Wines of North America Tasting – March 2023

Thank you to everybody who came along to the tasting of Wines of North America – the wines we tasted were as follows:

Peller Estates, Signature Series Ice Cuvée Classic NV (Courtesy of Barry Gibbon)

Region: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Grapes: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir
12% ABV
This wine is made in the Traditional Method from hand-picked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Individual batches of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are fermented in tank. A cuvée is made using a selection of these wines which are then bottled with yeast and sugar. After ageing on the lees for approximately 30 months, the bottles are riddled, disgorged and a dosage of Icewine (110ml) from the Peller Vidal Icewine is added. 
Notes: The wine has very fine bubbles and is a brilliant yellow straw colour. The nose has fantastic aromas of apricot, yeast and ripe apple, with hints of honey. These are followed by tropical fruits on the palate and a refreshing sweet grapefruit finish.

Forge Cellars Dry Riesling ‘Classique’ Finger Lakes 2018 (Majestic £17.99 for mix six/£24.99 for single bottle)

Region: Finger Lakes, New York State, USA
Grape: Riesling
12% ABV
The Finger Lakes wine region, some five hours northwest of New York, is a source of internationally renowned Riesling. Here a series of glacial, finger-shaped lakes moderate temperatures, resulting in perfect ripening conditions for high quality fruit. Made in a bone-dry style, by Rhône producer Louis Barruol, this is a small batch, low intervention style of winemaking. Fruit is hand harvested from 16 different sites on the banks of Seneca Lake – the deepest of the eleven Finger Lakes.
Notes: Expect fresh notes of green apple, apricot and chamomile balanced by a savoury minerality and a racy acidity. Fantastic paired with Thai food and a squeeze of lemon.

Inniskillin Niagara ‘Estate Series’ Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (Courtesy of Barry Gibbon)

Region: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
ABV: 12.5%
Grapes were harvested from select vineyards in the Niagara Peninsula. Gently crushed and pressed the juice was allowed to cold settle for 48 hours before racking. The clean juice was inoculated and fermented cool in stainless steel for 12 days.
Notes: Citrus aromatics of lemon, lime and grapefruit are evident while flavours of lemongrass, peach and melons round out this popular varietal wine. Pairs well with grilled flatbread with grilled peaches, goat cheese & basil, white pasta with artichoke & aioli and shrimp stir fry with lemon & snow peas.

Qupé, Y Block Chardonnay, 2019 (South Downs Cellars, £27.95) **

Region: Santa Barbara County, California, USA
Grapes: 95% Chardonnay, 4% Marsanne, 1% Viognier
ABV: 13.5%
This wine was made using traditional techniques: hand-harvested, whole cluster pressed, chilled for 48 hours in tank, then racked off heavy lees for fermentation. It was 100% barrel fermented and aged in French oak—15% new. Aged on the lees for eight months then racked clean to stainless steel for blending and rest before bottling.
Notes: Aromas of citrus, Anjou pears, baking spice, and flint waft from the glass. Mouth-coating viscosity on the palate balanced by naturally fresh, crisp acidity. Completely dry, this is an elegantly balanced and structured Chardonnay. A great match would be chicken with a creamy sauce but pork would work equally as well.

Elk Cove Mount Richmond Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir 2019 (The Wine Society, £35) **

Region: Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon, USA
Grape: Pinot Noir
ABV: 14%
Fruit from Mount Richmond is fermented in small, temperature controlled steel tanks, hand punched down twice daily, and barrelled in French oak barrels. After 10 months of ageing in barrels, only the barrels that are most representative of the Mount Richmond profile are carefully blended to create a big, luscious Oregon Pinot Noir. Notes: Italian plum and blackberry bramble introduce this black-fruited wine with wafts of rose and croissant. The smooth, savoury palate is replete with berry compote and black fig accompanied by powdered cocoa, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Chateau Ste Michelle, ‘Cold Creek Vineyard’ Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (The Wine Society, £29)

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State, USA
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
ABV: 15%
Planted in 1973, the south-facing Cold Creek Vineyard is a warm, dry site with high heat accumulation. This Cabernet was aged for 18 months in 44% new French oak, 7% new American oak and 49% neutral oak. Each individual fermentation tank is tasted daily to evaluate the development of the tannins and structure.
Notes: The wine has great intensity of pure cassis and blackberry fruit, with well-integrated vanilla oak notes and a long finish. Would pair well with Beef, hearty pastas, veal.

The Federalist Zinfandel, Lodi, 2018 (Quaff, £22.50)

Region: Lodi, California, USA
Grapes: 93% Zinfandel, 3% Syrah
ABV: 14.5%
Different blocks were fermented separately to preserve ideal characteristics of each. Each block spends an average of 12 days on the skins. The wine is aged for 12 months in 25% new Oak.
Notes: Deep purple in colour, with aromas of red fruits (strawberry, plum), black pepper and cinnamon spice. Good entrance, full-bodied, good mid-palate, juicy, long finish, strawberry, cinnamon flavours, good tannin structure and nice cleansing acidity.

Quady ‘Elysium’ Black Muscat 2018 , half bottle (Majestic, £11.99 for mix six/£13.99 per single bottle)

Region: Central Valley, California, USA
Grape: Black Muscat
ABV: 15%
Black Muscat is one of the very few black-skinned Muscats. Andrew Quady handled the Black Muscat in the same manner as his ‘Essensia’ Orange Muscat: crushing, chilling and allowing the grapes to macerate. He added wine spirits to arrest the fermentation. On draining the tank the winery began to smell of roses! In his amazement he held a naming contest and selected Elysium, “state of eternal bliss” in Greek, as a name for this exciting Muscat wine.
Notes: Virtually black in colour, with a rose-like aroma, very intense on the palate and full of fantastic rich velvety fruit. One of the few wines that can stand up to chocolate puddings, but also great with blue cheeses. Or try it poured over ice cream for the ultimate after-dinner treat.

**  these were the wines voted best white and best red respectively