October 3, 2014
As a restaurant group, wine has always had an important place within each of our distinct concepts. Our Sommeliers strive to bring a unique and varied selection to our guests, bringing in fantastic wine from all over.
It has been a dream of ours for quite some time to bring together the knowledge and experience of our Sommeliers with a vineyard who connected with our philosophies, in a collaboration to craft our very own signature Charcoal Group blends.
When we first approached this idea it was extremely important to us that our wine would be something created and curated from our Sommeliers and not simply a pre-made blend we place our label on. So when Angelo Pavan (Winemaker and VP at Cave Spring) visited The Bauer Kitchen this past Spring for one of our Meet the Maker wine dinners, the conversation around creating our own wine was put into motion.
Cave Spring has such a rich history in the Niagara region, combined with a family practice from the 1920s, they were an obvious choice for this partnership, and aligned harmoniously with the Charcoal Group brand.
Angelo first invited us to Cave Spring in the Spring of 2014. Two of our Sommeliers and two General Managers took a trip to the vineyard in Jordan (Niagara Region) to take a tour and be a part of a blending session with Angelo and his team. The group was tasked with tasting, testing and creating three different white wine blends and three red wine blends. The result was a unique and educational experience with six great creations, eventually to be narrowed down to one white and one red wine.
Our group met with Thomas Pennachetti (VP and Managing Partner of Cave Spring) in the vineyard on a crisp Tuesday morning. The vineyard is located on the escarpment and benefits from it’s proximity to the lake which has a moderating influence on temperature over the course of each year. It’s proven to be ideal for the cultivation of exceptional Riesling and Chardonnay. At the time of our visit the fruit was about a week away from bud break. Thomas showed us the beginnings of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir, explaining the systems they use for growing the fruit and showing us details in the soil.
After our tour in the vineyard we headed to Cave Spring Cellars in Jordan where we met up with Angelo and Gabe Demarco (Winemaker) who would be leading us through the blending session. Angelo took us through the white samples we’d be working with - Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay-Musque, all from the 2013 vintage. The reds we worked with were Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from 2012. Once we were familiar with the wines the blending session got started.
With both the reds and the whites we started out with just a simple ⅓ combination of all three wines. Once everyone had contributed their opinion we moved on to try 5-6 different variations of both the red wine blends and the white wine blends. At the end of the visit we had three strong white blends and three red blends.
A week later, twelve of us convened to do a blind tasting, where we tasted the three white blends and three red blends without knowing the percentages and specific blend ratios.
With the whites almost everyone was in agreement on one of the blends, while the group was split among two of the reds. All of the blends were fantastic and so choosing one of each was certainly not an easy task.
We took into consideration three main factors:
• The wines would need to represent the Charcoal Group as a whole and work with the menus in each of our concepts
• They would need to be versatile blends that could be enjoyed in any season
• We considered how the blends might evolve over time
With these three main points in mind we agreed on a white and red to build upon for the next step in the process.
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