recently had some of the Sauvignon Blanc and effuse to Pearce about the quality of the white.
We move to the tasting bar where we sample the 2013 Eleventh Post, but not before sampling several wines from Two Sisters’ catalog. A fan of its Sauvignon Blanc already, we go through the gamut of wines. All of them something I would buy for myself.
And before we get to the red, I to mention the 2016 Rose, a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Staff removed it from the tasting bar list because of very few cases left, but it’s well worth the price of a bottle. I think at our tasting the wine is probably at its peak.
A wonderful perfume of fresh red fruit that makes me return to the glass again and again. The palate is fresh with nice acidity that will make it perfect for a holiday meal. Seriously good.
Returning to the winemakers choice, the Eleventh Post is Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Merlot to round it out.
Aged for 30 months, it is full-bodied, shows dark fruit and a pleasant earthiness. Fine tannins give way to silkiness and it promises to be a fine addition to your meal.