Page 2009 Whites

2009 Five Rows Sauvignon Blanc:

Roughly one tonne of fruit was harvested on a beautiful day in early October of 2009.  Half the fruit was sourced from our younger, more clay-based block of  Sauvignon Blanc, while the other half came from the older vines located in predominantly clay-loam soil.  Each block contributes distinct characters to the final blend.

The younger “clay” block tends to be less vigorous, leading to increased fruit exposure and consequently lends the riper, more tropical notes to the blend.  The older “clay-loam” block vines are extremely vigorous and require more intense hand labour.  Generally they are slightly more shaded, leading to the fresh citrus aromatics and crisp flavours that are classic characteristics of cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc.

As I mentioned last season, the key to achieving the full complement of flavours and aromas is a long, cool ferment carried out in a combination of older French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.  For this wine I opted to go with a two-thirds barrel (2003 Jacques Garnier) and one-third tank fermentation regimen. The tank-fermented portion was allowed to age in oak for a few months prior to final blending.  All fermentations were carried out at around 13 degrees Celsius with X5 yeast.  68 cases were bottled on August 31, 2010.

Aromas:  vanilla, pineapple, lemon, lime

Flavours:  melon, lime, balanced finish

Technical data:  13.1% alcohol, 5.8 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.2

Price: $25/bottle

Production:  68 cases

2009 Five Rows Pinot Gris:

Pinot Gris is quickly becoming a standout varietal in the Niagara Peninsula.   Rick VanSickle recently wrote about this trend and chronicled a tasting of 17 different Pinot Gris.  Rick was kind enough to purchase a bottle of our Five Rows Pinot Gris to include in the tasting and you can read the exciting review here.

My view is that Pinot Gris is such a labour intensive variety to grow, it better damn well turn out to be a good wine!  It would not be worth the extra hand work and stressful pre-harvest nail biting to produce a mediocre, uninteresting wine.  “Good” Pinot Gris is without a doubt the most sought-after grape variety by premium Niagara wine producers at the moment.  It even has enough clout to be used as a bargaining tool by many growers to help them unload their lesser in demand, easier to grow varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.

As is evident in Rick’s article, getting good fruit is only part of the equation.  Each winemaker seems to have their own method of coaxing out the best in their Gris.  A few years back, a couple of wise Creekside winemakers introduced me to the benefits of fermenting a portion of Pinot Gris in older French oak barrels.  I’ve experimented with different oak/stainless blends ever since.  The barrel-fermented wine always seems to have weightier mouthfeel and more complex aromatics, so in 2009 I decided to go with a 2/3 barrel, 1/3 tank final blend.  I’ve always had good luck with a yeast called R2, so I stuck with it and fermented at the coldest temperature the yeast could tolerate.  This led to a slow and beautiful month-long ferment.  70 cases were bottled on August 31, 2010.

Aromas:  honey, apple, pear

Flavours:  vanilla, melon, spice, left slightly off-dry (1)

Technical Data:  13.0% alcohol, 8.5 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.46

Price:  $25/bottle

Production:  70 cases

Both of these wines are now available for purchase at our winery, on our website or can be enjoyed at select licensees.  We are happy to announce the addition of two new members to the Five Rows extended family:  Ruby Watchco in Toronto and Brookstreet in Ottawa!  Ruby Watchco will be carrying our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Pinot Gris while Brookstreet will be pouring our 2007 Pinot Noir and 2009 Pinot Gris.

One Response to “2009 Whites”

Sean Kozey

Hey Wes,

We had a bottle of your 2009 Sauvignon Blanc at Norm’s (Norman Hardie) this weekend during a harvest dinner with the winery crew. It was really great, and everyone really enjoyed it! Would love to pick up three bottles of it; we’ll probably be down in Niagara sometime in the next couple of weeks and will swing by the winery.



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