It’s safe to say that the 2010 and 2012 vintages are in the rear view mirror for most wineries in Ontario. There are a handful holding on to some reserve wines that we are yet to see, but that’s not what this post is about. 2013 offered us a more typical vintage for Ontario. What does this mean for what is in the bottle? Southbrook is going all out for the 2013 Vintage. They are bringing eight separate versions of their Cabernet Franc, five versions of their Chardonnay, and two of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines crafted for the 2013 vintage definitely play to the strength of the vintage. The Cabernet Franc tells a particularly interesting story. Because of the hot summers in 2010 and 2012 we ended up with red wines that were tipping their hats to Bordeaux. I think the fact that we are still comparing out wines to other regions has become such a focus that we have lost sight of what is in front of us. I think the story can’t be found in more black and white than with the 2013 offerings from Southbrook. Great effort is being taken in this vintage to let the terroir speak for itself using wild ferments and hand harvested fruit. The story is that Ontario wine tastes like Ontario, we can tip our hat to Burgundy, Chinon, or Bordeaux but get into a glass of 2013 Cabernet Franc and tell me that it tastes like anywhere else in the world, I bet you can’t.
101 – **** – Made with 9% new oak and 91% second fill or older. Ripe raspberry with a whisper of cocoa both on the nose and in the glass. There is fantastic acidity and no signs of herbaciousness on a wine that already has a gorgeous elegant finish.
201 – **** – Made with 75% new oak and 25% second fill or older – Hints of vanilla inform you that there is new oak on this wine, but it is perfectly integrated with cranberry and raspberry. The nose very much matches the palate. The acidity is a little high on the finish but this should relax a little bit with a year or two in cellar. This may not be built to age for an epic period in your cellar but it should develop gracefully over the next 3-7 years.
Vosges – ****+ – This wine is named for the forest from which the barrel was made. The nose brings something a little darker and more serious to the table – Raisin, Plum and Currant. While the nose offers something heavy the wine is medium bodied and elegant on the palate. Flavours lean more towards Raspberry and Plum with hints of Cocoa and Spice. The tannin is medium firm and will soften with 3-7 years in a cellar.
Bertranges – **** – Made with new oak the Cedar and Vanilla are dominant on the nose with raspberry buried underneath it. This wine needs some time on its side before coming into focus. I plan on revisiting this one in 18 months. Raspberries are what you find in the glass with spice on the finish. It is definitely going to be interesting to see how this wine evolves.
Moon Harvest Barrel – ****+ – This is softer, rounder and definitely more approachable than any of the 2013’s when it was tasted (February 28, 2016). Cranberry and Raspberry with slight hints of spice on the nose and on the finish of this wine. The finish is velvet smooth and dangerously easy to drink.
Revelation – ****1/2 – The tannin on the finish of this wine is velvet smooth and leaves your palate with hints of cocoa. The fruit is Raspberry, Plum and offers out hints of vanilla. While the tannin is soft and approachable already this wine has some nice complexity to it and out of all the 2013 Franc’s from Southbrook I think this has some aging potential. Expect this to hold on for ten years.
Colbert – **** – A little unrefined and rough around the edges. This is the sort of Franc that I put on my table in the summer with some beef ribs or top sirloin — something that isn’t as fancy as a “fine” cut of beef. The marriage of this wine with that food will elevate the entire meal. The tannin is firm but it works really well for a wine that is Raspberry, Cocoa notes and a nice hint of savory on the mid palate. This should come into focus over the next 2-3 years.
Missouri – **** – An interesting note that is distinctly spiced applesauce with hints of herb. All kinds of Raspberry and Blackberry on the mid palate get pushed around by baking spice. Nice acidity on the finish and the rough note that gets an assist from the tannin will do well with 2-3 years in a cellar.
In the introduction I talked about the story of Ontario. Cabernet Sauvignon is something that I don’t think we have quite nailed in Ontario. Many producers grow it, but many of them rely on a hot vintage for it to do well. When I walked into this tasting I knew that I would enjoy the Cabernet Franc, but I ended up simply stunned by the Cabernet Sauvignon.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – ****1/2 – 88% Cabernet Sauvignon/12% Cabernet Franc – Dangerously smooth from the get-go. The moment this wine hits your glass it’s climbing out of the glass looking for an escape. The nose is intense with Raspberry, Blackberry with Smoke and Vanilla. The smooth texture on the palate brings you perfectly ripe raspberry, plum, blackberry with cocoa notes bringing up the finish. This wine is the picture of elegance and while it may age for 5-7 years I wish you luck keeping it bottled up that long.
2013 “Witness Block” – ****1/2 – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/37% Cabernet Franc/3% Merlot – This would be another bottle to pick up for the cellar to age for a decade. The tannin is very firm and a little rough around the edges. The concentration of fruit on this wine is amazing. Blackberry, Raspberry, Dark Cherry and Plum. There is great acidity to this wine. Simply put for a vintage that many people will overlook for Red wines this is exceptional.
There is something unmistakable about a great Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Ontario. The thing about Chardonnay is that it offers few surprises, you know exactly what to expect when you open a bottle. That being said when you start doing ferments with indigenous yeasts it adds this funkiness to the wine that you don’t get anywhere else.
2013 Wild Ferment – ****1/2 – Textbook Chardonnay with Orange, Peach and Apple on the nose but that funk… that funk just pokes it’s way through. The orchard fruit follows through on the palate with beautifully balanced acidity. There is so much going on in this bottle Baking Spice, Vanilla, Apple, Orange, Pineapple, Peach … The bar is set very high with this Chardonnay.
2013 Vosges – ****+ – A very nice creaminess gives this a bit of a heavier feeling on the nose. The texture on the palate is very creamy with Vanilla and Apples, Peaches and Citrus.
2013 Allier – ****+ – Compared to the other wines in the Chardonnay flight this stood out as something completely different. The nose had a candied aroma to it with creamy vanilla and soft mineral on the end.
2013 Jupilles – ***** – Butterscotch and Creaminess on the nose over Peach and Apple. This is big and bold but at the same time offers a lot of subtlety once you get past the blast of intensity out of the glass. The Vanilla and Creaminess are balanced perfectly with Peaches, Apple, Roasted Pineapple, and a nice mineral note right on the finish. Everything about this wine is perfectly focused.
2013 Moon Harvest – ****+ – There is a lot of spice in this wine — spice and funk. Apples, Peaches, Orange and Cream are all there but there is a strong pressence of baking spice on the finish.