Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! Several Canadian wines have been featured in this column over the last few years and many of the wines that have been discussed come from the Okanagan Valley in BC. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at a fantastic winery from another of Canada’s most prestigious grape-growing regions: the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario.

As with the many excellent options available from BC, most of the wines from Ontario found on the shelf in Prince Albert carry the VQA designation/certification. This is a quick and simple way of letting consumers know that the contents of the bottle meet (and surpass) many standards of quality and control. Also, they will be guaranteed to be made from 100% Canadian grapes.

This brings us to the highly acclaimed and VQA certified Redstone Winery Restaurant and Hospitality Centre (aka Redstone Winery) which can be found on the Southern shores of Lake Ontario. This beautiful winery features a bottle shop and VIP tasting section, restaurant and gorgeous view of the vineyard to accompany your meal.

The main vineyard is located on a 38-acre estate near Beamsville, Ontario. Some grapes such as Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are sourced from the Limestone vineyard while the main offerings like the Syrah, Cabernet Merlot and Cabernet Franc (among others) come from the main vineyard.

The soil content of the main vineyard is mostly red clay with large stones. As Merlot does extremely well in clay-like soils, the quality level of the grapes is very high while late-ripening varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah benefit from the re-distribution of heat from the large stones. These types of stones are similar to vineyards in Bordeaux where heat is absorbed throughout the day and then as temperatures cool for the night, the heat is re-absorbed back into the grapes.

Redstone has won several awards through the years but the most notable are the 2017 Canadian Winery of the Year Award given by the National Wine Awards of Canada and the 2020 Niagara Biennial Design of Excellence in Architecture for the building’s combination of contemporary style and use of artisanal materials.

One of the biggest highlights of the winery is the Restaurant featuring Chef David Sider. With an overall online rating of 4.5 stars from over 1000 reviews, the restaurant is the perfect place to savor seasonally-selected ingredients with a great glass of wine. Whether you enjoy red or white wine, there are some incredible food options to sample including East-Coast oysters, fried chicken skins, Pingue Proscuitto, roasted carrot & chickpea hummus, butter basted monkfish and duck confit & pearl barley risotto. The menu is constantly changing and evolving so checking in with the restaurant before visiting will give a more accurate picture of the options being offered for the season.

The winery offers a huge variety of wines to taste and most of them can be found in Prince Albert in the Canada VQA section. A couple of options I haven’t seen that intrigue me are the blended sparkling wine and Cabernet Sauvignon ice-wine. This week I got my hands on two bottles from the winery; the Merlot Cabernet and the Syrah (both from 2017). Give this Canadian winery a chance, they make some delicious wine! Here are my wine picks of the week!

Red Stone Syrah 2017: (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario). Dry red, medium purple color. The nose opens with rich scents of earthy raspberry, chocolate souffle, black pepper, smoked leather and blueberries. The palate offers intense fruit at first with dried cranberries, raspberries, blue fruit and black currants. Medium body with medium-plus acidity and medium-plus tannins. Bright fruits transition into a long finish of licorice, cocoa, floral violets and lasting fruits. This red is packed full of flavor but also has a lighter style at the same time. Great for pairing with a variety of foods and appetizers like dry ribs on the bone, mature cheddar like the Cathedral brand from England or my favorite low-brow pairing: Hawkins Cheezies. Very good! $35, 13% ABV

Red Stone Merlot Cabernet 2017: (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario). Dry red, deep ruby color. The bouquet of this blended red is interesting and delicious with floral red fruits, cooked cherries, bush berries, herbal sage brush and hints of white pepper. Notes of cheese or cream are also noticeable in the background. To the palate, the wine is medium-plus bodied with medium acidity (just enough for balance) and high tannins. The tannic grip is quite enjoyable and brings needed structure to the heavier body. Plums, raspberries, blackberries and an herbal twang of cedar and sage make this a balanced and extremely sip-worthy wine. Tannins may soften with a few more years in the cellar but this is drinking nicely now. Long finish. Pair with juicy burgers, rack of ribs (with rosemary and thyme) or a good cigar like the Rocky Patel Edge Sumatra (known for its smooth herbal notes). Very good! $32, 13.5% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!

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