get your Rock on

Posted on July 9, 2009


Flat Rock Cellars is a winery situated on the Twenty Mile Bench in Niagara.  They’ve chosen varietals specifically suited to the cooler climates of Niagara; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and some Gewurtraminer.  The winemaker is Marlize Beyers, a South African gal who spent time in the ‘old world’ making wines before joining the team at Flat Rock.  It’s a progressive winery, with low yield vineyards where grapes are hand picked and hand sorted to ensure a quality end product.

I am really into many of the wines Flat Rock produces, their pinot noirs have genuine panache!  Tonight I was hunting for a white wine with charisma and flare.  Riesling is one of my all time farvourite white wines, I am hoping that Marlize and the team will not late my palate down!  Nadja’s Vineyard is a small block in front of the winery, that tends to get more winds and stay cooler, so I’m expecting some ripping acidity.


Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling 2007
Canada | Flat Rock Cellars

VINTAGES 578625 | 750 mL | $ 19.95

The first scent that smacks my olfactories is a flowery petrol smell.  Yes, gas.  Imagine filling the tank of your car in a summer field.  Maybe a friend opens a can of peaches nearby.  I give the glass a swirl, and there it is again.  Now for those of you that aren’t into Rieslings, stick with me for a little longer.  The “gas” like smell is typically the hallmark of a well aged riesling and it’s a welcomed trait for riesling-ophiles (ok that isn’t really a word).  It’s not unpleasant!  The petrol notes are still there after a few more swirls, but I start to pick up some sweeter notes as well.  A little honey shows up, together with faint notes of lemongrass and peaches.

When I take a sip, the vibrant acidity takes hold immediately, curling the sides of my tongue.  The mid-palate shows me tasty red grapefruit, and there is a surprisingly lengthy finish that takes me from the grapefruit through notes of honey, wet rock, and pear.  The acidity definitely gets my mouth watering, as my body tries desperately to balance the pH in my mouth.

This is a serious Riesling.  I am actually speechless.  I want to spend more time with this Riesling, take it to dinner and a movie and then make out in the back of my car for awhile.  I’d take it home to my parents after – mom hates it but dad gives me a wink and the thumbs up behind mom’s back.  It’s a beautiful fling with Riesling for my palate.   There’s a lot here, and I get the sense the sum of the 2008 growing season has made it into my glass from the small block in the Flat Rock vineyards.  It is a rare occasion that you feel that connection with the land and the winemaker, but I feel that Ms. Beyers has shared a little about the struggle of 2008 with me in this glass, and my palate is the better for it.

This is a classic example of why white wines deserve more credit.  Tannins?  Nope, but good wine is about more than having friends peel your tongue off the roof of your mouth.  Balance, complexity – the wine is enjoyable to drink, and everytime you go back there is something else waiting for you.  I’ve said it before, Riesling is the great secret of the wine world.  A red of this complexity would be somewhere in the 50+ dollar range.  For 20 dollars, I have a happy palette!  Go out and find a bottle at your local LCBO, take your time and enjoy one of Niagara’s best examples of Riesling available.  Congrats to the team at Flat Rock!

Posted in: tasting notes