Chateau Niagara Kagor 2016
This is a special treat, Chateau Niagara Kagor 2016. Kagor is very rare in the US and it is one of a very few to be produced for consumption here. Most are used in Russian Orthodox Church services. Jim takes great pride in everything he produces and this is no exception. Chateau Niagara is a small vineyard that Jim and Kathy Baker run in the Niagara region and grow high-quality vinifera wine grapes. Varieties include well-known wine grapes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Bleaufrankish as well as some exotic varieties- Saperavi and Turan. These grapes are part of long-term effort to create very innovative wines as well as classic styles interpreted with a sense of the Niagara Lake Plain influence.
The grapes used
Jim does a Saperavi dry wine that I have reviewed in the past. Saperavi grape is native to the Republic of Georgia which was part of the old USSR or the Soviet Union. Georgia is known as one of the oldest winemaking regions of the world. The archeological research showing evidence of cultivation dating to 5000 BCE. It is one of the most important and oldest grapes in Georgia. The word Saperavi means paint or ink with the color of the berry being black.
Saperavi is a hardy variety, known for its ability to handle extremely cold weather and is popular for growing in high altitude and inland regions. It is a teinturier grape (flesh and juice are red), containing the red anthrocyanin within the grape pulp as well as the skin and is unusual in being one of very few such grapes used in single-varietal winemaking.
Kagor is a wine is a very unique Russian dessert wine that was once the dessert wine of the Tsars. Chateau Niagara Kagor 2016 is a wonderful example of their work. The history of the wine is unique. This is a great story that Jim told me. Over a thousand years ago the patriarch of the Orthodox Church was looking for a deeply colored red wine to use as a sacramental wine for a communion wine. The red wines of the day were pale, and pink, more like a rose. They had learned the practice of fermenting on the skins. He had heard that there was a breakthrough in France and that they had deeply colored red wines. He gathered emissaries and sent them to France where they indeed found deeply colored red wines in the town of Cahors. The emissaries purchased the entire output of the town and shipped it back to Russia. They named the wine Kagor as they could not pronounce the name of the French town as the French do. However, supply line problems plagued the shipping of wines over time.
The Patriarch said enough and sent monks to “help” the French. They quickly learned the secrets of the process and retreated to the Black Sea where Russian vineyards thrive. There they were able to replicate the French wine, but they added new methods to the process to enhance the flavors and colors. They then sweetened the wine to match the Russian palate. This wine became the standard wine for the next millennia and continues today. Along the way one of the Tsars, Ivan II had become ill with an intestinal infirmity. He consulted the Patriarch who advised him to drink the holy wine every day for a month. He did and was cured of his infirmity. The Tsar said that no one should suffer as he had and then declared the wine no longer the sole domain of the church. Competition arose between new winemakers and the monks and the very finest of these wines became the Tsar’s personal wines. Jim did much research to find the recipe for this wine to duplicate.
What I found
This wine is brilliant blood red that light will not penetrate. Beautiful color indeed. The nose is a cherry, other dark tree fruits. As explained to me the proper way to get all the flavors is to take a sip, swish it around and hold it for a minute. The flavors come rushing out of the same fruits but glorious morphing into current. on the second sip, you can get chocolate on your palate. After that take a piece of dark or bittersweet chocolate. Take another sip. Chocolate cherry all over the place. I tried it with Pepper Jack cheese but would go well with Gorgonzola, Blue cheese or Stilton. Flavors galore. Chips and Salsa, My My, Rosemary Garlic Crackers, what a hoot! This is a hit with me and I believe if you love dessert wines you’ll love this one. The sweetness is top of the chart and the alcohol is 13.3%. It can be had online by contacting Jim or Kathy @ Chateau Niagara