Pelee Island Pinot Noir

Maker: Pelee Island Winery, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada

Grape: Pinot Noir

Region: Pelee Island VQA, Ontario, Canada

Vintage: 2007

ABV: 13%

Appearance: light Burgundy (of course) nice, thick legs

Nose: Black raspberry, black currant, black cherry

On the Palate: light body, raspberry, tart cherry, leather, firewood, blackberry, blueberry

Finish: leather, blackberry jam

Parting words: Two things make Pelee Island’s terroir unique in Canada.  First, Pelee Island, located in Lake Erie, is the southernmost point in Canada (ok, a small island south of Pelee actually is). Its latitude is approximately  42° N, which also passes through Spain, Corsica, Central Italy, and constitutes the border between California and Oregon, all wine country to varying degrees. Second the waters of the lake moderate the climate preventing late frosts in spring and early frosts in winter. Pelee Island’s climate is warm and temperate compared even to other areas of Southern Ontario. The island is also host to a wide variety of rare (for Canada) flora and fauna, many of which make appearances on Pelee Island Winery labels.

Southern Ontario, like its neighbors in upstate New York and Northern Michigan, is not known for its reds. Pinot Noir is grown in Ontario and adjacent areas but is up and down in terms of quality, and often gets chucked into table blends. This wine, however, is an up one.  It is an enjoyable and reasonably complex wine that can stand up to any middle-shelf Pinot on the planet. Recommended.

Review: Smith & Wilson Estate Viognier

Maker: Smith & Wilson, Blenheim, Ontario

Region:  Lake Erie North Shore QVA

Vintage: 2008

ABV: 12.3%

Color: golden straw

Nose: slightly herbal, sweet, apples and pears, floral.

On the palate: Good body, sweet, mellow, slightly tart, almond, fresh apricot.

Finish: Oranges, apricots. Fairly quick, but the sweetness lingers for a while.

Parting Words: Smith & Wilson produces a fairly wide variety of wines for such a small producer. Their wines can only, to my knowledge, be purchased at their tasting room in Blenheim. They have a nice variety of reds and whites, and many of the reds are quite good, especially with age. They’re not chicken, either. Viogner is a fickle grape, especially in a fickle climate like the North Shore of Lake Erie. They also make a double barrel-aged Cab Franc/Merlot/Syrah blend that is very good as well. It’s worth stopping if you are driving between Detroit and London, Ontario.