Much less attention was paid to wine production in Prince Edward County thirteen years ago when Caroline Granger took over the family farm and began planting vines. In a short span, the County has become a hotspot for high quality viticulture in Canada and the Grange of Prince Edward has grown to include 60 acres of vineyards. Caroline and her daughter, Maggie Belcastro, farm and make wine from six distinct blocks on the property.
Like many spots in Prince Edward County, their property embodies the Ontario pastoral—a rustic setting where it doesn't take a wild imagination to picture yourself living there. The vineyards surround a stunning restored barn, nearly 200 years old, which serves as the winery, cellar, and tasting room. The wines from the Grange are all estate grown and are separated into three tiered lines: Estate, meant for everyday drinking; Select, focusing on small lot production; and Grange, for showcasing the best vineyards. Caroline and Maggie are working with seven varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.
Through tastings and my visits to the County, I've come to consider the Grange among a handful of wineries that are making the very best wines in the region. Thanks to the cool climate and the soil (clay and gravel over limestone), this is a region of high acid. The Grange's wines are in no way ostentatious, but instead favour subtlety, restraint, and structure. On a recent tasting at My Wine Canada, I was impressed how the Grange's wines stood out as favourites for both seasoned tasters and those who are relative wine newbies. Here are a few of my top picks:
The 2010 Lot 2 Brut is a delicious sparkling blend of Pinot Noir (65%) and Chardonnay (35%) made using the traditional method. The acid is bright and fresh, the bubbles are fine, and the finish is long. There are depths of apple characters - green apple and red apple skin - with undertones of almonds and dried grass. The toasty, bready notes are subtle. The Lot 2 is the second release of bubble from the 2010 vintage, as the winery is holding back a portion of the bubble and releasing it in batches with different amounts of aging sur lie.
The 2011 Select Gamay Noir is a refreshing, high-acid Gamay, with tons of spice (cinnamon and cloves), raspberry, cherry, and a minerally finish. I really like the Gamays that have been coming out of Prince Edward County. Like the 2011 Select Gamay, the style tends to be lighter and more mineral-driven than those in Niagara.
The 2010 Diana Block Pinot Noir is soft and elegant, while still structured, with bright acidity and present (yet soft) tannins. Lovely ripe cherry, floral, and baking spice notes. This wine is drinking very nicely today and I'm sure it's capable of aging a few more years comfortably.
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.