2019 Stratus “Pristine Cuvée” Cabernet Franc, Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA, Ontario, Canada (Alcohol 13.3%) Stratus winery and website $39 (750ml bottle)
I’d like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to this just-released collaboration betwixt Stratus Vineyards and Afrim Pristine, maître fromager (read: cheese master) of Toronto’s Cheese Boutique.
Working with Stratus winemaker J.L. Groux, Pristine selected individual barrels of estate Cabernet Franc that expressed the particular heightened Cab Franc fruit aromatics he felt would make for a wine specifically crafted to accompany cheese; and they did an absolutely marvellous job with this Pristine Cuvée.
The release is timed to coincide with National Cheese Day on the 4th of June, and in parallel Pristine has created a special three year old Ontario cheddar aged for another 120 days in the Cheese Boutique’s cheese cave, soaked in the aforementioned wine.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to taste them side by side, and was most impressed, the wine very much complimenting the cheese and vice versa. I’m not usually an advocate of drinking red wine with my cheese, although I have been known to enjoy Beaujolais with bloomy rinds, but in this case I can think of no finer match.
On the nose the wine is certainly exhibiting exuberant black fruit (think cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants), with nary a whiff of greenness, but there are also hints of pretty floral tones and sultry anise/angelica notes accompanied by warm spices that follow through onto the palate. In the mouth the pronounced acidity gives the wine a mouthwatering juiciness that tips it delicately into ripe red fruit territory (extra-ripe raspberries in particular). The tannins are ripe, firm, and fine-grained, giving the wine the structure required to support all of that gloriously ripe fruit. The finish is sustained and decidedly savoury.
Whilst I don’t feel that the bottle’s labelling will be winning any design awards anytime soon, don’t be put off by its exterior, as this is a truly excellent, beautifully crafted Ontario Cabernet Franc that certainly deserves your attention.
And you should really head to the Cheese Boutique on June 4th for National Cheese Day, as from noon until 3.30pm Afrim Pristine will be sampling and selling his wine, with the first 100 bottles sold being signed by the man himself.
In addition, the Cheese Boutique has pledged that $1.00 from the sale of each bottle will go to the Cheese Boutique Mental Health Promise Fund at St. Joseph’s.
(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)
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