By Thomas Reid
I have intended to make it out to the Niagara College Teaching Winery for some time to sample their wares for our Best Niagara Wines Under $20 series. I knew two things would be true; one: they would have some excellent wine from which to choose, and two: a sizeable percentage of the wine-drinking population would need a bit of a nudge to come and find out for themselves.
On the surface, I can understand the trepidation. While absurd, the idea that you could be pouring some hungover student’s D+ swill into your glass might be too hard to shake for some folks out there. The reality is, for starters, that the wine is made in the very same way that it is at any other functioning winery – under the watchful eye of a master winemaker (Gavin Robertson in Niagara College’s case). While the students spend much of their time in the classroom and hitting the books, they are able to get first-hand winemaking experience at the institution itself.
As expected, there were more than a few excellent wines under $20. Both the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier were stellar and very nearly featured, but I was drawn to their Pinot Noirs. I tried the 2011, 2014, and 2015 and all were excellent in their own rights. As intrigued as I was by 2011, the 2014 “Gastronomy” and 2015 “Balance” Pinot Noir were the standouts. In the end, after little more than a coin flip between them, I settled on the 2015 Balance.
The 2015 Balance Pinot Noir is a beautifully delicate and elegant example of the varietal. The nose shows light floral characteristics as well as sour cherry, red currant and “turned earth”. On the palate, while the tannins are light, it has lively acidity with flavours of dried herb in addition to black cherry, black currants, and subtle oak.
Try pairing with grilled beet and porcini mushroom salad with soft goats cheese drizzled with a balsamic reduction.
Niagara College 2015 Balance Pinot Noir ($19.15)
- Harvest Date: September 27, 2015
- Acid: 6.1 g/l
- PH: 3.56
- Residual Sugar: 6.2 g/l (Dry-0)
- Alcohol: 12%
Location 135 Taylor Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0