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Somewhereness 2013: Hinterland Wine Company

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Hinterland Wine Company is the only Somewhereness winery based entirely in Prince Edward County. Owners Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras began planting vines near Hillier in 2005 and quickly determined that the soil and climate gave them grapes well suited to sparkling wine production. So they bet the bank on it: to this day, Hinterland remains Ontario’s sole winery whose entire line consists of bubblies. The couple has also begun making wines on the Greek island of Limnos under the Terra Lemnia label.

Whitecap 2012, Method Charmat, Ontario VQA, Hinterland Wine Company ($23.50, La QV/Insolite, 12 bottles/case)
Equal proportions of Riesling and Vidal with a dollop (7%) of Muscat. Made like a Prosecco using the Charmat process. Crowncap. 15 g/l residual sugar. 12% ABV.
Surprisingly Muscaty nose: peach, sweet spice, flowers. Just off-dry with a soft, frothy effervescence, crisp acidity and a sustained finish. The kind of wine you could serve to just about anyone, from your grandmother to your wine-geekiest friend. The winemakers say it’s popular at weddings and it’s easy to see why. (Buy again? A bottle or two for summer sipping on the deck.)

Lacus 2012, Method Charmat, Ontario VQA, Hinterland Wine Company ($23.50, La QV/Insolite, 12 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc. 12% ABV.
Deep rosé colour. Cabernet Franc nose: red berries, turned earth, herbs, leaves and a hint of “red pepper jelly” (quoting one of the couple). Dryish on the palate with faint tannins, spice, chalk (?) and lingering brioche. So odd yet so delicious. The winery says it can go with red meat and it’s substantial enough (which doesn’t mean heavy) that I’d like to give it a try. (Buy again? Yes.)

Jonas was also pouring tastes of the still wine used to make the Lacus. Light bordering on watery yet somehow very present. Dry and pure, a mouthful of pale fruit, grainy minerals and streaming acidity. Refreshing and delicious. If Hinterland ever bottled this, I’d buy it.

Blanc de Blanc 2011, Method Traditional, Prince Edward County VQA, Hinterland Wine Company ($41.00, La QV/Insolite, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay. Was originally intended for Les Étoiles but the quality was so high the winery decided to use it for a one-off blanc de blanc. The base wine was matured in 500-litre oak barrels for eight months and sparkled using the traditional method. 12% ABV.
Intriguing if subtle nose: citrus, brioche and lees with a sour edge (a sign of youth?). Tart and clean on the attack, bright with lemon, crystalline minerals and zingy acidity. Long smoky finish. Perhaps the most Champagne-like of the Hinterland wines I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the Ontario price of $35.)

Les Étoiles 2010, Method Traditional, Prince Edward County VQA, Hinterland Wine Company ($45.00, La QV/Insolite, 12 bottles/case)
Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) made using the traditional method. Sixty percent of the crop was lost to spring frosts. The Chardonnay spends a few months in third-fill barrels. The blended wine is bottle-aged on the lees for at least two years before disgorging and dosage, which is done in small batches on an as-needed basis. 12% ABV.
Bit stinky at first though that quickly blew off, leaving a textbook nose of lemon, apple, pear, brioche, chalk and cream. Creamy in the mouth too, with good tension between the rich fruit and bright acidity, some mineral depth and a persistent toasty finish. A serious , well-delineated sparkler – not Champagne but really very good. The star of the portfolio. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the Ontario price of $39.)

Ancestral 2013, Method Ancestral, Ontario VQA, Hinterland Wine Company ($29.00, La QV/Insolite, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay Noir. Inspired by the sparkling Gamays (sometimes with a little Poulsard thown in) from Bugey Cerdon. The name refers to the rarely used (outside of Savoie and Gaillac) méthode ancestrale of sparkling wine production, whereby the wine is bottled before fermentation is complete. Fermentation is then allowed to continue in the bottle and the carbon dioxide that is a byproduct creates the effervescence. As the VQA doesn’t allow cloudy wines, the winery recreates the process in tank, then filters the wine before bottling. 8% ABV.
Flirting nose of strawberry and rose. Fruity and lightly effervescent on the palate. Off-dry verging on sweet though with plenty of balancing acidity. Turns drier on the finish as minerals and a hint of earthiness emerge. Candied but fun. Lacks the slatey vein of my favourite Bugey Cerdons but none of their charm. (Buy again? In a drier vintage.)

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Written by carswell

November 9, 2013 at 12:41

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