2004 Wildass Red – Stratus Winery
I picked up this bottle on a trip to Niagara in 2007 with a group of friends as we went down to Niagara Falls for a birthday (Glen I believe) and we stopped at a couple wineries on our way down to the Falls. Actually, more than a couple, slightly more than a few. If I remember correctly there were 9 stops before we headed to Canyon Creek Steakhouse at Fallsview Casino for a great diner. This gong-show winery tour, and by gong-show I mean that they would have never hit that big gong as they would’ve wanted to see what happened next as we cruised from one winery to the next, getting sloppier and sloppier as we went. I tend to remember we hit, in no particular order; Maleta, Pondview, Stratus, Pilliteri, Angel’s Gate, Thirty Bench, Kacaba, Lailey and Peller Estates. I remember clearly that Peller was our last stop as we had just finished a screw-top bottle of Riesling from Angel’s Gate (which was excellent) on the way over. I took a little longer doing my tastings at Peller, having squirrelled my way upstairs to the “exclusive” tasting bar to sample some of the older vintages. I walked out to the parking lot to see one of our group (who shall remained unnamed) cracking open a bottle of the Peller Ice Cuvee purchased moments before and passing it around brown-bag style, just without the brown bag. We unanimously decided, after quickly finishing the bottle, our winery tour had been successful and headed towards the Falls.
Stratus 2004 Wildass Red
I am a big fan of Stratus’ 2nd label, Wildass. My first taste of Wildass came at an Orangeville restaurant, 199 (named after it’s address 199 Broadway Avenue, in downtown Orangeville) a couple years previously. Some of my most cherished bottles in my cellar are Stratus wines and it is one of my must-visit stops whenever I get down to the Niagara area. This was my last bottle of 2004 Wildass Red, thankfully still have 2005 through 2009 to enjoy in the future. A Wildass was requested by my brother-in-law for Sunday Dinner to go with Smoked Chicken, Scalloped Potates, Sautéed Zucchini and Buttered Carrots. When it comes to food-wine pairings I tend to follow the good food-good wine theory, picking a good wine to go with the good food I prepare.
I really like wine that smells and tastes like flowers and rocks. With time this 2004 Wildass Red opened to notes of violets, red fruits (cherry, red currents, raspberries). The red fruits were replayed on the palate along with sweet tannins that were silky smooth and totally delicious, like flat limestone river rocks that were thrown through a berry patch. The finish made me want to keep drinking this down in gulps, with all of my willpower needed to prevent me from guzzling it. Thankfully I was able to savour every sip, taking my time to thoughtfully remember the trip on which it was acquired. At 10 years of age this doesn’t have much longevity left, if you happen to have any in your cellar I would suggest a sooner-rather-than-later timeframe for drinking. But please, if you do have some old Wildass, enjoy it with good company. And as you open it think of screw-top Rieslings and slugs of sparkling wine straight from the bottle in winery parking lots.