Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Visiting Stratus


In May, I went to Niagara on my first tasting trip of the year. I was eager to taste through some of the 2009's, and get a first impression of the 2010's. I was fighting a head cold, but the palate was functioning sufficiently well. My first stop was at Stratus, to meet up with Charles Baker and taste his riesling. I knew it was going to be a good tasting - what I hadn't counted on was how good Stratus' 2007 red wines were showing, across the board. All ripe but balanced, showing great varietal character yet dense and concentrated, clearly built for aging.

2007 Stratus Sauvignon Blanc: grassy, herbal nose, deep colour; the 100% new oak shows on the creamy palate, very round and weighty; could mistake this for a (good) dry white Bordeaux

2007 Stratus Cabernet Franc: nice dark colour, graphite minerality, round and elegant palate; soft, fine tannins, good length; a beautiful wine

2007 Stratus Red: ripe fruit, round, structured with good balance

2007 Stratus Cabernet Sauvignon: dark, smoky bouquet, round and fruit forward; soft but linear structure

2007 Stratus Petit Verdot: lots of graphite minerality, slightly green, tense and almost hard; acidity provides great structure on the finish; very interesting interpretation of this varietal

2009 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling: what I came here for; well chilled, absolutely steel on the nose, minerals and all that; so pure and fresh, acid rises so angular on the finish; extraordinarily complex yet with a transparency on the palate that articulates how stunningly beautiful riesling is; long, extracted acidity on the finish

What a great tasting. The CB riesling is magnificent. He's made wine from another vineyard, to be released in a few months - look out for it. Before they run out, as production of the 2009 was almost half of the already miniscule 2008 . . . order a case. I'm so sick of this bullshit about people complaining how Niagara doesn't make real wine. Or even worse, people who get so turned on by a trip to wine country that they claim any $8 plonk is great. When true great wine like CB Picone Riesling is being produced, you have to support it. No excuses.


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