Pillitteri Estates is a must see visit due to their production of IceWine, and the incredible table and chairs in their barrel cellar. They are the largest estate producer of ice wine in the world, with 120,000 case production, 50% in IceWine alone, and exporting to 30 countries. They have 40 acres under vine on the estate, plus 60 acres in the Niagara Escarpment (the next regional appellation over) – and with family owned holdings included, Pillitteri controls between 250 and 300 acres. The winery also produces several series of wines, from the Twenty Three, the Exclamation Cellar series and The Family Reserve line of individually numbered wines.
Pillitteri is conveniently located on a main road just outside of town – and right in the middle of a cluster of wineries.
On the Family Reserve label you’ll find the Carretto, an intricately carved Sicilian cart, painted with the history of Pillitteri family ancestors. It is proudly displayed in the gallery just inside the tasting room.
The 2006 Late Harvest Chambourcin is an almost perfect specimen of this grape, and being the Chambourcin fan that I am, I had to try it. The grapes were harvested at 34.6 brix and fermented down to about 13% RS. This would be beautiful as an aperitif, with flavors of apricot and mango. It retails for $25.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine is harvested at 37 brix and carries 21.5% RS, but you’d never know it from the taste (it is sweet, don’t get me wrong!) With smoke and honey on the nose, and strawberry and pepper on the palate. This ice wine is a great reminder of why one should take that sip, let the wine warm in your mouth, and then swallow to get all of the flavors available. It retails for $60.
Other Ice Wines we particularly enjoyed were the 2008 Sangiovese Ice Wine($50) – if it were paired with Creme Brulee, it might be heaven. And the 2008 Riesling Ice Wine ($30) with a great floral nose and balance that made me want to keep sipping. Sadly, we were unable to taste the Exclamation Cellar series or the Family Reserve line due to time constraints and availability – perhaps next trip a few of those will make their way home with us. The Ice Wine alone is well worth the trip, as they do an incredible job.