Monday, September 9, 2013

Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards: Lake Erie North Shore Winery Visit

As summer rapidly raced into fall, the Green Dragon and I decided to take a day trip into Ontario. We did some hiking at Point Pelee, the southernmost part of Canada, and (surprise!) found time to visit a winery.
Point Pelee and the area is known for fantastic bird watching, especially during the annual bird migrations. It’s just a short hop (if you’re a bird) from across Lake
Erie to the northern shore of Ohio.
We decided to visit Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards, a winery in the Lake Erie North Shore VQA which we’ve never visited before. That was in tune with the spontaneous nature of our trip.
Our arrival experience was great. Seeing an impressive sign and well tended vineyards are always good indicators when visiting a new winery.
We had an unofficial member of our tasting team this time, our American Eskimo dog Amber. It was her first international trip.
Since Amber couldn’t go inside the tasting room, I bought Green Dragon a nice glass of 2011 Merlot Cabernet and she relaxed outside in an Adirondack chair in the picnic area with Amber.
Inside Cooper’s Hawk offers a stylish, upscale tasting room and banquet facility.The winery is set on 67 acres of land between Kingsville and Harrow. It offers a beautiful natural setting with trees shading a grassy area just right for picnicking or chilling with your dog.
Laura Moore was my friendly server and soon was offering me a taste of two unoaked Chardonnay that showed the difference a vintage can make. The 2011 Unoaked Chardonnay was crisp, a bit thin and acidic while the 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay was sweet an flavorful with a nice dollop of pear flavor.
The 2012 Riesling is a ripe round wine with an off-dry finish. It has a slight acidity to make it crisp and rewarding. An outstanding Riesling!
The 2012 Touché is an interesting blend of Riesling and Gerwürztraminer. It has just a touch of sweetness. This is a nice marriage between two of our favorite grapes.
On the red side, I began with the 2010 Pinot Noir, which is their latest vintage. It is a light red brick color and is earthy on the nose. It offers flavor notes of light brambles and sour cherry.
The 2011 Merlot Cabernet got a five star review from the Green Dragon. As a stepped outside to check on her, she dubbed the wine awesome – especially when you can taste it relaxing in a sunny spot after a long day of hiking. This is light blend that is a great summertime wine.
As I was preparing to taste some more reds, I was introduced to winemaker Rori McCaw. I complimented her on the great wines and said I was sorry I couldn’t taste the 2011 Gerwürztraminer, which was getting rave reviews.
At that point it was Rori to the rescue. She grabbed a bottle from the cooler and proclaimed that the label was smudged and so it couldn’t be sold. Instead it opened up for tasting. Yeah!
The 2011 Gerwürztraminer is almost creamy with tropical fruit. While there is sweetness, the natural acidity ensures a perfect balance. A pop of spiciness makes it a rewarding glass.
I finished with two reds, the 2008 Reserve Merlot and the 2008 Meritage. The Merlot is aged in French Oak for six months and has a spicy nose and light body. The Meritage spends 24 months in oak and this Bordeaux-style blend was my highest rated wine of the visit.
Cooper’s Hawk is a great discovery. The wines are among the best I’ve tasted in Ontario. The winery is committed to sustainability as well as becoming a destination winery for wine lovers and families alike. Fly in for a glass of outstanding vino!
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