The Final Tasting

October 3, 2014

One Step Closer, The Final Tasting

The final tasting from the eyes of a wine-newbie and the Brand Guardian for the Charcoal Group of Restaurants

June 10th, 2014

I’m excited to take this trip down to Niagara. Thomas, Angelo and the entire team are such a pleasure to work with. Not to mention it’s gorgeous down there. As much as I love my craft, lake air and a sea of lush green wine vines is a very different view from the 24” computer screen I stare at everyday ;).

8:30am: Meet up at HQ (charcoal group headquarters situated in an undisclosed location somewhere in Kitchener Waterloo) HINT: Big Orange garage door and the amazing smell of baked goods coming from across the valley of fast cars.

9am: Hop in the big van with Jody, Meg, Adam and Conrad. On our way to the final selection meeting at Cave Spring Cellars with Rob Miller at the wheel from The Vine Agency. Thank goodness I brought coffee…or maybe not – when are we stopping at a restroom?

9:20: show off some of the cool illustrations my designer/illustrator had put together so far for label concepts – so looking forward to this design project.

10:35am: Arrive in Jordan… oops – Rob missed the turn… turn this big beast around Rob.

10:45am: Arrive at the beautiful Cave Spring Cellars, driving up through the fields – Rob pointed out the vines and varietals that we were driving past and some of where our grapes were pulled from. I have always been amazed at how scientific and precise viticulture can be.

11am: park at a crossroads within a sea of vines. Lush greenery and the brisk smell of the lake air. Thomas Pennachetti casually rolls up to greet our crew. It’s a pleasure working with him, he’s such a nice guy.

11:30am: We tour the farm. Walk through the rows of vines… it’s so beautiful here. Thomas educates us on the soil and the water flow through the ground, the air and how it affects the vine growth. He shows us the types of vines our wine is coming from and the different stages of vine growth. He points out some specific methods of trellising like the Pendalbogan formation and how different ways of pruning the vine plays into their sustainability. For a moment I get inspired to start my own winery…then that moment passes. I realize I’m standing on decades of knowledge…He also talks about trial and error and how it took years upon years of learning to really understand the land and what varietals are best grown here. Thomas embodies the appreciation Cave Spring Cellars has for it’s craft, he states “We work with the land, you can’t force anything. The best winemakers do everything they can with the lots they have. Nature tells you what belongs here”.

And that statement really rings true in the products they create.

Again, it never ceases to amaze me how many variables play into the the growth of the vines and their success and how much of it depends on mother nature. Nothing is set in stone and the group of people at Cave Spring Cellares are extremely passionate about what they do.

12noon: On to the tasting room!!!! Thomas took us through many of the Cave Spring offerings – I have to say the Dolemite Chardonnay was a personal fave! Wow beautiful wine. What a well crafted line of wines they offer.

12:30: And out come the final selections 2 options for each blend; the Charcoal Red and the Wildcraft White Blends - how exciting!!!

Wildcraft White

Both blends had amazing qualities. The winning white was chosen for its more pronounced aromas, really beautiful notes of fresh grapefruit, green apple, white blossoms. It also had a fresher, more vibrant acidity, and a longer brighter finish, playing on our 'patio sipper' goal. It displayed a really nice balance of fruit, body and acidity.

Charcoal Red

The winning red was selected for its intensity on the nose- very ripe and brooding black and red berry notes, with a touch of sweet spice and tobacco leaf. It had just the right amount of tannin to be a perfect match for a juicy grilled steak, but was also fruity enough to be enjoyed all on its own preferrably in front of a fire on a cold winters day!

Now we had a difficult time deciding between the two selections. They both had so many great qualities. So Thomas stepped out of the room for a second and came back with Winemaker Angelo Pavan. Angelo could see we were on the fence between the two and offered a bit of advice “Go with your gut, don’t get too analytical.” He then poured himself a glass of each and swiftly took a sip of the first. He mulled it over and thought for a second, put it down, then picked up blend #2. I watched him take a sip and I wondered what many things he was letting his tastebuds contemplate – his look was that of deep thought and a point of revelation to which he set down the glass as simply stated “This one has a richer finish - #2 blend is the ONE.”

Well that made that decision easy.

1pm: After the successful tasting, we popped into the ….restaurant where Thomas had a beautiful lunch waiting for us.

Thank you to Thomas, Angelo and the entire team for taking the time to work with us through the iterations of the blends and education on your process and business.

All in all, this partnership is really exciting not only from being able to say we have our own line of wines (that we helped to create!) – it’s also just a really great experience all around to work with a group of people that are as equally passionate about what they do as we are…and they are truly excited. Thomas said it well “We really like this private label partnership – your group is creative and I know this is going to be a great year for the wines”.

Read more "Designing the Labels" >

< Read the first "Partners in Wine" post

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