For our fourth and final shopping guide for 30 Days of Ontario wine, we give you the lowdown on all the great Pinot Noirs you can get your hands on.
Rick VanSickle's Picks
Tawse Estate Cherry Avenue Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 ($58, 93points) — This is the flagship of the Pinots from Tawse and it shows with this smart wine from the fine 2009 vintage. Such a striking nose of perfumed fruit, forest mushrooms, black cherry, red currants, blueberry and loam. It is wild and untethered on the palate, a complex and layered Pinot with a wonderful array of fleshy red fruits, poised oak spice and earthy minerals delivered on a bed of fine-grained tannins. It’s an intense wine through a long, lingering finish. Buy, hold and enjoy.
Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2009 ($45, 92 points)– I find Claystone to be the most expressive of its terroir over all the other wines in the Le Clos family. It is always a bold, forward expression of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and, in a great vintage such as 2009, that is especially true. The nose is forward and overt with field raspberry, underbrush, game, earth, black fruits, mineral, kirsch and oak-inspired spices. It needs time to integrate fully, as do all Claystone wines, but, wow, the palate is extraordinary now with an array of dark and red fruits, limestone minerality, beautiful oak and spice notes, rich tannins, and persistent flavours that linger on the finish. I wouldn’t open it for two years at least, or decant overnight. This will deliver rich rewards after a few years of aging.
Rennie Estate Winery Paradox Pinot Noir Reserve 2010 ($40, 90 points) — Grape grower and virtual winery owner Graham Rennie’s Pinot is classic Beamsville Bench with a nose that shows beetroot, black cherry, cranberries, earth and lavish spice accents. It is a young wine, still evolving, with the toasted cran-cherry and vanilla notes coming together with the core of spice and minerals. Tuck this away for two or three years. Can be purchased at Angels Gate winery.
Angels Gate Feet First Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2010 ($20, 89 points) — I couldn’t believe it when Angels Gate winemaker Philip Dowell told me over a year ago he and his winemaking team were personally foot stomping the grapes for this Pinot. But that’s what he did, as well as whole berry fermentation, stalks and all, and then making this wine without filtration. The end result is a lovely Pinot with a
nose of bramble cherry and raspberry fruit and notes of vanilla toast, red currants and an interesting mineral note. It is gorgeous on the palate with bright red fruits, sandalwood, savoury spices and a slight eucalypt note. It has beautiful balance and a smooth delivery through the finish.
The Old Third Pinot Noir 2010 ($42, 92 points, Prince Edward County) — Such a wonderful and wild nose of crushed red berries, red plum, cassis, light mocha spice and a vein of earth-loam- minerality running through the core. Such a unique and special Pinot with purity of fruit on the palate, rich and layered red fruits, touches of currants and cassis, integrated and smooth tannins and an alluring layer of soft spice that adds interest to the experience. So good.
Michael Di Caro's Picks
2010 Flat Rock Pinot Noir
Availability: Winery and LCBO Vintages 1545
When you visit Flat Rock Cellars and you're in the mood for a red, you essentially have three choices: Pinot, Pinot and Pinot. That's just fine by many because there's a diverse range of Pinot Noir in its line-up from the entry level all the way up to the top-shelf Reserve. For those that prefer their Pinot on the lighter and elegant side the entry level 2010 is drinking beautifully right now. It has the classic Niagara hallmarks of sour cherry and earthy beet root. Those are backed-up by a touch of intriguing smoke, pepper and roses. It also possess a silky light body and has a nice stoney mineral and acid backbone providing a bit of that electric tension people crave in a cool climate Pinot Noir.
2009 Norman Hardie Cuvée L Pinot Noir
After every vintage Norman Hardie and his staff taste though all the barrels and in years where they find some barrels that taste exceptional, he makes a top wine under the L series named in honour of his late sister. 2009 proved to be one of those years for Pinot Noir. As in the past this is a mix of his Niagara (60%) and Prince Edward County (40%) fruit which is then blended together and returned to barrel so that the wine can meld. This edition has the classic Ontario flavours and aromas of raspberry, sweet cherry, cranberry and roasted beets. Tying it all together is the verve of that chalky minerality you get from the county. There's also some intriguing notes of wet forest floor and mushrooms underneath the fruit giving it some added complexity. It has a silky body, some chewy tannins and that razor-like Ontario acidity.
2009 Fielding Pinot Noir
There isn't a whole lot of this Pinot Noir left from the cool 2009 vintage. Grown on the estate Jack Rabbit Flats vineyard this is a Pinot driven by earthy notes. There's a touch of blue flowers on the nose at first which then gives way to fresh tilled black earth, beets and a cran-cherry combination. Take a sip and you get those same pleasant earthy flavours of mushroom and Bull's Blood beets which harmonise nicely with the sour cherry, cranberry and oak spice on the finish. With a bit of bottle age on it, the tannins are quite silky and balance nicely against the refreshing acidity and medium weight.
2010 Coyote's Run Pinot Noir
Availability: LCBO Vintages 53090
Coyote's Run has always been very serious about its Pinot Noir. If you visit the St. David's winery you'll be able to taste two distinct Pinot Noirs from its two different soils called Red Paw and Black Paw. It also makes a top-tier wine called Rare Vintage from the best of the estate fruit in exceptional vintages, so its always a great place to visit for a Pinot lover. But what shouldn't be overlooked is its entry level Pinot. The warm 2010 vintage provided some ripe growing conditions and it shows on this Pinot. Juicy, ripe flavours and aromas like: raspberry, black cherry and a touch of strawberry explode form the glass. There's a touch of earthy character and smokiness underneath the fruit and some meaty tannins and refreshing acidity to balance it out. At under under $20 and available through Vintages this is a solid entry point into the Coyote's Run line-up and Niagara Pinot for those that like their Pinot juicy and fruit-forward.
Alan McGinty's Picks
David Ort's Picks
2008 Trumpour's Mill Pinot Noir
Availability: LCBO Vintages 230227
Between the near-fact that one is required to describe Pinot Noir as "the heartbreak grape" and the cachet granted by the grape's ancestral home in Burgundy, most end up at ludicrously high prices. This lively wine has an aroma of fragrant wild strawberries cut by subtle spice. On the palate it sticks to the red-fruit theme with tart cherries and a touch of cranberry. This PEC wine's light touch with lots of liveliness makes it well-suited to replace Gamay on the Thanksgiving table. If someone can find a $60 Pinot from Ontario that is actually three times more enjoyable than this $17 bottle I will eat the saddle leather that is barely apparent in the welcome, soft-tannin finish.