Semillon Vertical Tasting – Rosewood Estates


Tasting of different vintages of the same wine, known as vertical tastings, provide a wealth of information in regards to how the wine ages, from which extrapolations into future ageability can be made.
Rosewood Estates had its first vertical tasting of the last five (also the first five) Semillon vintages, to which I was recently invited. This white grape, known for its low acidity and oiliness, is used in production of dry or sweet wines and is commonly grown in places like Bordeaux and Australia and to lesser extend Chile and South Africa. Though Rosewood Estates, together with Angel’s Gate and Stratus Wineries are the only three wineries growing Semillon in Niagara thus far, this variety has undoubtedly set its root-in-the-door and is determined to remain. Planted in 2003, Rosewood began harvesting Semillon in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2008 when a single varietal wine was made.


Luke Orwinski – Talented winemaker and a skilled storyteller.
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Krystina Roman, the event organizer who happens to be the daughter of the winery owner and who is responsible for sales and marketing; welcomed us, explained the premise of the event and introduced Luke Orwinski, the estate’s winemaker. As expected, Luke described the wines, mentioning the fine, structural details as well as the intricacies of production. Not expected and quite unusual was his willingness to share stories from his day-to-day life in the vineyard, to tell us of practices in the wine industry (as a whole) that are usually not talked about if not outright taboos and to fully captivate us – his audience. Though the wines were good (wines at such events are always good), Luke’s natural ability of storytelling made this event into an exceptional occasion.


Semillon – The vertical tasting
Starting off by smelling the five wines, youngest to oldest, before proceeding to taste them in the same order, these are my observations and impressions:


The 2012 Semillon has intense, saliva inducing bouquet of citrus, green apple, light minerality and light tropical/passion fruit. It is a medium to full-bodied, off-dry, fruity wine, with checked acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food; since bottled under Stelvin screw cap, this wine should retain its freshness for the next 3+ years, drink now – 2018+. Rated 88-89 pts. Tasted June/13.
$18.00 – to be released in fall 2013.


The 2011 Semillon has pleasing aromas of green/yellow apple and slightly floral/honey-like notes. It is a light, fruity, perceivably dry wine (off-dry) with forward acidity giving the impression of lower sweetness; and a medium, clean finish. Food friendly and a sipper; drink now – 2017+. Rated 90 pts.  Tasted June/13.
Awards: Bronze Medal at Canadian Wine awards 2012 and Intervin Wine Awards 2012.
$18.00 Coming to Vintages #177758 June 22nd/13.


The 2010 Semillon has appealing aromas of pineapple and cantaloupe. It is a medium bodied, perceivably extra-dry/dry, fruity wine, with checked acidity and a medium to long, clean finish. Though food friendly, this wine can be sipped by itself; drink now – 2016 (cork enclosure). Rated 90-91 pts.  Tasted June/13.
Sold out, Library wine.


The 2009 Semillon has intense aromas of heavier, petrol like compounds, woody asparagus, light lees, citrus and pear (around the stem and core). It is a medium bodied with slightly oily/heavier palate, dry, integrated to aged wine, with acidity on the acidic side and a medium to long finish. Cheese and meat friendly wine; drink now – 2016 (cork enclosure) and watch it evolve. Rated 89 pts.  Tasted June/13.
Sold out, Library wine.


The 2008 Semillon, first single varietal vintage started by Luke Orwinski, has deep aromas of wet stone minerality and light citrus on the nose and light honey-dew melon on the palate. It is a medium bodied, dry wine with good acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food or enjoy simply on its own; drink now-2015 (cork enclosure). Rated 89-90 pts.  Tasted June/13.
Sold out, Library wine.


Following the tasting, Luke inquired as to the order of the wine’s popularity – with 2009 surfacing as clearly being the most prefered, followed by the 2011 and 2010 vintages.  For me, the 2009 vintage, being a different beast from all the others, was the least favourable as I like whites to be fruit forward (though will not shun aromas imparted by wood aging, nor petrol like notes) and to have good acidity and clean finish.
The concept, I took home from this Semillon vertical tasting, is that this grape’s young fresh citrus, apple, pear and subtle-floral/light-honey notes transition into fuller, more succulent flavors of tropical fruit such as passion fruit, cantaloupe and honey-dew melon, and eventually developing into an outright honey like notes before evolving into petrol like, volatile compounds – this, of course, being attributed, but not limited to, the wine’s sugar content.  I would like to see what light oak aging would do to a 5 and 10-year-old Semillon.


Luncheon – it’s all about the pairings
The vertical tasting was followed by a luncheon, where the food was specifically designed and crafted in order to complement the wine.


Tasting Plate #1
2011 Semillon paired with Lobster salad
2010 Semillon paired with Braised Pork Belly with spring onion and sea buckthorn.
The forward acidity of the 2011 Semillon cleaned the lobster imparted oils off the palate.
The succulent fruit within the 2010 Semillon complemented beautifully the pork belly’s meatiness and saltines.


Tasting Plate #2
2009 Semillon paired with Raw Ahi Tuna and asparagus with Thai Basil
2008 Semillon paired with Caramelized Sweetbreads with chamomile.
The 2009 Semillon’s heaviness paired well with the tuna and was complemented by the basil and green onions, while its acidity cleaned off the palate.


Tasting Plate #3
2011 Lock, Stock & Barrel
paired with
Braised oxtail ravioli with brown butter.


Tasting Plate #4
2011 Harvest Gold Mead + 2012 Mead Noir
paired with Poached rhubarb.



When tasting the 2011 Lock, Stock & Barrel I was so overtaken by this wine that I lost focus on the food and wine pairings.
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The 2011 Lock, Stock & Barrel is composed of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot (harvested from Organized Crime Winery) that was aged in French and American oak barrels for a total of 11 months before bottling. The wine has intense aromas of prune, black cherry, clove, cigar box, light oak and light vanilla. It is a medium to full-bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine, with forward acidity, refined tannins (allow for decanting) and a long finish. Though this wine can complement terrestrial meat-based dishes, sip this one by itself; drink now or watch it evolve for the next 10+ years. Rated 91-92 pts.
$34.00 Available at the winery.



For comparison of tasting notes taken at another Rosewood event see


To view an article about Rosewood Estates Winery, see



Thank you to Krystina Roman and Luke Orwinski
for the invitation and an enjoyable European-style lunch that took place at the Spoke Club – perfect venue for hosting wine tastings and luncheons for up to 50 people.




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