Hello again everyone,
Long-time readers of our newsletter know that it almost always tends to be contemplative - more so of a letter sharing what our wines have been evoking in us, how we see them or how they've surprised us - and, of course, the latter happens more often than not. We want to continue this tradition here and hope you are curious to learn about how we view these ever-changing wine characters and what's the inspiration behind the birth of each.
For those of you that aren't familiar with them - Dix-Neuvième (Chardonnay), Black Ball (Riesling), Madeline (Cabernet Franc) and our Pinot Noir from 19th street vineyard are indeed the pillars of our winery and the synthesis of our beliefs and aspirations. These four wines - year in and year out - are really who we are at any given point in time. They are a distillation of our reading of the region and the essence of what we think makes a wine great; a fusion between the revelations of the vintage and the knowledge we've gained so far on this journey. Wine - from its birth, through its life in vessel and then in bottle, is forever in flux - and so are our attempts at understanding it. Giving it the freedom to be what it wants and letting it show us the way to new heights, depths and discoveries is the reward. It's this process that fuels the unrelenting windmills of our minds and hearts and we can only hope the shapes they trace each subsequent year are ever more precise, resonant and closer to the ever-elusive truth.
We believe in - and crave - texture, structure and balance in wine, it's our holy trinity - you'll find the deepest possible assertion of them in these four cuvées. We love losing ourselves into the continual uncovering of Niagara's character, lifting its countless veils one after another each year and illuminating its mysteries as best as we can - you'll find the most transparent synthesis of what we've learned so far in these four wines. We cherish wines that can age and do so gracefully while revealing unforeseen subtleties of identity - each year these four are always the wines with the most absorbing stories to tell and the longest lives ahead. We insist on releasing wines, especially our top cuvées, only when all the building blocks come together to a point of harmony embodying the essence of their personalities and throwing light on their future paths - the 2017s were generous with us by reaching this juncture earlier than other vintages.
2017 was a kindness to us - it gave us wines at the crux of all the aspirations we have. Despite a challenging and wet vintage (which did end in a long and glorious fall), the wines are rich, open, expressive. Seducing with their elegance and delicacy, yet built on a multitude of interlocking threads, lines and undulations - the flowing, pliable blueprint of fine Brussels lace. These are round wines, but inside them there's a spider web of lines and angles. Notwithstanding our long-standing reputation for making "atypical" wines, the 2017s are very "classic" (what this means is a discussion for another time). They're dodecagrams in which we find the geometry of classicism dancing through circles of poetry. They are as serious as one of our other favourite vintages - 2013, but possess additional layers of precision and crystallinity that only the subsequent 4 years of toil and acquired knowledge can grant. Just like with everything else in life, there are no hacks in wine and no shortcuts if substance, authenticity and precision are the goal.
In case you're curious about the images they've inspired in us, they all happen to come from an old and beautiful song that gives the round form a dozen poetic descriptions.
2017 Dix-Neuvième is "round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever spinning wheel." It's our proudest Chardonnay moment to date and we don't say this lightly. In fact, if you know us, you'll be well aware we're the kind of people more likely to tell you what we don't like about our wines.
The 2017 Pinot is "like a door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream, or the ripples of a pebble someone tosses in a stream".
Cabernet Franc has been the indisputable king of our hearts and a constant source of fascination for years now. 2017 Madeline is no different. Currently hot on the heels of its 2013 predecessor for symmetry and old-style Bordelaise noblesse and refinement, it will surely surpass it while heaving with the dense, brooding fruit of Niagara - "like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own, down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone."
And then, of course, there's the Black Ball Riesling. Our spirits always get stirred when this Riesling enters the conversation. If there's one cuvée that through the years has encapsulated what it means to listen and observe, how to trust the process of giving the wine freedom to express itself, and what it takes to walk the path that it is charting for you - it is the Black Ball. It is a cuvée that moves by quantum leaps from one year to another and to this day remains our wisest teacher and the deepest source of wonder and discoveries. The 2017 is arguably the most scintillating of them all and is "like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon, like a carousel that's turning running rings around the moon.’