Last week on my trip to Prince Edward County, I was very happy to finally get to Long Dog Vineyard and Winery. I had heard so many good things about their wines and had been meaning to go there for quite some time and I’m glad I finally did.
The tasting room is very charming, set amongst the vineyard, with trees and greenery surrounding it. It makes you want to sit outside and drink wine all afternoon.
Long Dog is owned by James Lahti, Victoria Rose, and Steven Rapkin. James Lahti is the winemaker who is also a film editor and producer, working mainly for IMAX. He moved his film editing business to the farm in 1999, the year after it was purchased. They also began planting Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Pinot Gris vines that same year, after discovering they had terroir very similar to Burgundy. Planting continued for the next few years.
In 2002 Lahti made the first Long Dog vintage and they began selling to the public in 2004. They currently produce about 3 000 cases of wine.
I had the pleasure of having a long conversation with James Lahti about the wines and some of his winemaking practices. For example, James uses only native yeasts to ferment the Pinot Noir, but he does have a favourite cultured yeast he uses with the Chardonnay. He says he likes the flavours it contributes. He also told me about the different Pinot Noir clones (115, 777, 667) he uses in the vineyards and that he likes to harvest the grapes at different Brix levels to add complexity to the final wine. (I love talking to winemakers, as most are so passionate about what they do.)
One thing that surprised me was the use of synthetic cork to seal the bottles. When I asked James about it he said that he has never had a problem with them. Since the wine is not meant for really long-term aging (3 to 7 years tops), oxidation isn’t a problem with these corks.
My focus that day was mainly on red wines.
2007 Tumbling Stone: a Gamay/Pinot Noir blend. It is a bright medium ruby colour with aromas of red cherry, a little black cherry, and other red berries. It has a bright acidity, low soft tannins, and a medium length. It’s a nice wine with hotdogs and pizza.
2006 Pinot Noir Barrel Select: a pale ruby colour with a delicate nose of red and dark berries and violet with a hint of spice and black licorice. The medium tannins are very soft. A very pleasant, elegant wine.
2007 Otto Riserva Pinot Noir: aged for 16 months in 80% 2 year old French barrels. It’s a darker ruby than the 2006 due to the warmer and drier conditions of the vintage. The aromas are also more pronounced with darker, richer fruit, nutmeg, violets, and chocolate. The same flavours are evident on the palate. The wine has ripe medium tannins, medium acid, and a long finish. A really enjoyable wine.
It seems that all the good things I had heard about Long Dog are, in fact, true. If you’re wondering where the name Long Dog came from, it’s named after their wirehaired dachshunds.