Here’s what’s in October’s Toronto Life Wine Club box
For October’s Toronto Life Wine Club delivery, we’re helping you celebrate the harvest season with a sparkling gem from Prince Edward County and two glorious reds—a deep and delicious syrah and a delicate pinot noir—from Niagara. Orders must be placed by Sept. 30.
Stratus Syrah 2014
Retail $48 | Niagara-on-the-Lake
Why we’re into this wine: Syrah is becoming something of an Ontario sensation, and here’s one that deserves a pedestal. It comes from French winemaker J-L Groux, whose approach is usually all about assemblage—that is, the blending of different grapes, vineyards and barrels to create a harmonious wine. But this is a single-vineyard wine and it’s formidable, ready to stand alongside syrahs from France’s Northern Rhone or Australia’s Yarra Valley. Stratus is defining and representing just how great syrah from Ontario can be—and with just 364 cases made, here’s a rare chance to try it for yourself.
What it tastes like: Pure, rich blueberries and blackberries, soft leather and spice. It’s a big wine, but by no means a brute, and the restrained 12 per cent alcohol content makes it a wonderful food wine.
How to drink it: Syrah lovers will delight in this wine all on its own, but it should really be enjoyed with an opulent dinner. All that spice and complex fruit makes for a beautiful accompaniment to big meaty flavours like ribeye, wild boar and venison, or a Thanksgiving feast with roasted birds, game or prime rib. Anything big and autumnal will flatter this wine, and vice versa.
Tip: This syrah has seen 600 days of aging in oak barrels. You can sense the wood influence but it’s not overt, a testament to the winemaker’s skill.
16 Mile Rebel Pinot Noir 2012
Retail $22.95 | St. Catharines
Why we’re into this wine: 16 Mile is the definition of a small-scale Ontario winery, making tiny quantities of pinot and chardonnay with a focus a classic style of winemaking that embraces organic and biodynamic practices. Winemaker Morgan Juniper has made wine in Australia and France, learning a non-interventionist approach. This means leaving the grapes and the land to express themselves with as little guidance as possible. This pinot noir is a real gem, a Burgundian style—light, complex, earthy—that could take on some famous wines in a blind tasting and come out on top, or pretty darned near it.
What it tastes like: Fragrant fresh and dried fruit (just what you want given its age) and a subtle earthiness, with a touch of mushroom. It’s beautifully balanced in the zone of fresh cherry-cranberry and funk, which is what really good pinot noir is all about.
How to drink it: This is a delicate, subtle wine, so try not to overpower it with spice or sauces. Try it with duck breast, roasted free-run chicken or grilled beef tenderloin with herbed butter. Or go classic Burgundian with escargots.
Tip: Pinot noir often benefits from a slight chill to bring up those zippy red-berry flavours. But an older, delicate wine like this doesn’t need it. A few degrees below room temperature is all you need, so give it maybe 10 minutes in the fridge before serving.
Rosehall Run Ceremony Brut
Retail $34.95 | Prince Edward County
Why were into this wine: Even before “the County” became a thing, Rosehall Run was there making great wine. Crafted wines, terroir-driven wines, small-batch wines…Dan Sullivan was doing it before it was cool. Pinot noir and chardonnay have been Rosehall’s flagship wines since 2000 when the winery was founded. This sparkling chardonnay is the winery’s first try at making a traditional-method, Champagne-style wine. And it lives up to its name: this elegant and complex bubbly deserves a ceremony—or at least a proper and heartfelt toast to good health.
What it taste like: Bright, crisp and complex, with pear and apple notes, and a touch of apricot and lemon. There’s a faint aroma of fresh-baked croissant. It’s lovely, inviting on the nose and creamy in the mouth, with fine bubbles, or mousse. It’s at once softly textured, crisp and crunchy—that’s the acidity talking.
How to drink it: On its own to enjoy that creaminess and juicy kick, or pair it with party nibbles like oysters, raw seafood and sushi. Your perfect fall food matches might include cheese fondue, roast birds, pan-fried lake fish or spaghetti and clams.
Tip: Great sparkling wine deserves a nice glass but you don’t need a flute. You can use a good white wine glass, something with a longer bowl so you can enjoy watching the bubbles race to the top.