Calamus Estate Winery

Calamus Estate Winery made it onto our list for several reasons – first and foremost, our friend Rick Bates from Ajax and I were having a discussion at one point and I mentioned I hadn’t made it to Calamus. I was severely reprimanded and it was at that point that I decided I would make sure Calamus was on my list for the next visit.

Calamus also fits our model of wineries we tend to like – family owned, owner-operated, and smallish. At 5,000 cases a year (they actually have sufficient fruit to do more like 10,000), they definitely fit the niche. They have 22 acres at the Jordan winery site and another 10 acres in Beamsville.

Housed in a converted barn, we were taken upstairs to the large tasting area lofy (including a deck overlooking the vineyards) as the tasting area below was already hopping with Cuvée participants. We were treated to a great tasting including some great cheese and crackers to nibble on which were great for cleansing the palate.

There were 4 wines on sample and we had also been told we couldn’t leave without trying their Gewürztraminer. Here’s the notes of what we tasted:

2010 Unoaked Chardonnay: With a nose of light apple and stone fruit, the palate is much more dominant with apple, pear, and citrus notes. The acidity of the finish is extremely refreshing and leaves notes of lemon in your mouth long enough to cover the gap until your next sip. Great refreshing summer wine. $14.95

"Barrel-Kissed" Chardonnay

2010 “Barrel-Kissed” Chardonnay: When I opened a bottle of this after returning home, wine-writer Konrad Ejbich wanted to know if it was a French kiss! Indeed, it is French oak that has kissed this wine – Calamus managed to source some oak barrels from France that had only been used for 4 months (removing the strongest oak influence) and then aged their Chardonnay in these same barrels for a mere 9 months. These light, subtle oak influences result in the “barrel-kissed” label. If you read my reviews you know I like light oak influences on my Chardonnays and this one was extremely delicious – light butterscotch notes from the oak – apples, peaches and lime from the fruit, and decent structure to hold it all together. $17.20

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon: With 26 months on oak, the plum, berry, and kirsch-like notes shine through the moderate influence of the barrels. There are secondary notes of licorice and leather, adding a really nice complexity as the wine evolves.The wine is smooth, and more cherry-cranberry than cassis, likely due in part to the weather in 2009 which didn’t favour the warmer varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.  Long cherry finish. I would pair this with just about any BBQ red meat this summer.  $19.95

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Meritage: I admit it. I have this thing for Meritage (Ontario’s version of  a “Bordeaux blend”…we just can’t call it that). With 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot – all from a great vintage in Ontario…I loved this wine.On the nose I detected cassis, vanilla, and dark chocolate. The palate seemed true to this and added more fruit notes from both red and dark fruits (red raspberry, black cherries). The tannins are already well integrated. I would likely only cellar this another 3-4 years at most, but if you wanted to break open a bottle now, it is raring to go. $27.20

2007 Meritage

2010 Gewürztraminer: I couldn’t leave without trying a Gewürzt from Calamus. Ontario’s cooler climate brings out great aromatics on the whites and this Gewürztraminer was no exception. The nose was all floral and lychee. On the palate, loads of sweet, tropical fruit that left a long, lingering lemon finish on top of the lighter tropical fruit notes. I was itching for Thai food now and it was barely lunchtime! $16.20

Lovely artwork on display in the loft

My friend Rick was right. I had definitely needed to visit Calamus Estate Winery. And I know I will be back to sample other wines when I have a bit more time.

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