Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Darling Darkling

Two years ago, an amazing thing happened in Prince Edward County. St. Laurent, an aromatic red Austrian vinifera grape, ripened properly for the very first time at Chadsey's Cairns. Being Austrian (and a relative of Pinot Noir), St. Laurent is no stranger to cooler climates, however Ontario's short season and unpredictable frosts from the Great Lakes has made growing it here a challenge. Red grapes, as we know, are not Ontario's strong suit. It was thus a great occasion in 2011, when all the weather patterns came together serendipitously to make a ripe batch of St. Laurent for Richard and Vita. 

What does one do with a batch of St. Laurent? It's not exactly a common varietal. I have tried it only once, and that's not enough to really form an opinion about its virtues and characteristics. Chadsey's decided that with their hard-won picking they would make single varietal, traditional method sparkling wine. Why not?

The resulting wine, which was fermented in the bottle and rested on lees for 18 months, is the 2011 Darkling, and unlike anything I've tried before. It's a vibrant deep ruby, with a fine and persistent mousse. Darkling has a creamy yeastiness to it, but what takes centre stage are the flavours of red berries and the flash of acidity. This is a dry wine, but there is a suggestion of sweetness on the palate, like the sweetness of a tart raspberry - something you imagine but don't necessarily taste. The finish is long and tastes like just-picked strawberries. There's depth to the flavour and plenty of structure to carry it along. I think this wine is most like a blanc de noirs because of the distinct fruitiness on the palate, and I suppose that isn't too surprising given that it's related to Pinot. It's quite delicious, and I think it would pair well with hard cheeses, Peking duck, and Christmas turkey (with cranberry stuffing).

Wine: By Chadsey's Cairns 2011 Darkling
Food Pairing: Christmas turkey with all the fixin's
Chip Pairing:Ruffles Hot Wings
Verdict: We loved it!

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