Henry of Pelham... I can't help it....

Nov 25, 2010

I have often thought about who I would consider my favourite winery to be in Niagara. I've visited and bought so many wines from so many establishments. It is so much to find such excellent wine just a hop, skip and a jump away from my own front door.

And there are so many great wines. Robyn's Block Chardonnay from Tawse is heart-throbbing delicious. Hillebrand's Trius Sauvignon Blanc is room shaking. Flatrock is fantastic for Riesling and Pinot; Konzelmann's reds are fantastic; Chateau des Charmes makes some of my absolute favourite Cabernet Franc, both estate and St. David's Bench. 

But if I have to choose... if I have to choose... well... I pick Henry of Pelham overall.

There are many reasons to love a winery.

First things first, I've always had a great time visiting Henry of Pelham. My first time, it was a wet, misty July 2009 afternoon. The world had disappeared behind a veil of rain. The windshield wipers wiped away the lightly pattering drops and I felt for a moment I didn't know where I was going.

And there, at the end of foggy end of 5th Street, right on Pelham Road, I found the quaint, rustic buildings of the boutique and restaurant.

That damp day, I talked with Zack and tried many wines. I was looking for work and mentioned my love of wine and my previous experience working for wine stores in British Columbia. He let me try most of the wines and I was dizzy with goodness (don't worry, I did my share of spitting).

Since that initial visit, I've been back numerous times and on every occasion felt at home and sufficiently welcome.

The Speck Brothers, Paul, Matthew and Daniel just happen to make excellent wine. Last year I bought some Chardonnay and Riesling. In a previous blog, I drunkenly paired their Gamay with strawberries.

This year I recently sampled their 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ($19.95) and their 2008 Chardonnay Reserve ($14.95). If you're looking for buttery-toffee-apple goodness with a creamy and mineral feel, I'd suggested the former. If you're an unoaked lover of Chard, the latter which has a great pear-pineapple citrus zest, is your best bet. 

As for Riesling, you can't beat them.


Yeah... I know, I know, Tawse, Cave's Spring and Thirty Bench make incredible Riesling. But I wear my heart on my sleeve for Henry of Pelham's approach to the great, Germanic variety.

At the top of the list, the Speck Family Reserve 2007 Riesling ($30.00) which turns my knees into dissolute puddles. The best of the best and only made from reduced yields and older vines. This is what Riesling should be year and year out. But that's a dream. And I can settle on this dream when it comes (and this dream can age for a long time).

If you're looking for something for the here and now, for Rieslings that you can open tonight for dinner, I'd suggest the 2008 Off-Dry Riesling Reserve to pair with spicy Thai dishes or the 2008 Riesling ($12.95) with schnitzel. Then there's the apple-delicious 2008 Riesling Reserve for those that prefer a dry style.

I can also recommend the 2009 Pinot Blanc which is very good for a grape variety I often refer to as Pinot 'Bland'.

If you're reading this and there's still time, rush out to Henry of Pelham and buy their 2007 Baco Noir Reserve ($24.95). It is phenomenal. The website describes it as jammy and I happen to agree. This wine reminds me of strawberry filling coated in butter and raspberries. Simply gorgeous and only a few left. 

If you like just regular Baco, their 2008 Baco Noir ($13.95) is the best in terms of delivery. Pelee Island makes a good value Baco but Henry of Pelham's is continually good. Dark fruit compote, mulberry and black berry. 

If you're looking for an outstanding, if not decimate-your-mind Pinot, try their 2007 Speck Family Reserve ($40.00) which will plummet you into cerebral bliss. Heavily praised, this Pinot Noir is rich and nuanced with multiple layers of menthol, dark fruit and holistic herbs. Like the Speck Family Reserve Riesling, it is hard to stand while drinking this one.

But if forty bucks is out of your price range and you're looking to impress your winter guests, I recommend the 2007 Cabernet Merlot Reserve ($24.95). This is a solid, if not exceptional Bordeaux-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Incredible, delicious, if you love French wine, Bistro-style wine, this is the bottle to grab. Black fruit, cassis, chocolate, and herbal, this has a hint of pencil shavings and just enough tannin to make this go-to for beef and barbeque cuisine.

(I confess, as I'm writing this blog, the 2007 Cabernet Merlot Reserve has been my attendant muse. An word-inspiring wine...)

I just really can't help it. From the visits to the wine lineup, Henry of Pelham has yet to disappoint me. Great prices, great selection. It is worth every single, frigging penny. 

Also, check out their Lifestyle wine selection, Sibling Rivalry.

Yes, I don't regret it. Henry of Pelham is my choice for the best winery. Period.


About This Blog

My focus is mainly on wine culture, history and education. I love the stories behind wine - the people, places and the regional personalities of the wine-countries around the world.

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