Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Little Winery That Could-------------and Did!

The Beginning
Patrick Del-Gatto and his wife Heidi were tired of the 9 to 5 "rat race" and though earning a good living in the City of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, they decided to break with the present and look forward to an exciting but also demanding future in Cape Vessey located within the Community of Waupoos  in the eastern part of Prince Edward County. 
The grocery store manager had a dream of following in his fore-fathers' footsteps His great grand father hailed from the Southern Italian village of Santa Croce not far from Naples and was the village winemaker. Patrick, an avid and talented gardener, wanted to follow his family tradition.  
The fourth generation winemaker wanted more for his family in the way of providing  "our children with a safer environment for them to grow up in and the opportunity to work for ourselves---"! He and his wife Heidi decided to take "a leap of faith" and follow their dreams.
They decided to quit their jobs, sell their home and move!
While Patrick deeply researched the various wine regions in Canada before making any decisions, it was his father who "nailed" the final spot. 
The pair took a trip up to Prince Edward County to investigate possible investments. They came upon a 74 acre spot which immediately caught the senior Del-Gatto's eye. The time of year was mid winter and in spite of the cold and the snow, he noticed that one spot of land still had green plants---some with flowers blooming. This microclimate plot became Del-Gatto Estates Winery with a purchase in 2001. Patrick moved there in 2002 and the family was complete with his parents moving there in 2003!
The beginning was not easy! Capital was a problem and the work was hard. Various personal hardships came like a "slap in the face" with the passing of his father, inclement weather that destroyed vines  and illness that befell Heidi. On another note, some of Del-Gatto's wine names came from some of these hardships. 
Patrick recalled his St. Croix grape variety being an early ripening one always seemed to be picked during hail storms. Of course the name of the wine: "Hailstorm" !     
 Another recollection was both more serious and dramatic! Patrick was driving his tractor in the middle of his vineyard after hearing of Heidi's illness.  The tractor stopped dead ---one more stroke of bad luck! He thought to himself---"Oh God what next!" Just then, literally thousands of Dragonflies emerged and flew around him and the vineyard! It seemed miraculous and taking this as a sign, he moved forward. He called the resultant white wine "Dragonfly!"
These days Heidi is well! His vines are producing excellent grapes and his experimentation has proved ---no pun intended---fruitful. Patrick has succeeded in growing both hybrid and vinifera grapes and specialized as only Patrick could, in producing a wine made from South African Pinotage (Cinsault/Pinot Noir cross) called Odyssey! His inventiveness is still moving ahead with new surprises yet to come!
As mentioned previously, Patrick produces some fine vinifera wines but specializes in hybrid varieties. His attentiveness to both vine and wine results in both red and white wines that can be enjoyed now but would benefit from a bit to a long period of aging.
Here are some of the wines tasted recently. They are available on line or at the winery! 
White Wine:
Riesling 2019
Nose: Apricot, peach, apple and citrus on nose. Fresh mineral.
Palate: Similar to the one below with nice balance between acid and sugar. The freshness continues toward a fruity and fresh finish. 
90/100 points.  
Vidal 2019
Nose: Floral bouquet with apple/pear and honey.
Palate: Medium dry, citrus, nut with pleasant acidity. Easy finish. 94/100  
Notes: Double Gold in 2020 All Canadian Wine Championships and Bronze in All Variety Category. 
Red Wine:
Giacomo's Select Baco  2019 
Nose: Somewhat closed though some fruit can be noted such a plum, blackberry and cherry. 
Palate: Full, normally acidic for a young wine but shows promise. Powerful and muscular. Strong tannins. 
Notes:  Very young and stubborn. Can be tasted now with strong meat such as game. However this wine shows amazing promise for developing into a smashing wine with great depth. Cellar for several years and your patience will be rewarded with one super wine.
90 points/100        
Frontenac Noir 2019
Nose:  Floral bouquet leading to black fruit on the nose with background of vanilla wood. 
Palate:  Medium to full body, dark fruit with wood flavours, long finish. 
Notes: Young at this time and will improve once acidity tones down a bit. Capable of some fine results 
89/100 points
Marquette 2019
Nose: Plum, black berry, black raspberry and cherry. Some smoke in background.
Palate: Full bodied, pepper on palate with nice balance of acidity and sugar. Dry! 
Notes: As above, the wine is young and capable of much improvement as it ages. Nice now but better as time goes by.
89/100 points
Petite Pearl 2019
Nose: Black cherry, raspberry, pepper with background of smoke on nose. 
Palate:  Full body, forward tannin and multilevel development on tongue. Long finish. Nice wine.
Notes: Great grilled meat and possibly game wine. Will improve as time goes by. Try in two to seven years. 
92/100 points  
Quattro 2017
Nose: Ripe cherry, black currant, black berry and smoke on nose
Palate: Medium to full bodied, well balanced with black fruit and jam. Nice pleasant finish. Easy going wine.
Notes: Blend of  Baco Noir, Chambourcin and Marechal Foch 
88/100 points
Odyssey Pinotage 2019
Nose: Mult-level wine as it develops in glass. Initial red fruit such as strawberry and cherry gives way to dark fruit such as black cherry and raspberry. Wine keeps evolving to tobacco, plum and chocolate before aromas of burnt leaves take over. Magnificent!
Palate: Full bodied, integrated and well balanced. Pepper on the tongue introduces a number of spice tones. Long lasting finish.
Notes: This wine can be said to define the genius that is Del-Gatto and can be accompanied by a large grouping of dishes such as New Orleans Shrimp, Blackened Duck or the best Filet Mignon. Traditional Turkey and Game are also in the running.
95/100 points 
Bela Luna 2019
Nose: Bread, apple, pear, citrus, fresh fruit and floral
Palate: Light bodied, refreshing fizz, fruity and pleasant refreshing acidity.
Notes: A well made, easy going sparkling for any celebration. Also fine with salads and first courses.
90/100 points