Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery Visit: Stratus

Another in our series of Niagara-on-the-Lake winery reports.

For drama, great wine, and a “stratospheric” experience, you can doStratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The winery opened in 2005 with the goal of assembling one premium blended white and one red from multiple varietals grown on the estate grounds.
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During our visit we sampled the 2006 Stratus White, a Viognier/Gewürztraminer blend that had been served up at the G8 conference. This number had pineapple and orange blossom fragrances with a dash of floral. This super-cool wine was refreshing and enjoyable.
And speaking of super-cool, the tasting room at Stratus could double as a modern art gallery in Scandinavia.  With a clean black and white motif contrasting with swirling contemporary paintings and elongated straight lines, it was as enjoyable to drink in the surroundings as it was to sample the premium wines.

Although the winery is known for their Stratus Red and Stratus White blends, it has a superb line of single varietal offerings. The signature Stratus wines sell $44 Canadian each.

We had the chance to sample the 2007 Stratus Malbec, which was the first bottling for the winery. This was a smooth drinker with spice and crushed berry as well as an unusual tea-like undertone.
The 2007 Stratus Merlot was a very competent wine that also had a silky texture with cherry and vanilla. On this day, it wasn’t our favorite.

Rounding out our tasting was the 2007 Stratus Cabernet Franc. Deep purple in color, this was a favorite of tasting team member Glorious T, who commented that the back-end of the wine was remarkable. It had a kick of pepper which followed an elegant plum and toffee approach. This is a very attractive wine priced at $38.

Stratus has a number of themed food and wine seminars in the
contemporary tasting rooms and outdoor terrace. While we were there they were advertising Vertical Saturdays and Horizontal Sundays. For the verticals, they were offering side by side tastings of Stratus White and Stratus Red from the 2007, 2006 and 2005 vintages. The horizontal tastings featured their flagship icewines including Icewine White, Icewine Red, Riesling Icewine and Semillion Icewine.

Membership in their Stratus Wine Club costs $500 and entitles you to one case of wine.

This is definitely an upscale experience. With quality wines and an impressive tasting room experience, the sky is truly the limit for Stratus.

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