Friday, May 5, 2017

Pillitteri 2007 Exclamation Cellar Series Reserve Cabernet Franc, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake

What lurks behind the unique metallic label from a Canadian winery? Does this reserve Cab Franc still earn an exclamation after 10 years? We are about to uncork and find out.

A Friendly Convergence

Serendipity is when a number of seeming coincidences converge and result in a happy outcome. It happens sometimes in the wine world and, in fact, happened just the other day to me.

I was in Corks in Rossford, having dropped in to pick up a bottle of saké for a special “samurai Sunday” event for my tennis group. The Green Dragon had specifically told me not to buy any other wine – we are in the process of “drinking down” the wine cellar in preparation for an upcoming move out of state.

That was a nice idea on her part – but it just wasn’t going to happen. I grabbed my saké and then started rummaging around amongst their clearance bottles. I’ve discovered buried treasure there before.

A glint of silver caught my eye and I pulled out a bottle that seemed to have some sort of steam punk metallic label. Double goodness! It was a Cab Franc from one of the best Cab Franc regions in the world – Ontario. It was also from Pillitteri Estates, a winery we had visited in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Exclamation Indeed!

This is one of the few bottles I would buy for the bottle alone. The metal badge, in the shape of an exclamation point, is a representation of one of the 23 hanging stainless steel chairs in the barrel cellar of the winery. It depicts the original architectural drawing of the ‘King’s Chair,’ the largest of the family chairs hanging in the barrel cellar. Green Dragon and I along with tasting team members Glorious T and Cabernetor wandered down to the barrel cellar during our visit to seek shelter from a busload of tourists that just arrived at the tasting room.

In the barrel room we had the best ice wine tasting ever. We learned the secret of taking “micro-sips” of ice wine to appreciate it’s sweet magic. Pillitteri is a world-class winery with an amazing tasting room.

We uncorked this find at a wine party that featured a number of Cab Franc freaks. When you have a 10-year-old bottle from a region not typically known for long-aging, there is always a little bit of suspense. Once the oohs and aahs from the pretty bottle are over, the wine still needs to deliver. And it did.

The 2007 vintage in Ontario was outstanding for reds and the Pillitteri Exclamation Cab Franc lived up to that hype. The Exclamation series undergoes additional barrel aging and after a decade, the tannins are nicely smoothed into the wine. The Exclamation Cellar Series is made with grapes hand-selected during the best vintage years.

The Exclamation offers fragrant aromas of ripe berries. In the glass there are flavor notes of blackberry and currant. There are nice vanilla notes and a hint of pepper (but of course!).

This is a mountaintop experience for Cab Franc lovers. You’d be lucky to find the 2007, but the 2012 vintage is available for $50 (Canadian). We recommend you visit the winery in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake – but if you can’t, be sure to pick up the Exclamation Cab Franc.

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