No Niagara Riff Raff

By Robert K. Stephen

(WINDSOR, ON) – We have covered many wines since this column began in November of 2010. I have been nagging a few wineries to participate in these reviews and Muscedere finally shipped some wine my way arriving on a Friday afternoon while I was in New York at the 2011 (24-25Feb) Wine Expo and courtesy of Canada Post sat for two days outside by the side door. Needless to say it was very cold wine when I rescued it but the cold did not seem to bother this pure Lake Erie North Shore (“LENS”) wine. The Muscedere red wines are true and pure to LENS and proudly bear the “VQA Lake Erie North Shore” designation. No Niagara riff raff in these wines. They are neither New World nor Old World just down home boys and they are good. These guys are small with a mere 13 acres under cultivation and all their grapes are handpicked and their case production is limited. If this was California you’d be paying real big bucks for these wines. I think you call an operation like this a” boutique winery” with great love, attention and financial risk in each bottle. There is no marketing machine propelling these guys just word of mouth. And the mouth writing this article is impressed. Before we get all choked up let’s take a closer look.

Their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon bursts with Lake Erie aromas on a windy fall day hence very expressive of its terroir. Classic LENS choco-rhubarb power with elements of sweet wood smoke, blackberries and blueberries. As the wine warms up from cellar temperature it becomes thicker and lusher increasing in power. This unruly brute might benefit from decanting! The power on the nose just can’t quite completely convert on the palate but it converts enough to say this is a convincing beauty! I think the power of the aroma takes this a notch above most LENS Cabernet Sauvignons. The acids and tannins are perfectly balanced but a little stumble on the palate with a slightly sour finish might indicate more hang time on the vines was warranted. The sour finish is somewhat nudged aside by choco elements lingering like a hooligan in the dark. This fellow can keep going for another 5 years. ( Muscedere Vineyards Estate Winery,  Harrow, Ontario,2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, VQA Lake Erie North Shore, 750 ml, 13.2% alcohol $30., 125 cases made, Windsor Square Rating 92/100, Wine Access 2010 Canadian Wine Awards Bronze Medal, Shores of Erie International Wine Festival 2010 Silver Medal).

Their 2008 Syrah is plum red in colour. Massive notes of spice, cedar, chocolate and juicy red plums. If comparisons can be made this is reminiscent of a Northern Rhone Syrah. Strange grilled pork chop aromas sneak in. Big acids and tannins in beautiful harmony. No sourness on the palate unlike their Cab which is a vote in favour for Syrah in a cool climate. Full bodied wine with a whack of sweet red plums on the palate accompanied with currants and sun dried tomatoes. Good length. Three to five years in the state penitentiary for this guy! This wine might pair well with light tomato sauces with sweeties from Leamington! It is absolutely capable of standing up to spicy smoked meat sandwiches! (Muscedere Vineyards Estate Winery, Harrow, Ontario, 2008 Syrah, VQA Lake Erie North Shore, 750 ml, 13% alcohol, $40., 40 cases made, Windsor Square Rating 93/100, Wine Access 2010 Canadian Wine Awards Bronze Medal)

Their 2008 Meritage has a distinct earthy streak. Jagged and raw aromas assault the nose suggesting this wine needs a couple of years to settle down. The wine rages with rhubarb, mocha, red cabbage and plums with sweetness lingering on its edges. Give this wine some time and the mocha aromas strengthen. A bit tart and short on the palate. As with so many Ontario reds the nose promises so much but falters on the palate. This guy might go well with stuffed cabbage rolls to match acid of the tomatoes and cabbage. 64% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc. Aged over 12 months in French oak. I’d suggest upping the Cab Franc and reducing the Merlot on this one. (Muscedere Vineyards Estate Winery, Harrow, Ontario, 2008 Meritage, VQA Lake Erie North Shore, 750 ml, 12.9% alcohol, $30., 85 cases made, Windsor Square rating 87/100).

Speaking of novel I thought Smith &Wilson was innovative planting Viognier but Muscedere has planted Barbera and Nebbiolo in 2008. This I can’t wait for. Barolo in LENS….my goodness. This winery was started by two brothers Robert and Fabio Muscedere in 2003 who spent many a summer in Italy as children visiting their grandfather who managed vineyards but who paid scant attention to the grapes until somehow an attraction to the grape brought them back to LENS in 2001 to undertake soil and temperature tests to ensure the land was suitable for growing grapes. As they say…the rest is left to history.

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