In a country with a young viticultural history compared to most other members of the 'New World', it's worth celebrating the growers and wineries that have found the recipe for longevity and have managed to stay relevant. Marynissen Estates Winery is one name in Niagara that has had a reputation of quality for decades. John and Adrianna Marynissen planted vinifera vines in 1975 when all other growers were still focusing on hybrids. Their Cabernet Sauvignon block from 1978 is the oldest in the country. The site where the Marynissens planted and eventually built a winery was in an area of the Niagara Peninsula that would later become the Four Mile Creek VQA appellation. The vineyard and cellar work was a family affair for years as Sandra Marynissen worked alongside her parents. John passed away in 2009 and Sandra retired and sold the estate a few years after.
All these years later, the wines from Marynissen are still very good. Gordon Robert has taken over the reigns as winemaker since 2013. He's spent time honing his craft under winemakers like Steve Webber and Thomas Bachelder. I recently sat down with some wines from the 2013 vintage. I love the vibrancy these wines emit and the tremendous value they offer. Here are a few of my favourites:
2013 Riesling - Four Mile Creek VQA - This is a zippy Riesling that is on the drier side, and offers lovely hints of lavender alongside those classic characters of green apple and key lime. (12.3% alcohol, $16).
2013 Unoaked Chardonnay - Niagara Peninsula VQA - I enjoy how fresh and clean this style of fruit-forward Chardonnay is, while still being quintessentially Chardonnay. It packs characters of pear, apple blossom, white peach, and lemon. The best part? It's a well-made, delicious wine, and you can grab a bottle for $13. (13.4% alcohol, $13).
2013 Merlot - Four Mile Creek VQA - I don't find myself reaching for Merlot very often. I find it's often bogged down with oak, or over-ripened until it's jammy and lacks structure. But this style from Marynissen offers freshness and lifted fruit tones of cherries and raspberries that give it charm. There are also violet notes and underlying hints of chocolate and coffee. (12.5% alcohol, $17).
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.