It was on a day trip after a very short drive to Canada’s Niagara Peninsula where it happened. “IT” was the recognition that we live within a quarter tank trip of a world-class wine growing region, and the quality and variety of wines being produced there (yes – there’s MUCH more than just Icewine in Canada!) demanded our attention.
Subsequent visits to the Peninsula cemented our beliefs about the wines, and just as importantly, helped us develop relationships with the people who put their artistic wine making talent into the bottles for our enjoyment. One of our favorite wineries from the start was the historic Henry of Pelham Family Estate.
With original vineyards first planted in 1842 by their ancestors, the Speck brothers now preside over wines that are captivating, appealing and easy to love! We asked them if they would like to partner with our wine team to create a tasty and unique wine that would celebrate our new-found partnership.
Here’s the story of that wine:
On a brisk spring day, our Wine Consultants boarded a bus headed to Canada on a mission to collaborate on a red wine with the team from Henry of Pelham that we would proudly share with our customers. Our team was met by the Speck brothers (Paul, Daniel and Matt) and who lead us to their underground cellars where we met winemaker, Lawrence Buhler. Lawrence had pulled various barrel samples for our team to taste and evaluate, and as he did this, he explained that his ultimate goal was to create a blend that we at Heinen’s would be proud to call our own.
We tasted through newly-fermented wines from estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Each was delicious and complex on its own, but Lawrence reminded us that marrying different grapes into a blend can capture the unique aspects of each grape while also creating a singular identity. It was time to blend away!
Some wines we created leaned heavily on Cabernet Franc and Merlot with a small appearance from Cabernet Sauvignon. Another was equal parts of all three. Some blends only contained two of the three grapes. While our ‘experiments’ were certainly delicious, they didn’t capture the magic that we were looking for until Lawrence exhorted,”Let’s try this blend!”
It was a blend lead by Cabernet Franc, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in supporting roles (cue choir of angels). There it was! THIS was the wine we were searching for! It was exuberant and engaging, with a zestiness that we immediately referred to as “gulpable.”
The 2018 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Merlot ($14.99) truly captures the spirit and collaboration between friends that we were looking to create. Robust notes of black fruits are met by complex flavors of mocha and pepper that are built on a frame that is bright, refreshing and yes – ‘gulpable!’ While it will complement a variety of food, we imagine the perfect setting for this wine to be on the deck with friends and family, serving creations hot off the grill. We are honored to share this special wine with you.