In Niagara to review an inn and some restaurants this month I managed to speak with a few people in the wine trade and it was empowering to hear they agreed with a fundamental point I have with Niagara red blends. In Niagara Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are almost best retired as incapable of making a good single varietal wine and even in a blend there are few worthy Niagara red blend wines with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in them. In good long warm summers Cabernet Sauvignon can shine. And 2019 saw Cabernet Sauvignon being harvested in November!
Nyarai Cellars then made an excellent decision to produce its 2019 Cadence with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and that spicy hyper Petit Verdot. Does the blend work?
On the nose the Cabernet Sauvignon adds a generous element of blueberry and blackberry. Additional notes of black cherry, cactus pear and milk chocolate. The tannins are mild but broad coating the entire mouth. On the palate a thin layer of white pepper, zippy blackberry, choke cherry, red currants and with a hint of root beer. And most uncharacteristic of a red Niagara blend a long-lasting finish. The acidity is well managed!
Steve Byfield proprietor and winemaker at Nyarai Cellars has crafted a Niagara red blend from well sourced grape growers. This 2019 Cadence is delightfully unique and made only in the best years for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Steve is a virtual winemaker meaning he does not own a winery. He uses the equipment of West Avenue Cider House to make his wine. Steve is also the only black winemaker in North America I have encountered. Nyari has a South African meaning of humility and to be humble. While this describes Steve the wine is something he could be very easily boasting about.
Serve this slightly chilled with fried callaloo, tomatoes, garlic and salt cod and break the rules about red wine with fish. The Portuguese can serve red wine with a national salt cod dish Bachalau so can we with the Jamaican dish I have mentioned the recipe from Chester a Jamaican fellow I met at my Volvo mechanic.
You can enjoy the wine as a sipper too. I would be willing to give this up to the end of 2024 to improve in the bottle. What a pity only 112 cases were produced.
(Nyarai Cellars, 2019 Cadence, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Nyarai Cellars, West Avenue Cider House, Freelton, Ontario, $24.95, Available at nyaraicellars.ca, 750 mL, 13%, RKS Wine Rating 90/100).