With Labour Day weekend right around the corner, I can’t stop thinking of the ideal spot for a quick getaway. If Mother Nature is on our side, it might be the last chance to soak in the summer before the cool weather and busy schedule sets in.
Having spent the last twenty years in British Columbia, I was more inclined to go to the Okanagan Valley for my last summer fix. But this year, with a new home in Montreal, I have Niagara on my mind. I have visited the region twice during the last six months and both times, I was completely charmed by picturesque vineyards, state-of-the-art wineries and wines that continue to surprise and impress me.
The unique microclimate and geology of the Niagara Peninsula are the key factors that enable producers to make world-class wine. The one thing I noticed when I was there in June, is that regardless of the grape variety, the best wines all have something in common - searing acidity and mineral notes. I call them wines with energy!
The Niagara region has been getting accolades for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Franc, but some wineries are thinking outside of the box. Creekside Estate Winery is a great example! A winery established in 1997, they have made Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc their flagship grape varietals. Syrah has always been a controversial choice in the region, as some winemakers struggle with it. They claim that the region does not quite have the climate to enable the grape to fully ripen. Creekside Estate certainly challenges this philosophy. Winemaker Rob Power, believes that it might actually be the best grape for the region, and that choosing the right site is the key to success. Looking at the numerous accolades they’ve received for their Syrah over the years, his logic is hard to argue with.
Beside Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, which the winery has created a cult following for, Creekside crafts many other interesting wines. Syrah turns up in different blends, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. And of course, they have some classics in their offering, including Riesling and Pinot Noir.
Care for some serious barbecue? Chef Nathan from ‘In the Smoke Cookery’ offers different dishes prepared with local ingredients. His Southern Pride smoker definitely has me intrigued! I might just have to stop there for a bite and a glass of Syrah myself. Take a peek at their deck, you couldn’t ask for a better setting to relax and soak up the last rays of summer sunshine that we have left! Santé!
Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She co-owns the Vancouver-based company ‘house wine’ and is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.
She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.