Take Me To Church

Kagor is traditionally a fortified dessert wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi, and other varieties of red grapes in the coastal area surrounding the Black Sea. Kagor was originally made for the Russian Orthodox Church as a sacramental wine. Finding American-made Kagor can be very challenging and finding a well-made one is like finding the proverbial “Needle in a haystack”.

Jim Baker owner/winemaker at Chateau Niagara is making an award-winning Kagor from his estate-grown Saperavi. When I say award-winning, I mean that Jim brought home a medal for his Kagor from the prestigious Saperavi World Prize competition held in the Black Sea city of Tbilisi, Georgia plus numerous other awards. While Jim doesn’t fortify his Kagor, he does ferment it up to 15% ABV.

Opening the bottle is just the beginning of enjoying your Chateau Niagara Kagor, there is a method to tasting this unusual and extraordinary wine. I could attempt to explain it but I think there is no one better suited for the job than Jim Baker, so here is how to experience all that Chateau Niagara Kagor has to offer in Jim’s own words.

“Take a taste and swirl around once or twice in your mouth, coating all the taste buds and then stop. Let the wine take over. It will take you a journey, with flavors rising and falling. You want to go until they stop changing, and for most people it’s more than a minute. After that take a bite of a good chocolate truffle and when that is partially melted, taste the wine again, swallowing both together. They effect will be almost immediate with a burst of cherry cordial flavors.”

I asked Jim why he decided to grow grape varieties that are associated with Eastern Europe and make classic Eastern European wines from them. Here is what he said:

“We decided to make the Kagor as part of our Eastern European wine series. We discovered a number of little know Eastern European wines that we thought were pretty cool, and would allow us a little niche to specialize in. This includes a Hungarian Bulls Blood, our Saperavi, a Georgian style skin-fermented Riesling Chardonnay blend called Du Monde, and our Kagor. We planted a new Romanian grape last fall called Feteasca Neagra, but we will be calling it by the way cooler English translation of “Black Maiden”!”

Chateau Niagara will be doubling the size of their Saperavi vineyard to just over an acre of this versatile grape.

If you are interested in trying Jim’s Kagor or any of his other wines they can be found on his website http://chateauniagarawinery.com or by visiting the winery at 2466 West Creek Rood Newfane, NY. Please call before visiting. (716) 778-7888

Kagor 2017 Photo Credit: Chateau Niagara Winery
Saperavi Rose 2019 Photo Credit: Chateau Niagara Winery
Saperavi 2018 Photo Credit: Chateau Niagara Winery

BranCliff Inn Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada

     My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picturesque small town on the eastern tip of the Niagara brancljff-innPeninsula where the Niagara River enters Lake Ontario after flowing over Niagara Falls several miles upstream. The Niagara Peninsula is known for its agricultural production of fruits and vegetables but it was the sprawling vineyards of wine grapes that attracted us to the region. I will be discussing my experiences at the wineries in later posts but today I would like to tell you about the fabulous bed and breakfast we stayed at during our visit.

    The BranCliff Inn is a meticulously renovated school house that dates back to 1859. The inn has six rooms, one on the first floor with the other five on the second. We stayed in the spacious Cranberry suite that featured a loft bedroom. The BranCliff Inn is ideally located at 40 Platoff Street, making it a short walk to Dining/Shopping on Queen St (Downtown), Shaw Theaters, parks and the lakeshore. Owner Debbie Laufs-Tataryn will be your host and what a warm and welcoming host she is. Debbie always wanted to own a B&B so she and her husband bought the BranCliff Inn and moved to NOTL from Toronto. This B&B passes our most important test which means it is clean, clean, clean. The breakfast is buffet-style in the dining room with an offering of cold and hot choices. Everyday Debbie makes a different fruit inspired pancake that you just have to try. We enjoyed banana, peach and apple during our stay. When you stay at the BranCliff Inn you have a parking spot for your vehicle. This is a perk that is very convenient especially during high season. The inn also provides coupons for free wine tastings at local wineries and discounts for various restaurants in town.

We had a wonderful stay at the BranCliff Inn and a great time in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. If you are planning a trip there be sure to consider staying at the BranCliff Inn. I hope you enjoy these photos we took during our stay. http://brancliffinn.com

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