London friends Allison and Richard visited us, and we toured some vineyards with them, beginning with a new winery, Kirby Estate, 548 Line 1, Niagara-on-the-Lake, owned by Scott and Marie Kirby. The K of their name is artfully woven into their label design which is a map of the vineyards varietals. Their wines are currently made at Cloudsley by Matt Smith. They grow Chardonnay, Merlot, Gamay, Pinot Blanc and Petit Verdot on 11 acres of their 17.5-acre property.
Kirby Estate Chardonnay 2019
Bright, golden colour with a greenish tint; light toasty, minerally nose of vanilla, apple and caramel; elegant, medium-bodied, dry, lovely mouthfeel with a crisp, lemony finish. (92)
Kirby Estate Chardonnay 2020
Slightly deeper shade of gold with the same greenish tint as the 2019; minerally, apple and pear bouquet with a toasty oak note; medium to full-bodied, richly extracted flavour of apple and pear, full on the palate and beautifully balanced; elegant, well-integrated oak. Great mouthfeel and length with a note of green pineapple on the finish. (93)
Kirby Estate Merlot 2018
Ruby with a tawny rim; spicy, toasty cherry nose with vanilla oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, cherry and plum flavours with a judicious use of oak; very elegant. (92)
Kirby Estate Merlot Reserve 2020
Deep ruby-purple in colour; cedary, vanilla, ripe plum bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, richly extracted and firmly structured, Pomerol style. Lovely mouthfeel with a saline note on the finish. (93)
Kirby Estate Signature Merlot 2020
Deep ruby-purple colour; cedary, vanilla, toasty cherry and plum nose with oak spice and a beguiling floral note; medium to full-bodied, firmly structured, richly extracted plum and cherry flavours full on the palate with cashmere tannins and a note of dark chocolate on the finish. (93–94)
We had a glass of sparkling wine at Hidden Bench before heading off to Big Head, where Andrzej Lipinski introduced us to his new Family line of wines. Here we tasted Big Head Blanc de Noir N/V, Family Chenin Blanc 2022, Viognier 2022, Chardonnay 2021, Pinot Noir 2021 and two red blends, Lonia and Genia (named for family members), ending with Botrytis Affected Chenin Blanc 2014, which won a Gold Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards competition.
Next day we dropped in at Thirty Bench to taste Emma Garner’s Small Lot Rieslings.
And Thomas Bachelder’s Bat Cave to taste his Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
We admired the large stained glass window that features Thomas in profile.
With our friends Aina and James we visited Dobbin Estate, where Ann Sperling led us through their wines – plus a wine I hadn’t tasted on a previous visit, Dobbin Cabernet Blend 2020, which is amazing! (I bought two bottles.)
Saturday, September 17th: Deborah and I attended my friend Michael Vaughan’s 80th birthday party at Dimon Cellars in Toronto. It was a surprise party, not because Michael made it to 80, but because Michael was completely unaware when he walked into the room. Rosie, his wife, asked me to propose the Champagne toast.
Armagnac de Montal 2004 ($118, CSPC #11426, to be released October 21)
Deep amber in colour; spirity, toasty, spicy, vanilla, nutty, caramel nose, with dried fruit in the nose with a note of orange peel; rich and full on the palate, lovely mouthfeel and good length. (93)
A wine I brought back from Georgia years ago, St. Georgi Monasteri Qvevri Saperavi Rouge 2009 (rustic and, unfortunately, marginally corked).