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.
The grapes for this prestigious bottling are sourced from select vines in the West and North vineyards. These sit on that signature County rocky limestone. The “Hungry Point” vineyards are surrounded on 3 sides by water, forming a microclimate that is hospitable for the finicky Pinot Noir grape.
Pinot Noir grapes are black-skinned and typically very difficult to cultivate. It is well known internationally and is grown in most winemaking regions around the world. Its origins trace back to the Burgundy region in France. Canada has had great success with this grape variety, producing renowned wines in Prince Edward County, among other regions.
One of the latest harvests the winery has ever done for Pinot Noir. The grapes were hand-harvested, sorted and de-stemmed before fermentation. Once complete, the wine was transferred to French Oak barrels, (38% new) where it spent the next 17 months developing. A few barrels had extra fine lees added in order to gain texture and mouthfeel in the final blend. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Winemaker Dan Sullivan earned “Best Red Wine in Ontario” in 2020 for his 2018 JCR Pinot Noir and this beautiful wine takes up that mantle. Aromas of black cherry, raspberry, pencil shavings and a hint of toasted vanilla on the nose. Medium-bodied and expressive already, this would definitely gain complexity with a couple of years of bottle age. The cherry and raspberry continue on the palate, along with some intriguing flavours of damson, grape tomato and a hint of underbrush. The finish is lingering and complex, making this an ideal contemplation wine or a perfect partner to planked salmon.