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Prince Edward County's Field of Dreams
Long Dog Winery - No Long Shot!

© Michael Vaughan 2005

National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, May 7, 2005


All listings are automatically linked to the LCBO database)
If there is a product that interests you, just click on the name below and you will instantaneously connected with the LCBO database. The product will appear in blue and all you have to do is click on the name again and then the next screen will provide details along with the store search. Just click on store search. The number of bottles in each store is updated nightly. Call the store first to see if stock still remains (each store phone number is listed).

Exactly 30 years ago, I wrote the very first feature on Donald Ziraldo and his path-breaking Inniskillin wines from Niagara-on-the-Lake. To see the 1975 Toronto Life article complete with my photo of a youthful Donald himself click here. As for Ontario’s newest vinous horizons in Prince Edward County, I have been reserving judgment. The fact that one has to bury the vines every winter due to extreme cold did not inspire total confidence. It didn’t help that some initial releases didn’t totally impress nor that they were being made from grapes and/or wine imported from other parts of Ontario.

It was news that chef Michael Potters, who delivered divine food at the Toronto’s Accolade restaurant, had recently opened his own place called Milford Bistro that lured me to the area. Located just south of Picton, a non-rush-hour 2.5-hour drive east of Toronto, I recently visited his small, prix fixe Mecca of delicious culinary delights. To see a map of the area and information on the restaurant click here. As a wine guy, I realized that I couldn’t visit this new wine region without making at least one vinous pit stop. Fortunately, Bob Cowan, owner of nearby The Miller's House Bed & Breakfast, insisted that I visit Long Dog winery. For more information click here.

(click on the map to enlarge)

Following Cowan’s simple instructions, I managed to drive past the 300-acre winery-homestead. It is located on a rural lane just 1.5 km from Lake Ontario. Backtracking, I asked a bearded gentleman: “Is this Long Dog?” He turned out to be winemaker, co-owner and 26-year veteran film editor/producer James Lahti, who is most famous for his IMAX films.

Without wasting a moment, we stormed the small barrel cellar and started tasting his most recent vintages. Out of a large stainless steel tank, Lahti fished a sample of his Long Dog 2004 Pinot Grigio (soon be bottled at $20). Instead of something light and inconsequential, it’s remarkably flavourful with juicy, tangy, rhubarb-tinged, grapefruit - yummy and refreshing – a wonderful summer wine.

Lahti and Toronto-based partner Steven Rapkin did a huge amount of research before locating here. It turns out that it is the sunniest spot in the entire province! As for the cold, all vines have to be buried, but Lahti ads emphatically: “our terroir (soil) is absolutely unique – not only with its special mineralization, but also with its ability to deliver water to the roots in extreme drought conditions. Also our proximity to the lake makes it one of the province’s longest frost-free areas - from April to November!”

Moving on to his five barrels (25 cases each) of 2004 Chardonnay, I was impressed with its fairly rich, gently tropical flavours. He popped the cork on his Long Dog 2003 Chardonnay Storring Block Barrel Reserve (now available at $22) and I was in heaven. It is loaded with classic, lemon-pear flavours with a lingering, cedary, lime-tinged finish from new French oak. This outstanding effort will be available in very limited quantities (two bottles per person) at the new winery tasting room, which opens in June.

At Long Dog, every wine is made exclusively from their 20,000 estate grown vines. James Lahti’s wife, Victoria Rose, who grew up with dachshunds, created the name. On her 30th birthday, James gave her Otto, a wire-haired dachshund puppy. Sadly in 1998, when they moved to the country from Toronto, Otto died. His ashes were buried under the first Pinot Noir vine planted in the following spring. Then a speeding car killed Ben, their other big, red wire-haired dachshund. “Calling the vineyard Long Dog just made us, along with Bella and Fanny, the current dachshunds-in-residence, smile” says Victoria Rose. Obviously much better than “Dog Gone” winery!

Which brings me to Long Dog 2003 Rosé ($12.50), a fine, dry, refreshing blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Gamay, 15% Pinot Grigio and 15% Chardonnay with delicate berry-cherry and fraises de bois fruit flavours. “It will be a big hit in the tasting room,” predicts Lahti, “and we should have enough of it to last the summer.”

Last but not least is Long Dog 2003 Pinot Noir "A" Blend, ($24), which has bright, gently juicy, black cherry-cranberry flavours. Despite its modest 12.4% alcohol, Lahti has produced a fine, food friendly, red with no chaptalization and minimalist intervention using classic Burgundy clones. I believe that Lahti’s utilization of techniques developed by Patrice Rion, renowned Cote de Nuits producer, will result in richer Pinot Noirs in the future.

Lahti will be releasing his last two barrels of 2002 Pinot Noir at $25, as well at a 2003 “B” Blend of Pinot Noir at $20. The 2004 Chardonnay will be released next November at $25. Updated tasting notes will be posted on my website along with additional destination information on Prince Edward County. To visit the Long Dog website click here.

2001-2002-2003-2004-2005 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to April 2005, covers every Vintages release product for the past 52 months. There are more than 9,000 notes in the database data. Just enter the name of the product, supplier name or CSPC number. Or you can search by type of wine, country of origin, even wine agent! Nothing could be easier. Also you can get information on the agent by clicking on the agent’s name, as well as current LCBO store inventory by clicking on "Check LCBO Availability", which will automatically tell you the number of bottles at LCBO as of last night.

To use our Tasting Notes Database: click here

** For All Visitors **
Vintages June 2005 Release

To see the complete list of upcoming
169 products click here (sorted by date of release). It includes the number of cases, which wines were presented by the LCBO, our agent ID for every product,
as well as, the
In Store D
iscoveries” for June.
You can also see it sorted by agent
click here  

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2005
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