Last week when I was exploring a bit of the Niagara Peninsula, I stumbled upon a very pleasant discovery – Ravine Vineyard. The winery is located in the village of St. Davids. Adjacent to the historic building that houses the hospitality and tasting room is a deli-style restaurant run by celebrity chefs, Anna and Michael Olson. The historic Wm. Woodruff House, that now houses the hospitality centre and tasting room, has quite a story to tell. It’s considered to be one of the top fifty most architecturally significant houses in Canada. It was originally built in the early 1800’s and has survived fire, 60 years of neglect, and lying in pieces in a warehouse for almost 35 years! For more information about the fascinating adventure of this house, visit the winery’s website at www.ravinevineyard.com.
The vineyards were planted in 2004 and there are now 20 acres of certified organic vines. Peter Gamble is the consulting winemaker. Some of his other accomplishments include a stint as executive director of VQA, former winemaker at Hillebrand, consultant in the creation of Stratus Vineyards, and consultant at the highly lauded Benjamin Bridge Winery in Nova Scotia. The assistant winemaker at Ravine is Shawna White.
The very friendly Eric, a certified sommelier, was working in the tasting room during my visit, and he was very passionate and knowledgeable about the wines Ravine has available.
Here are some notes on a few of the wines I tasted:
2007 Gewurztraminer: pronounced aromas featuring lychee, tropical fruit, honeydew melon with a perfumey floral note. It is slightly off-dry, with some of the same fruit flavours following through onto the palate, though I found the palate to be a bit more reserved. Overall, a very nice wine.
2006 Riesling: made with the addition of 10% grapes affected with botrytis. The wine has aromas of ripe pear, peach, wet stone, and a touch of petrol. On the palate there is a slightly viscous texture due to the botrytis and the same flavours are evident. This wine is remarkable considering the vines for these grapes were only 2 years old at the time. The winery boasts that their meticulous organic viticultural practices allowed the vines to produce good quality grapes at such a young age.
2007 Chardonnay: barrel fermented and aged 12 months in used French oak. Soft aromas of vanilla and butter are combined with pear, yellow apple, and tropical fruit and lifted with a slight minerality. There is ample acidity making it quite a refreshing tipple. Very good value at $24.
2007 Reserve Chardonnay: blended from 3 barrels that showed superior characteristics. This wine shows more oak influence with apple pie and some toasty caramel on the long finish.
2006 Cabernet Franc: second leaf for these vines as well. This wine spent 21 months in French oak. Aromas of red currant and other red fruit dominate the nose with hints of spice and a nice perfume. Flavours of roasted coffee, lifted red fruit, and a touch of spice are evident on the palate. The oak is well-integrated and toasty caramel is perceptible on the long finish.
2007 Merlot: blended from barrels with good Merlot typicity. This wine was aged for 9 months in French oak. There is an abundance of fruit aromas in this wine including plum and spicy red fruit with a touch of leather to add complexity. Ripe tannins are evident on the palate and there is a bit of sour cherry and red currant on the finish.
2007 Reserve Merlot: blended from a selection of barrels that showed better than average structure. This wine was aged for 12 months in Demi Muids, barrels that are about double the size of a regular barrique. There is a pronounced nose of chocolate cherry blossoms, flowers, and spice. The tannins are quite firm and there is lots of dark fruit flavours along with toasty oak and ground coffee. This wine has the potential to age for 12 years or more.