Flat Rock Cellars is a winery well known and respected by people in Ontario. Their labels are high profile and their tasting room—a conservatory perched on stilts with a stunning view of the lake—is a popular stop on many wine tours. Ed Madronich chose grapes for the 80-acre Jordan Bench vineyard based on what ripens consistently well in his terroir (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, some Syrah and Gewurztraminer) and left the fuller-bodied reds alone. The wines are high quality and priced with value in mind. In a good year, the winery will produce 15,000 cases, which falls somewhere in the margins between small and mid-sized Canadian vintners. While recognized in Ontario, throughout other parts of the country, and especially in the West, they are more of a mystery.
Flat Rock Cellars made one of the first Canadian wines outside of BC that I had the chance to taste. A friend brought me back a bottle of Riesling on a trip to Toronto after walking into a store and asking for a good local wine. I remember the wine had more sweetness up front than I expected, but tons of Ontario's signature acid to cleanse the palate and balance the wine. While I've had sips of their wines here and there since, this week I had the opportunity to sit down and get to know Flat Rock Cellars. Here were a few of my favourites:
Flat Rock Cellars 2013 'Nadja's Vineyard' Riesling
The grapes for this wine come from a 1-hectare plot that was planted in 2001. It's off-dry and will please those who like a little sweetness in their Riesling, but the acidity is fresh and lingers on the finish and it doesn't come across as cloying. There are characters of citrus (lime and grapefruit) with the freshness of green apples. The light alcohol (10.5%) keeps it easy drinking and the price is great ($20.15).
Flat Rock Cellars 2012 Chardonnay
This is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay with some new oak, and a little of that spice and richness comes through. It's also fresh and restrained, with spiced pear and lemon characters. This should please the crowds and the experienced wine drinkers alike. Also, a great price at $19.15.
Flat Rock Cellars 2011 Gravity Pinot Noir
The Gravity label is a blend of the vineyard's better sites and barrels. It's elegant with plenty of tart red fruit (cherry, raspberry and strawberry), spice, a little minty greenness and light tannins on the finish. This is a tasty Pinot with depth and only 12.5% alcohol.
My Wine Canada's recent addition of Flat Rock Cellars to its portfolio is great for those living outside our province to discover the value of one of Ontario's favourite wineries.
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.