A close and important friend of mine is leaving Ontario for the Okanagan to pursue a fantastic Junior-Sommelier opportunity. While I wish her all the best, she will be sincerely missed as a trusted friend, wine guru and integral member of The Vino Enthusiasts Wine Club.
Her final wine club was bound to be lavish as we refused to officially say goodbye to this true vino enthusiast in any other way. One of her favourite wineries, The Foreign Affair, was gracious enough to give us access to a full vertical of their appassimento-style Pinot Noir wines from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 with distinct vintage variance.
The Foreign Affair has been a favourite, local winery of mine that is and should be known for producing premium quality wines while utilizing the appassimento (drying of the grapes) method in both partial and full.
The charcuterie pairings included an array of cured meats and additional accoutrements such as olives, artichokes, mushrooms and spicy peppers. The cheese selections were provided by the incredible, local cheese shop here in Guelph - Ouderkirk & Taylor and included Comté, Chevre, Blackburn and Abondance among others.
Worried that my biasses would follow me through the tasting, all of the notes and final conclusions have been made solely by the group of Vino Enthusiasts.
The 2009 Pinot Noir - with 40% partial appassimento and 15 months of French Oak ageing, the group noted black cherry, charred wood characteristics and rich, ripe tannins that gave the wine a harmonious complexity.
The 2010 Pinot Noir - with 30% partial appassimento and 15 months of French Oak ageing was very indicative of its warm climate with more rich, ripe fruit character and an added oak spice.
The 2011 Pinot Noir - with 25% partial appassimento and 16 months of French Oak ageing had a more confectionary fruit characteristic to it with added notes of leather, cranberry and a crisp acidity that was not as apparent in the warmer years.
The 2012 Pinot Noir - with 20% partial appassimento and 16 months of French Oak ageing was the most representative of varietal character. The crisp acidity and fresh red cherry and red currant characteristics of Pinot Noir were very apparent in this wine.
It was extremely interesting to explore the vintage variange of Niagara through these wines with an added complexity of exploring how appassimento can change a wine depending on its percentage of inclusion.
The group genuinely enjoyed each wine for very different reasons. The 2009 is a rich, easy drinking and full-bodied red that was named the group's current favourite. The 2010 has a fruit-forward characteristic to it and jammy notes of attractive rich fruit, while the 2011 has higher acidity and would be better for food pairings.
The 2012 was deemed by the group the vintage to keep on your radar. With a little more bottle-ageing, the varietal distinction and added complexity of the 2012 vintage's ripe fruit and added appassimento will continue to contribute to the harmonious pleasantry of this wine.
If you're in the Niagara region, it is more than worth stopping by the winery to test the Pinot Noir along with some of their flagship Amarone-style wines.
With this, we raise a glass this one last time for our new Junior Sommelier. Cheers Caitlyn!