By Susan Desjardins
Coyote is the trickster in much native American mythology, known for inventiveness and creating mischief. This adaptable creature can still be seen through the vineyards of Coyote’s Run Estate Winery, and is a fine namesake for co-owner Jeff Aubry, who has reinvented himself from a soldier to high-tech engineer and now to winery owner, and admits, “Sometimes I’m serious, sometimes I’m a goof!”
A tour of Europe with a group of university buddies introduced Jeff to fine wines and activated the dream of someday opening his own winery. Fast forward . . . the intervention of a creative real estate agent brought together the Murzda family, who had been growing grapes in Niagara for years, Dave Sheppard, who had been the winemaker at Inniskillin for over 20 years, and Jeff and Patti Aubry, newcomers to Niagara who had this dream . . .
Adaptable and fearless like the coyote, they worked together to open the winery in the spring of 2004. Patti describes their partnership as follows: “While Jeff is very structured and focused on financials, I always have my consumer hat on, and Dave is the artist; we are striving to bring the best possible wine to our clients and to sustain a viable business, so none of us can be too rigid in our ways.” And this great partnership has brought outstanding success.
Just three years after the winery opened, their Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir had won gold two years in a row at the Canadian wine Awards. And the awards keep rolling in—the Black Paw was a gold medalist at Intervin 2011 and the Red Paw has won silver at Intervin 2012 and the 2012 Canadian Wine Awards.
If you’re interested in the impact of terroir, Coyote’s Run is Nature’s laboratory. The estate includes two very different soil types. The red Trafalgar clay loam of the Red Paw vineyard is about 450 million years old, formed by the weathering of the underlying Queenston shale; it’s infertile, stony, iron-rich soil leads to a fresh wine with bright delicate fruit character and perfumed floral aromas.
The dark Toledo clay loam of the Black Paw vineyard is a much younger (15,000 years) sedimentary soil with more organic matter that retains water and leads to a richer more robust wine with an earthy character. Their concentration on Pinot Noir is hardly surprising, but as Patti indicates, “we focus on some key varieties—[in addition to Pinot Noir] Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and the Bordeaux varieties.
Lately, we are excited with the quality of the Cab Sauv from our estate.” In addition, the estate location at the base of the St. David’s bench offers a unique microclimate, with temperatures 2-3 degrees C warmer in summer than other locations in the area. This means their season starts earlier and their fruit has the conditions to ripen more fully, providing the opportunity for an earlier harvest in most years.
The principals of Coyote’s Run are focused on creating wines of quality and distinction that represent their terroir and microclimate. Says Patti, “Our unique climate and soil gives us the opportunity to make really distinct wine, full of fresh fruit flavours and crisp acidity. Our wines taste like cool-climate wines, grown on heavy soils with low crop yields.”
Their Red Paw and Black Paw vineyard Pinot Noir are produced in small batches and generally released through LCBO Vintages (watch for both these wines in the November 10 release). Released September 29 in Vintages, the 2010 Coyote’s Run Pinot Noir ($19.95, LCBO#53090) is described as their entry-level Pinot. Aged 8 months in French oak, it’s produced from a blend of estate-grown fruit and that from vineyards of select grower partners.
In outstanding vintages, 2010 in this instance, the winery produces ‘Rare Vintage’ wines, such as the Pinot Noir (featured in the latest Vintages Classic Catalogue) and Meritage described below – available by direct order from the winery or Savvy Company (613-728-8926) while quantities last. And for general entertaining, their fresh, lively Five Mile Red and White blends are available in a wide range of LCBO outlets.
Coyote’s Run Five Mile White 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 195669 11.5% alcohol
A blend of Riesling (principally), Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer, this wine offers a lovely whiff of floral, spice and sweet fruit aromas. Mid-weight, it’s dry, clean and crisp in texture, citrus and mineral mingling with a touch of sweet orchard fruit on palate. Nicely balanced, juicy and a bit pithy on the finish, serve as a sipper or with lemon garlic roast chicken.
Coyote’s Run ‘Red Paw Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2010
VQA Four Mile Creek $24.95 79228 14.0% alcohol
A small-batch wine, aged 16 months in French oak, this Pinot offers subtle aromas—floral notes, bright red fruits, hints of underbrush and spice. On the light side of mid-weight, there’s a fine frame of acidity and soft tannins for the red fruits—cherry, raspberry and pomegranate—attractively garnished with notes of spice and dried herbs. Dry, juicy and fresh, it offers a lasting mouth-watering finish.
Coyote’s Run ‘Black Paw Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2010
VQA Four Mile Creek $35.95 116442 13.5% alcohol
Aged 16 months in French oak, just over 100 cases of this well-structured Pinot were produced—so get yours soon! A notion of sweet dark fruit, spice and vanilla tantalizes the nose. Silky in texture yet dry, this wine matches flavours of ripe field berries with an earthy quality and a replay of spice and vanilla on a long, dry finish. Finely wrought, with perceptible tannins, it’s a candidate for mid-term cellaring or a match for beef tenderloin with a wild mushroom sauce.
Coyote’s Run ‘Rare Vintage’ Pinot Noir 2010
VQA Four Mile Creek, $49.95, 13.5% alcohol
Produced from 5 barrels of the estate’s finest Pinot Noir, this lovely wine offers rich spiced fruit aromas with hints of vanilla, dried herbs and smoke. Dry, satiny in texture, medium bodied, the palate delivers depth of red cherry/berry fruit, a nuance of smoky spice and a lovely touch of warmth on the tangy finish. There’s good depth of flavour fine balance, and structure. Purchase for mid-term cellaring or enjoy with your favorite duck recipe.
Coyote’s Run ‘Rare Vintage’ Meritage 2010
VQA Four Mile Creek, $39.95, 13.5% alcohol
A blend of the estate’s finest barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine offers tantalizing complexity in aromas, as lovely dark fruit mingles with cedar, sweet spice and herbs. Dry, mid-full weight, it showcases deliciously layered red and black fruits, spice and a peppery note through the long, dry, full-flavoured finish. Displaying firm tannins, fine acidity and ripe fruit, it’s structured for cellaring 5-7 years. Or decant and savour now with rack of lamb or bison bourguignon.
Susan Desjardins has been involved with the marketing and promotion of wines for the last seven years, as an accredited sommelier. In addition to organizing and hosting both public and private wine and food events, she has participated in the LCBO’s Vintages release tastings for the last two years.
An Algonquin College-trained sommelier and avid amateur ‘foodie’, Susan spends her spare time traveling in Western Europe and the wine regions of Canada meeting winemakers, vineyard owners and other wine industry personalities.
Her background in business, horticulture and wine has created a broad interest in and familiarity with the diverse aspects of the industry. She seeks value and quality in wine tasting, and looks forward to introducing people to varietals and wines with which they may not yet be familiar.