Cattail Creek Estate Winery (Day 1, Stop 2 of Wine Country Ontario tour)

When we were deciding which wineries to visit as part of our trip package, we selected Cattail Creek for two reasons. First, it fell into the “small, family-based winery” category which we enjoy visiting, and second, we had previously enjoyed the clonal Riesling pack with our friend and neighbour Debbie Trenholme last summer. This clonal pack (detailed here by Rick Van Sickle) really showed the impact that different clones make on the wine, as well as allowing one to see the difference time makes as they had one clone from new vines and that same clone from old vines.

Having left Ravine Vineyard with a full belly, and already running late on only our second stop of the day, we soon arrived at Cattail Creek. We were greeted by Joe Krushelnicki who was working the tasting bar that day. Joe told us that Cattail has 100 acres planted, with between 40-50 acres at the location of the tasting room. As I discussed the clonal Rieslings we had peviously sampled, Joe informed us that previous winemaker Colin Ferguson had since left Cattail Creek. A fairly new entrant on the scene, the winery has only been open since 2006, although the family planted some of the first Riesling in Ontario back in 1976 and has been growing grapes for at least that long.

Joe took us through a great tasting of some of the older wines as well as a couple of pre-release wines so we could see what’s coming down the pipe.

Cattail Creek Rieslings - 2006, 2007, 2008

06 Riesling Reserve: Made from old vines (all Clone 21 for those of you interested in clonal details) planted in 1976 this wine exhibits a slight petrol nose with hints of tropical fruit and pineapple. With only 7 1/2 g/L of residual sugar, this is a fairly dry Riesling but one could be fooled by the slight sweetness mid-palate. The lemon-lime and pineapple is wiped clean by the dry, crisp finish. Some steely mineral notes. Joe noted that the vines for this wine are planted in an unusual East-West orientation.

07 Reserve Riesling: The nose on this one tells a little fib in that it seems to indicate a sweeter wine than the ’06, but in fact the residual sugar is almost the same at 7g/L. There are slight pool vinyl notes on the nose and definitely more stone fruit with notes of peach, honey and nectarines. Steely minerality and crisp acidity again.

08 Reserve Riesling: The nose has notes of tangerine and citrus, with very little petrol in the background. Another wine with high mineral content, the palate has tangerine and orange citrus notes. There’s a definitive minerality to all three of these Rieslings and this one is likely the most pronounced. I would pair any of these with creamy cheeses like Brie or seafood dishes (including Sushi).

Cattail Creek 2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Pre-Release): Having spent 14 months in 4-5 year old oak, this Chardonnay has picked up just enough of the oak to add vanilla & coconut notes to the apple nose. On the palate it is all baked apple, with light buttery notes and a somewhat long nutty finish. As I’ve noted before, I tend to like muted oak notes in Chardonnay and this one is really pleasing to me.

2011 Chardonnay Musqué (Pre-Release): All I could say about this nose at first was “Wow!”. As I dissected the different notes, I came up with candied fruit, Fuzzy Peach (the candy), and those oblong, spongy banana candies from childhood. There is so much going on and the palate continues these candied fruits until the finish where the cleansing acidity reminds you that you aren’t at the corner store, spending your allowance on junk your parents would disapprove of. A great summer patio wine, this is one of my favourite Musqué tastings to date. Joe mentioned to me on Twitter that they are just awaiting labels to release this one just in time for patio season! I believe Joe said it will be $17.95 when it releases.

2008 Pinot Noir: With a nose of sweet, smooth spice and light cherry, the palate follows in an orderly fashion, exposing slightly tart cherry, red currant, and cranberry before the sweet spice notes finish. There is a very light note of earthiness or barnyard – something I like to call funkiness that keeps the wine interesting. Joe mentioned we should watch for a release of 2009 Old Vines Reserve Pinot in the near future.

2009 Merlot: A fruit forward wine, dark, ripe plums and notes of cherry dominate the nose. On the palate the dark fruit continues with lovely notes of both chocolate and vanilla. There is a very light herbaceousness in the background – although some would associate this description of the bell pepper notes in unripe Cabernets, this is a pleasant herbal note. Quite tannic still, this one could stand a decanting or another 1-2 years in the bottle.

2007 Cabernet Merlot (Estate): A blend of 51% Cabernet Franc and 49% Merlot, this one spent only 7 months in barrel. With dark cherry and mocha notes, the palate is aligned with the same dominant flavours. There are light vanilla notes on the medium finish. I found this wine has a slightly harsh edge to it (maybe a bit too acidic?), and I would recommend it with some juicy meat or even a burger to cut the edge.

Cattail Creek 2007 Cabernet-Merlot Reserve (from Instagram)

2007 Cabernet Merlot Reserve: Much smoother than the estate series, this one spent 15 months in the barrel. I had previously tasted a bottle of this just in February (Vintages Release) and tweeted a brief review here. With notes of dark, rich stewed fruit and sweet spice, this could be mistaken at first for a wine from a warmer region like Spain or even Portugal. The palate continues with gobs of dark fruit – plums, dried raisins and figs and light mocha notes…ending with a long dark cherry and vanilla finish. There are decent tannins to hold this in the cellar for a few years and see how it progresses, but very drinkable now.

Cab Franc Reserve2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve: With only 50 cases produced, this is a pretty rare wine. The nose gives off dark fruit, and toasty vanilla notes and a hint of pleasant herbs in the background. Dark cherry, raspberry and a hint of violets on the palate, the finish is long cherry and caramel notes. Very nice example of Ontario Cab Franc from a stellar year.

2008 Late Harvest Meritage: An unusual blend of 50% Cab Franc, 30% Cab Sauv, and 20% Merlot, this late harvest wine doesn’t have the cloying sweetness of a dessert wine. The nose says strawberries and the palate stays true with strawberry and raspberry. Fairly acidic, this wine is refreshingly good. We recently paired a bottle with peach upside-down cake and it was an amazing combination.

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