recently had the chance to sample several wines from Stoney Ridge,
one of Niagara’s more established wineries. I must confess to not paying
too much attention to this producer recently, as there has been so much
new stuff happening in the area. Stoney Ridge has changed hands three
times since its basement batch conception by local wine guru Jim Warren
back in 1985. Warren is now back at the winery on a consulting basis.
Giving this man Bench grapes is like giving Charlie Trotter or Thomas
Keller a lobe of the finest Foie Gras available, great things will happen!
The newest owner, Barry Katzman, was in London to sample a
few of his current wares so I took the opportunity to see what type of
wines they were making. Barry also opened a bottle from their library
selection that is more than one hundred selections deep. A complete
listing of all the older wines available can be found at www.stoneyridge.com.
Gewurztraminer, Wisner Vineyard, Beamsville Bench, Niagara, 2000, 13%.
Pale yellow gold, pleasant aromas of rose petal
and ripe pear. Medium bodied flavours of pear, lime peel and canned fruit
with good length to the finish, which showed a touch of butterscotch.
Ridge, Cuesta Series Old Vine Chardonnay, Lenko and Wismer Vineyards,
Niagara, 1997, 13%.
Barrel fermented and eleven months in new French
oak. Pale yellow showing a touch of gold at the rim. Nose was
multidimensional showing almond/toasty hazelnuts, floral tones, straw,
canned pineapple and lime peel. This was a mouthful of beautifully
integrated toasty vanilla oak, pear, pineapple, peach tamed by a
refreshing hit of citrus. The finish was long and very creamy.
Ridge, Lenko Vineyard Chardonnay, Niagara, 1994, 12%, $29.95.
The age of this was evident from its deep
yellow/gold colour. The primary aroma was of roasted nuts and oak but it
showed no signs of oxidization whatsoever. Then after just a few minutes
after pouring, wafts of grilled pineapple, carbolic soap, ripe Anjou pear
and vanilla all became noticeable. Mid plate had a pleasing blend of tree
fruit, citric acid and vanilla. The finish showed banana, crabapple,
toffee and vanilla, which after the fruit faded was really the only
component to stick around. It was a treat, but should be drunk up soon.
Ridge, Merlot Reserve, Niagara, 1999, 12%, $22.95.
Light to medium ruby red colour, enticing aromas
of black cherry, sandalwood and sweet cherry. Quite surprisingly tannic,
with good structure and thirst-quenching acidity. Finished with coffee,
red fruit and chocolate. Still quite chunky right now, needs a couple of
years to mellow but really good stuff!
Cabernet Franc Reserve, Fox Vineyard, Niagara, 2000, 12.5%, $22.95.
Fox Vinerdard is a small parcel of land located
on the curve of the Beamsville Bench.
Ruby garnet, nose showed some mineral, earthy components combined with
mint, sage, lavender, sweet plum and blackberry jam. Med/full on the
palate, quite spicy and fruit focused and held together by lovely silky
dark chocolate tannin. Considering the year was by no means stellar, this
is a superb wine that is worth putting away.
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