Page The Wines

2017 Syrah

Hand-harvesting for the 2017 Syrah took place on October 27th, with about 900 kg sourced from each of our Clones: 7 and 100.  The fermentations were conducted in open top bins and manually punched down three times daily.  They were allowed to initiate spontaneously after a 4-day cold soak, then inoculated with RX60 (Clone 100) and XPure (Clone 7) on day 6.

Both bins were pressed on November 13th, and then racked into five French Oak barrels (20% new oak).  Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel and the wine was aged in oak for 24 months.

This wine showcases the familiar Lowrey Syrah aromas of black raspberry, cherry, smoked meat and peppercorn.  Surprisingly smooth and drinkable at this stage, it features the typical Syrah savouriness along with good balancing acid to compliment the ripe dark fruit flavours.  It should become even more expressive with a year or two in bottle.

Price:  $60

 

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

On November 14th, 2017 we hand-harvested 1771 kg of beautiful Cab from a combination of rows 7-10 & 16 in our Clone 169 Block and rows 11 & 12 in our Old Block.  The fruit was very clean, but the stems were a little brittle on picking day due to a heavy frost sustained the night before.  Although not great for maintaining green foliage, a few nights of freezing temperatures in the fall can actually have a beneficial concentrating affect on the berries.

The fermentations were allowed to start spontaneously after a 4-day cold soak, then inoculated with FX10 (Clone 169) and F15 (Old Block) on day 6. Peak fermentation temperature reached 30C, and the bins were pressed after 16 total days on the skins.  Aging and malolactic fermentation were carried out in French oak (20% new) for 24 months.

Aromas include a dark fruit component of black raspberry, plum jam and cherry, as well as some floral undertones.  Well-balanced, bright fruit shines through on the palate, but the underlying tannic structure is the secret sauce of this ageworthy Cab.  Tannins will likely soften in 1-2 years and it should start to peak by 2025.

Price:  $60

 

2017 Pinot Noir

The favourable vineyard conditions in 2017 allowed for a later than average harvest date for Pinot Noir.  It’s rare that we can hang Pinot into October, but most times we do have resulted in memorable wines (think 2009).

We chose to hand-harvest 2484 kg of fruit from rows 2, 3, 4, 5 & 12 of our Old Block on October 3rd, 2017.  The large, tight clusters were sorted three times on their way to three separate one-tonne bins, and fermentations were allowed to start spontaneously after a 4-day cold soak at 15C.  One bin was allowed to ferment wild, one was inoculated at 1/3 sugar depletion with RC212 and the other with W15.  All bins were pressed after a total time of 15 days on the skins, then racked to barrel and inoculated with malolactic strain MBR31.  The wine was housed in French oak (28% new) for 24 months.

The 2017 Pinot Noir features terroir-driven notes of wild strawberry, cherry, truffle and violets.  Tannins are smooth initially, allowing you to take in the flavours and texture, then pick-up in intensity near the finish to extend the length and invite another exploratory sip.

I’m excited to see if this Pinot evolves as interestingly as those from other cooler vintages. Could be a candidate for long term cellaring (2025-2027).

Price: $60

 

2019 Riesling

The 2019 vintage will be remembered for its abundances.  Primarily the abundant rainfall, which led to dense canopies, tight clusters and heavy disease pressure in all varietals.  Botrytis removal was a full time job in the days leading up to harvest, just to assure the grapes would be acceptable to ferment!  Luckily, Riesling is one varietal where a little bit of botrytis is the norm, and something we take into account when crafting our particular style.

Pressed juice was 100% fermented in stainless steel with two separate yeast strains: W15 (55%) and X5 (45%). Tanks were fermented cool (10C) for 37 days and stopped slightly off-dry (specific gravity 1.005) to balance the ample natural acidity – another abundance in 2019!

The 2019 “Jean’s Block” Riesling exhibits intense aromas of white peach, apple, pear and honeysuckle. It is refreshing yet balanced, and relatively full-bodied for a Riesling. The interesting texture might be the result of extended lees aging and the minor botrytis influence.

It is best enjoyed slightly chilled at 50-60F. I took the liberty of trying many bottles at many different temperatures to make this determination. This is as close to a Five Rows “Winemaker’s favourite” as I’ve ever been willing to admit.

Price:  $40

 

2019 Sauvignon Blanc

What is it that makes our Sauvignon Blanc unique?

This is a question I’ve been asked with great regularity over the years, but always chalked it up to the fact that many people hadn’t tried Niagara Sauvignon Blanc before.  As the years roll by, and more people continue to inquire about this wine they can’t believe is from a vineyard in St. David’s, I am starting to realize there might be more to the story – so lets dig in.

It always starts with terroir.  There is a uniqueness to where these grapes are grown that is evident in the differences between our “Young” and “Old” blocks, planted a mere lane width away from each other.  One resides in heavy clay and the other clay-loam.  Remarkably, the fruit is vastly different in both flavour and ripening profile.  Blended together they always make for a more complex wine.

In the vineyard, I tend to train and thin Sauvignon Blanc (and Pinot Gris for that matter) more like red varietals – with lower crop levels, good exposure, and “social distancing” of clusters to minimize disease.

Then there are the magic old barrels.  I used to be embarrassed to admit I’ve been using the same barrels for ten years without properly sterilizing them (we don’t have a barrel washer), but I’m starting to think that these tartrate-laden vessels might be part of the reason our Sauv Blanc smells and tastes so distinctive.

In 2019, equal amounts of fruit were harvested from our Young and Old blocks on September 21st, with ideal parameters for crafting aromatic and lively Sauv Blanc (19.2 degrees Brix, 7.88 g/L TA).  I chose to ferment 80% of the juice in mostly older French oak (12% new) and the remaining 20% in stainless steel.

Everything was inoculated with yeast strain X5 and the barrel-fermented portion went through partial spontaneous malolactic fermentation. All vessels were fermented cool (10 C) for 27 days and stopped at a specific gravity of 0.998.

Due to the COVID-related delay in bottling, this wine was nervously barrel aged for 2 months longer than initially planned.  Thankfully, the extra bulk aging time seemed to benefit the aromatic complexity and overall texture of this wine.

It features intense notes of ripe pineapple, starfruit and lime along with great natural acidity. Best served between 55-65F.

Price:  $40

 

2019 Pinot Gris

Roughly 1500 kg were harvested on September 21th, following a stretch of hot, humid conditions that had been absent for the majority of summer.

The rare luxury in 2017 was being able to harvest the Pinot Gris with good natural acidity (TA = 8.7 g/L) to balance the ripe flavour components in the juice. 80% of the juice was fermented in neutral French oak barrels and 20% in stainless steel.

Two different yeast strains (X5, R2) were used to ferment cool (9C) over 26 days, and stopped at a specific gravity of 0.998. Partial spontaneous malolactic fermentation took place in the barrel-fermented portion of wine.

The appearance of this Pinot Gris is unmistakable, with its golden straw colour and light pinkish hue. The aromas come in subtle layers: I get Honeycrisp apple, apricot, vanilla and fresh melon, but you’ll probably pick out a few more.

This wine is best served at 55-65F to highlight its balance and wonderful Pinot Gris texture.

Price: $40

 

Leave a Reply