Review: Palatine Hills 2009 1812 Merlot Cabernet

When chatting with Jeff Innes (winemaker) and Terry Gibson (marketing) of Palatine Hills Estate Winery at the Gourmet Food and Wine show in Toronto in November, They had me try their red blend called 1812 (there is both a red and a white). I told them at the time that I was super-impressed with this blend and that it was likely the best I had tried in a long time in terms of the “lifestyle wines” coming out of Niagara. I couldn’t wait to try a bottle of it at home, with food, as I normally do.

Before the review, a little bit on the history behind the wine. After some artifacts (both British and American) were found when converting the fruit farm to a vineyard, it was clear that the land had been a site for battles in the past. Indeed on their web site they say this about the wine:

“About the time we resolved our little dispute with our neighbours to the south, our forefathers turned their interests and energies to winemaking.

For 200 years, we’ve been using our land for something that produces…Harmony.

The Harmony in this bottle is our salute to resolving differences and a promise of its continuation.”

Yet they still managed to spell “neighbours” with a “u”. 🙂

The wine is a medium weight wine that has been geared to pair with food, and indeed the restaurant industry is one of the target markets for the wine. That, and the new wine drinkers that are just switching from whites to reds. I think there is another target market though – the experienced wine lover who is looking for a value wine for everyday drinking, or for an inexpensive wine to serve at parties etc. This wine is smooth and has all the characteristics that make it appealing to a wide range of people.

On to the wine then. The nose first hits you with a jammy red and dark fruit (think raspberries, cherries, and ripe plums), vanilla and sweet spices, with a light, pleasant herbaceous aroma reminiscent of tobacco leaf in the background.

On the palate, the wine at first appears sweet from all the fruit (I am pretty sure it isn’t though and would guess it is either a “0” [dry] in terms of residual sugar).It has mild oak influences and the vanilla, sweet spice is still there. The tannins have really been tamed though, and this fact combined with the medium acidity makes for a very pleasant, food friendly wine. We had it over the course of the evening (interrupted by Christmas shopping) alone, with bacon-lentil soup, and with artisan cheeses and it paired beautifully with them all.

1812 Cabernet Merlot is available through the winery or about 60 LCBO stores ($13.20 with deposit), sadly none in the Ottawa area.

Update 1: Since posting this, Palatine has managed to get 1812 into several Ottawa area stores.

Update 2: Palatine won two awards at CuvĂ©e 2012 (the “Oscars” of the Ontario wine industry) for their Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 2007. Winners are picked by the winemakers themselves, so winning at CuvĂ©e is quite a recognition by the peers (who one would presume know a little something about wine)!

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Jeff Innes
Palatine Hills Estate Winery

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3 Responses to Review: Palatine Hills 2009 1812 Merlot Cabernet

  1. Terry Gibson says:

    Hey! It’s Terry Gibson, Palatine Hills Estate.
    Thanks for the write-up. Since we last spoke, we have penetrated the Ottawa and Kanata area and are now in 6 stores, on the way to 10 very shortly with our 1812. Scott Vader has joined us to deal with our line-up in Eastern Ontario LCBO and licensee markets.
    By the way, we won Gold for our 07 Merlot, awarded Top Red Wine in Ontario. We just keep the hits coming – can hardly wait for your appraisal. Cheers to you and the “bride”.

  2. Larry Mendenhall says:

    This 1812 wine remains one of my favorites. Trouble is that we still can not get it here in Texas! My wife, Sherry, and I visited the winery where we tried 1812 for the first time. Magnificent! We also went to the Niagara Wine Festival and visited with Jeff there, a lot! I actually got home with some 1812 but of course it did not last long. I will wait as long as it takes.
    Larry Mendenhall

  3. mcshawn says:

    Glad to hear you liked the wine…I’m really enjoying the Cabernet-Merlot from them as well. It’s a little drier but still loads of fruit.

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