Find a Wine Like Mine

Here’s an interesting exercise I was asked to do by one of our twitter followers (@LibArtsAndMinds): “@grapesmart Oh, do I need your help!Had Willow Heights Chard,’99 the other night. Divine doesn’t begin to describe.Can u think of 1 similar?”

Here’s my experience and thought process in trying to help her find another wine like the one she tried and loved.

My first thought was, “Wow, you had a Chardonnay from 1999? I wonder what that was like!” Next came, “How can I possibly answer this question? I’ve never had this wine.” Then the part of me that comes to life in the face of a good challenge lit up like a firecracker and I started searching.

The first order of business was to accurately identify the wine we’re trying to match. This was an easy, but curious challenge. With the information I had, the 99 seemed like a vintage, but I couldn’t find a Chardonnay from 1999 that also bore the name Willow Heights. I located a candidate called No.99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Chardonnay which CellarTracker thinks is somehow related to the Willow Heights Estate Winery.

Regardless, both wineries are located in the Niagara-Escarpment appellation of Ontario, Canada… an area I’m personally quite familiar with! My husband hails from the area and we visit a couple of times a year. Haven’t actually made it out to Niagara yet, but I’ve sampled many Ontario wines and had the pleasure of buying wine at the LCBO.

Note: It’s pretty likely that @LibArtsAndMinds hails from Ontario and she has to buy her wine through the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). They’re constantly changing their stock, subbing in some new wine for an older one, and they heavily prioritize Ontario wines. Odds are good a staff member at the LCBO headquarters could help her locate something similar. If she had it at a restaurant, it would be worth talking to the person who buys the wine for the restaurant and seeing what could be done. Lastly, contacting the winery directly to see if they have any more stashed away somewhere would be the easiest way to get more.

It turns out what she was really looking for is “Reserve 1999 Willow Heights Stefanik Vineyard” Chardonnay. As I alluded to earlier, searching for a 10-year old white wine is a bit of a challenge so the possibility of finding a hidden bottle of the exact wine is slim-to-none. My next choices would be two related groups of wines… 1) Other 1999 Chardonnays from the Niagara Escarpment 2) Newer Chardonnays from Willow Heights Stefanik Vineyard.

Here are some of those wines that I was able to locate online:

  1. LCBO: 2006 Willow Heights Chardonnay Reserve
  2. Catalpana (restaurant in Toront0) has several older Willow Heights Chardonnays on their wine list
  3. Winery to Home had some useful information (confirmed the winery is now owned by Wayne Gretzky)

There are a couple more ways to go in searching for a wine to recreate the experience, but it seems like they would be the least reliable and most tedious methods… 1) Trying to get my hands on the original tasting notes for this wine and then trying to find other Chardonnays (especially from the Niagara Escarpment) that have the same or very similar tasting notes. 2) Looking for other wines produced from the grapes at Stefanik Vineyard. Since Willow Heights is an Estate Winery, I’m not sure I’d have any luck finding other wines sourced from Stefanik Vineyard grapes.

At the end of the day, we’ve ALL had this experience… we fell in love with some obscure bottle of wine and we won’t be able to find another. Here are my platitudes to help you cope:

1) Enjoy every sip while you can
2) Remember and appreciate the once-in-a-lifetime experience
3) Keep drinking! More gems are waiting for you!

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Cool Wine Sites

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