Back 10 Cellars' first vintage was born for Andrew and Christina Brooks after ten years of pursuing their dream. In 2002 they quit their jobs and life in Calgary and, after looking at vineyards around the world, bought a 10-acre fixer-upper property in Niagara between Vineland and Beamsville. They cleared the land of fallow orchards, planted grape vines, renovated the old house, and built a tasting room. In the early days, all of their grapes were sold to Featherstone Estate Winery. The 2012 'The Big Reach' Riesling was the first wine produced under the Back 10 Cellars label.
With a consulting hand from winemaker Dave Johnson (also owner and winemaker at Featherstone Estate Winery), Andrew and Christina produce very small quantities of five wines: Riesling, Chardonnay, Rosé (from a blend of sourced Merlot and Gamay), Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. Their highest production number is 256 cases for the 2013 'The Big Reach' Riesling. With such limited production, you can be sure that each bottle is crafted with meticulous care. Their vineyards fall within the Lincoln Lakeshore VQA sub-appellation and the grapes are grown in red clay loam soil common in the region.
I recently tasted through the line-up for the first time and was happy to see that their small portfolio focuses on the grapes that Niagara does best. The wines were all balanced and subtle, eschewing obvious oaky characters. Here are my two favourites:
2014 'The Big Reach' Riesling - This off-dry Riesling has a touch of sweetness up front, but it's quickly balanced by a flood of acidity that lingers throughout the finish. It's a delicious, refreshing blend of green apple, lime, and white peach, perfect for summer evenings.
2013 'The Big Leap' Cabernet Franc - This is a medium-bodied Cab Franc with soft tannins, bright acidity, and a lengthy finish. The characters are a lovely dark blend of blackberry, black cherry, woody spice, nutmeg, and vanilla. This wine walks the line by being soft enough to enjoy on its own, yet still has the structure to work magic on the dinner table.
Back 10 Cellars is this month's featured winery for our Wine of the Month club! You have until July 15th (that's one week from today) to sign up to receive this month's awesome shipment from Back 10 Cellars. Sign up now and you'll be sipping their fabulous wines shortly!
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.