2006 Alvento Sondra, VQA Niagara Peninsula
I've never heard of Alvento. An oversight of epic proportions? Perhaps. Or maybe just being romantic about Niagara as usual. I'd like to pay a visit soon.
Haven't changed my position about Bordeaux-style wines in Niagara. Still don't think much about much of the cabernet based wines being made . . . these varietals simple struggle to ripen in this climate, and too many of them have a disgusting road tar aroma to them. Merlot, on the other hand, might be a different story. This wine proves it. A right-bank inspired blend of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc.
Dark in colour, and initially, quite oaky, with the wood manifesting itself in aromas of mocha and general toastiness. The website says that the wine is aged in larger Burgundy casks - it might be an issue of a higher percentage of new barrels, the youth of the wine, or the general structural makeup of the wine, but the wood is primary. Alcohol is a bit sharp at first too, on both nose and palate. Lean, with the alcohol coming up again on the finish.
I knew this wine was better than how it was showing. After 24 hours, everything integrates much, much better. The oak gives way to a more earthy, savoury character, with a distinct spiciness. Fruit is much purer, even quite minerally. Lean, but much more balanced, with the alcohol just about imperceptible. At a listed 12.5% abv, it better be. Spicy finish, good length.
A very good example of what Niagara merlot can achieve, but give it some time. Finely structured, it'd be interesting to taste these with a few more years of bottle age. And I need to visit this place, meet these people.