Spotlight Toronto, David Ort –
Stratus’s LEED-certified and gravity-fed facility holds a sentinel position on big-winery row on Niagara Stone Road leading into Niagara-on-the-Lake. Inside, the tasting room is all dark colours, with sleek and modern styling wine, particularly the headline Stratus Red and Stratus White blends but also single varieties like this one, gained wide recognition for the exacting quality.
Stratus is the only Niagara winery I can think of that puts their wine (but only the flagship Red blend) into gargantuan 9 litre bottles-bonus points for knowing the fancy biblical name for these bottles.
The award-winning J-L Groux has held the winemaker position at Stratus since 2004. Before that he spent years in the same role at Hillebrand. He’s from the Loire, and trained in both Burgundy and Bordeaux so his background in French winemaking is unquestionable.
Petit Verdot is one of the five classic Bordeaux grapes but because it ripens so unpredictably it has fallen in disfavour in its home region. When it is grown there it is usually blended to give tannic structure to Merlot wines. In warmer New World climates, especially in hot vintage, it is increasingly appearing as a single-variety.
In the glass the Stratus Petit Verdot is a dark, rich plum colour. Red fruit and subtle spice hints dominate and remind me of serviceberry jam. These flavours continue on the palate and are supported by the variety ‘s strong acid and tannic characteristics. After tasting it on its own I then tried it with some aged Ontario cheese and found that the fat and distinct flavour in the cheese helped control the wine’s more boisterous notes. Red meats ably serve the same purpose.
The 2007 Stratus Petit Verdot is available from the LCBO (142638) for $38.20. It is also available at the winery and from Stratus’s website.