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 in the early 2000s. Vintage note: 2021 was wet, with plenty of rain approaching harvest time. However, mild temperatures allowed for longer hang times to compensate, resulting in lighter alcohol levels and body, but more aromatics and primary fruit elements.
The land where Rosehall Run chose to establish its roots was previously known by local farmers as “Hungry Point”. Conditions here are dry, winds are harsh and shallow-rooted plants did not always thrive. It turns out vinifera grapes are right at home here! The vines dig deep into the earth, gathering enough water and nutrition from the mineral-rich clay to produce ripe, concentrated fruit.
Pinot Noir is thin-skinned and typically very difficult to cultivate. It is well known internationally and is grown in most winemaking regions around the world. It creates wines with elegance and balance, generally offering red fruit, supple tannins and solid acidity. 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 and Niagara. Tempranillo is early-ripening and tends to thrive in chalky vineyard soils such as those of the Ribera del Duero and Rioja regions of Spain. In Portugal, where it is known as Tinto Roriz and Aragonez, it is blended with other varieties to produce Port. In 2015, Tempranillo was the fourth most widely-planted wine grape variety in the world. 87% of these plantings are in Spain. Depending on vineyard age and mesoclimate, Tempranillo-based wines result in notes ranging from strawberries, blackcurrants and cherries to prunes, chocolate and tobacco.
The Pinot Noir and Tempranillo grapes were vinifed separately. 40% of the Tempranillo was whole-cluster pressed and a small amount of Estate Chardonnay was added during the initial ferment. The Pinot Noir rested in second fill French oak barrels, the Tempranillo in neutral oak, before being blended prior to bottling.
An uncomplicated, “Glou-Glou” style red has aromas of fresh raspberries and cherries, with hints of sandalwood. The palate is light, lively and fresh, with tangy red currant, cranberry and strawberry flavours as well as a hint of black pepper and cardamom. Best served chilled with burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies or tangy cheeses.