Henry of Pelham makes some of the longest-lived Rieslings in Niagara and they back that up by releasing in the retail store back vintages from time to time. I love that the winery releases its top wines (which it makes only in the best vintages) always with some bottle age so that consumers enjoy the wine as it is meant to be enjoyed. We tend to drink Niagara Rieslings (all Rieslings, in fact) far too young. With appropriate age, those wonderful petrol notes emerge and the acid softens to show a more balanced expression of this lovely variety. This is a gorgeous Riesling and one that will age gracefully for 10 years or more. The nose shows intense citrus-pear fruit with wet-stone minerality, petrol and an attractive waxy-lanolin note beginning to emerge. It is juicy and racy on the palate with that playful tension that makes Riesling so exciting, and through it all, a wonderful, fresh mineral note adds complexity and personality. It will age gracefully for 8 to 12 years.
If we had a 'Grand Cru' appellation system in Ontario the Riesling vineyard of Henry of Pelham would catch attention. This vineyard produces lovely fruit. This wine is as rich and full as we find in the dry Rieslings of Alsace, and has a brilliant stripe of acidity lacing it together. The Speck family is shooting for the stars with the low yields and hand crafted care they give these grapes: job well done.
Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery is an Ontario winery that released their first vintage in 1988. The namesake of the winery, Henry (Smith) of Pelham was an early settler in Upper Canada’s Niagara Peninsula. His father Nicholas, the first settler, was Pennsylvania Dutch and a United Empire Loyalist who sided with the crown during the American Revolution of 1776. We named the winery Henry of Pelham after great-great-great grandpa’s son, Henry, who we think had a pretty dry sense of humour, nicknaming himself “Henry of Pelham” after a British Prime Minister. He was quite the entrepreneur, building an inn and tavern on the property and operating a toll road. He raised sheep. And grew grapes—some of the first to be planted in Canada. Our tasting room and wine store are in Henry’s carriage house. In 1984, when our parents decided to replace Henry’s concord and Niagara grapevines with old world vinifera grapes, the Niagara wine scene hardly existed and there were a lot of naysayers—but we had done our homework. Heat scans proved we had the right conditions, and we bettered our chances by contouring the hills and installing drainage. At the time, we were one of only a few Niagara wineries to make premium wines from our own grapes.
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