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BoBo is a French expression, short for Bourgeois Bohème, and it pretty much describes who we are.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rounding Out a Glorious Autumn: Niagara Wine Tour, Part 2

As you probably read here, we recently had the pleasure of spending a picture perfect mid November day touring three wineries in Niagara. Almost unbelievably, this was a continuing education assignment for us, the usual dry discourse on building codes and the like replaced by a day out of town learning about three of the newest and greenest wine-making buildings in the country. Oh, and we drank a little wine, too!

We had started the day at Stratus, a small boutique winery crafting a premium product, in a LEED-certified five year old building. From there we moved virtually next door to Jackson Triggs, a large facility owned by the corporate conglomerate Vincor. The scale of operations is massive compared to Stratus, and the focus is more on mid-priced product. The building was built about 10 years ago by private owners (who subsequently were bought out by Vincor). The original owners were able to bring to the project a passion for environmental stewardship that, had it initially been developed by the current owners, may or may not have been matched. The structure was designed and built prior to the emergence of  the LEED rating system for sustainable design and construction, but its architects (who lead the facility tour) assured us it would have easily achieved a LEED Gold level of certification.

The Wines:
The wines are mostly sold as varietals, made from grapes harvested both on-site and from across other corporate- owned properties throughout the Niagara Region. To be honest, they are decent but somewhat unremarkable. They were served with lunch which gave us the opportunity to quaff them alongside food, perhaps a more forgiving way to taste. We started with a super-pale Sauvignon Blanc just prior to food service. It was still in the glass when we started on our soup of pureéd potato and parsnip with icewine-glazed pancetta lardons (yum!) and was (to our taste) a little too squeaky clean. It was very tart and would probably have made a better mid meal palate cleanser. The red was (we  think) a 2006 Delaine Vinyard Cab- Merlot blend. It was pleasant and paired nicely with the delicious roasted guinea fowl in red wine reduction. Desert was chocolate brownie and a glass of cabernet franc icewine. Yes, red again, and it suffered in comparison to the superbly balanced Stratus version.
The Building:
Where Jackson Triggs really shines is in their facility. It is spectacular, from its warm voluminous and fireplace-anchored central hall with 2 storey high glass walls at either end that roll open to welcome your arrival and to lead you straight into the vineyard, to its impressively structured production plant, to its charming cellar. The central hall serves to separate the plant from the attractive restaurant and tasting room/shop, an orientation that was consciously planned so as to keep the heady odours of wine production well apart from the serious business of sniffing and tasting the finished product. The winery also has an outdoor amphitheater tucked into the bank of the adjacent ravine and hosts evening concerts throughout the summer.
After leaving Jackson Triggs we hopped back on the bus and headed to Southbrook Vineyards, the newest of the three. Check out the details in the upcoming post!

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