Prince Edward County

We decided to go back to the winery area of Prince Edward County after our first trip in October 2008. If you want to skip right to the wines Click here This time around we rented a cottage from Beachbum which was overlooking Picton harbor nice and close to downtown Picton.

Local Inns/Places to eat

One of the local sights to see is the dunes at Sandbanks provincial Park

We rode around a bit in the park Click here for a map

Onto the wines

As I discovered last time, in Niagara the reds are always about managing the tannins. The Merlots/Cabs are big tannic monsters. I always call them bruisers. In Prince Edward County they can not make a big red. They have much softer reds. Their Gamays and Baco Noirs are softer and much more fruit forward than you would expect compared to Niagara. They do have some Marechal Foch which seems quite good but I must say I have no idea what it should taste like.

The whites

The whites on the other hand have another challenge. The soil is so packed with minerals they are overwhelmed by the minerals. The Pinot Gris, Chards and Reislings are all effected by this and quite frankly it's overwhelming. It means that the differences between the various varieties in the county is subtle. They all seem to exhibit a tart taste similar to a granny smith apple or a grapefruit. On some of them it was quite prevalent. Very interesting.

Niagara based wines in the county

Interestingly enough Prince Edward County does not make enough wine to support the wineries. So they are bringing in grapes from Niagara to broaden out their offerings. So be sure to ask if you are drinking a county wine or a Niagara wine. The small batches mean that most of the wine is only available from the winery rather than the LCBO. Sometimes they will also use Niagara based wines in a blend, again to add complexity and depth. If Niagara wines are off to the left of French wines, Prince Edward County wines are off to the right by at least as much. So belnding the too is an odd concept (to me anyway).

Planning

There are a number of web sites to help you plan your visit. Realising there are a lot of wineries you likely won't be able to hit them all even with the small size of this district. Also realize that there are very different terroirs as I have mentioned in this small area. Very different soils.

Ice Wines

The region also does an Ice wine which up until this year they called a "Late Harvest" after first frost wine. They now have the laws in place to allow them to use the term Ice Wine. After the big Ice storm in Quebec it turns out that they figured out how to make an Ice Cider which Prince Edward County now does as well. As the fellow behind the counter said "when life gives you lemons you make lemonade"!

Seasonal warning

Like a lot of seasonal areas you need to insure that where you are going is actually open. During off seasons the wineries reduce the tasting hours and reduce or close the restaraunts.

Wineries with Restaraunts

Huff Estates has an Inn with it but they strangely enough do not have a restaraunt.

Summary

All in all we had a great time. The best advice I can give is that if you choose to go and do tastings, have an open mind. Discard your thoughts of varietal tastes because you will not find them here (in my opinion). Being so close to water there are lots of things to do. Sandbanks provincial park is close as well. I'd defnitely go back!

The wines

To start off with I should point out that this is not an inexpensive place to grow grapes. The land is reasonable but labor isn't exactly easily accessible and the growing season is unpredictable. Add to that that all of these wineries are young and aparrently (and I don't know for sure) none of them are making any money. So this means the wines are on the pricier side. None of these are large producers either.

Lacey

This particular wine is a very young, very fruit forward Baco. We tasted a number of the Bacos in the area and they are similar. Quite sweet. The color was a deep inky black. There was a slight dill smell off the wine. The wine has a very light finish. The alcohol is quite well integrated. As a whole it reminded my quite a lot of the deep fruit flavors that come from Welches grape juice. This wine might improve with aging but I doubt it. I would give this wine an 87 or so ...

The Grange Trumpour Mill

The Grange Winery
We first tasted the wines from the Grange last time we were down and were impressed. We tried them at the Inn we were staying at but didn't make it to the winery. This time we did make it to the winery so we were able to taste more of their wines.
One of the things that crossed my mind was that why don't they do a Sauv Blanc in "The County"? It seems to me that they would do a good one. The Grange does one, but they were sold out so I was not able to try it. I spoke to a Sommellier in one of the Inns we were at and she said all attempts at Sauv Blanc in "The County" have resulted in wines with a parafin wax almost gasoline flavor.

2007 Pinot Gris $14.75 Check LCBO stock. A lovely crisp, refreshing wine with a bit of tartness and a bit of sweetness. I quite enjoyed this one. We bought 2 of these. 88 ish.

2006 Barrel Fermented Chard $19.80
Not a whole lot of varietal Chard flavors. Slight weet apple flavors 87-88 or so. When it comes to Chards I have difficulty with non-varietals Chards.

2007 Riesling (Niagara) $11.75
Pale color, with sulfur smells on the nose. Lighter tasting wine with a light finish. Slightly varietal. 86-87. I really don't like that sulfur match smell.

2006 Pinot Noir $16.50
Classic Pinot color and bouqet. Slightly bitter/tannic on the finish. As usual "County" Pinots are always on the milder side compared with Niagara or France. 88 ish but as I've mentioned Pinots are relaly to my liking.

County Cider Company and Fool on the Hill wines

County Cider and Fool on the Hill
We stopped on by the County Cider Company. They are doing lots of interesting things with cider from a light bubbly cider to infusing some Niagara grown peahces to adding wild raspberry and cranberries. One the more interesting things is an iced cider where they let the apples freeze on the tree just like ice wine and then make ice cider out of it. They end up with a 24% dessert wine that is not as sweet or thick as ice wine. Quite interesting. They also make wine here under the new name Fool on the Hill. None of these are available at the LCBO. Seems no one was lining up to buy wines under the name County Cider company. Who knew? I asked who the fool was, the declined to answer :) Maybe it was me!

2008 Pinot gris $14.95
Lots of pink grapefruit flavors typical of County Pinot Gris's with medium lenghth 87-88.

2007 oaked chard $19.95
this wine like the closson has some varietal chard flavors mixed in with some terroir tartness. I paired it with pizza on their lovely patio! When paired with food the tartness awakens he tastebuds and make the food taste better while the cheese took the edge off the tartness We bought 2 of these. 88

2008 Riesling $14.95
Slightly sweet light easy drinking wine, but nothing amazing either. 87

2006 Pinot noir $24.95
Typical Pinot bouquet, Light flavor typical of County Pinots with some oak and a mild finish. 87

2007 Cab franc $34.95
Medium bodied cab franc one of the better ones in the county. No where near as big as a Niagara ca franc. Some nice varietal flavors with a medium length and some oak. We bought 1 of these. 88

Long Dog Winery

For now Long Dog are not in the LCBO.
Long Dog Winery
2007 Pinot Gris
The wine was left in contact with the skins so has an almost rose color although the lighting was not great. Slightly tart crisp flavor with medium length. The wine has some almost chard like flavors. The gentleman behind the counter said he got peach off it, I didn't 87 ish

2006 Bella chard $30
More of a French Chablis style than a Californian chard. Little earthy/foosty on the nose. Not a lot of fruit flavors. Also an 87

2007 Bella chard $34
Much longer than the 06. It was a better growing year according to the staff. Good minerality slightly chaulky, an 88 or so.

2007 Pinot noir/gamay Tumbling stone $22
This was the pick of the litter! A darker color with lots going on in the mid pallet and slightly peppery. If you focus you could pick out both the gamay and the Pinot. For the price a good wine with a medium finish. Some mild tannins but well under control. The fellow behind the counter did not think it would last more than a year. We bought 3 of these. 88 -89 or so

2006 Pinot noir $36
Classic light Pinot color, mild and light in flavor. Not a lot going on with slight bitterness on the finish, I would give it an 87.

2007 Pinot noir $50
Much darker in color than the 2006 with more going on in the nose. A bigger larger wine with classic Pinot flavors. This was apparently one of their best growing seasons. A good wine but too expensive for me. 89 - 90 May improve as well.

Sandbanks Winery

Sanbanks winery
2007 Waves Red $14.95
This is a blend of a Merlot and a Baco. Merlot is another of those grapes I really like to be varietal. You can actually taste Merlot flavors in this wine! It is quite dark in color, mild on the nose, typical plummy flavors on the mid pallet and slightly tart on the finish. All in all quite nice for the price. We bought 1 of these.

2008 Baco Noir $14.95 Check LCBO Stock
This has the typical sweet cassis flavors I came to expect from County Bacos. Quite fruit forward. Flavors remind me of a concord grape juice. We bought 1 of these.

2007 Baco Noir Reserve $24.95
This wine is quite a bit darker in color. It has spent more time in oak than the non-reserve (I forgot how long). The wine is noticeably drier, smoorther with a nicer bouquet.

2007 Foch $19.95
This is a Marechal Foch . This is a light easy drinking, slightly fruit wine. They refer to it as rustic. I guess it has those qualities. We bought 1 of these.

Casa Dea Winery

On our last trip we visited Carmella Estates and I noted this as being the longest white wine I had ever had. Casa Dea was growing grapes for Carmella and then bought out Carmella estates. They have kept the lovely location and still have the restaurant and tasting room that was there when it was Carmella. They are working feverishly to rebrand themselves.

Casa Dea Estates 2008 Riesling $16.95
Pale in color, light on the nose. The wine has a slightly tart finish that is quite zesty in nature. It has a medium finish. All in all not bad but not varietal when compared to a Niagara or German Riesling, but that is common in the county wines. For a white this wine is quite long. I would give this an 88-89. We bought 4. Very unique wine.

2007 CD Rosso
This is a blend of a Gamay Noir and a Zweigelt. The wine had a sulfur smell off it and an unpleasant finish. I would give it an 85 or an 86.

Waupoos Estates

Waupoos Winery
Waupoos winery is a fabulous destination. An easy bike ride from Picton it has a lovely setting, beautiful tasting room and nice restaurant in a Gazebo with a Lake view. The foods they are serving are lovely.

2006 Geisenheim dry $9.95
This wine is a bargain. It is dry slightly tart easy drinking summer sipper. Medium length very pale in color 88 or so.

2006 truiting $7.95
This wine is an oaked Seyval. The wine is very light wine with not a lot going on. Very little fruit flavor either. For the money the Geisenheim is a better deal. 86

2006 Cab/gamay blend $16.95
This wine had a nasty sulphur smell on the nose with a taste to match. Not nice at all. 85 or so. 2007 Pinot Gris $15.95
Very tart slightly bitter on the finish. Pale in color. Medium length. I had it with a cream based pasta sauce and it cut through it well. The food improved the wine masking the bitterness. 88 or so.

2008 Pearl noir $14.95
On the nose this wine had an earthy smell. The color was lighter almost like a Pinot noir. There was a slight sweetness to the taste. The wine is a blend of a gamay and a baco noir. 87-88.

2008 St Laurent $26.95
This grape is similar to a Pinot noir and the color and flavors were similar. Not a bad Pinot but they aren't my favorite. 88 or so. Not sure it's worth the money.

Rosehall Run

Rosehall Run

Rosehill run were tasting 15 different wines. Contrast that with 5 or 6 that most are tasting. They surely are working hard at diversity! As a whole I found their wines to be simple easy drinking reasonably priced wines.

2007 chard sur lie $14.95
Slightly tart, sharp on the finish. In spite of spending 7 months on the lees this wine had very little creamyness or butteryness. Mild flavor, very easy drinking 87 or so

2007 fieldstone reisling $16.95
Light easy drinking not a lot going on. Not much to like or not like. The wine is very pale in color. 86-87

2006 cab franc $17.95
As I found last time we were in this area the cab francs are nothing like Niagara or california. They are much lighter. This one is no exception. Light flavor, light fruit, light finish. 2007 apparently was a rainy season leading to a more watery wine.

2008 sullyzwicker rose $14.95
A Pinot gamay blend. Dry rose. Light easy drinking with some mild stawberry flavors.86-87

Norman Hardie

None of these are carried in the LCBO (for now).

Norman Hardie

2007 Pinot Gris (County) $25
Slightly sweet, Riesling like. The wine is on the lighter side of a medium finish. Very pale in color with a mild bouquet. Fairly typical of a County Pinot Gris.

2007 Riesling $21 (Niagara)
Frankly I am a little prejudice towards wines like this. If I want a Niagara Riesling I will go get it in Niagara. I'm not sure I see the point. And given that CWG (and Mrs CWG) and I all enjoy the Cave Spring Estate Riesling ... Always good to put biases up front. Very pale in color light flavor and a noticeable sulfur smell with a taste to match. Not a nice wine.

2007 Pinot Noir $35 (County)
Classic Pinot Noir color. Slight dill smell to it (as I have encountered in Niagara when they are not well made). Varietal Pinot Noir flavors albeit a very mild wine with a mild finish.

Closson Chase

None of these are in the LCBO (for now).

Closson Chase

We encountered a very enthusiastic wine lover behind the counter and he imparted a lot of knowledge of their design points with which they use to make their wines. They use minimum fining, filtering, yiests etc and try and go for as natural a process as the area will allow. The tasting is the most expensive one we encountered. $10 for a flight of three and the price is not waved even if you buy a bottle.

2008 ccv sans Chene $25 Unoaked
Right on the bouquet you could get the tart minerality. Slightly Chard in flavor.

2007 CCV South Clos Chard $39.95 Oaked
This wine on the bouqet is spot on Chard. A lovely Chard fruit flavor on the mid pallet and then the typical tartness on the finish. This is one of the better Chards I had in the county and in spite of the high price, I bought it for it's uniqueness. I personally wonder if given a year or two of aging if the two flavors will start to meld together. The fellow behind the counter thought it might age 5-7 years.

2006 Closson Chase Chard (VQA Beamsville)
A very light chard with nothing particularly distinctive to it.

Barley Days

Barley days brewery just outside Picton (featured at the Waring house) were sampling three different beers.

First up they were sampling there Summer Pale Ale. This is a light easy drinking beer. The hops are dominant in the flavors on this one

Next up was there Harvest Gold Pale Ale. This one was more dominant in the malt. Not what I would call a Pale Ale but it was good none the less

Last is there Wind and Sale Dark Ale. This is not a really strong dark ale but has some nice flavors in it. Some maple tastes.