Set The Bar
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Stratus 2015 White: On the Way to Astounding?

On a recent trip to Niagara we never reached Niagara-on- the- Lake. Thank goodness. A Disneyland of make believe and well monied former Torontonians retiring to their Nirvana. Fortunately we got waylaid at Vineyard Estates Winery in Jordan with a fabulous patio and a very talented chef. The Gewürztraminer with the calamari and a side of most incredible fries almost made the drive from Toronto worth it.

We stopped at a winery here and there including the Las Vegas circus like Gretzky Winery and Distillery. Full of jocks that probably play arena hockey into their fifties dreaming still they could still be the Great One!

Our last stop before dinner at The Trius Winery was Status Winery. I had a 2007 Status White that hit me immediately as a remarkable wine and at $49 it should be. The 2015 Stratus White was excellent and give it a few years in the bottle I thought it too could be astounding. Now was all this just a result of a perfect early autumn day? A delusion?

I just had to buy a couple of bottles and try the 2015 a few weeks later.

It has a light gold colour.

On the nose extremely compact with notes of apple, pear, pineapple, mango and butterscotch just ready to burst out in splendour by 2023.

On the palate extremely tight fisted with a limestone inspired scratchy finish on the back palate. It gives in the taste what it gives on the nose. If you haven’t had experience with baby faced wines and can’t recognize their potential you might pass by this wine without much of a thought. But taste this wine with 5 or 6 before and that just might help you figure this wine has great potential if you have a cellar. In years of yore Bordeaux reds were harvested almost green with the intention they were to age many years before consumption. I believe this is how this wine was constructed by a visionary. If you can’t cellar by all means buy the 2007 and skip the wait time.

My thoughts are this will be an iconic Niagara white if you are willing to give it time. And it is definitely case worthy to give it time to mature and experience its development.

(Stratus 2015 White, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA, Stratus Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, $39, LCBO #660704, 13.1%, 750 mL, Set The Bar Rating 92/100). If you can’t easily access at a local LCBO check out delivery options from the winery at stratuswines.com

I feel guilty  giving this a 92 rating knowing it may very well be a 96, 4 years from now but my rating system focuses on the wine in my glass and only gives a small point spread for what the wine could be like in the future. And the future holds a bright light for this brilliant wine. Can I say trust me? Don’t even bother to open this wine until 2023.

The wine is a blend of 57% Chardonnay, 18% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon and 10% Viognier.

J.L. Groulx the winemaker at Stratus who looks a bit like the Professor in “Back to the Future” played by Christopher Lloyd says. “We purchased the vineyard in 2000 and built a winery adapted to the site, where we aimed to set a new standard for functionality and sustainability. And as you make the vineyard better, the wine naturally becomes better too.”

The winery is located on the Niagara Peninsula and the soil is an ice-age legacy of a retreating glacier and the vineyard features three types of clay loam over lacustrine silty clay on a foundation of dolomitic limestone. Bingo! Limestone soil in the Dão region of Portugal gives those wines a whole layer of complexity particularly for the Encruzado grape including a very particular scratchiness in the back palate like this 2015 White.

After years of trying wines I am detecting a sense of sameness perhaps courtesy of European supermarkets selling wine that is immediately accessible aided by wineries employing flying winemakers with that blending capacity to dumb down wines so every consumer with a few pesos to rub can walk away happy with their drinkable purchase. Kudos to Stratus for bucking the trend and challenging us with some complexity!

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