Dan Sullivan of Rosehall Run has succeeded at crafting elegant PEC wines for over 20 years, focusing on highlighting the specific terroir of the County and creating some of the best examples of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world. Dan received the “Best Red Wine in Ontario” medal at the 2020 Ontario Wine Awards for his signature JCR Pinot Noir 2018. Sitting on the “Hungry Point” isthmus, surrounded by Lake Ontario on 3 sides, the vines dig deeply into the rocky, calcareous limestone soil. The long sunny days and cool evenings of the region, along with the high acid levels and low pH of the estate soils, ensure Rosehall wines are never lacking in freshness and structure. It is this kind of nervy tension that allows for the production of sublime sparkling wines, both traditional method as well as tank-fermented sparklers, including the exceedingly popular “Pixie” brand. The key to Rosehall’s success is its attention to detail in the vineyard. Sullivan believes that he simply bottles what the vineyard gives him. Yields are infinitesimally small compared to other wine regions, made smaller still by careful selection. Grapes are harvested at full phenolic ripeness, made difficult by the sometimes slow ripening and by the inherent climactic dangers of long hang times.
Nestled on a peninsula on the north shore of Lake Ontario, a short drive from Kingston, the Prince Edward County wine region sits on a bed of porous limestone. This is crucial for creating the mineral, brightly acidic wines the region is known for. The vineyards benefit from breezes off of Lake Ontario, keeping the temperature down on hot summer days and cool at night. “The County” was first settled in the late 18th Century and, after years of farmland agriculture, began growing grapes in earnest by the early 2000s.
Dan Sullivan and his family selected the location of Rosehall Run winery in the early 2000s because of its proximity to Lake Ontario and the remarkable Hillier clay soil, which is scattered with numerous rock and shale fragments on a limestone base. This soil is similar in composition to the soils of the Champagne region in France, so it is no wonder that the vineyards yield grapes that make beautiful cool climate wines. As luck would have it, Rosehall Run has taken full advantage of the similarities of its terroir to Champagne
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are commonly blended together to produce sparkling wines around the world. The best cuvées are typically made in the traditional méthode champenoise. Wines made in this style can be crisp and fresh-tasting in some examples, steely and mineral-driven in others, or have characteristics of bread, toast and butter. Some of the best wines will have elements of each of these and be rich, integrated and ageworthy. Grapes used in sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir wines are picked earlier than those used in still wines to maximize acidity. The style is therefore suited to cool-climate viticulture.
Dan Sullivan loves his ’60s and ‘ 70s rock and prog-rock, British invasion music, and sprinkles references subtly throughout his portfolio. Stardust is the theme in David Bowie’s album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This is Rosehall’s top traditionally-made sparkling wine from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. The fruit is all estate and left to age on its lees for an incredible six years before disgorging.
A tantalizing bouquet of tarte tatin, honey-tinged apricot and mineral notes wafts easily from the glass. A generous mousse—aka bubbles when poured—precedes seemingly endless streams of fine-bead bubbles winding their way to the surface—a beautiful sight. This is medium-bodied and has a creamy-smooth textured with a lively, refreshing attack on the palate. Flavours of custard apple, blood orange and lemon-lime adorned with piquant minerality persisting through the clean, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste.