Stratus Winery: When Style Meets Substance

A bottle of wine tells a story even before it is  opened.  The shape can reveal its geography, its varietal, its history.

The iconic bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape with the embossed logo representing a papal crest, hints at its storied history.   Burgundy, Bordeaux and Riesling  all have distinctive bottle shapes.

And then there is the 2014 Stratus Cabernet Franc ‘Decant’.

Stratus Decant 2014 Cabernet Franc

Industrial designer Karim Rashid has created a wine bottle as spectacular as the 2014 Cabernet Franc created by winemaker J-L Groux.

The design was inspired by the layers of soil that create some of the finest wines from the Niagara region.  The bottle  is elegant, easy to hold, and the design acts like a decanter when pouring the wine.

“The best designs come from functionality,” says Rashid, who Time magazine called ” the most famous industrial designer in all of the Americas.” His website is a cornucopia of the greatest design hits. Guess which shoes are his?

The unique style is matched only by the substance of the wine.  The Cabernet Franc grape grows well in the region. The problem is there have been too many wines with a nose and flavour of ripe green pepper.

“People have been making it wrong,” says Groux. “This is what Cabernet Franc  tastes like, when you get it right.” This wine is full-bodied and complex and has changed my impression of the much-maligned varietal.

At $95, this is  a collector’s item so act quickly. The production is small – only 110 cases – and it is only available  online or at the  winery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Family Has A Story

After attending the Cool Climate Chardonnay conference at Brock University yesterday we accepted an invitation to visit the Colaneri Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-lake.  We’ve been to Niagara-on-the lake many times but never to this particular winery so we were interested to take a look.  We knew it was a family run estate and assumed we would arrive at a lovely house on a vineyard like many other small wine makers in the area.

“Photo by © F.G. Couch”

To our great surprise as we drove up the road we saw a large building that resembled a cluster of homes in a small Italian village.  Even though the building is still under construction the winery is open and promises to be an amazing venue once it’s completed.

The front of the building forms a semi-circle that reminded us of a traditional Italian piazza where guests can mingle in the afternoon sun, sit and enjoy a lovely glass of wine and even snack on a slice of pizza from the outdoor oven.

From design to construction to the tiniest detail this winery is all about family.  Sitting on the original plot of land purchased by Italian immigrants Maria and Joseph Colaneri the estate today, shows what can be achieved when family works together.   We had the chance to meet Betty Colaneri, the daughter-in-law of Joseph and Maria, who took us on a tour and told us the family’s story…how she and her sister fell in love with the Colaneri brothers and raised their families together.

“Cavallone”

She explained how the artwork on the walls of the estate was the same design used for the labels on the various wines.  There’s a drawing for each family member based on their passions and personality but there was one drawing in particular that had us close to tears.  Called “Cavallone”  a nickname given to Betty’s sister, Angie by their mother, the drawing depicts two children clinging to the back of a beautiful horse.  Angie’s illness and recent death is one of the reasons the building is not yet finished because when family means everything you stop what you’re doing to look after each other. Now the drawing prominently placed on an easel with candles surrounding it, is a fitting tribute to a woman Betty says was a driving force behind this amazing winery.

We sampled a selection of wines, all delicious if I may say so myself and then Betty took us to see the rest of the winery that was still under construction.  Passion was written all over her face as she explained the family’s dream and how everything would look upon completion.  She talked about how they would be able to hold weddings and dinners and how she would be the first to cry when a bride finally stood on the balcony overlooking the vineyard.

Colaneri Estate Wine Cellar

Finally she took us down to the cellar where she kept her babies, row upon row of beautiful oak barrels filled with the wines lovingly produced by this family.  We couldn’t leave without buying some of the wine for our own cellars (ok maybe just a wine rack in the basement) and decided on the ’09 Corposo a Cabernet made in the traditional ‘Ripasso’ style and the ’09 Insieme, a rich red blend of Cab Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

As we left it was like saying goodbye to family and we knew we would be back to visit again.

Music To My Ears

From the Montreal Jazz Festival to the Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta to the Boots and Hearts Festival in Ontario, great music abounds across Canada during the summer months.  But when it comes to outdoor festivals you’re often dealing with huge crowds, long lineups and nasty porta-potties.  Besides these venues generally serve beer (so not me) or wine that I don’t want to waste my money on.

So where do you get great music, award-winning wines and gourmet cuisine in a venue that feels like you’re at a private party in someone’s backyard?  Well, I definitely think you need to check out the Jackson-Triggs’ Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series.

Nestled in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake in southern Ontario the open-air concert amphitheatre is situated on the Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate in the heart of Ontario’s wine country.  Their concert season runs from June until September so there are still lots of great artists to see.

We’re heading down there on Friday to see the Arkells and I’m really looking forward to it. They’re a great Canadian band and here’s hoping they’ll rock the house (or the vineyard). If you’re interested in checking it out here’s a list of the concerts still taking place this summer.

July 20           Arkells

July 21           Adam Cohen

July 28           Kathleen Edwards

August 17      Chantal Kreviazuk (Sold Out)

August 18      Raine Maida

August 25      Sarah Slean & Royal Wood w Niagara Symphony

Sept 7             David Usher