Our Canadian revels soon would be ended, wine-wise. Or, at least, our tastings. We’d so enjoyed Caroline Cellars, and, the previous weekend, Prince Edward County, that we were eager to keep sampling. But the palates were growing fatigued and the afternoon threatening to wane before our early dinner reservation. But, we sought out Stratus Vineyards.
Stratus is all glass and steel and modern, with a stunning view of the vineyards, especially under blue skies (though it was growing hot, now, at least for Ontario). The wines could have been served in a motor home for all we cared. These were wines of amazing complexity, depth and character. The sommelier, sporting an accent from one of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, warmed to us once we began discussing the wine. This is something that stops a lot of people from getting into wine — you really need a vocabulary to participate fully in the experience. This was worth it.
2006 Stratus White is made from six finished wines (Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Semillion, Gewürz, Riesling and Viognier), not different grapes. The wine’s smooth structure and complexity is nearly overwhelming. A joyful, tremendously delicious wine — I prefer red wine, and I loved this. Agave sweetness amid tropical fruits, citrus acidity, spice…what didn’t this wine offer? A triumph, epic, beautiful. Did I mention we liked it?
What could possibly complete with that? Well, as it turns out, one CAN make huge, tannic, deep and lush reds in Niagara.
2007 Cabernet Franc — Cab Franc is a staple in Niagara; it’s usually the biggest, reddest red that you can get. I’d had a Cab Franc some years ago when on business in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, and found it much like a good Merlot, if a little sweeter. This one is amazing. 2007, we learned, was a very hot year. Temperature-wise, that is, though the heat brought out the best in the vintage and made the ’07s stars around the province. Plum, lavender, oak, and coffee greet you today; if you have the patience, they say, this will be incredible in two years.
2006 Stratus Red – We’re blending again: Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet and Gamay. Greenish, slightly unfinished, bracing and aggressive, sour fruits, sharp, spicy. Wow. Wow. Patience, grasshopper. Let this one sleep (but it’s so good!) I know, but put it down.
2006 Petit Verdot is a wine I know nothing about. I’ve heard of it, but never had it until this day. It’s so young and new, it also needs time to come into its own. But even now, it’s rich, lush, plummy, jammy and hu-u-u-uge. The tannins are so strong they could bench press a case on their own. This is a wine that demands respect and will get it…in about five years.
We had to stop. We needed to become presentable for dinner and allow our tongues to savor the Stratus effect. Honestly, we couldn’t imagine going to another winery, though my goal for the day was four. We got to two and found some fearless, stunning wine. Yeow. We’ll be back.
We just drove, silently, through the Greenbelt District, grapes growing everywhere, sun bright, breeze off the lake, willing the tastes of Stratus to linger just a few more precious seconds.
Sigh. What a trip.