Southbrook Vineyards in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region of Ontario undertakes biodynamic and organic vineyard agriculture, plus is LEED Gold Certified for their energy and environmental design in green buildings. Southbrook is Canada’s first certified Organic and Biodynamic Winery. They have everything from native meadows and a Monarch butterfly waystation to using lighter wine bottles to lower their carbon footprint. I looked forward to this visit based on their environmentally conscious efforts in the vineyards and in the winery. I met with Casey Hogan, their winemaker, who led me through an extensive list of their wines. Casey has worked with wineries in Margaret River, Central Otago, Willamette Valley, the Okanagan Valley (CedarCreek), and Niagara.
Most of their grapes come from their estate vineyard but they do have contracts with some organic grape growers. All wines are wild fermented, but if there is an issue with the fermentation, then some organic yeast can be added. The reds get 18 months of oak aging. Now, let’s get into the wines.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Riesling 2021 – Triomphe is their introductory tier of wines with the fruit coming from several organic vineyards. Stainless steel fermented. This wine has a bright medium-intensity lemon colour. Nice aromas, medium intensity, of lemon, stone fruits and petrol. Dryish, medium body with a lean mouthfeel. Astringent mouthfeel with medium-plus acidity. Tart citrus, lime and lime peel flavours. Medium plus length.
Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Chardonnay 2019 – 2019 is the first vintage for Casey at Southbrook. This wine is 100% barrel-fermented Chardonnay in a mix of new and old French oak. Casey likes to use barrels with a medium toast. This wine has a medium-intensity lemon colour. Medium-intensity nose showing pears, melon and a touch of citrus. This wine is dry, medium-plus body with a smooth soft, thick mouthfeel. Melon and pears plus a touch of vanilla on the palate. Tart fruit and touches of oak and sweet spices on the finish.
Southbrook Vineyards Saunders Family Vineyard Chardonnay 2020 – Also barrel fermented. 2020 was a warmer vintage. This wine has a lighter lemon colour. Light toasty nose with touches of roasted apples. Medium-plus body with a round smooth mouthfeel. Dry, medium-plus acidity but not too strong. Light toast and apple flavours integrated well together. –
Southbrook Vineyards Whimsy Amphora Chardonnay 2021 – Whimsy are one-off bottles that they produce in a year. This wine is fermented and aged in amphora. It has a bright, medium-plus intensity lemon colour. Medium-minus ripe pear aromas. Medium body, smooth with a round and a little thicker mouthfeel. Nice textured mouthfeel. Medium plus acidity and medium length. Some tartness through to the finish. –
Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Skin Fermented White 2021 – a blend of Chardonnay Musque and Vidal grapes. It is fermented in a mix of stainless and oak vats. Pressed and settled in stainless tanks. Minimal handling. This is the closest they say to a “natural wine”. The grapes are destemmed then spend 12 days on the skin fermenting. The wine is racked but not filtered before bottling. This wine has a nice medium orange plus peach colour. Medium-intensity orange aromas. Medium body, dry with a lean mouthfeel. This wine does get rounder with swirling in the glass. Oranges and a touch of tannins on the palate. Fresh fruit flavour with tannic structure.
Southbrook Vineyards Small Lot Skin Ferment Vidal 2020 – this wine is organic and biodynamic. 30% of the grapes were foot tread then all were whole-cluster fermented. It spends more time on skins than the Triomphe. Racked and bottled unfiltered. It has a deeper orange colour. Light nutty nose with a hint of stone fruit. Medium-plus body with higher acidity. Cider-like flavour plus citrus. A wine with a textured mouthfeel. Medium tannins. Medium-plus length with tart fruit and medium tannic finish. More texture than specific fruit flavours. A geeky wine.
Southbrook Saunders Family Vineyard Merlot 2020 – 18 months of aging in French oak barrels, 30% new. Through the aging process, Casey tastes the wine from each barrel and selects only the best barrels for this wine and their Cabernet Franc. Only two barrels were selected for the Merlot and four barrels for the Cabernet Franc in 2020. The rest of the wines are declassified into their Triomphe series. This wine has a dull medium-intensity garnet colour. A light berry nose. Dry, light body with a soft, lightly round mouthfeel. Ripe berry fruit, plus touches of oak, vanilla, red cherries, red apples, and plums. Medium-intensity soft tannins. Medium plus length with a light peppery finish. Nice fruit flavours.
Southbrook Vineyards Saunders Family Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2020 – Medium intensity dull garnet. Light aromas of red apples, red fruit, red plums and a touch of chocolate and tomato. Dry, medium body with a semi-round mouthfeel. Ripe plums, candied red cherries, tart red fruit and some chocolate flavours. Medium-plus length. Medium-intensity drying tannins and tartness on the finish. –
Southbrook Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 – organic and biodynamic. This wine after a wild fermentation spent 18 months in oak, 50% new barrels. It has a deeper garnet colour. Nice light aromas of red fruit, red cherries and a touch of oak. Medium plus body, with a round thicker mouthfeel. Very fruity red cherry and tart red fruit flavours. Higher acidity. A lighter mouthfeel. Light to medium tannins. Medium-plus length finishing with tart red fruit flavours.
Southbrook Vineyards Poetica 2020 – their flagship wine that is organic and biodynamic. Not made every year. It has to be an exceptional vintage. This vintage is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Whole berries were fermented in micro-cuvee lots in open-top new French oak barrels. Post-pressing, these lots were returned to barrels for 18 months of aging, then tasted, assessed and blended. The blend was returned to oak barrels, 30% new, for another 5 months of aging. This wine has a deeper dull garnet colour. Light aromas of dark fruit and sweet spices. Dry, medium-plus body with higher acidity. Red and black fruit, plums, red cherries and chocolate on the palate. Medium tannins. Medium length finishing with lightly drying tannins and pepperiness.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can order these wines online via the Southbrook Vineyards website. Many of these wines are available through Ontario’s LCBO stores. The wines may be available at other stores and at restaurants, but you will need to ask.