Here in Manitoba, we’re pretty darn lucky when it comes to Canadian wines. Not only are our interprovincial wine shipping laws very consumer-friendly, we’re also located right in the middle of Canada’s two primary wine-growing regions — Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley in B.C. That means more than any other province, we get to taste (the fermented juice of) the fruits of the labour of producers in both areas. And there are few Ontario wineries who have impressed as consistently as Flat Rock Cellars, the hosts of this week's free shipping deal.
Run by the Madronich family — father Ed Madronich Sr. is the founder, while son (also Ed) is the president — Flat Rock Cellars has been crafting killer cool-climate wines on the Niagara Escarpment since 1999.
As of the 2012 harvest, winemaker Jay Johnston has been leading the Flat Rock team in the picking, crushing, fermenting and aging processes. Johnston did the Niagara College Viticulture & Winemaking program, getting a hands-on feel for what works best in the area — namely, cool-climate grapes such as Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Grapes for Flat Rock wines are grown using progressive viticultural practices; once picked they’re hand-picked and sorted, fed through a gravity-fed process into the winery. Most of Flat Rock’s finished wines carry the Twenty Mile Bench VQA designation, meaning grapes are all sourced from a specific sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula and reflect the regional diversity —the terroir.
Here are a few favourites from Flat Rock Cellars’ offerings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their Riesling and Riesling-based whites are also stunning.
A gold-medal winner at the Decanter World Wine Awards, this cool-climate style Chardonnay from Twenty Mile Bench is deep gold in colour, with intense aromas of red apple, spice, peach candy, lemon and honey on the nose. It’s a medium-bodied, rich and viscous style of Chardonnay, with plenty of ripe apple and peach notes that work well with the richer spice and vanilla notes from lees aging and barrel fermentation. The 2013, which I recently tasted, continues the trend of high quality for a great price, and emphasizes the cool-climate origins of this wine.
Flat Rock Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir ($20.40)
We’ve been lucky here in Manitoba to see many different vintages of the Flat Rock Pinot Noir in the last couple of years, and the 2014 is one of the best. Cherry, leather, violet, raspberry and earthy notes on the nose of this pale red are decidedly Old World in style. On the light-bodied palate the red fruit (cherry, raspberry) notes work well with the licorice, violet, white pepper and earthy flavours. This is cool climate all the way — it’s delicate, elegant and stylish.
The best parcels of fruit are used for the Gravity Pinot Noir, and it shows. Plum, raspberry and blueberry aromas work in harmony with the earth, herbal and forest floor notes here. On the light-plus bodied palate the blackberry, raspberry, plum and cherry flavours work wonders with the anise, herbal and tar notes, with great depth of complexity and a long finish despite the lighter weight and modest alcohol level. I tasted the 2013 at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, and it’s showing just as well.
Don’t wait, get some of these wines now. This week, order six or more bottles of Flat Rock wines through My Wine Canada —you can mix and match any of the Flat Rock wines available on the site — and get free shipping. Pick whichever of their wines you like, and the discount will be automatically applied at checkout.
Click on the bottles below for more info, add them to your cart, and get free shipping.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.