Two weekends ago I tasted through a vertical of Southbrook Vineyards Poetica line. We started with the 1998 Chardonnay, which was a nice treat and still quite alive after 11 years, and then tasted the Chards from 2003 right through to 2007. We then sampled the 2006 and 2007 Poetica Cabernet Merlots. The tasting notes are below.
The winery is owned by Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier. Southbrook started out in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, when a decision was made to change from cattle farming to grape growing and winemaking. The family eventually decided to move production to Niagara, and in June of 2008, they opened a brand new LEED’s (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Southbrook now owns 150 acres of vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake and is currently producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay.
Last fall, Southbrook’s vineyards became Canada’s first certified Biodynamic vineyards and all the 2008 estate grown wines contain only certified organic and biodynamic grapes. Canada’s first biodynamic wine hit the shelves in the spring of 2008 with the release of Southbrook Vineyards’ 2008 Cabernet Rose.
(There are other wineries in Canada that practice biodynamics, such as Tawse, but have not, as yet, gone through with the certification process.)
Poetica is Southbrook’s highest tier wines and are only made in the best years. These limited edition wines were first introduced in 2008 and feature labels inspired by the work of Canadian poets. There are now 11 wines in the lineup and the tasting notes for 8 of them are below. (We did not taste the 2000 Chardonnay or the 1998 or 2002 Cabernet Merlots.)
1998 Chardonnay: 1998 was an excellent vintage with a very warm and dry summer. The wines produced were very good and are still drinking well now. This Chardonnay is still quite alive with aromas of vanilla, butterscotch, pineapple, and spice. It has a soft, smooth texture with a burnt caramel finish.
2003 Chardonnay: A cooler summer produced a lighter wine with crisp acidity. Fruity aromas of pear, apple, white peach, and lemon dominate along with sweet vanilla and butterscotch. On the palate there are flavours of vanilla yogurt and creme freche supported by lively acidity and grilled pineapple on the finish.
2004 Chardonnay: This summer was a little warmer than 2003 giving wines with slightly less acidity. Aromas of white truffle, white chocolate, vanilla, yellow apple, lemon, and pear are evident and it has a very creamy texture. The palate is slightly closed right now and could use a bit more time in the cellar.
2005 Chardonnay: Aromas of fresh fruit salad and vanilla ice cream dominate along with evidence of well-integrated, oak. This wine is well-balanced with good acidity and butterscotch on the long finish.
2006 Chardonnay: A very elegant wine with white blossoms, honeydew melon, pineapple, and sweet vanilla aromas. A little more angular on the palate with lively acidity and a long length with flavours of apple, lemon, and vanilla. It could use a couple more years aging before it really starts to shine.
2007 Chardonnay: As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the 2007 vintage in Niagara is being called the best vintage yet. The summer was warm, but not too hot, and it was dry. The 2007 Chardonnay is a bit closed right now, but there are aromas of mineral, tropical fruit, mandarine orange, and peach. This is a full-bodied wine with a very smooth and creamy texture. Flavours of yellow apple, pear, and almond are evident and it has a long, balanced length. Cellar for at least 2 to 5 years before drinking.
2006 Cabernet Merlot: Made from 2/3 estate grown grapes. This wine is showing slight browning on the rim. There are aromas of tobacco, suede, cedar, red and black currants, and dark chocolate with a hint of lead pencil and soft spice. It is full-bodied with firm tannins that could still use some time to soften and integrate more. Red cherry, cranberry, and red and black currant flavours are evident on the long finish. Drink until 2018.
2007 Cabernet Merlot: Made from 100% estate grown grapes. This wine is full of big, dark fruit, black licorice, dark chocolate, tobacco, coffee, and dark spice. It’s full-bodied with lots of tannins but is not overly drying. It has a toasty finish. This wine needs at least a few years before it really starts to show its stuff and it is estimated that it will live to at least 2022 to 2025.