Today my son moved into residence at university. So, following the ritual unpacking, meeting of floormates and first cafeteria visit, I left him to his own devices (including a concert) and quickly plugged Henry of Pelham into the GPS.
Owned since 1988 by the Speck brothers, the 300 acres was actually deeded to their United Empire Loyalist great, great, great grandfather Nicholas Smith in 1788.
Today they have seven different price and quality points for their products. This example is from their Estate line which uses fruit from vineyards inside the Short Hills Bench Appellation, one of the warmest in the region with almost all of Niagara’s famed south-facing slope boasting heavy clay soils dotted with limestone pockets.
The Baco Noir was planted in 1984 and is farmed at low yields of just three tonnes per acre. Baco Noir is not a noble grape by any stretch of the imagination; it’s a hybrid of Folle Blanche (aka Picpoul and grown traditionally in the same place that produces Cognac and Armagnac, Gascogny) and an unknown North American vitis riparia grape.
The fact that the yields are so low and it’s farmed sustainably lends quality to the hybrid and this translates to the wine.
Deep ruby with wide legs, the wine has deep aromas of black fruit as well as sweet tobacco and vanillin.
The palate is dry and has juicy acidity with ripe tannins and although the alcohol is 14%, it’s not hot. The body is a solid medium and flavours include intensely fruity blackberry, cassis and plum with more tobacco, fresh mocha, vanilla and baking spice.
If you’re in St. Catharines for a visit – or to drop off your youngest at university- go see their friendly tasting room run by Donna with Jessica and Olivia, and take home some of this WSET Good + wine.