In Niagara, Canada: Stratus

I’ve been to Stratus a couple of times now. It’s such a distinctive winery, with a very modern design. This isn’t surprising: it was established by David Feldberg, president and CEO of the Teknion furniture business, and whose father Saul was the founder of the Global Furniture Corporation.

Stratus’ impressive winery relies on gravity flow and geothermal energy. In 2005 it became the world’s first LEED-certified winery.

The vineyard is 62 acres divided into 44 different plots with 16 different varieties, and it’s part of the Niagara Lakeshore subregion.

The winemaker here is the extravagantly bearded JL Groux, and he hails from France’s Loire Valley. His signature is harvesting at full maturity, and in a typical vintage, three-quarters of the vintage will take place in November. Initially, the idea at Stratus was to create complexity through blending, and while the Stratus White and Red are still the core of the range, varietal wines have been added. As this tasting showed, these late-picked blends do age well.

Stratus Chardonnay 2015
40% new oak. Fresh with nice intensity. Toasty, nutty edge to the bright pear and pineapple fruit. Has a slight cedary edge. Fresh style with a savoury character. 91/100

Stratus White 2014
54% Chardonnay, 35% Sauvignon, 5% Semillon, 5% Viognier, 1% Gewurztraminer. No new oak. Unusual stuff: fresh with a fennel edge to the citrus and pear fruit, with some table grape notes and a bit of green tea character. Has some subtle green notes. 90/100

Stratus White 2007
85% new oak. Supple and expressive with tangerine, pear and apricot notes. Has some spiciness with a bit of fine toastiness. Has developed really nicely. Very subtle green hints and nice fine toasty notes. Lots of life in this still. 92/100

Stratus Gamay 2015
13.7% alcohol. 15% whole bunch, then aged in old barrels. Sweet liqueur like cherry and berry fruits here. Very sweet and seamless but with a bit of spicy grip on the palate. Ripe fruit dominates this. Has nice brightness countering. Very attractive. 91/100

Stratus Red 2014
13% alcohol. 52% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Syrah. 34% new oak. Fresh, vivid and crunchy with nice blackcurrant and raspberry fruit. Grainy and gravelly with nice structure and good acidity. Fresh style with ageability. 92/100

Stratus Red 2007
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 5% Gamay. 88% new oak. Nicely savoury with a gravelly, cedary edge to the attractive plum and berry fruit. Has developed really nicely into a savoury maturity, and the oak has integrated well. Fresh and structured. 92/100

Stratus Cabernet Franc 2015
35% new oak. Nice ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit with a slightly cedary, savoury twist. Ripe but balanced with nice warmth and concentration. 91/100

Status Decant Cabernet Franc 2015
In the very distinctive bottle from designer Karim Rashid. 50% new oak. Intense and concentrated with spicy oak and dark black fruits. Bold, firm and tannic with nice acidity. Very tannic and intense. 90/100

Stratus Botrytis Semillon 2016
81 g/l sugar. Complex and tangy with nice pineapple, apricot and lemon notes. Sweet but balanced with a lovely crisp, spicy finish. Has good concentration, but it feels quite light and expressive. 92/100

Stratus Riesling Icewine 2017
125 g/l sugar. Balanced and pure with sweet citrus, pear and apple fruit. Lovely acidity with a slight honeyed edge and some grapey characters. Not as intense as some icewines, but very pure and quite elegant. 92/100

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NIAGARA SERIES

1 comment to In Niagara, Canada: Stratus

  • Gordon Richens

    Stratus is one of the very few wineries that my wife and I make a point of visiting each time we are in the Niagara Wine region. The winery is beautiful and the staff are always charming and helpful.

    The relatively warm soil conditions of Niagara Lakeshore tend to favour the longer-growing varietals, such their Syrah, which is usually very good and occasionally fantastic (2012). Also try their malbec, which at least originally was produced under the guidance of Paul Hobbs.

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