High-quality Niagara wines rooted in old-world Europe
The next time you taste Ferox’s high-quality Niagara wines in one of Toronto’s finer restaurants, you may not realize that Ferox Winery itself is waiting to be experienced just over an hour down the road.
A winery that offers a fantastic experience
In central Niagara-on-the-lake at 1829 Concession 4, just off of Niagara Stone Road, it’s the real deal. In addition to an inviting patio, the winery comprises vineyards, a production facility, a retail shop, and wine tasting bars. Exquisite original art by a local artist graces both its walls and some of the wine labels. The wine menu offers many high-quality Ferox wines – with charcuterie board selections also available.
One of Niagara’s best Rosé wines
I dropped in at Ferox yesterday on the spur of the moment and found out that in 2015 they began as an online winery, and in 2019 they took over Rancourt Winery. Luckily, I was offered a sampling of their 2020 Rosé, which can easily be called one of best Rosés in Niagara.
A high-quality Niagara Rosé that tastes fresh and bright
Ferox’s 2020 Rosé has a delightfully pink colour, more concentrated and clear than you’d ever expect. The aroma suggests juicy watermelon freshly cut from the field, and its full-mouth taste is light, fruity, tangy, and almost effervescent. I spoke with production manager Cubby and professional wine staff Chris, who each filled me in on what makes Ferox’ Rosé so outstanding.
Making high-quality Niagara wines involves precision and detail
How does Ferox produce a Rosé with no bitterness or orange tinge? It doesn’t create Rosé from reds that didn’t work out. Rather, it pours even more planning and energy into the process. For their 2020 Rosé, Ferox used the direct press method, which is a delicate process. In this method, they press the grapes at about 50% the usual pressure, which releases more of the 100% merlot grapes’ taste. They take the whole cluster of young fruit, which eliminates the phenolic bitterness that can occur from associated leaves and skins.
This Rosé is clear and bright with a wonderful balance. It has a very long finish with a satisfying aftertaste. They use tinted bottles that block any energy from affecting either the Rosé’s colour or quality.
Ferox winery’s patio has a laid back, hip energy
The atmosphere that permeates Ferox’s patio is laid back and sophisticated. Several wine experts buzz around the tables giving just the right information that patrons want. You can hear happy, animated conversation rise above the light music. A backdrop of wide vineyards sits just under the horizon in every direction – all under an open sky. I was told that on Saturday, a group of eight cyclists broke out into an impromptu salsa dance right on the palm tree-filled patio after sampling some wine. Although that’s probably not the norm, Ferox has a free, relaxed, expressive atmosphere that everyone sort of needs right now.
An estate winery that focuses on making small lot, terroir-driven wines
Ferox is dedicated to making small lot, terroir-driven wines. They are an Estate winery, growing all of their own grapes. They planted Dirnfelder and Kerner grapes and inherited the rest of the vineyard from the Vancourt family. The winery takes what European traditions perfected and adjusts it to our land and climate – making high-quality Niagara wines that are our very own. This is where old-world Europe meets the essence of Niagara. And it is called quality.
Wine-tasting samples to rave about
I sampled some other Ferox wines that have outstanding quality.
2016 Black Lion Cuvée – This rich, velvety wine which sells for $104.80 per bottle is made from 52% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 10% Syrah, and 8% Cabernet Franc. The aroma suggests blackberries with a touch of pepper. The taste has a velvety, rich cherry and raspberry quality with a zing – and a long, satisfying finish. This outstanding, high-quality Niagara wine is aged 3 years in 500-litre barrels, all oak sourced from France. It was interesting to learn that our Canadian oak is more porous, and is not always economically feasible to source for barrels due to the loss of wine through evaporation.
2017 Sauvignon Blanc – In true French style, this quality wine is aged 50% in an acacia barrel and 50% in a stainless steel barrel. The aroma is predominantly citrus and clean, with grassy notes from the lighter acacia wood barrel. The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc is priced at $35 and is very satisfying, with a full vanilla taste and a slightly bitter aftertaste that’s not at all unpleasant. It pairs well with trout or chicken and is very malleable.
Vintages Chardonnay – Ferox’s Chardonnay is aged for the first and second years in different French oak barrels, and for the third year in a stainless steel barrel. The result is a buttery taste that is warming and complex. The aroma suggests clean, wet stones. My professional server Chris told me that the Vintages Chardonnay didn’t taste like butter a year ago when it came straight out of the stainless steel barrel, but it does now because it’s had a chance to age in the bottle. This gem is priced at $39.
Riesling – The Ferox Riesling has 6 grams of residual sugar, making it very balanced. Its aroma is bright and lemony, with a nutty undertone. Due to its balance of acidity and sugars, this Reisling is very fruity and has an exceedingly long, satisfying finish.
2018 White Wine – Ferox’s white has a floral aroma and a pear taste that’s wonderfully crisp and balanced.
Where else can you find Ferox’s quality wines?
Ferox’ high-quality wines can be found at a number of places outside their winery.
- Chefs’ tasting menus in Toronto restaurants
- online through ferox.ca
Cosmopolitan winemakers with a pulse on the chemistry of making quality wine
Ferox is owned by Fabian Ferox and Stephanie Reis. Fabian was raised in and studied in Germany. Gianluca, the winery’s assistant winemaker, brings the expertise of Italy, and Cubby studied both in Canada and abroad. This quadrumvirate of perfection understands what wine masters do in Europe and have figured out the chemistry to make it distinctly “Niagara”.