Tasting the wines of Queylus in Niagara
Queylus in Niagara – Two decades ago I started to become interested in wine, but I did not know much about Canadian wine. Over the years, I have come to know Canadian wine quite well, particularly the wines of the Niagara Region. I took a family-wine vacation to Niagara and after visiting some of the larger wine estates such as Malivoire and Tawse wineries, I was convinced of the potential for Canadian wines especially in the Niagara escarpment. In my view Niagara is the El Dorado for Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
When the opportunity came to taste the wines of Domaine Queylus, I was very enthusiastic since I knew that Thomas Bachelder was the chief winemaker there. I first learned of Thomas Bachelder the day I tasted the wines of Clos Jordanne in Ontario.. Le Clos Jordanne was unlike anything else in Canada at the time. These were Burgundian-style Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, meticulously crafted from grapes grown from four separate estate vineyards, all in the Town of Jordan.
Domaine Queylus is a new wine venture in the Niagara Peninsula. Queylus was founded by a group of passionate wine lovers. They grow Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. According to the online Canadian wine boutique Galleon, there were 12 friends from Quebec, all lovers of Burgundy that decided to produce their own wine. They included Gilles Chevalier, Gilles Bussière and the famous Laurentians-based restaurateur and wine collector Champlain Charest. On a quest to discover new amazing terroirs they had 30 samples taken from soil pits dug on their new property in Beamsville, and they were analyzed in France. The results demonstrated great potential: the terroir proved exceptional for growing magnificent vines
The Vineyards at Queylus are an impressive 40 acres (16 hectares) of which more than half is composed of different clones of Pinot noir. The vineyards are located on three appellations: Lincoln Lakeshore near Beamsville; Twenty Mile Bench Jordan; and the newly-established vineyard at the winery in St Ann’s, south of Vineland.
Without getting technical about the soil composition, what one should know is that the partners preferred to develop the Estate vineyards from scratch rather to buy an existing one, with the exception of the 18-year old ‘Neudorf’ vineyard on the bench in Jordan, planted entirely to Pinot Noir… It is also important to remember that the grape varieties are grown on the most optimal soil. This is a common practice in fine wine states across the world. For instance, Pinot Noir is grown on the typical clay, silt and limestone soils of the Niagara Bench, while Merlot and Cabernet Franc in richer deep clay soils.
The estate is very much in the old-world style, specifically, it is oriented towards the grapes that originated in Burgundy, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.The domain’s vines were imported from Burgundy and their barrels are crafted from oak grown in the northeast of France and assembled in the workshops of Burgundian coopers. Thomas Bachelder (Winemaker and Head of Production) was educated in Beaune, Burgundy and Winemaker Kelly Mason Brock in St. Catharines. She has worked in California and, locally, for Le Clos Jordanne and Tawse before coming to Domaine Queylus.
I had a chance to taste both their Tradition and Reserve Pinot Noirs, and their Tradition Cabernet Franc. Queylus also makes a very elegant Chardonnay, a sultry Merlot and a Pinot Noir rosé.
I enjoyed tasting the wines of Domaine Queylus very much. I highly recommend all three of the wines noted below. If you are a Francophile wine drinker, the Pinot style verges towards a Bourgogne village or Premier Cru level. My favorite wine was the Cabernet Franc since I am a Chinon (Loire Valley appellation) wine enthusiast.
Tasting Notes: Vintage Availability is different in the LCBO and SAQ listing.
Tradition Pinot Noir 2015
Vintages LCBO: 392738 $29.95
SAQ: 13276137 ( 2014 available) $31.00
Cherry pie filling fruit, soft herbaceous undertones, tonka bean aromas. Harmonious, fluid, long in the mouth with satiny tannins. Sweet red berry fruit with a generous finale.
Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir 2014
( Only available at the winery $45) SAQ # 12456494 $47.25 – Vintage 2012
More depth than then Pinot Noir Tradition. Nuances of smoke and earthy with roasted herbs character complemented by complex spice notes such as saffron, musk and coriander. On the palate, it has more grip than then tradition with a lip smacking acidity and a intriguing saline taste with a lot of depth in minerality complexity. This one is for the cellar.
Cabernet Franc 2014 $34.95 -Coming soon at the LCBO
Ripe black plums, marinated bell pepper, fountain ink notes, lead pencil. Powerful but showing a lot of balance and elegance. Beautiful acidity with complex barnyard and animal notes. Delicate vegetable notes add to the mix with a rich and mouth coating in the mouth, long finale. Amazing quality.