Great Ontario wineries are just a few miles (or kilometers) away from Ohio and Michigan in Lake Erie North Shore. We discovered a new favorite at Muscedere Vineyards.
We Head North For A Day Of Water And Wine
Last month the weather in Toledo was hot and humid, so my wife (the Green Dragon) and I headed north to one of our favorite wine getaways: the Windsor-Essex Country-Pelee Island area of Ontario. In just two hours we can be across the border into Canada and at a winery of the Lake Erie North Shore (LENS) VQA region.
LENS is Canada’s southernmost wine region and it offers 11 outstanding wineries and great opportunities for bird watching, swimming and watersports. Of course you’ll need a passport, but you can use credit cards for most of your expenses, so you won’t need to worry about converting currency. You can take back two bottles of wine per person – but as a note, they’ll just waive you through with up to a case.
Our first stop was our initial visit to Muscedere Vineyards in Harrow. The winery is well know for its reds, but with the heat and humidity we went directly for the chilled 2013 Rosé. This delightful wine is made with Cab Franc and Auxerrois. The orange color is awesome and it has just the refreshing qualities we were looking for. (We bought a bottle and later had it with a cookout.)
We sampled the 2013 Riesling and 2011 Vidal Blanc, but for us, the real action was with the reds. Rob Muscedere was in the tasting room and explained that winemaking is part of his Italian heritage. His grandfather farmed 50 acres and saw the opportunity to expand to wine. As Rob says, “Our thing is reds.”
Of the 11 LENS wineries, Muscedere is the furthest from the lake – close enough to benefit from the moderate weather, but with enough rolling terrain to make it the best in the region for reds. We began our tour of reds with the 2012 Pinot Noir. Only 79 cases of this wine were produced. The winemaker has a light touch with this Pinot. It has the tartness of cranberry.
The 2013 Cabernet Franc was lighter than most Ontario Cab Francs. At $18 Canadian, it pleases with an array of cherry and red fruit notes. The 2012 Merlot offers great, smooth flavors and it is still developing.
Two Red Wines Deserve Special Attention
Muscedere has a wonderful outdoor patio that was buzzing with activity during our visit. We had already planned a picnic lunch, otherwise their wood-fired pizzas looked very tempting.
We opted to stay cool in the indoor tasting room and kept sipping the reds. There were two that really grabbed my attention. I’ll first mention the 2011 Syrah. This is their priciest wine at $40 CA per bottle. This is a very limited production wine with only 85 cases produced. It is earthy and chewy and would do well with roast lamb or game.
My favorite wine of the visit was the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. This full bodied beauty has an aroma that had me enjoying the wine well before the first sip. Cab is the flagship of this winery and I discovered why. The dark cherry and blackberry flavor notes wove nicely with oak and herbal flavors. The wine is aged in French oak with 30% to 40% new barrels to help impart character and structure.
A few closing thoughts. First, Harrow is mostly rural farmland, so it is best if you use a GPS or a good map to locate LENS wineries, including Muscedere. We also suggest that you schedule your visit to Muscedere around lunchtime so that you can enjoy a pizza outdoors while sampling wines.
Muscedere is a new “must visit” winery for our future visits to the Lake Erie North Shore. It has a full portfolio of handcrafted VQA wines. The whites will entice, but don’t fail to try the reds!