A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 837: Big Wines from Big Head

Andrzej Lipinski

Deborah and I visited Big Head’s new facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake and tasted a few of the 42 wines that Andrzej Lipinski has on the market. The new winery is 7,000 square feet and Andrzej showed us the plans for an expansion to 28,000 square feet. The winery now houses a goodly number of cement and clay fermenters as well as stainless steel. His RAW series are wines made in concrete tanks.

Big Head Bigbang Blanc de Noirs 2016 ($60, St. David’s Bench)
Barrel-fermented in 3-year-old French barrels, 54 months on the lees. Bright straw colour, with an active mousse of tiny bubbles. Toasty, white flowers and apple bouquet; medium-bodied, crisply dry, lemon and green apple flavours; lovely mouth-feel, great length. (92)

Big Head Savagnin 2019 ($31.80)
Deep straw in colour; honeyed quince nose with a floral top note and a thread of minerality; medium to full-bodied, off-dry, well-balanced with a long, lingering finish, (90)

Big Head Viognier 2020 ($47.80)
Straw colour; peach and honeysuckle nose; full-bodied, richly extracted; full in the mouth with an engaging touch of bitterness (peach pit) on the finish. (89)

Big Head Old Vines Chardonnay 2020 ($48, Niagara Lakeshore)
Old gold colour; toasty, spicy, pineapple with vanilla notes on the botrytis nose; medium-bodied, richly extracted flavours of orange, melon and pineapple and notes of caramel, finishing on clove-y note (91)

Big Head Riesling Unfiltered 2019 ($40)
Old gold colour; intense honeyed, toasty, citrus nose; medium to full-bodied, off-dry, spicy, grapefruit and orange flavours with a honeyed, botrytis note. (92).

Big Head RAW Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Bright, straw colour; grassy, passionfruit nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, richly extracted flavours of passionfruit and ripe gooseberry. (91)

Big Head Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($30)
Straw colour; honeyed botrytis nose of mango and passionfruit; medium to full-bodied, just off-dry honey flavours of tropical fruits beautifully balanced with racy acidity. (90)

Big Head RAW Pinot Noir 2019
Mature ruby colour; a nose of violets, cherry, black raspberry and oak spice; elegant, firmly structured, medium to full-bodied, dry, earthy, cherry flavour. (89)

Big Head RAW Cabernet Franc 2020
Deep purple in colour; spicy, cedary, perfumed, blueberry bouquet; full-bodied, dry, firmly structured; savoury, blueberry and plum flavours; richly extracted with a firm tannic finish. Hold 4–5 years.

Big Head RAW Syrah 2020
5% Viognier. Dense purple in colour; blackberry and white pepper nose; full-bodied, dry, meaty, blackberry flavour, firmly structured and rich on the palate. (92–93)

Big Head RAW Malbec 2020
Deep purple colour; floral bouquet of black fruits; full-bodied, fleshy, black cherry flavour; firmly structured, fruity and dry. (90)

Big Head Suma 2020 ($70)
A blend of 40% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 13% Malbec and 12% Syrah. Deep purple in colour; floral, red and black fruit aromas; full-and lychee; great balanced and length. A finish of ripe tannins. (91)

Big Head RAW Merlot 2020
Deep purple in colour; a nose of leather, black licorice and black plum; full-bodied, dry, broad-shouldered, juicy and richly extracted flavours of plums and black cherries, finishing on powdery tannins. (89–91)

Big Head Gewurztraminer 2020 ($35)
Bronze-gold in colour; concentrated nose of jasmine, ginger and lychee; medium-bodied, dry, spicy, orange, orange blossom and lychee flavours; great balance and length. (90)

Big Head VIB
19% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Dense purple in colour; spicy, vanilla, black fruits on the nose; full-bodied, mouth-filling and rich; concentrated black fruit flavours, firmly structured with ripe tannins. (92–94) (Needs time – which is a good thing, because Andrzej will be releasing this wine in magnums on January 7th, 2024 – marking his 60th birthday.)  

Other wines tasted:

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Henry of Pelham Pinot Grigio 2021 (Niagara Peninsula, $15.95, #250217)
Light golden in colour; minerally, white peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, peach and lemon flavours; well-balanced, good mouth-feel. (89)

Three of Hearts Trois Coeurs Pinot Noir 2020 (Niagara Peninsula, $21.95, #26109, Fall release)
Deep ruby in colour; cedary, lead pencil, blackberry on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, red plum and raspberry flavours with a tannic finish. (87)

Twisted Cedar Chardonnay 2017 (Lodi, California, $18.90)
Pale straw colour; apple bouquet with oak spice; full-bodied (13.9% alcohol), broad on the palate, dry apple flavour with a floral flourish on the finish. (87.5) (The Twisted Cedar Wine brand is wholly owned by the Cedar Band of Paiute Indians, one of five constituent Bands of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.)

Twisted Cedar Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Lodi, California, $18.90)
Deep purple colour; cedary, spicy plum and prune flavours. Full-bodied. (86)

Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône-Villages “Plan de Dieu” 2019 ($19.95, Vintages #74229, to be released May 21st)
Ruby-purple in colour; cedary, blackberry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, blackberry flavour with lively acidity; firmly structured with ripe tannins. (89)

Domaine de l’Aigle Chardonnay 2020 (Limoux, $35, LCBO Classics #23918, to be released May 14th)
Bright, light straw in colour; spicy, apple nose with a touch of oak; medium-bodied, dry, apple and green pineapple flavours with notes of struck flint and a thread of minerality; beautifully balanced. (92)

Domaine de l’Aigle Pinot Noir 2019 (Haute Vallée de l’Aude, $35, LCBO Classics, to be released May 5th)
Deep ruby colour; lightly cedary, raspberry nose with oak spice and a floral top note; medium to full-bodied, dry, richly extracted, black raspberry flavour with balancing acidity; elegant, beautifully balanced with mellow tannins. (90)

Baron de Hoen Alsace Pinot Blanc Reserve 2019 ($16.95, Vintages #20881, to be released June 18th)
Bright, pale straw in colour; peachy nose with a mineral note; medium-bodied, dry, peach flavour; good mouth-feel with bright acidity on the finish. (89)

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