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I recently had a chance to speak with Barb DiGiulio of Newstalk 1010 about evidence of some very old wine being made. I confessed that old wines don’t really do it for me. I’ll admit that I find it interesting seeing how wines evolve and change with time. These are key words though – wines don’t necessarily improve with time, they evolve.
So, when I had an opportunity to taste through the 1998 wines from Southbrook I had to see what almost twenty years will do to a bottle of Ontario wine. The tasting was hosted by owner Bill Redelmeier, and he explained (at length) what we were tasting through. It’s amazing to see how Niagara has evolved since 1998 with the stories told by the labels. Lailey Vineyard adorns Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The word Triomphus adorns another (Owner Bill Redelmeier explains that this term went extinct after some protest on his part).
1998 Triomphe Chardonnay – The nose is burnt caramel and sponge toffee with some baked apple buried in there. This is soft and light on the palate with a slight spice note on the finish.
1998 Pinot Noir – Dried Rose petal and barnyard note on the nose lead to a dusty note and spring forest floor. There is still a bit of fruit and high acidity keep this light and clean on the palate.
1998 Cabernet Franc “Lailey Vineyard” – There is no doubt that this is Cabernet Franc with a strong note of bell pepper on the nose. There is some red fruit on the palate and the bell pepper is more muted. Over the course of an hour the herbaceous notes started to relax allowing more fruit to come through.
1998 Cabernet Sauvignon “Lailey Vineyard” – Cocoa and a slight smokiness over very mellow raspberry and strawberry. This is a very tasty wine with some ripe fruit still holding on. Straight forward with relaxed tannin this wine is drinking great right now.
1998 Merlot “Lailey Vineyard” – Nice complexity and depth on the nose with black licorice, smoke, eucalyptus, and ripe red fruit. On the palate this pushes into blueberry and plum and it opens up on the palate with a nice roundness. As someone who is highly critical of Merlot from Ontario I know when I need to keep my mouth shut and drink the wine.
1998 Riesling Icewine – How long can you age an Icewine? I mean if you’re someone who is worried about the colour of the juice in your glass you may not be thrilled to see the brown Riesling before you. There is still so much youth and fruit in this bottle with honey, peach and subtle apricot. The acids help push the fruit into citrus territory which helps this wine seem less sweet than it actually is.