Page A Dinner With Friends

A winemaker prepares for a “Winemaker’s Dinner” with the hope that his or her wines will show their best and contribute positively to the evening’s festivities and fare.  My pre-dinner jitters were immediately settled when I walked into Treadwell’s on Saturday and was greeted by so many familiar faces.  It was like walking into the warm atmosphere of a family dinner.

As we drove to Port Dalhousie, I’d managed to convince myself that by now people must be sick of hearing me rattle on about leaf-removal techniques in Pinot Gris or the benefits of whole-bunch pressing in Riesling, but surprisingly that was not the case!  People expressed genuine interest in hearing the behind the scenes viticultural and enological practices that we employ at Five Rows.  I found this very encouraging and flattering.  But let’s not kid ourselves, the people came to hear Howie and Wilma tell their stories – and those two never disappoint!

As one might anticipate, the true star on this night was the food.  James, Jason and staff completely outdid themselves, coming up with a stunning menu that left everyone raving.  The liveliest debate was reserved for deciding which course and pairing was our favourite.  I was partial to the Pinot and Tuna.

It’s always amazing to me that our wines just seem to smell and taste more intense when served at Treadwell’s.  Perhaps it’s the heightened anticipation of the senses or maybe its the proper serving temperature and stemware.   Whatever it is, I was relieved that each wine seemed to go over well.

I decided to use this group as guinea pigs (they seemed rather willing) to demo a blending trial of our yet to be released 2009 Pinot Noir.  The 2009 vintage was a dream for Niagara Pinot growers, who were treated to perfect ripening conditions for a change.  I put together a blend of 85%  2009  Pinot and  5% from each of three different barrels of 2010 Pinot.  The blend composition was determined based on some areas where I felt the wine could use a lift.  One of the 2010 barrels was Clone 777 (first crop), which added an interesting fresh raspberry dimension to the aromatics.  It plays well off the typical burgundian notes always present in the  Clone 115 Old Vine Lowrey Pinot.

We decided to pit this 2009 blend against our 2007 Pinot Noir to see how it stacked up.  I felt that the 2007 had gained some aromatic complexity since I last tried it, but it’s lively tannins tell me that this wine could still benefit from a bit more time in the cellar.  It was agreed that the 2009 blend really showed promise, and some people even preferred it over the 2007!  We will bottle the 2009 (maybe this exact blend) in April, with a release anticipated for early in the summer.

Thanks to all who attended for making this such a memorable experience!

splendid menu

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