Setting off on a visit to our beautiful wine region of Niagara-on-the-Lake, we are a small group, smallish, sixteen, and will have only enough time to visit one winery, which must include a bite to eat paired with the winery’s vinos of choice of course! It’s not easy to choose just one, with over 100 wineries to experience in this blessed wine region, the Niagara Peninsula. From the quaint, small boutique winery, to the very grand with award winning restaurants, amphitheaters and even art collections, the options are endless. Not to mention yet another direction we could take visiting an organic or biodynamic winery where sheep roam hard at work pruning the grapevines. We decide on the newest kid on the block or newest Sisters on the block we should say. Like us, The Wine Ladies, two sisters Melissa and Angela of the Marotta family of Italian heritage, opened the doors six months ago to their winery Two Sisters Vineyards and we are among the privileged few to have first experienced all that this breathtaking winery had to offer.
The winery inspired by Italian Renaissance design.
As we drive up to the entrance, a majestic building stands before us, “baroque in style”. A few of us remark, we learn later was inspired by an Italian architect in the 16th century, Andrea Palladio inspired by Italian Renaissance design. There has been no expense spared here. It is truly magnificent and very dramatic. Overall, it is quite imposing and moving.We suddenly hear an enthusiastic “Bonjourno” echoing from the back of the group. One of our guests has blurted out as we are greeted by the winemaker Adam Pearce. A youngish fella, charmed with personality, as well as charmed with the midas touch in the barrel cellar we will soon discover.
Adam leads us to the barrel cellar where we are introduced to the two sisters Melissa and Angela.
They welcome us with a glass of a pink drink, no ordinary drink. This is their sparkling wine rose “ Lush”. It is made in the ‘methode traditionelle’, as in Champagne. It has a pretty, subtle, pink hue due to the dosage of the Cabernet Franc. A flavor with enticing notes of biscuit, cherries and strawberries and a luscious creaminess on the palate. As we enjoy the bubbly in this elegant yet warm and inviting cellar we are entertained learning about the backstory of Two Sisters Vineyards.
The dream germinated a few years ago and has now finally been realized.
Melissa and Angelafeela special attachment to this place, to Niagara-on-the-lake. This terroir and after many years coming to Niagara, the family was able to finally set roots in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The dream germinated a few years ago and has now finally been realized.
Set upon 70 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot varietals, the vineyards are closely tended to by their Vineyard manager. Coaxing out the best of the vines and the distinct characteristics of each varietal.
Winemaker Adam is crafting wines with minimalist intervention, already awarded with numerous Medals! Melissa and Angela guide and drive their vision to provide the guest with a complete sensory experience including the farm to table, delectable dishes served up at Kitchen 76, the winery restaurant. Chef Justin Lesso is at the helm, serving up seasonal culinary specialties, paired to perfection with Adam’s wines.Even the old traditional margarita pizza never tasted so good straight out of the wood-burning oven.
The two sisters have just launched their wine club.
They are dedicated to being one that encompasses both exciting wine and culinary experiences. One can sample a little of both on the beautiful patio overlooking the vineyards that is open for the summer months.Of all the wonderful wines we enjoyed with our spectacular lunch, here are two that we would love to share with you. All wines are only available at the winery and at the online wine boutique on their website
Two Sisters Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $24.00
This is a dry medium-bodied elegant Sauvignon Blanc with a delightful freshness and crisp acidity. It is light straw in colour and clear and brilliant in the glass. On the nose citrus and green apple aromas seduce with a very slight grassy nuance in the background. On the palate more citrus accompanied with tropical fruit notes and a good satisfying finish. The fruit for this award winning Sauvignon Blanc came from the Lincoln Lakeshore Appellation in Beamsville, Niagara.
Two Sisters Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc $48.00
Intervins 2014 Award Winner Honours
Who is the King of Cab? Most say Cabernet Sauvignon but not necessarily. So here in Niagara, in fact “Franc,” or Cabernet Franc is the father of his son Sauvignon, and reigns supreme in this wine. Deep ruby in color, with intense ripe fruitaromas of raspberry, cassis, spice and hint of vanilla oak. On the palate rich juicy blackberry fruit, spice, hint of chocolate, soft tannins, elegant, easy and delicious drinking.
This article first published in Power Boating Canada.
Crazy over Chile!
A moment in time, frozen in our minds forever. The vision we saw from ten thousand feet above the spectacular Andes mountains as we approached the capital city of Santiago, Chile. Breathtaking in a rainbow of colors, we inhaled the magnificence of the largest mountain range in the world. Chile, at last, we’d so been looking forward to this day! On the worldwide stage of wine, Chile has an enviable position!
Welcome to Chile! It may be long and skinny in size and shape, but it’s big and fat when it comes to fabulous wines and food!
As a wine producing country Chile has been dealt a winning hand thanks in large part to its natural barriers, the Atacama Desert in the north, the magnificent Andes Mountains to the east, Patagonian ice fields to the south and of course the Pacific Ocean to the west. These geographic barriers serve Chile well, protecting the vineyards from pests and disease, while also facilitating organic and even biodynamic viticulture. Chile, in fact was never affected by the root eating louse phylloxera that decimated the winegrowing regions in the mid to late 1800’s. As a result grafting was never necessary and the great majority of Chile’s vines are planted on their original rootstocks unlike the majority of grapevines in the “old world” planted on the hearty North American rootstocks. Many experts maintain Chilean vines are at a huge advantage with vines better able to express their character and their terroir.
On our visit we experienced several incredible wineries and have chosen to share with you the time we spent with one in particular MontGras a leading wine producer founded in 1993 by brothers Hernán and Eduardo Gras together with their business partner Cristian Hartwig. MontGras is situated in the Colchagua Valley in Chile’s Central Region the heart of Chile’s most prominent wine zone.
MontGras’ mission was to create world-class wines that reflected Chile’s best terroir.
Today, “mission accomplished” with MontGras enjoying tremendous success with their line-up of wines being produced in the main wine regions of the country – Colchagua, Maipo and Leyda. MontGras embodies the perfect blend of state of the art technology with the talent and passion of a very special group of people.
Our introductory evening to MontGras was in the capital city of Santiago at the much touted restaurant of Astrid & Gaston fame, La Mar. Our hosts Hernán and Juan Pablo Quijada, the Export Manager, with their “personalities extraordinaire” treated us to an evening that totally rocked, La Mar was everything it promises to be, one of the best, most happening, colorful and amazing restaurants in town. The music played, the mouth watering apps arrived and the wines flowed.
From the ocean we enjoyed an assortment of ceviche, dressed in varying treatments, amazingly delicious! Main courses included scallops, sea bass, conger and more. We enjoyed a bottle of MontGras’ Amaral Sauvignon Blanc, produced from the Amaral vineyards located in the coolest wine region of Chile, Leyda Valley where some of the best whites in the country are made. Crisp, fresh and elegant with aromatics of grapefruit, tropical fruit and hints of white flowers, this wine delivered beautifully on the nose and on the palate.
What a night, and then it was time to bid “buona noche” as tomorrow a full day is planned at the winery with head winemaker Santiago Margozzini.
We arrive at MontGras and quickly see that the “work” is now about to begin!
At the tasting table, overlooking the stunning vineyards of MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon, Santiago is at the helm…before too long we are totally engrossed in passionate and enlightening conversation and tastings. Over a dozen of MontGras’ brands, Ninquén, Antu, Intriga, Amaral, are swirled, sniffed and slurped to our delight, each one with a story as recounted by Santiago. (put link here to all the wines)
So you think being a winemaker is an easy gig? Think again, as we are ushered down to the cellar where we are faced with creating our own wine! This is what they offer the visitors, trying your hand at being a winemaker. From the blend, selecting varying proportions of Cab Sauv, Carmenere and Merlot, to bottling, corking, labelling and picking a name! Loads of fun, it’s back to chemistry 101, with test tubes, measuring apparatus and calculator, throw in the nose and taste buds! We are put to the task!
Susanne’s blend takes the votes, with a 15% higher proportion of Carmenere, it is softer, Georgia’s blend is a touch more austere with Cabernet Sauvignon taking on a leading role.
Next on the agenda it is time for us to ascend the first mountain vineyard in Chile, MontGras’ “Ninquén”. We mount our horses, and are off, a breathtaking trek up the mountain, through the stunning vineyards, the Andes dutifully our compass. This is Ninquén, the mountain vineyard. Planted with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere, the ultra premium reds that these vineyards produce are now iconic and have set a stage for further vineyards climbing “to the top”.
At the top now, glasses of a rich ruby red wine with purple nuances are passed around. We are about to enjoy one of Georgia’s favorite varietals a Syrah, the MontGras Antu Syrah. We learned from Hernán that the grapes for this wine are sourced from the vineyards of this mountain Ninquén , one of MontGras’ emblem estates which became a pioneer vineyard in Chile when the mountaintop was planted taking the vine to its maximum rigor, in a wild terrain. Our Antu Syrah is juicy, elegant and loaded with ripe black berries, plum and notes of spice on the palate, is well rounded and has a delicious lingering affect just like the beauty that surrounds us, a moment in time that will not soon be forgotten.
We’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone at MontGras for welcoming us and sharing their enthusiasm and passion for their wines, the incredible wine regions, the cuisine and the joie de vivre that surrounds it all in your beautiful country Chile! It was truly a magical visit and we departed “Crazy for Chile” and for MontGras!
As hosts of their weekly television show, One Sip At A Time, The Wine Ladies, Georgia and Susanne share their passion for wine and delicious food pairings. Here, on the pages that follow The Wine Ladies detail a few of their recent wine discoveries.
A day in the county, a promised land for elegant, seductive wines tinged with limestone and a undeniable minerality, “It’s due to the dirt,”the locals say, Prince Edward County , Ontario’s newest wine region, sits on a limestone plateau made up of billions of sea-creature fossils…..
For the complete story and reviews of some of the stunning wineries in Prince Edward County….
The Wine Ladies wish to thank the Prince Edward County wineries that participated in our story, Rose Hall Run Winery, Waupoos Estates Winery, Casa-Dea Winery and Huff Estates Winery as well as a special thank-you to the fashions provided by Main Stream, Beachy Keen Swimwear and Royal Posh from Oakville, Ontario.
In our third segment we come back to rosé once again, but this time to one produced here locally. Fancy Farm Girl Foxy Pink, a Gold Medal winner from Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.
Sue-Ann, winemaker and proprietor of the winery joins us to share her thoughts on the rise of rosé,what’s happening in Niagara these days and much more.
Rosés are one of the hottest trends in wine,enjoying huge growth in popularity and are definitely getting the respect they are due.Gone are the days of super sweet and sappy pink rosés.
Now when you think pink, think crisp,dry,fruity,delicious and well made wines from most wine growing regions around the world. And so today we salute rosé. It is the perfect time with the warm weather upon us, and to learn more about what makes pink the perfect drink for summer enjoyment and beyond.
Up next the Publisher and Editor of PIE Bookazine, Sandra Roberts. We’ll chat with Sandra about a few lifestyle trends and what’s coming up in this issue 11 featuring Samuel Jackson on the cover.