Tastecamp Day 1, Part 1

After a quick morning run to a couple local wineries (Hinterbook for some of their “Franc Blanc” and an even quicker stop at Southbrook), we picked up another attendee at the hotel and drove the short 4km over to Chateau Des Charmes for the opening ceremony. Chateau Des Charmes is a beautiful estate nestled in St. David’s Bench, but portrays the image of a French Chateau.

Chateau Des Charmes

After opening words by organizer Rick Van Sickle, Ed Madronich, chair of Wine Country Ontario (and owner of Flat Rock Cellars) welcomed Tastecamp attendees.

Paul Bosc Jr. then gave us an overview of St. David’s Bench, how the appellation came to be, and what makes it so unique. While he apologized for his thoughts being all over the map, it is obvious that he is just bursting with knowledge and passion for the land that is Chateau Des Charmes. Having spent his entire adult life in this vocation, he’s clearly an expert on the subject of “terroire” and coming away from his talk, one clearly understood that terroire is so much more than the dirt the vines grow in. His banter back and forth with wife Michele was fun to watch, and unfortunately Michele gave him the hook just as he was getting warmed up!

Given that the day had called for hail and/or thunderstorms, it was actually nice to go back inside the chateau and get out of the heat. After we casually selected tables we were treated to a surprise treat – 2010 Equuleus barrel samples done in 3 different types of barrels – new French oak with a medium+ toast, new French oak with a medium toast, and old French oak. [Ed. note: if you have not tried a ’02, ’05 or ’07 Equuleus, I don’t think you are qualified to say anything about Ontario reds. And yes, I am also the editor]. We were asked to give out opinion on which one we liked best (all of them are huge and quite tannic given the 2010 vintage and the fresh 8 months in the barrel). We also were given a tasting of the finished 2007 Equuleus to compare. While there was a clear winner, it was interesting that all three samples received a decent number of votes. Paul noted that there are a couple of other tasting events and they will collect feedback from a total of about 150 tasters before deciding on which they go with for the 2010 vintage.

Then it was on to lunch provided by Spencers on the Waterfront where chefs Chris Haworth and Andrew MacLeod treated us to an amazing three course meal served with further great wines from Chateau Des Charmes. The food was light and matched well with the wines served with dinner, and included a decadent but light sweet for dessert to match with the yet unreleased 2009 Riesling Icewine. Given that they had been asked to provide sandwiches, Spencers went way above and beyond in supporting Tastecamp.

During lunch, Paul Bosc Senior and “Madame” Bosc both made appearances. Currently reading the book “Niagara’s Wine Visionaries”, Paul Senior is definitely one of the people credited with making the current Ontario wine industry as good as it is today, and it was a pleasure to have him stop in, if only briefly.

After lunch it was back outside for the grand tasting, with Caroline Cellars, Reif Winery, Frogpond Farm Organic Winery, Coyote’s Run Estate Winery, Pondview Estate Winery, Mike Weir Wine, Lakeview Cellars, Riverview Cellars, Niagara College Teaching Winery, and Konzelmann Estate Winery all pouring under the tent. There were several great wines served here including some that I had not tasted before – I was intrigued by the Riverview 2010 whites (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauv. Blanc) and two ’07 reds from Lakeview (Syrah and Cab. Sauv.), all of which I would like to try again in a longer (read “more than a sip”) tasting.

At this point we had to wrap up at Chateau Des Charmes and head for Hillebrand Estate Winery (watch for Day 1 Part 2). Super big kudos to Chateau Des Charmes and specifically Michele Bosc for their huge (and early) support of this event and the great environment they provided for the kickoff.

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2 Responses to Tastecamp Day 1, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Taste T.O. – Food & Drink In Toronto » Bottoms Up! – Thursday, May 19th, 2011

  2. Pingback: TasteCamp North: the Coverage | Tastecamp 2011 [Niagara]

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