They arrived in the mail like a gift from Santa or the next best thing: a winery.
When the new Chateau des Charmes Generation Seven Red and White wines arrived on my doorstep earlier this month, I ripped open the box to find two bottles of intrigue.
I couldn’t wait to try them — particularly since I was among the chosen to receive the bottles before they officially hit the street — but I’m no wine reviewer. In fact, I’m a wine novice whose descriptions of wines don’t include flowery terms most often associated with a breakdown of how a vintage tastes.
“It’s good” or “I like it” pretty much sums up my wine vocabulary. So, I turned to Monique Beech, Eating Niagara contributor and wine industry reporter for The Standard, to share in the new releases from the Niagara-on-the-Lake winery and help lead this beer girl through a wine tasting. When I arrived at her home, she even had a chart of terms associated with different wines to help me through. I have to admit, I was hopeful that among the hundreds of taste and smell possibilities I had to choose from that the day’s sampling wouldn’t include “sweaty.” It was an option for one grape whose name I’ve chosen to block out, a reaction driven by fear and disgust.
So we sat and we sipped and talked wine for a few hours. Here are our thoughts on Generation Seven White and Red, both from 2009.
For the last few years a flood of fun, affordable Niagara wines have hit the market. With youthful, funky labels, these blends made from 100 per cent Ontario grapes are designed to attract a younger, entry-level wine drinker with a mild, fruity flavour and an attractive price.
Most of these new wines sell for $14 and under, a sweet spot at the LCBO and for recession-weary wine drinkers looking for deals. The idea is to draw new wine drinkers to Vintners Quality Alliance wines and make them loyal fans of homegrown Ontario vino for life.
Eventually, these consumers may graduate to the $20 per bottle and up price point.
There’s another bonus. These cheaper wines have helped absorb unsold grapes following two years (2008 and 2009) of major grape surpluses in Niagara.
Chateau des Charmes’ new, recently-released Generation Seven is continuing the value-priced Ontario wine trend.
Attractive, eye-catching and whimsical, the Generation Seven White and Red wines feature interesting grape variety blends and a reasonable price of $13.95.
In recent years, Paul Bosc Jr., son of winery founder Paul Bosc Sr., and his wife, Michele, have taken great strides at bringing the winery up-to-date by giving the wine labels a simple, modern look and adding QR codes, which allows smartphone users the ability to scan the label and find out more information about the wine.
Generation Seven is yet another way this winery is proving that that the old wine-making guard in Niagara can reinvent themselves. And have some fun doing it.
Generation Seven delivers on taste:
Generation Seven White (2009):
This blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc has a floral and fruity, fragrant taste of pear and citrus. The grassy notes of Sauvignon Blanc is the star of this wine. A pleasant, unpretentious wine to sip on the patio.
Generation Seven Red (2009):
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Gamay Noir. Decant this young wine for a few hours and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It bursts with berry flavours and smokey tones. A great compliment to any barbecue. A solid wine for $13.95.
Seven generations of the Bosc family, proprietors of the Niagara-on-the-Lake winery, have been born into the winemaking way of life. The wine — and the label with its DNA tree — celebrates that. But it’s also a tribute to a philosophy of sustainability in which we must consider how the decisions we make today will affect those seven generations from now.
As such, those eye-catching labels are printed on Forestry Stewardship Council-certified paper, which means the fibres are the product of well-managed forests. Fifty cents from each bottle of Generation Seven purchased are also donated to the Meal Exchange, a youth-driven charity whose goal is to eradicate hunger locally. That the wines are VQA (made with 100 per cent Niagara grapes) seals the deal.
I’m a sucker for sustainability and social responsibility, so Generation Seven pretty much had me at hello.
As for how they tasted:
Generation Seven White (2009):
I am not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc. My first memory of tasting a Sauvignon Blanc is a recent one. I took one sniff of a Niagara College Sauvignon Blanc during a seminar there and was instantly reminded of my cat Otis – when he has been bad. Yup, cat pee. I wasn’t fond of the taste either.
But the Generation Seven Sauvignon Blanc grapes are mixed with my two favourite wine varieties, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, so I held out hope.
The white didn’t have a chance to chill for very long when we tried it. I swirled and sniffed and the wine smelled perfumey. I took one sip and immediately tasted the Sauvignon Blanc but the sweet fruity flavours of the Gewurztraminer and Riesling immediately made it mellow in my mouth. If every Sauvignon Blanc tasted like this, I’d be a Sauvignon Blanc drinker.
We let the white chill a little longer while we sampled the red. As Monique pointed out, that can make it taste like an entirely different wine and she wasn’t convinced it was cold enough at first try. She was right. The colder it got, the stronger the taste of the Sauvignon Blanc. The aromas of the colder white reminded me of the smell of my pencil case in elementary school — like Laurentian pencil crayons and HB pencil shavings. The wine was creamier with apple notes at the end. Still, I preferred this wine served slightly warmer with the Sauvignon Blanc characteristics toned down.
I would definitely buy this wine, bring it to a barbecue or enjoy it in my garden with Otis when he’s being good.
Generation Seven Red (2009):
What can I say, I loved it. I’m not a red wine drinker at all but this is one of two red wines I’ve tried and enjoyed at first sip, then at second and third. If this is meant to be an entry level wine, it succeeds because it has wowed this red wine ignoramus.
At first sniff, I picked up a smokey scent, like a burning log or campfire. But its taste was mild with no cheek-clenching dryness, giving it a clean aftertaste. I loved that there was no lingering in my mouth after I swallowed. It felt warm and easy going down.
I’ll definitely make room next to the Riesling and Gewurztraminer on my wine rack for this baby.