Monday, February 13, 2006

Winery Visit - Daniel Lenko Estate

I've probably been in the Lenkos' kitchen - which serves as the tasting room - about eight or nine times. I was lucky enough to discover Daniel Lenko Estate a little bit earlier than most. I was driving along King St one day - hmm, was it five years ago now - and saw the sign.

Well - Daniel Lenko has made his simple "tasting room" setup work all these years. When you buy a Lenko wine - you're not paying for a fancy wine-making facility. Nor are you paying for a marble tasting bar, nor for the Riedel stemware I sipped from at Tawse later that afternoon. However, I don't think about those things when I taste Lenko wines.

This past Saturday, Daniel was not around - but his winemaker was sitting at the wooden kitchen table with a whole whack of bottles. This was only the second weekend that he'd been open since the fall. I was a little worried that I'd be jockeying my way through a huge crowd. However, things were way more manageable than on my previous visit. (Perhaps the hordes had been and gone the weekend before. )

The relative quiet allowed me an opportunity to chat with the winemaker. Interestingly enough, he assured me that, for the most, the reds are made 'in the vineyard' - rather than by winemaking trickery. The whites, he claimed conversely, require actual winemaking.

On this day, I concentrated on the Lenko whites.

First up was the 2004 Reserve Riesling. This was dry, sleek, and classy. One reviewer has deemed it as 'elegant' - and I'd have to agree. Riesling has really grown on me over the last couple of years. It probably started with the Quail's Gate Riesling I hauled back from BC. This past year, I enjoyed the very economical Caroline Cellar's 2003 Riesling, as well as the fine Nadia's Vineyard Riesling from Flat Rock Cellars.

This year I'll be enjoying the Lenko Riesling - as I seem to have acquired an entire case!

Next were the various Lenko Chardonnays:

On this occasion, the American Oak Chard stood out. The unoaked Chard was as enjoyable as usual. The French Oak was a little more muted in the nose than I remember in the past. There is now a Signature Series Chardonnay - nice, but twice the price of the American Oak bottling.

Cab Franc wise, the excellent, accessible 2003 is now sold out. The bigger, more age-worthy 2002 is starting to come into its own. I was able to taste the 1999 Cab Franc - which the 2002 shoudl resemble in few years. It has softened out a bit - but not too much. Ideal for drinking now - but I wasn't prepared to pay $50 for the library wine - and I have a good supply of Niagara Cab Francs to work through.

I anticipate returning to this winery - likely in July or August - once new releases become available.


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