Embracing Your Objection

Technology (our game changer optical sorter) has allowed us to embrace what has been an historical, objectionable challenge at Vineland Estates Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon.  Everyone seems to love this red variety but the grapes need a very long growing season and many heat units to ripen it properly (most often more than Ontario can provide).  Far too many “Cabs” grown in cool climates have been released, under ripened, with hints of bell pepper (“green”) aromas.  In fact, that descriptor and flavour component has been commonly embraced as consumers thought that was just the way it was supposed to be.  Wrong.  “Finding” and noting bell pepper in a Cab Sauv could insult many winemakers – Brian being one of them.  With excellence in mind, Brian always seeks mature fruit to express the grape variety and the terroir.  Cabernet Sauvignon never (or very rarely) gave him that opportunity.  He even went so far as to shout, “in Ontario, Cabernet Sauvignon is only good for Icewine!”  Given his experience with the grape (grown on our Bo-Teek vineyard by the way), he was right….until the optical sorter came along.  Our cutting edge optical sorter individualizes each grape and sorts them according to ripeness and all at 10 tonnes per hour.  Remarkable.  Every harvest produces exceptional grapes in ALL varieties – you just need to be able to find the best ones in the hundreds/thousands of tonnes that are produced.  Now, Brian’s tune has changed with the changing times and changing technology.  Moments ago he gleefully poured me a sample of the 2017 Cab Sauv.  Wow.  It was still a little awkward as most wines are at 4 months of age, but it has all the earmarks of being another great wine.  Brian lowered his gaze and said, “you know it took a level of 27-28% removal by the optical sorter to get it to be that good.”  He paused and darted off to a further point in the cellar beckoning me to follow him.  “Now this, (as he took a sample of Cabernet Franc from a tank), only needed a 3-5% removal rate.  Ehhh?”  It was remarkable.  The Cab Franc had achieved a higher level of taste excellence over the Cab Sauv with far, far less removal.  Cabernet Franc is still the red king for Ontario (more on that later) but we can bring it’s offspring (yes Cab Franc is one of the parents of Cab Sauv) to a level of excellence where we can be proud.  In fact, our renown Elevation Cabernet is a blend of those two grapes with Cab Franc being the dominant varietal.   So a rise in Cab Sauv quality means a better Elevation.  (More on that wonderful marriage next week)  As my sister Pat always says, “make your words sweet as you may have to eat them.”  Well, Brian’s words on Cab Sauv were a little bitter given his experience BUT at least he brought in the idea of Icewine and what could be sweeter and more delicious to “eat”!! 🙂

Cheers, David