2007 Vintage Report

The 2007 vintage will be characterized as an unusually warm and dry year, more so than any in recent memory.  From May through October, the vineyards of the Niagara Peninsula experienced dry, sunny days with heat unit accumulation that was 25 percent above the 30-year average.  The exceptionally long, ‘blue sky’ growing season, however, was accompanied by a reduction in rainfall, especially acute during the summer months, of 65 percent in comparison to the 30-year average.  All told, the precipitation deficit totaled 224 milimetres (8.8 inches). Although the vines experienced some water stress, there was balanced growth, particularly in our Cave Spring Vineyard, due to the deep root system of our older vines and constant ground water flows at our site.

Bud break for all varieties occurred during the second week of May, and bloom and veraison followed on schedule during the last week of June and middle to end of August, respectively. The dry weather resulted in low disease pressure, precluding any special measures against mildew or rot. The lack of precipitation also delayed ripening, resulting in slower than normal sugar accumulation and higher than expected levels of acidity.  Drought relief finally came with rains at the end of summer and beginning of fall, allowing for the final stages of ripening to occur under cooler temperatures.  This delivered fuller aroma and flavour development than otherwise would have been expected.

Going into late fall with sound, healthy fruit on the vines, we were able to pick our Select Late Harvest Riesling Indian Summer with the first deep cold in the second week of December. The relative absence of breakdown also provided a perfect scenario for harvesting our Icewine during a hard frost on January 3, 2008, bringing the vintage to its close.

In our estimation, 2007 is held as one of the best vintages since the turn of the century, notable, in particular, for excellent balance of sugar and acidity.  Quantity levels were near the five-year average at 3.25 tonnes/acre (56 hl/ha).

Riesling

2007 presented us with some of the cleanest Riesling fruit in recent memory, with minimal breakdown.  The wines have excellent structure and sugar-acid balance.  Due to water stress from the dry season, the wines are taking longer to evolve, but are already revealing intense citrus and classic lime flavours.  Unlike the similarly warm vintages of 2002 and 2005, these Rieslings possess lower alcohol levels and plenty of acidity, complementing the ripe character of the vintage. We anticipate that they will be refreshing and lively in their youth yet with great longevity, which is the hallmark of great Riesling.

Bud break:       May 11                                                Yield:   3.25 tonnes/ac. (56 hl/ha)
Flowering:       June 18                                               ºBrix:   19.5
Veraison:         Aug. 20 - 21                                        pH:      3.04
Harvest:           Oct. 6 – Nov. 9                                  TA:       7.5 g/l

Chardonnay

With apple and grapefruit aromas and flavours, our 2007 Chardonnays are full and rich on the palate.  The wines bear a resemblance to the Burgundian wines of the Mâcon.  Though slightly riper and more full-bodied than the previous vintage, like the Rieslings they retain good levels of acidity and show excellent overall structure. As is our house style, the avoidance of malolactic fermentation will allow the wines to show their mineral character and to age in the long term.

Bud break:       May 10                                                 Yield:   3.4 tonnes/ac. (58 hl/ha)
Flowering:        June 17                                                ºBrix:  21.7
Veraison:          Aug. 16 - 17                                         pH:      3.23
Harvest:           Sept. 28 – Oct. 8                                TA:      7.6 g/l

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, which is sensitive to wet seasons and quick to break down, excelled in our vineyards in 2007, producing the cleanest fruit ever and, most notably, our best vintage since at least 2002.   The wines are characterized by dark, intense colour with red and dark berry flavours.  These are smooth wines with good backbone that will benefit from a slight touch of oak to complement, but not overwhelm, their delicate flavours and balance.

Bud break:       May 11                                                 Yield:   3.5 tonnes/ac. (60 hl/ha)
Flowering:        June 18                                               ºBrix:  20.3
Veraison:          Aug. 14 - 16                                         pH:      3.22
Harvest:           Sept. 24 – Oct. 4                                TA:       6.7

Gamay

Like the other red varietals, our Gamays from this outstanding vintage will be our finest since 2002.  The Gamay Estate has the classic pepper and sweet red berry character of our vineyard, with a depth of colour and character that augur well for eight to ten years of bottle age.

Bud break:       May 9                                                   Yield:   3.0 tonnes/ac. (52 hl/ha)
Flowering:        June 17                                                ºBrix:   21.7
Veraison:          Aug. 17 – 20                                        pH:      3.1
Harvest:           Sept. 21 – 26                                        TA:      7.7 g/l

Bordeaux Varietals (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon)

As with our Pinot Noir, 2007 was the best in five years for our red wines, especially our Cabernet Franc, which is by far our most important of the Bordeaux varietals.  Due to the warm, dry growing season, berries were very small with a high skin-to-juice ratio.  The resulting wines are very dark in colour and highly extracted, with very ripe fruit flavours and excellent structure for long-term barrel ageing.  A majority of our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from 2007 were treated in the traditional Veronese appassimento (air drying) method for blending with Cabernet Franc to produce our proprietary Estate blend, La Penna.  This vintage marks the third year of experimentation with this process.

Cabernet Franc

Bud break:      May 10                                                 Yield:   3.0 tonnes/ac. (52 hl/ha)
Flowering:       June 17                                                ºBrix:  22.3
Veraison:         Aug. 24 – 25                                       pH:      3.3
Harvest:           Oct. 30                                                TA:       5.5 g/l