At the end of February, The Good Earth Food and Wine Co opened house for a pre-release tasting of four of their wines being released in 2013. Without cost, and paired with delicacies cooked up by the whole team of good people – how could this Lux refuse? Hosted by winemaker Andrea Glass and “Wine Wench” Kara Wille, the event took place in the quaint, cozy and well stocked on-site cooking school.
It’s been almost a year since the first time that I visited The Good Earth and I’ve wanted, for a long time, to sit and enjoy a tasting and some delicious food at their inviting kitchen table. I especially love all of the wall pictures that flank either side of the table. Before I even touched the food or wine, the atmosphere had me feeling welcome.
To tell you a little bit about The Good Earth and their philosophy, I refer to some very poetic writing from The Good Earth themselves:
The Good Earth’s wines are born in our petite lot vineyards, carefully tended by gentle hands, and transformed into a fitting addition to our feasts. Our core varietals, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, are hand-pruned and thinned judiciously to produce very low yields of quality grapes designed to compliment the foods of the seasons.”
Owned by Nicolette Novak, The Good Earth boasts an orchard, bistro, outdoor patio, cooking school, pantry and the on-site farmhouse that’s been in Nicolette’s family for generations. I look forward to the pleasure of meeting this wonderful woman someday soon – believe it or not – in all my Good Earth adventures we have yet to cross paths.
The Good Winemaker – Andréa Glass – was born and raised in Niagara. Like many other Niagara natives, she took off to explore the world of wine and ended up not being able to stay away. In 2010 she returned home and soon-after had the opportunity to join the team at The Good Earth. When asked why she came back to make wine in Niagara, Andréa explained:
“I like the challenge of Niagara and like that every vintage is different.” ~ Andréa Glass
BETTY’S BLEND – 2012
- (0) Dry, Residual Sugar 5.9g/l, Alcohol 12.1%, $17.95
Named after Nicolette’s mother, Betty’s Blend is my new Good Earth favourite. This wine is a blend of 20 year old Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauv Blanc (from Wismer Vineyards). Each varietal is made individually and then blended together to become Betty’s Blend. Apparently Betty is “over-the-top” and the good people at The Good Earth didn’t tell Betty that the wine had been named after her until the moment it was uncorked and poured at a winemaker’s dinner. What fun!
This wine was served with a white prawn on fennel and apple slaw. The pairing was fantastic – I should have gotten the recipe.
Betty’s Blend is what my readers have come to know me to label as a “dangerous wine” – it is certainly a reflection of the great vintage we expected for 2012. Delicious and way too easy to drink, my first bottle lasted 2 days (barely!). Although my first thought was that I’d love to drink this wine on a warm summer’s day on my back-yard patio, it seems that I did quite well enjoying a glass (or two) in-front of the fire as well.
CHARDONNAY – 2010
- (0), Dry, Residual Sugar 3g/l, Alcohol 12.3%, $24.95
This Chardonnay is easily one of the best that I’ve ever had (and that’s saying a lot for someone that doesn’t really lean townards Chardonnay). These grapes are actually from the vines plated at the Andrewes Farm in Beamsville. For those of you unaware, this farm has been run by the Andrewes family since the 1800’s and are well known for their vines as well as their fruits. Dorian, wife of Chris who runs the farm, owns a Jam, Jelly and Salsa company called YUM and I am absolutely in love with her Quince Jam! But I digress …
This chard is fermented in french oak for 10 months and, because of it, has a very rich and buttery flavour. I agree with Andréa who described the wine as a “cashmere sweater blanket wine” – oh so luxurious!
The wine was served with a generously awarded cheese called La Sauvagine by La Maison Alexis de Portneuf Inc in Quebec and it was topped with spiced crab apple jelly made by Nicolette herself. Again, what a divine combination!
RIESLING – 2010
- (2), Off-Dry, Residual Sugar 19.7g/l, Alcohol 9.9%, Total Acidity 7.4g/l, $19.95
As it turns out, this Riesling is the first harvest off of the Riesling vineyard at The Good Earth. I was surprised to see the low alcohol count despite the warm throat finish of this tart wine. As some of you may know, Riesling certainly does well in the Bench area and this vintage is certainly a reflection of that.
The good people served this wine with a spicy Tom Yam soup. If you’re unaware – Tom Yam (aka Tom Yum) is a stock-based hot and sour soup that originated in Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and countries of the like. It’s delicious and was a great choice to pair with this Riesling.
It’s worth letting you know that my two notes on my tasting sheet for this wine were – “I could sip on this forever” and “I would drink this with anything you squeeze lemon on”. YUM!
CABERNET FRANC – 2011
- (0), Dry, Residual Sugar 4.4g/l, Alcohol 12.4%, $21.95
I consider myself a pretty perceptive person and I sensed a love-hate relationship between Andréa and this Cab Franc. 2011 was a challenging vintage in Niagara because – due to lots and lots of rain – the Cab Franc grapes were ready a later into the season and ended up being bottled in a storm. On the other hand, Andréa also confided,
“I wouldn’t tell you I have a favourite grape, but I do and it’s Cab Franc” ~ Andréa Glass
So, then again, maybe I wasn’t the only one to perceive this polarizing relationship. This leathery and punchy Franc was paired with Mario Pingue’s pan seared Country Pate and it was a nicely balanced pairing.
The best part of a pre-release tasting is the opportunity to buy the wines before they are released. You can bet that I left with a few bottles in hand but my favourite out of all the above, hands down, is the Betty’s Blend. I’m not sure if it is a good or bad thing that it is so affordable. On one hand, I can get a bottle when-ever I have the slightest inkling. On the other hand, I can get a bottle when-ever I have the slightest inkling.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting The Good Earth, I suggest that you not wait any longer. Whether you dine in the bistro, attend a cooking class or demo or join them for one of their well-known dinner events, you will be more than satisfied with the MORE THAN GOOD time you are sure to have.