Niagara Peninsula and Wine Tasting: Sommelier’s Perspective

Pillitteri Barrel Cellar Photo credit: Pillitteri
Niagara Peninsula and Wine Tasting: Sommelier’s Perspective
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Cynthia Silversides

Cynthia Silversides

Cynthia Silversides is an accredited Sommelier certified by both the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). Passionate about great wine, food, and travel experiences, Cynthia is owner of Niagara Vino providing tutored wine tasting and tour services in the Niagara Peninsula wine region of Ontario, Canada. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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The last couple of days in the Niagara Peninsula Wine Region have been hot!! To cool off, I visited local winery tasting rooms with great air conditioning, and one cool barrel cellar. Beginning at Southbrook Vineyards, a sleek space you can find off Highway 55 traveling towards Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake, I tasted wine which is offered in flights of 4. I was particularly interested in their Chardonnays since this Friday is the beginning of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4c). By the way I am one of the volunteer sommeliers pouring wines for the World Tour Grand Tasting on Saturday.

Southbrook Vineyards Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Southbrook Vineyards
Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Southbrook is showcasing 2 of their Chardonnays throughout the weekend at various events: their 2010 Whimsy! Sirugue – a certified organic wine, and 2011 Poetica Chardonnay which is being released during the i4c. I had the opportunity to speak with Assistant Winemaker Regan Kapach this week about the many choices that winemakers get to make during wine production including the various blocks of grapes, clones, and barrels selected which directly affect the aromas and flavours you taste in the finished wine. The Southbrook “Whimsy!” Chardonnays have quite different flavour profiles as a result. For instance, their Whimsy! Sirugue is considered a masculine wine with tropical aromas and toasty, smokey notes, whereas their Whimsy! Damy is more feminine and elegant with floral notes, orange and grapefruit aromas.

PIllitteri Estates Winery Photo credit: © C. Silversides

PIllitteri Estates Winery
Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Next stop, Pillitteri Estates Winery, a family owned and run winery founded in 1993, is well known for their Icewine. I arrived just in time to take their public tour that began at noon. It began in a space between their tasting room and market which showcases many of their 600 plus wine awards. From there we were told about the labeling process for their Icewine and how it has evolved as we walked through their halls out to their vineyards, past their production area, then on to the The Barrel Cellar – one of the largest in North America. Afterwards was a tutored wine tasting by their very personable and enthusiastic guide. This is a great introduction to wine in the region! You can also taste Pillitteri wines during the i4c: their 2011 Exclamation Chardonnay – barrel fermented, and 2011 Chardonnay Musqué – unoaked, produced from a Chardonnay clone which is described as “musky” and aromatic.

Thinking about wine, this is a great season to drink cool climate white wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. What are your local favourites?



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