Monday, January 1, 2018

2015 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir

Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery is Niagara's Baco Noir specialist. Not only are they a consistent producer of quality varietal Baco in the region—they actually produce three distinct releases of the varietal wine, all with slightly different oak aging regimens and fruit sourced from vines of different ages.

In reserve for today's New Year tasting is the Speck Family Reserve. It's the only one that I hadn't tasted up to now. It retails for $25 at Vintages and is available at select stores only.

This wine hails from the winery's original planting of Baco, dating back to 1984. That's interesting, because it means that the vines predate the whole VQA system under which the wine bears a "VQA Ontario" designation. Even though the wine technically hails from the Short Hills Bench appellation, VQA does not deem hybrids worthy of appellation-specific nomenclature—an absurdity, as wine writer David Lawrason rightly pointed out in his write-up on the wine.

The bottle is closed with an elegant, solid, top quality natural cork. The cork showed deep purple-black staining once pulled out, though only where it had been in contact with the wine, indicating a good seal.

The wine poured with a gorgeous, saturated black, cherry-mahogany hue which, in the glass, morphs into a weathered-sumac hue at the meniscus. At 13.5% alc./vol., good tear development can be seen along the inside of the glass (and is even visible in the picture at right).

The nose is deeply oaky, with big, bold, black-cherry fruit and prominent wood vanillins from the American oak. There is lengthy integration of bold oak and fruit. On the palate, lithe, bright acidity leads the way; the texture is dry and cleansing along the mid-palate and energetically lively into the finish. The flavours finish out with beets, red currants, a hint of dried tomatoes and just a tap of oak at the end.

Very well done, but bold and oaky in style. If you prefer less oak, try the winery's Old Vines release.

Happy New Year!

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