Trail Estates Little Fluffy Clouds 2020
Popping the cap off this bottle seemed to seed a storm within its walls, and within seconds, a foamy effervescence rose to the top of the bottle and spilt over its sides, like a big fluffy cloud escaping. (This was despite the fact that I had refrigerated the bottle and handled it with care. I recommend popping this wine open over the sink or a bowl and keeping a towel handy.)
As I swirled the wine around in my glass, the sour beer-like aromas, that first dominated, faded, and the wine opened up, revealing a light but pleasing bouquet of citrus fruit (particularly, blood orange), quince, orange blossom, and a hint of fresh bread.
This is a youthful, fresh, fun wine: it is light-bodied and low in alcohol, with a gentle mousse. I have generally found that PEC wines (given the region’s continental climate) have a fair amount of acidity. This is a softer wine (although, still crisp), possibly because it is 90% Muscat Ottonel (the rest being Riesling), a variety that usually produces lower acid wines.
As for sweetness, by the time I opened this bottle, the wine was dry. Usually, of course, wines come to us with a certain level of sweetness that does not change much over time. This is because the yeasts that ferment grape juice by converting sugar into alcohol are (generally) filtered out of wine before a bottle of the stuff makes its way into our hands. In the case of this wine, however, as intended by the winemaker, fermentation was still ongoing in the bottle after it left the winery (my understanding is that after the initial fermentation, some unfermented grape juice was added back to the bottle before it was sealed). This means, had I opened the bottle sooner, the wine might have tasted somewhat sweeter (due to residual sugar). Some may find that the slightest hint of sweetness may compliment the wine’s fruity and floral character well.
A swirl and sip of this unfiltered, wild fermented, “heavenly light, little thing”, as winemaker Mackenzie Brisbois describes it, put me in a County state of mind: that characteristic intermingling of quirky but charming funk combined with an ethereal mineral quality transported me to a place and a moment in the sun: a memory of myself from years ago, when I first visited the region with two of the people I love the most in the world, and we spent a summer afternoon sipping wine and looking up at fluffy clouds floating by languidly over the pastoral landscape. (To read more about Trail Estate Winery and their winemaker, go here.)
Drink this soon! It is a light and fun wine and its low alcohol level makes it a good pairing for spicy Indian food. I also think its effervescence acts as a nice palate cleanser, given how intensely flavourful Indian food can be. I would recommend food that isn’t too rich or acidic, though; dal (lentils) or biryani would go nicely with it. It could also make a great addition to a boozy tiffin with fermented foods like idlis and dosas, paired with chutney. (If you heard about the “idlis are boring” controversy, pay it no mind, idlis are delicious! Also, if you’re looking for a good idli recipe, I recommend this one.)
I tried out three different styles of glasses for this wine: a champagne flute; an ISO tasting glass; and finally, a snifter. The voluptuous curves of the snifter carried the most clear and concentrated aromas to my nose. I have encountered unflattering critiques of this old-school glass, the most common complaint being that it concentrates alcohol fumes at its mouth, burning one’s nasal passages. Given that this particular wine is low in alcohol (only 9.8% ABV), though, it drank very well in this glass.