Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feeling PECish ─ Part 3

(Read Part 1 here)
(Read Part 2 here)

The Wineries of Hillier 
Many of the “older” wineries in Prince Edward County are located in the western end of the County, north and west of Wellington, around Hillier and Rosehall.  The wineries have modern tasting rooms with mostly knowledgeable, but often jaded, staff.

Norman Hardie:  One of the best-known wineries, it produces just a couple of VQA PEC wines.  Both the County Pinot Noir 2009 ($35) and the Cabernet Franc 2009 ($25) show tart red fruit and high acidity.  The Cab Franc was very herbaceous.  Nothing purchased.

The Old Third:  They only make Pinot Noir here but that focus is rewarded.  We bought the 2009 ($35), which offers cherry aromas with a touch of floral.  Interesting minerality on the palate.  Contrasts nicely with other County Pinot Noir with its medium acidity.

Closson Chase:  This is probably the best-known PEC winery and one of the first.  Upscale tasting room in an old barn but the tasting staff is unfriendly with a haughty attitude, which is always a turnoff.  You’re in PEC, folks, not Bordeaux…lose the attitude.  The good news is that Closson Chase offered 2 Chardonnays (their specialty) and a Pinot Noir from the County.  The CCV Chardonnay 2009 ($25) showed red apple and peach on the palate with refreshing acidity that transitions to a buttery finish.  The 2009 South Clos Chardonnay ($40) had red apple and lemon flavours, softer acidity with that same butter finish.  The 2009 Pinot Noir ($40) reminded me of an Oregon-style Pinot Noir, featuring bright red cherry on the palate.  It’s high in acidity, somewhat bitter and green, suggesting some under ripe fruit.  The best value was the CCV Chardonnay, but I couldn’t get past the attitude and left empty-handed.

Rosehall Run:  Here’s a winery that focuses on VQA PEC wines and keeps the prices down.  So it can be done!  We tried several wines but, somewhat bizarrely, they had recently painted the tasting room and the fumes made wine appreciation a test.  There were 2 people working in the tasting room, a friendly and knowledgeable guy and a woman who was auditioning for a job at Closson Chase.  We started with – and bought – the 2008 Cuvée County Chardonnay ($30), which showed citrus and white peach on the palate, with vanilla on the finish.  Of the reds that we tried (Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir), we liked the 2008 Cuvée County Pinot Noir ($20) with its red fruit, floral note, and medium acidity.  Definitely one of my favourites for a return visit.

Huff Estates:  Huff has the most strikingly modern tasting room in PEC.  The 2008 South Bay Chardonnay ($30) offers more on the nose than it delivers in taste:  rich citrus, peach, and pear aromas but thin flavours with too sharp acidity on the back palate.  The 2010 Pinot Gris ($20) was a revelation with citrus and white flower aromas, lemon-lime flavours, and fresh acidity and minerality.  Maybe it was after tasting so much Chardonnay (yawn) but with this wine, I began to think that PEC wineries should focus their attention on Pinot Gris.  We bought a bottle of this wine to bring home but drank it at the B&B that night!  The 2009 Pinot Noir ($25) showed sour red cherry on the nose but was thin and acidic on the palate.

The Grange of Prince Edward:  A winery that’s in a beautiful setting and it’s obviously popular with tourists.  Too bad that the staff lacks knowledge about the product.  The wines that we tasted were uniformly disappointing and, at least in the ones that we tasted, the wines were already so far over the hill that they shouldn’t still be on the shelves.

Hillier wineries worth a visit:  The Old Third, Rosehall Run, Huff Estates – for the Pinot Gris – and (next time for me) Hinterland.

Next up...the wines of Marysburgh.

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