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…to produce their first traditional method sparkling wine!
Pinot Noir grapes are black-skinned and typically very difficult to cultivate. This grape variety is very well known internationally and is grown throughout the world in most winemaking regions. Its origins trace back to the Burgundy region in France. Canada has had great success with the grape, producing renowned wines in Prince Edward County, among other regions. The grape is also used in Champagne and other sparkling wine producing regions, adding fruit and balance notes to the blend or crafting elegant bubbly rosés.
Estate-grown Pinot Noir, mostly 2017, with a touch of 2014 thrown in for complexity. The still wine was given a secondary fermentation in bottle, in the Traditional Method, resting on its lees for 33 months before disgorging.
The Estate Pinot Noir is so graceful and elegant as a still wine, it doesn’t disappoint as a bubbly. An explosion of fresh berries, brioche and spice on the nose. The mousse is soft and creamy, like sea foam. The bright tart berry replays on the palate, with some yeasty undertones and a touch of pink grapefruit. Bracing acidity and a lingering finish make this a perfect partner to Green Thai curries or sipped alongside strawberries and cream.