In all my time down in Niagara (either living here for a short period or just visiting) I have never found my way up Quarry Road to De Sousa Vineyards. Of the 43 vineyards that dot the Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley/Beamsville Bench it is easy to skip or miss one now and then. So it was with that thought in the back of my mind that caused me to turn up Quarry Rd and seek out De Sousa. If I can be totally honest I have been asked already twice “Why?” from people within the industry, and while that is a harsh question I do believe that anyone who has had a winery for over 20 years deserves a shot.
The vineyard has a good reputation for it’s Portuguese styled port made from their Touriga Nacional plantings. Unfortunately upon our arrival it was announced that they had no port and it was already a sad start, as we do love port. The main building could be dropped into any portion of the wine regions in Portugal and not look out of place. Inside you get more of a feel of a guest shop than a cellar door. The tastings were all Reserves and when asked for their choice, it was this 2006 Meritage that was suggested. A quick note on the 2006 Vintage year for Niagara, while there are some hidden gems, for the most part the reds from this year are inconsistent and nowhere near some of the region’s great years. So without any more fuss nor muss we shall review it.
When decanted the wine had a distinctive rust colour and the nose was very smokey. A few swirls of the glass and the smokiness remains without distinguishing itself, slight hints of plum and red fruit also follow it. The first sips are soft and very light, not something expected from a Meritage. Meritage being a blend of the three principle grapes from Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (it can also contain the other Bordeaux grapes of Petit Verdot, Malbec or Carmenèrem, but rarely do). This wine is beyond “drink now”, it is soft and the fruit is dulled, as are the tannins. Unfortunately the wine offers very little to the average drinker and if you own some, make sure you drink over the upcoming months. Sadly this was our first “miss” of the Niagara Wine Week, we will return at some later date to grab a bottle or two of port and try and give De Sousa a second chance.
The CWG Subjective Rating is 78 out of 100.