2009 Vintage Report

The winter months of 2008-2009 brought plenty of snowfall but were absent of any damaging cold, allowing for pruning to be conducted without compensation for bud damage.

The early spring months, April and May, were warmer than average providing a boost to the vines and resulting in an early bud break during the first week of May.  June, however, was cooler than normal so flowering was back on a normal track occurring in the third week of the month.  Temperatures remained on the cooler side in July with slightly above normal precipitation.  This cool, wet weather continued into the first part of August, slowing development, and delaying veraison for late-ripening varieties until the end of the month, at which point seasonably warm temperatures and sunny skies returned. September was glorious, providing dry and warm conditions and sustained sunshine throughout the month and thereby enhancing ripening.

Looking back, the growing season in total was cooler than the 30-year average and all months, with the exception of April, had cooler than normal night temperatures.  Although precipitation was above normal, there were fewer rainy days than in 2008, which, coupled with the cooler night temperatures, helped to minimize disease pressure.  Bunch thinning was undertaken to facilitate ripening in this cool vintage, which reduced yields.

Harvest was delayed for most varieties by seven to ten days, due to the return to cooler temperatures in October.  Harvest began October 1 with Pinot Noir and Gamay and finished November 12 with Gewürztraminer and, of course, Riesling from our oldest vineyard blocks that produce our CSV Riesling.

The Select Late Harvest Riesling ‘Indian Summer’ was picked partially frozen in mid and late-December.  The later season ripening under cooler fall conditions delivered sound fruit with sugars at typical levels of around 30º Brix. The higher acids and lower pH of 2009 provides extraordinary acid balance in this sweet wine.

The cooler nights of this growing season and the later than normal harvesting has produced some of our most intensely flavoured and aromatic wines ever. Cooler vintages often have this beneficial effect, particularly with regard to aromatic varieties, as this year clearly demonstrates. Our 2009 Rieslings, picked well into November, are very aromatic, displaying their cool-climate origins with abundant acidity that promises tremendous ageing potential.  Likewise, Gewürztraminer, picked in November rather than October, offers great aromatic range.  Our top Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs were harvested in October rather than September, standing out for their subtlety and nuance.  Finally, Cabernet Franc, harvested in November – more than two weeks later than the norm, has remarkable colour and concentration in large part due to the extended hang time.

RIESLING

Our Rieslings were hand-harvested and rigorously selected late in the season to allow for fullest flavour development.  The wines show a well defined, bright and expansive fruit character with peach, pink grapefruit, pear and lime-citrus predominating.  Mineral and black licorice tones typical of our Rieslings are more pronounced in this classic, cooler vintage. Powerful flavours and bracing acidity with a fine balance of residual sugar give these medium-bodied wines richness and substance on the palate as well as significant long-term ageing potential. And as one would expect, the ripeness of fruit and high levels of acidity that characterize the 2009 vintage also delivered pin-point balance in the Select Late Harvest Riesling ‘Indian Summer’.

Bud break:       May 11                                     Yield:  3.5 tonnes/acre (61 hl/ha)
Flowering:       June 25                                   ºBrix:  19.7
Veraison:         Aug. 28                                    pH:      2.95
Harvest:           Oct. 10-Nov. 12                      TA:      11.8 g/L

CHARDONNAY

The 2009 Chardonnay wines are showing classic cool vintage typicity, with green apple aromas, stony textures and persistent citrus fruit character. The wines are brightly aromatic with surprising hints of tropical fruit and spice standing out in comparison to other recent vintages.  Generally, the higher acids and extended hang time in ’09 promise highly structured wines.  We expect the Estate Chardonnays to cellar for up to a decade.  As well, the highly aromatic Musqué clone produced our most subtle and complex wine ever. Finally, the Chardonnay base wine for our Traditional Method Blanc de Blancs promises a very filigreed sparkling wine that will support ageing on the lees for upwards of three years prior to disgorging.

Bud break:       May 8                                       Yield:   3.25 tonnes/acre (56 hl/ha)
Flowering:       June 21                                    ºBrix:   20.6
Veraison:         Aug. 22                                     pH:      3.04
Harvest:           Oct. 13-15                                 TA:      11.3 g/l

PINOT NOIR

Our Pinot Noir cuvée is made up of three Dijon clones: 115, 667, and 777 from our established vineyard blocks. This delicate, thin-skinned grape was selectively handpicked and sorted to ensure that only the best fruit was processed. Because of the cool harvest, the grapes were in excellent condition.  The resulting wine is lighter in colour, which is typical in most years for Pinot in our cool climate.  Marked by their pronounced floral and red berry character, these wines display classic varietal traits of earth and spice and great persistence.  Lighter in body, they have a cool, angular feel, which, combined with a delicate thread of tannin, promises years of development in the bottle.

Bud break:       May 10                                     Yield:   2.9 tonnes/acre (50 hl/ha)
Flowering:       June 22                                    ºBrix:   21.1
Veraison:         Aug. 21                                      pH:      3.15
Harvest:           Oct. 1-6                                     TA:      11.4 g/l

CABERNET FRANC

In 2009 Cabernet Franc derives its surprisingly deep colour and generous fruit from the extremely late harvest of this cooler vintage. The wines are very aromatic exhibiting definite mint-cherry and herbal tones. On the palate, they display smooth textures, fine tannins and vivid berry fruit that make them very approachable in their youth. The wines had the stuffing to absorb 18 months of barrel ageing in new and older 225L barriques and 450-500L puncheons, while retaining their polish and shine. As we have since 2005, we continued our exploration of the traditional appassimento method, naturally air-drying small batches of Cabernet Franc in a small barn exposed to the moderating breezes of Lake Ontario that circulate along the Escarpment at our estate. The proprietary wine made from these lots – called ‘La Penna’ – promises enhanced complexity on the nose and richness on the palate.

Bud break:       May 15                                      Yield:   4.0 tonnes/acre (69 hl/ha)
Flowering:       June 26                                     ºBrix:  21.5
Veraison:         Aug. 30                                      pH:      3.07
Harvest:           Nov. 6                                        TA:      8.78