By Susan Desjardins
While working as a high-tech executive, Eugene Roman was also developing his skills as a master beekeeper and dreaming big about creating a winery and meadery in Niagara. In 2000, he and his wife Renata purchased 40 acres on the Beamsville Bench, an ideal site for producing cool-climate wines, and backing onto the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. A further 45 acres was subsequently purchased in Jordan.
Construction of the winery began in 2005, the design of the building reflecting the family’s European heritage, as do the Renaissance-style parterres and exquisite rose gardens. 2006 marked the first harvest and vintage, as well as the year that Natalie Spytkowsky joined the team as winemaker, and to try her hand at making mead, which is produced by fermenting honey and water (read about mead).
Rosewood Estates as developed into a family affair, with Krystina Roman recently taking on full responsibility for marketing and sales, while son William, a graduate of the Viticulture and Oenology program at Niagara College can be found in the vineyard, the cellars and out working at the apiaries with Eugene. And the ‘buzz’ is never far away. Just step out behind the winery and gaze down into a sheltered glade among the trees to see some of the local hives which produce the wildflower honey sold in Rosewood’s retail shop. Of course, there are hives elsewhere in the Niagara area, located to optimize the bees’ access to a range of pollens.
After touring the property, enjoying the vista over the gently sloping vineyards and visiting the dramatic barrel cellar, we tasted a range of Rosewood Estates’ unique, award-winning wines. There are occasional releases to LCBO Vintages, and the following wines are still available in limited quantities at select LCBO stores: Merlot 2009 ($21.95, 211896), Natalie’s Süssreserve Riesling 2009 ($14.95, 258806). However, most Rosewood wines, such as those described below, are available only by direct order – should you be interested in receiving any of these, contact Savvy Company at 613-728-8926.
Rosewood Sémillon 2010
VQA Beamsville Bench $18.00 13.5% alcohol
Hand harvested from the estate vineyard and cool fermented in stainless steel tanks, this silky mid-weight wine offers lovely fresh aromas of white flowers, pear and lime. Fruity, tasting just off-dry, the lime-tinged orchard fruit replays on the palate, mingling with a hint of mineral. Well balanced and rounded, it finishes with fine crispness and fruit. Enjoy with seafood or fish.
Rosewood Pinot Noir 2010
VQA Niagara Escarpment $20.0013.0% alcohol
Produced from fruit from both the Wismer vineyards and the estate, this wine was aged 11 months in premium new and seasoned French oak barrels. Offering aromas of strawberries, sweet spice and earth, this is a dry, vivid wine with a smoothy silky texture and well-defined structure. Ripe red field berries mingle with herbal notes and that refined earthiness, the wine finishing long, dry and balanced. Enjoy it with grilled salmon.
Rosewood Merlot 2010
VQA Niagara Escarpment $22.00 13.5% alcohol
Ruby violet, this enchanting wine won gold at the Decanter wine Awards. Enjoy intense beguiling aromas of black fruit, spice, vanilla, chocolate-coated roast nuts and a whiff of smoke. Dry, full bodied and quite plush, the texture of this wine is smooth yet fresh, the tannins ripe and pliant, the rich dark fruit paired with spice and tangy pepper. There’s a subtle earthiness and a hint of peppery warmth on the toasty finish. Match it to grilled beef tenderloin with a wild mushroom sauce. Cellar medium term.
Rosewood Mead ‘Royale’ 2008
Product of Canada $18 12.5% alcohol (500ml)
Produced from wildflower honey, this mead was aged 6 months in seasoned French oak after cool fermentation. Straw hued, the subtle aromas of this slightly sweeter mead include savoury slightly pungent notes, honey and a floral note reminiscent of summer clover. Lush and silky in texture, the palate is elegantly restrained—preserved apricot, quince, herbal notes and subtle honey flavours dominate. An intriguing marriage of a dry texture and sweet yet tangy flavours, try this after dinner with a selection of Canadian cheddar.
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.