A lot has changed in Prince Edward County since the last time I was there less than a year ago. As I drove down Loyalist Parkway, I came across wineries that were not there the last time I travelled that road. Fourteen new wineries have opened in the County in the last year, almost doubling the total number of wineries in the region. There are now over 30. Hinterland Wine Company opened just last year on Closson Road not too far from Loyalist Parkway, and is dedicated exclusively to sparkling wine. I had heard a lot about the wonderful bubbly, crafted by Hinterland’s winemaker Jonas Newman, and was very excited to finally get the chance to try them.
It seems a lot of other people have also heard about Hinterland’s wines. Many sparkling wine fans were already happily sipping samples by the time I arrived. Easy going and friendly, Jonas passionately described his wines to the gathering of tasters as he poured samples from behind a simple wooden table.
Jonas, former maitre d’ at Scaramouche in Toronto, wanted a change so he spent some time working at 13th Street Winery in Niagara, where he obviously learned how to make great a sparkling wine (13th Street is another source of sensational Ontario sparkling wine). Ready to go out on his own he and wife and partner Vicky Samaras re-located to Prince Edward County and converted the big, silver, former dairy barn, known as Benway Barn, to a winery and opened it up to the public just last year. While it’s still a bit of a work in progress, Jonas is able to produce about 2,500 cases of wine (In 2009 he made 1,200 cases, up from 750 cases the previous year).
The grapes are estate grown and he will eventually provide many different styles of sparkling wine. Available right now are the Rosé and the Les Etoiles sparkling wines – both made by the traditional method. All Jonas’s traditional method sparkling wines are aged for a minimum of 18 months on the lees. He is currently experimenting with aging some wines a bit longer to see if they would benefit from a longer time on the lees. A fruity sparkling Vidal will soon be released as well. There are also 2 still wines currently available – a Riesling and a Chardonnay. Those still wines will not be made again, so once they’re gone…they’re gone.
Hinterland Sparkling Wine Tasting Notes:
Rosé Sparkling: 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Bursting with cranberry, strawberry, and red currant aromas, and a slight suggestion of arrowroot cookie. A creamy mousse and refreshing acidity, with fresh red berry flavours and a delicate hint of biscuit. Good length.
Les Etoiles: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Aged for a minimum of 18 months on the lees. Generous aromas of green and yellow apple, peach, bread, and PEC minerality. A creamy and persistent mousse with appley, biscuity flavours, racy acidity, and a lingering finish.
Hinterland Wine Company is definitely a winery to keep and eye on.