Double Header: Di Profio Wines & Nyarai Cellars

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about why I started this blog and what I was trying to accomplish with it. I partially blame Evan Dawson and this award winning post (If you haven’t read it, it is worth a read. Go ahead. I’ll wait for you to come back. Really – it is that good!). But that is only part of the reason. The other reason is that I sometimes have to step back from what I am doing and remember what I had set off to do, and make sure I’m still heading in that direction. Without editors or a host of voracious readers to set me straight, introspection is sometimes the best answer.

So when I think about what I originally set out to do…it was to try and capture the essence, the feeling, the experience that one has when visiting a winery, or a really great food & wine event. My first serious wine trip really got me hooked and I wanted to experience more. Yet, for many people, there is little interest in finding out what he grape farmers and winemakers of our own province are up to. My hope then, is that I write enough of these different experiences that eventually, one of them touches every reader in some way, and they plan their own wine adventure. Or at least go visit the winery that tweaked their interest.

With that prologue out of the way then, on to the rest of the posts about our Niagara wine tour. On the day we arrived we had planned to have a visit at 2 or 3 wineries before coming to Di Profio Wines (we managed three stops, including Organized Crime, Fielding Estate Winery, and the brief but fascinating stop and Hidden Bench). I had decided that we would definitely bring our good friends Andrew and Michelle to Di Profio for several reasons:

  • Debbie and I had stayed at the B&B several times before the new winery opened, and had watched it progress from plan to physical reality.
  • We became so comfortable with Joe Di Profio Senior and Carollynn Desjardins that it was like visiting old friends – you pick up the conversation where it was left off last time.
  • It is a new, small, family run operation that allows you to see the entire operation.
  • When I say “family run”, I mean that you see Joe and Carollynn out working in the vineyard, doing everything from pruning, spraying, to weeding. Yes they have some hired help, but these two once-retired educators are now full-time farmers! One son Fred (of Pondview) is also their winemaker, and other son Joe Junior loks after web/social media and Nova Scotia sales (he is based in Halifax).
  • In that welcoming environment, you have the opportunity to learn so much more.
  • The wines they are making are top rate!
  • Allowing Nyarai Cellars (a virtual winery) shelf space in the winery means the wines on offer are from two “wineries” and complementary. An oenological double-header!

Di Profio Wines Entrance

Of course as we entered the building, who should we run into but the talented Rick Bates (a proud member of the Ontario and BC wine twitterati who goes by the handle @Ontario_Wines) and his lovely wife Jinna. We’d previously met Rick and Jinna in PEC and had really enjoyed their company. Rick was just wrapping up a tour he organized, bringing a large group of diving friends through Di Profio as their last stop of the day.

L->R: Shawn, Rick, Deb, Jinna, Michele

Realizing now that we stayed at the gorgeous (and co-located) “Among the Vines” B&B in November, March, and July, I have never posted a full review of the wines. I guess the hot, lazy summer made me lazy too, and I need to rectify that situation. Below then are my combined tasting notes from July and August stops.

Hugs Are in Order

Di Profio 2011 Riesling: The nose of peaches and lemons has a light sweetness to it that hints at the slightly off-dry wine underneath. The palate is crisp, and mouth-watering with zesty lemon peel and lime notes. Not as mineral-driven as others higher up on the bench, but there’s enough there to add a degree of complexity to the wine. Finish is zesty citrus. Not too sweet, not too dry. “Just right”, as Goldilocks would say. $16

Di Profio 2011 Sauvignon Blanc: We’d heard a lot about the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc but hadn’t been able to taste any due to the strange laws that control liquor distribution in Ontario, so we were happy to secure some of the 2011. Done in more in a New Zealand style, the nose offered notes of citrus, traditional gooseberry, and a hint of fresh cut grass (no cat pee aromas on this one!). Crisp, acidic palate of lemon and even some grapefruit pith finished nicely. Super refreshing – we enjoyed a bottle of this on the patio a few weeks later.$17, but unfortunately, sold out already. We were lucky enough to grab some in July.

#1 Salesperson Carollynn Charms Michelle to Buy More Wine!

Di Profio 2011 Gamay Rosé: We had an interesting time tasting this with Joe Senior on our stop in July. We’d been over to see Brian Schmidt at Vineland and had left with a bottle of his 2011 ‘Oh Really Rosé’, so we did a comparison between the two wines. I thought the Vineland Rosé was quite dry (and that the Diprofio was off-dry) until I tried them side by side. The Diprofio offers fine aromas of red fruit like strawberries and  raspberries. On the palate the fruit is dry and adds tart hints of rhubarb and cranberry. Clean and refreshing – this is for people who think Rosé wines have gotten too heavy and too sweet lately. (The Vineland is neither of these, just much more fruit forward. I reviewed it here). $15

Di Profio 2011 Gamay Noir: A lovely melange of cedar, spice, and cherry on the nose of this bright red wine hints at what lies beneath. Red cherries, cranberries, and some smokiness are added on the very juicy palate. Great acidity and superb food match with BBQd pizzas (which is what I served it with after returning home)! $17

Di Profio 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: Lots of expected Cab Sauv aromas here in cassis and dark cherries, vanilla, and some toasty oak notes. On the palate, the dark fruits and hint of milk chocolate are held in check by some moderate tannins and some nice spice notes. A fresh and lively Cab Sauv that should only improve with a year or two in the cellar. $20

Di Profio also has a late harvest Vidal that we’ve tasted previously but missed on this trip. I’ll defer to the recent review by Krista Lamb here.

Winemaker and Nyarai Cellars (virtual winery) owner Steve Byfield had been making wine out of Calamus for the last few years but only sold online and through the LCBO. We were big fans of his previous red blend (2007 “Veritas”) and we’d had a chance to visit with Steve on previous visits to Among the Vines when he was working in the temporary winery facility before the new building went up.

Nyarai Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc: We’d had a chance to sample some of the components of this wine (it was sourced from three different vineyards – Legends, Watson’s, and Puddicombe’s) before Steve blended the different tanks so we were anxious to taste the finished product. The wine is a mix of stainless steel (27%) and French oak aged (73%) which adds a nice depth and complexity to the wine. Citrus dominates the nose and palate, with lemon and grapefruit sharing the limelight with some grassy notes and a hint of tropical fruit. Food (and patio) friendly, the unoaked juice keeps the wine fresh and adds nice acidity, the oaked component smooths the wine and adds luxurious, tropical components. Together, perfect harmony.$20

Nyarai Cellars 2011 Viognier: Floral notes ride on a wave of sweet, vanilla-infused apple and pineapple fruit. A slight oiliness fills the mouth, and the luscious fruit gives way to some zesty sweet spices. There’s a surprising core of minerality that builds the more you sip.$21

Nyarai Cellars 2011 Cadence: Dominated (34%) by Syrah, this red blend with Cabernet Franc (25%), Cabernet Sauvignong (21%) and Merlot (20%) shows off the Syrah notes of black pepper on both dark and red fruit. The accompanying components add notes of blueberry, cassis, vanilla, and sweet spice. With soft tannins, this wine is ready to drink now (and we haven’t resisted).$20

We hung around chatting after tasting to the point that we were keeping them from closing the place and figured we should move on. We managed to grab lots of photos and get up close to the equipment used to make the wines.


Joe Diprofio Senior on far left, Steve Byfield on far right


Wine Display


Oak Fermentors




Vineyard View from the Balcony

Special thanks to Andrew and his super-wide angle lens for all of the shots in this post!

Finding Di Profio Wines and Nyarai Cellars:

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