Having carved out an enviable reputation for creating the most complex and intriguing red and white assemblage wines, Stratus have just recently released what are often two of the most integral components of their blended tours de force as single varietal offerings. I am pleased to report that they are both simply stunning.
2009 Stratus Semillion, Niagara On The Lake VQA, Ontario ($38 from winery)
In composing my tasting notes for the second vintage of Stratus Semillon I found myself continually coming back to the same term, actually referring to it as succulent three times in my hastily scribbled notes. It is this succulence that sets it apart, exhibiting a nectar-like richness that I have rarely found in the whites of Ontario. Upon foisting this wine on the savvy palates of the Chantecler crew this almost indulgent opulence threw them somewhat, but when we then married the wine with some of the restaurant’s richer dishes it truly did begin to sing. The nose is a heady mix of beeswax, ripe apricots, and exotic spices that more than delivers everything it promises. A white with this much intensity of fruit requires some rather prudent food pairing. In a perfect world I would sit this with some grilled lobster doused in asian spicing.
2008 Stratus Cabernet Franc, Niagara On The Lake VQA, Ontario ($38 from winery)
The 2008 vintage’s Summer rain meant that the success of Niagara reds was wholly dependent upon some seriously diligent vineyard management. Stratus must have been more diligent than most as with this bottling Winemaker J. L. Groux has crafted a wine that I consider to be a new benchmark for Ontario Cabernet Franc. This fervid wine is an exceptionally robust example of what can be achieved with this varietal, carefully eschewing the unpleasant greenness so often found in many other cool climate examples. A delightfully peppery black fruit aromatic core sits at the very centre of the wine, a veritable heart of darkness. The palate continues along this thematic but is so wildly complex, with a backbone of firm and yet silky tannins that caress rather than astringe. In the running for my wine of the year, of that there is no doubt.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he really enjoyed those two wines. Can you tell?