Imagine tasting a smoky-smooth, mouth-watering handful of blackberries combined with the spices of autumn and you might come a little close to experiencing the pleasure of the Kacaba 2010 Reserve Syrah. It was while drinking this red during Wrapped Up in the Valley that I first fell for Kacaba Vineyards.
Located on 38 acres in Vineland, this winery is owned by Michael Kacaba who bought the property in 1997 to save the land from development and transform it from a horse-farm into a winery.
After returning to the winery to pick up a bottle of that delicious 2010 Reserve Syrah for a Christmas gift and then seeing Kacaba again at the Winter WineFest I knew I had to learn more. And so, I planned a visit.
Once we wound up the driveway, across the not-so-rickety bridge and parked outside the white-washed building we were greeted at the door by Sales Rep, Sasha Lovegrove. Having met Sasha before, introductions were short and, after she poured us a glass of their 2010 Merlot, we hopped right into the tour. Sasha took us into the tank room/ cellar where John, the Winemaker, and Vadim, the Production Assistant were filtering the 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay. Talk about good timing!
This Chard has never seen oak barrels, only steel and after being filtered and moved this time will remain in its new tank until bottling time. Curious, I asked if one could taste and/or see the difference in the before and after of the filtering process. Expecting only a spoken explanation, wasn’t I surprised when Vadim grabbed a glass and dipped it right into the tank for us. At first taste it was very fresh, crispy almost – like I’d just bitten into a fresh fruit after a cool night. Then, John grabbed another glass and, using the spout attached to the filtration machine, poured another glass – this time of the filtered chard. This sip tasted very similar but much smoother, like the tartness had been subdued by the filtration. It was one of the highlights of my time at Kacaba for sure. If only I could taste every wine that way.
Next, from the tank, we tasted the 2012 Reserve Riesling. To say that this young wine was brimming with flavour would be an understatement. Very strong notes of citrus and pineapple that made your lips pucker and mouth water all at the same time.
This bold 2012 Reserve Riesling would pair perfectly with my mom’s infamous breaded walleye from my dad’s fishing trips to Napanee.
Moving down the tanks in order, we next tried their 2012 Sauv Blanc. Unlike some other more popular white varietals like Reisling, Sauv Blanc is somewhat of an acquired taste of which I enjoy. To me, it tasted like melons with a hint of sweetness like honeydew and a little citrus on the tip of the tongue. A natural food pairing didn’t pop into mind with this one, but that’s probably because my mind was already wandering to the reds that I knew we were about to taste at the bar.
The tasting bar and wine shop at Kacaba is modest compared to the boldness of their wines. I can only imagine how crowded that little room gets during the peak of the wine season here in Niagara but I’m sure that anyone would tell you it is worth the wait.
Sasha started us of with one of our favourites, the 2010 Reserve Syrah. It is peppery and just a little tanic and is smooth as butter with just the perfect amount of heat hitting the back of your throat. Then, she countered it with a taste of the 2010 Single Vineyard Syrah. This one has similar characteristics to the reserve but with less tannin and more of those indescribable things that I love in a red. For me, this was my favourite Syrah.
To mix things up a little, Sasha then introduced us to the Kacaba 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir. After participating in The Pinot Affair it was nice to be reminded of how subtle a Pinot is compared to other reds; no wonder they call it the red wine for white wine drinkers. However, this Pinot Noir was pretty complex and a little more full bodied compared to others I have tried. I like having Pinot Noir in my wine cabinet for parties because it is so versatile.
Next we tried the 2009 Single Vineyard Syrah; it is wonderful how another year’s weather and winemaker influence the taste of wine coming from the exact same grapes. There are obvious similarities because the wine is made from the same grapes but there are also obvious differences. Personally, I liked the 2010 younger Syrah better than the ’09.
To round out the visit we ended with the 2010 and 2007 Meritages. We started with the 2010 which was, for me, much too tanic. I like the tart pucker of a white but the tanic pucker of a red drives me cross-eyed. The 2007 Meritage, however, went down like honey. Peppery and smooth and complex and dark and sultry and smokey and perfection. Obviously it isn’t just me that feels this way …
The Kacaba 2007 Reserve Meritage won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines in 2012.
Needless to say, we left with a bottle and probably should have left with a case (at the time I was at the winery there were a little less than 4 cases left).
At the end of the day here is some advice:
If you have a wine cellar without a Kacaba red in it, now’s the time to add one (or two, or three, or four, etc …). If you do not have a wine cellar, there’s no better time to start one.
I would suggest starting with a Syrah – arguably the pride and joy of Kacaba. And, if another bottle tickles your fancy try their award-wining 2010 Cabernet Franc, or the award-winning 2009 Cab Sauv, or the award-winning 2010 Reserve Merlot … I take it you get the picture. At least one Kacaba wine is a must-have in any wine collection no matter how large or small and from this day forward you will certainly always find at least one in mine!