Stratus’s LEED-certified and gravity-fed facility holds a sentinel position on big-winery row on Niagara Stone Road leading into Niagara-on-the-Lake. Inside, the tasting room is all dark colours, with sleek and modern styling. The wine, particularly the headline Stratus Red and Stratus White blends but also single varieties like this one, have gained wide recognition for their exacting quality.
Stratus is the only Niagara winery I can think of that puts their wine (but only the flagship Red blend) into gargantuan 9 litre bottles–bonus points for knowing the fancy biblical name for these bottles.
The award-winning J-L Groux has held the winemaker position at Stratus since 2004. Before that he spent fifteen years in the same role at Hillebrand. He’s from the Loire, and trained in both Burgundy and Bordeaux so his background in French winemaking is unquestionable. For more on J-L Groux see Mike Di Caro’s interview with the Stratus winemaker on the Taste Camp North site.
Petit Verdot is one of the five classic Bordeaux grapes but because it ripens so unpredictably it has fallen into disfavour in its home region. When it is grown there it is usually blended to give tannic structure to Merlot-heavy wines. In warmer New World climates, especially in hot vintages, it is increasingly appearing as a single-variety wine.
In the glass the Stratus Petit Verdot is a dark, rich plum colour. Red fruit and subtle spice hints dominate on the nose and remind me of serviceberry jam. These flavours continue on the palate and are supported by the variety’s typical strong acid and tannic characteristics. After tasting it on its own I then tried it with some aged Ontario cheddar and found that the fat and distinct flavour in the cheese helped control the wine’s more boisterous notes. Red meat would ably serve the same purpose.