Virtual Winemaker Steve Byfield

Header-image-StephenBy Robert K Stephen (CSW)

(TORONTO, ON) – The cadence skips a beat. Ruby colour suggests a tame and perhaps elegant wine. Lots of chocolate covered cherries on the nose. That is the base 42% Cabernet Franc speaking. Such a great Ontario grape why would vintner Byfield blend it with 33% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah?

Sorry, but these, for the most part individually, are loser Ontario grapes.

But, in a blend, can they offer some character to Ontario’s leading red grape; the Cabernet Franc?


Cadence 2011I can see the Cabernet Sauvignon peeping through and offering some blueberry notes. The Merlot adds a nice bit of fruitcake. The Syrah adds a tiny touch of pepper. All said and done, on the nose it is a charmer with some nutty decadence in its core.

On the palate it’s a bit thin, but with very nice edges of choco cherry and fruitcake. You start messing with Cabernet Franc in Ontario and you take your chances.

While this wine has seductive aromatics, it is an example of the weakness of its non-Cabernet Franc blending partners. The wine lacks depth and complexity on the palate. It’s a bit thin and acerbic.

If you dig real deep, and most wine drinkers don’t have the patience to do so, there is a certain elegance to the wine that might appeal to an experienced wine taster, so I’ll give some points for that but, as far as the masses go, my advice is add 7% Petit Verdot to perk this baby up.

Not to delve into history, but I prefer the 2010 Veritas from Nyari, with 40% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 20% Syrah.

Byfield certainly has guts wandering away from Cabernet Franc, but guts don’t make great wine. Certainly drinkable, but a lesson to be learnt.

Don’t mess with Ontario Cabernet Franc. Drink now.

(Nyari Cellars, 2011 Cadence, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery, Annan, Ontario, 13%, $21.95, Square Media Group Rating 86/100).

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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