This month's featured winery for the Wine Club packages is Aure Wines in Niagara, Ontario. In preparation for December's Wine of the Month Club, I had the chance to sit down and taste through the line up from Aure. Read on for my tasting notes on a few of the wines that wine club recipients will be receiving this month. Gift givers alert! Subscribe your lucky recipients to the wine club by TODAY to ensure that they receive their wines by Christmas.
Located on top of the Niagara Escarpment above the Beamsville Bench, Dave and Annette Hoare took over a 50-acre farm that predominately grew Concord grapes in 2007. After replacing the Concord vineyards with vinifera vines (Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Siegerrebe) and giving the property a little modern upgrade, their first vintage was 2010. The Hoares have designed the buildings on the property with a green, low-energy emphasis that includes solar heating, a living roof, and rainwater collection. This is a family winery in the truest sense: Dave and Annette's children William, James, and Sarah, have taken over the winemaking and vineyard management duties.
Aure Wines 2015 Blanc de Noirs Sec ($22.95, 11% alcohol.)
This is easy-drinking fizz with a touch of sweetness that's balanced with vibrancy. It's a blanc de noir, which means that it's a white wine made using red grapes, in this case Gamay. The juice is pressed off the skins before it has a chance to take on any pink hues. I like that as a blanc de noir, characters of the Gamay grape come through in subtle red fruit notes like strawberry and Swedish berries. It finishes with chalky mineral notes. Perfect for a celebratory occasion, but it will also make for a good food companion, thanks to persistent, palate-cleansing bubbles. For pairings, think fish and chips, sushi, and oysters.
Aure Wines 2011 Cabernet Franc Reserve ($25, 13% alcohol.)
Cabernet Franc has become one of the signature grapes of Niagara. The styles run the gamut from the lighter, fresher, and fruitier versions, to the dense and structured. I like the 2011 Cabernet Franc Reserve from Aure, as it sits somewhere in the middle. It's medium-bodied with red and black fruit characters like cherry and blackberry, but also exhibits the herbal and spicy notes that make Cabernet Franc interesting (sarsaparilla, licorice, mint, forest floor). As part of Aure's reserve line, this wine is aged for two years in French oak barrels, followed by extended bottle aging. This age has given the tannins a chance to soften and for savoury characters to develop. This wine will complement a wide range of lean meats, especially those flavoured with herbs.
Aure Wines 2012 Old Vines Marechal Foch ($19.95, 13% alcohol.)
Marechel Foch is a hybrid French grape variety whose acreage in Canada has waned over the past couple decades in favour of vinifera vines. The fruit that is used to make Aure's Old Vines Marechal Foch comes from 50-year-old vines, which is very old in a relatively young wine country like Canada. This wine exhibits dark and rasinated fruit with the distinct earthy, meaty and spicy characters that Marechal Foch is known for. In many ways this wine reminds me of a baby Amarone—it's juicy (maybe even a touch off-dry) and has similar spice notes. Like Amarone, this wine will show best alongside a meat-heavy meal, especially red meats that are braised and slow-cooked.
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.