Cellar Raid: Sauvignon Blanc-ish
Trail Estate Skin Contact Series Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Prince Edward County, Ontario
$30.00 no longer available
Before you get mad that I’m reviewing a wine that’s no longer available, please know that it’s because a) I want you to discover this fabulous little winery doing incredibly cool experimental things and b) it’s actually part of a series, and may reappear one day so you may just get to try other vintages of it – or other wines like it. Also, there were only 8 cases made total (that’s less than 100 bottles) so it’s weird that I even had a bottle.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.
This wine is from a little family-owned winery in Prince Edward County. It’s a super new winery – maybe three or four years old – and in 2015 they hired a young, female winemaker who quickly got to work making delightfully different, delicious wines. Mackenzie Brisbois grew up in the County, trained with Norman Hardie, and travelled the world for harvest. She’s taken all those learnings and created a wine program that is thoughtful, low-interventionist, and – quite frankly – a little ground breaking.
Take her Skin Contact Series, of which this bottle is part. To make these wines, Mackenzie used a super old-school method of treating white grapes: the red wine method. You might’ve heard of orange wines – this is how they’re made. The VQA actually just create an official category for orange wines, so this category is about to blow up.
For this series, Mackenzie left the whites – which are usually pressed off the skins immediately – to soak on their skins for anywhere from 9 to 21 days. She made 3 Rieslings and a Sauvignon Blanc and released them all in 2016. They’re really special wines, really delicious and unusual wines that showcase the potential of orange wines in Ontario – although, Trail is very clear that these aren’t technically orange wines because of their shorter maceration times. And because of this skin contact, the wines are more textural and aromatically nuanced than typical white wines, but they don’t go so far as to be oxidative or funky as you often find in orange wines.
This Sauvignon Blanc was a deep golden yellow in the glass – if you’ve ever had Sauvignon Blanc, you know they’re usually super-duper pale, almost translucent – because of the skin contact. But it’s the flavours where this style really shines. The wine has a lovely texture, but still really light on its feet. It reminded me of a gingery kombucha with a black tea and licorice chaser. It still had some of the classic aromatics found in Sauvignon Blanc, like green olive and a touch of bell pepper, sure. But these were subtly interwoven with the lemony spicy honey cake flavours that changed and altered with each sip.
I drank it with some girlfriends on Friday the 13th while we watched the new Riverdale and snacked on salty chips and it was perfect. So autumnal, if it weren’t still so warm out. The acidity was totally in balance, the wine dry and flavourful. It made me really excited to go back to the County and see what Trail and Mackenzie have been up to.
You should go too.
Nose: Light and lemony, but a tiny bit reductive. At some points I was getting a bit of onion and confit garlic. Really interesting and inviting.
Palate: Oh man, the depth of flavour was incredible. It was like a ginger kombucha – a bit tart, a bit spicy, a bit reminiscent of sweetness that has long since disappeared (this wine is totally dry). There’s a hint of honey cake that reminded me of Rosh Hashanah, some orange black licorice candy, and orange pekoe tea. There was also a real savoury green olive, grassy, green pepper note that was so subtly interwoven into the whole thing I almost missed it. And it was so elegant and easy to drink, the texture was beautiful. I hope there’s more like it coming, because I would drink this forever.