IMG_7593***The Old Third 2015 Pinot Noir: This was one of the best vintages in the County’s brief history, although there was significant crop loss in some areas due to a late spring frost. This certainly has a level of ripeness not often encountered here, with ripe raspberry-cherry fruit, fine herbs/garrigue, floral and cedary spicy aromas. It is light to medium bodied, quite open knit, warm and spicy, with fine tannin and some gentle greenness. The focus and length are excellent, indeed very impressive. Best 2018 to 2022. Tasted June 2017. – 91 Points David Lawrason

 

***The Old Third 2015 Pinot Noir: A remarkably ripe and concentrated vintage for the Old Third’s pinot noir, still a long way from prime enjoyment, a few years at least. The palate is still tightly wound, with a densely woven tapestry of tannins, while Turkish delight, dried rose petal, black liquorice, twigs, black pepper, curry powder, and a host of other aromatics I wouldn’t expect to find in PEC pinot noir (or period), make their appearance. It’s still tough to get a read on this, but overall it’s in a more meaty-earthy Côte de Nuits style. I suspect it will be excellent, best after 2020. Tasted June 2017. – 91 Points John Szabo MS

 

***The Old Third 2015 Pinot Noir: The vineyard is planted with high quality Pinot Noir clones, 114, 115, 459, 667, 777, 828 all grafted on Riparia Gloire in high density 4-foot 4-inch rows and 3 foot inter-vine spacing. The first commercial harvest was autumn 2008. The first thing you notice is the vibrant and bright cherry red colour of this young wine, then the aromas of perfumed violets and muted potpourri followed by super-charged and penetrating cherries, bramble and cranberry that intermingle with cassis, red licorice and seamless, integrated fine oak spice. Francois is a purist and adds nothing to his wine that doesn’t need to be there. He wants the vineyard to tell the story and shuns any amount of sulphur that isn’t absolutely necessary for the preservation of the wine. The delivery on the palate is like velvet, such smoothness and texture then purity of cherry fruit that’s deep and lingering, all supported by a mixture of cassis, small wild berries, subtle oak spice and minerals. It is perfectly balanced with fine-grained tannins carried on a long, long finish. This is attractive now with decanting, but will only get better with 2+ years of cellaring and a long life after that. A truly magnificent Pinot Noir, one of the best I have tasted from Canada. – 94 Points Rick VanSickle

 

***The Old Third 2015 Cabernet Franc: The 2015 Old Third cabernet franc is a superb expression from County, if somewhat atypical. It’s unusual for its ripeness and weight, absent the leafy greenness of cool climate examples, and registering 12.5% alcohol, also high for the County. It’s equally rare for its relative abundance, considering the hard frost that hit the region in late May, which, in the case of most vineyards, annihilated anywhere up to 100% of future grape bunches (though production is still tiny). The Old Third’s south facing, sloping site with good air drainage remained virtually unscathed, and the winery recoded its largest harvest to date. That’s all good news for cab franc fans, as this is a real beauty, benefiting from the warmth of 2015, delivering plenty of fresh raspberry fruit and delicate violet florality alongside cool County stony character. It’s a wine of marvellous purity and fruit expression with distinctive vineyard origins, and excellent density and length on a delicate, light-mid-weight frame. Succulent acids and marked savoriness draw you in for more. Tasted July 2017. – 93 Points John Szabo MS

 

***The Old Third 2014 Cabernet Franc: I got a double tasting of this wine when trying it with the winemaker: a bottle that had been opened 24 hours and a freshly opened bottle to see how they would differ.  Freshly opened:  First sip there’s some herbal and tobacco notes which help to back up plenty of up-front dark fruit like black raspberry and cassis … 24 hours old:  It’s all melded together, though the herbal note and tobacco seem a little more up-front pushing back on the fruit.  Currently I see the sweet spot here would have been at about 10-12 hours open … then again just hold it a few years and it’ll do all that naturally.  ****+ Michael PinkusIMG_7606

***The Old Third 2013 Pinot Noir: A very fine, fully ripe pinot noir of great finesse and finely detailed flavours, with a little more depth and mid-palate density then previous vintages, a result, one supposes from the increasing age of vines (planted in 2005). This was picked relatively early on September 8th, the first pinot to be picked in the County, and clearly fully ripe at 12.5% Tannins are fine and tightly grained, all silk, but still firm, and need some time to relax, another year or so I suspect would be ideal. A terrific wine all in all. – 92 Points John Szabo MS

 

***The Old Third 2013 Pinot Noir: Rarely do the bitters of high density Pinot Noir plantings infiltrate with such courage layered by the richness of heavy clay and fractured, quarellous limestone. Depending on how frequent your Pinot Noir tasting opportunities are you may be swayed with prejudice in one direction or the other because the astringency is a very real, authentic, hyperbole of Pinosity. Could this be more intoxicating? From four of five acres of Old Third Pinot Noir, billowing out liquorice, garrigue, tar, roses and the neverland yield of tonic. Though 100 per cent de-stemmed, adding them to “purify” colour would be a mistake. Others could do wonders with this type of correction leading to intensity. Grows chalky with time though adolescence is a hard nut to crack. Picking began on September 8th and the ripe, primary tannins suggest four years minimum to resolution. The nails in its heart will carry it across the girth of middle age. The seven-year mark will demarcate high water, as per the Old Third valour. Drink 2017-2020. Tasted July and October 2015. – 92 Points Michael Godel

 

***The Old Third 2013 Cabernet Franc: A really superb, aromatic, savoury, ripe but leafy example of cabernet franc from the County, with appealing woodsy notes. Fruit is ripe but fresh, with pure raspberry, strawberry notes, while tannins here are firm and tight, with dusty texture and marked stoniness. Excellent length and depth. A fine and detailed expression in an accurate cool climate idiom, best after 2016 or so when the palate unwinds. Tasted July 2015. – 91 Points John Szabo MS

 

***The Old Third 2011 Sparkling Pinot Noir: “On the fly” is not exactly what comes to mind from this 100 per cent Pinot Noir, first Sparkling wine made by Bruno Francois. Calculated, attention to detail and intensity of ideation more like it. Three years on the lees, no dosage and from a vintage to speak in more than whispered voices, of acidity that announces its arrival with immediacy and a summons to contest. The nose does yeast, toast, citrus and ginger. A first release revelation as ever graced Ontario’s waves, as dry as the desert and lingering with switch back traces of its yeasty, toasty self. A single vineyard can be this way, equally and in opposition of natural and oxidative, with a hue less than Pinot Noir, though unrequited as a triumph when you get a ripe white from such Pinot. The production of 1200 bottles is relatively house high in a stunner that needs no sugar to draw up its flavours. Drink 2015-2023. Tasted twice, July and October 2015. – 93 Points Michael Godel

 

***The Old Third 2011 Sparkling Pinot Noir: “Last year I bought and hauled home two cases of a 100 percent Pinot Noir sparkling wine from a tiny winery called The Old Third, in Prince Edward County (on the colder north shore of Lake Ontario). It had three years on the lees. And it too was exceptional, one of the finest 100 percent Pinot Noir sparkling wines I’ve had outside of Champagne itself.” Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator

 

***The Old Third 2011 Sparkling Pinot Noir: The first sparkling release from The Old Third, with three years on the lees, pure pinot noir, with zero dosage. This is real, artisanal fine sparkling wine with beautifully detailed red berry bruit blended with light biscuity, fresh brioche – very elegant, with lovely balance. There’s real aromatic intensity and genuine complexity, quite extraordinary for such young vines. Effervescence is fine. I’m very excited to see more sparkling from this winery, a great blanc de noirs and brilliant addition to the Ontario sparkling scene. – 91 Points John Szabo MS

 

***The Old Third 2011 Pinot Noir:The 2011 pinot from The Old Third is a terrific follow up to the excellent 2010, furthering establishing the quality status of this 5-acre, densely planted, organically farmed vineyard on the Closson Road terrace. It’s an authentic reflection of this cooler vintage, and a severe selection was required to achieve this level of quality. The colour is tending already to garnet, while the nose offers an enticing mix of dried rose petals, sweet pot pourri and delicate red berry-cherry-raspberry-wild strawberry fruit. Wood is again masterfully integrated, and tannins are ultra-fine, giving this a finely woven, silky texture on a light frame, braced by ripe, succulent acids. Considering the slim, lithe and forward nature of this wine, I’d recommend enjoying this over the short term, from now until about 2016 or so. Another refined and delicate Volnay-esque effort from winemaker Bruno François. Tasted June 2013. – 91 Points John Szabo MS 

 

***The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir:Supple, elegant nose, with notes of roses, red cherries and subtle spice. The palate is pure and elegant with beautifully textured red cherry fruit. Real finesse here. Such a lovely pinot noir. – 93 Points Jamie Goode  

 

***The Old Third 2011 Pinot Noir Blanc: This (mainly) Pinot Noir producer believes that white Pinot can be as good as Chardonnay in Prince Edward County. This small lot is barrel fermented and barrel aged in 65% new oak and the result is a gorgeously aromatic white with ripe apricot, pear, butterscotch and toasty vanilla on the nose. It is finely textured with ripe tropical fruits and lovely finesse through the finish. – 91 Points Rick VanSickleIMG_7603

***The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir: Supple, elegant nose, with notes of roses, red cherries and subtle spice. The palate is pure and elegant with beautifully textured red cherry fruit. Real finesse here. Such a lovely pinot noir.- 93 Points Jamie Goode

 

***The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir: The 2010 from The Old Third Vineyard is a terrific example of County pinot noir. The warmth of the vintage shows through, offering sweet red berry – raspberry, red cherry, currant – aromas, very delicate and nuanced. Wood is very well integrated, merely a light frame of spice, allowing the characteristic stoniness of the region to take centre stage. The texture is silky-firm, with light, seamless tannins and the finish is long and perfumed. A very refined, elegant expression all in all that will appeal to fans of the old world, Burgundian style (very Volnay-like in fact), and a wonderful addition to the Ontario wine repertoire. Tasted April 2012. – 91 Points John Szabo MS

 

***The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir: This is the third vintage from the Old Third, a serious pinot-focused property with organically-farmed, dense planted vines on a ridge atop Closson Road. It has an engaging if subtle nose of dried herbs (bay leaf/thyme) amid cran-strawberry fruit and background oak spice and earth. Oak is very deftly handled. Its mid-weight, smoothly textured yet a bit sour-edged on the finish; with excellent length. A firm, authentic style that needs about two years.Tasted May 2012. – 91 Points David Lawrason

 

***The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir: Such wonderful and wild nose of crushed red berries red plum, cassis, light mocha spice and a vein of earth-loam-minerality running through the core. Such a unique and special pinot with purity of fruit on the palate, rich and layered red fruits, touches of currants and cassis, integrated and smooth tannins and an alluring layer of soft spice that adds interest to the experience. So good. – 92 Points Rick VanSickle

 

Also in Hillier, the Old Third Vineyard, run by partners Jens Korberg and Bruno Francois is a gorgeous facility converted from a dairy barn built near the end of the 19th century. Francois and Korberg are fabulous and enthusiastic hosts, farming a small amount of Pinot Noir from the property using sustainable farming practices, wild fermentation and no filtering or fining. “For me, what’s interesting is what’s in the vineyard, what’s in the field,” Francois, who makes the wine, said, on a recent visit. The Old Third makes very limited quantities of Pinot Noir and a botrytis affected medium-sweet Pinot Noir and is adding a sparkling wine to the portfolio. Production is 350 cases with the goal being only 500 cases at full production. The wines sell out quickly and the next release isn’t until May. They keep their tasting room open until the wines sell out.”

***The Old Third Pinot Noir 2009: Such a distinctive, terroir-drive Pinot that’s wild fermented and finished unfiltered and unfined. The nose shows rich cherry fruit, violets, raspberry and integrated spice notes. It’s silky smooth on the palate with lovely mineral and spice notes to go with the red fruits. – 90 points Rick VanSickle

 

Before Closson Road was renamed, it went by another moniker. “When we moved here, our neighbours left a note on our door saying, ‘Welcome to The Old Third.’ ” recalls co-owner Bruno Francois, the Toronto-raised son of French immigrants. With partner Jens Korberg, he has brought the past back to life in another way, restoring an 1870s horse barn with design details worthy of Architectural Digest. Billowing white curtains make for an arresting contrast with the weathered wood, a conspicious clue that the horse has indeed left this barn. The only wine made here, a $35 pinot noir, is excellent.“ – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail 

 

“My favourite 2009 Pinot Noir thus far comes from The Old Third. Dubbed so in honour of the old name for Closson Road, which bisects the Third Concession in Hillier. Similar to Stanners, the vineyard is a limestone-rich clay studded with fossilised sea creatures and mineral-rich deposits left by glaciers. Winemaker and co-owner Bruno Francois along with partner Jens Korberg are hands-on and passionate. When you visit the winery, which is in a beautifully restored barn built in the late 1800s, at least one if not both of them will be there to greet you.

When he tired of the grind of the software business in 2004 and began exploring the dream of starting a winery, Francois sought out the help of one the regions pioneers, Geoff Heinricks of Keint-He. When he decided on a site in the Hillier he selected a warm, well-draining, south-eastern facing slope planted with six clones of Pinot Noir to very high-density and grown to very limited yields. The committed Pinot-phile only sells Pinot Noir . If that wasn’t proof enough of his passion for the grape he even imported a speciality tractor from Burgundy which straddles the vines, so he could work those tight high- density plantings.

His wine is hand picked, hand sorted and unfined and unflitered. Francois loves honest wines and has the goal of producing the best wine possible that tastes like it can come from no where but his section of Prince Edward County. His focus and hard work pays off in the glass.

A light purplish-ruby you could almost mistake it for a glass of fruit punch. Close your eyes, nose the glass and then you’re greeted with the unmistakable aroma of fragrant sweet cherry, kirsch, thyme fields, wild strawberries and a minerality reminiscent of ocean sea breeze. On the palate that cherry is so vivid you almost search for the pit between your teeth. After the cherry comes a wave of sweet early-summer strawberries before a hint of subtle fennel licorice, thyme and a deep minerality to round out the lingering finish. The tannins are supple and together with a perfectly balanced acidity provide the structure that suggest this will age and evolve over a few years.

A wine this focused and honest requires a food to match. A crisp-skin roasted chicken with flavours with thyme, sea salt and pepper accompanied by duck fat roasted potatoes would be perfect.”- Michael DiCaro – Spotlight Toronto

 

***The Old Third 2009 Pinot NoirPourriture Noble:  “…It is semi-sweet (25 grams residual sugar) with normal 12.5% alcohol. It is a very pale straw colour with mellow but complex aroma of buckwheat honey/marzipan, vague apricot fruit and dried herbs. It’s mid-wheight, creamy and lively with very good lenght. It is also best as cheese wine, with milder, soft and creamy styles.” – 90 Points David Lawrason

 

***The Old Third 2009 Pinot Noir: This richly flavoured pinot presents bold berry and intense dried herb aromas and flavours. There’s finesse to the package, and a long, lingering finish makes it something to seek out. – Chris Waters

 

***The Old Third 2009 Pinot Noir: Given the adherence to high density pinot growing at this small Closson Road property, it is no wonder this so closely resemble a traditional domain Burgundy. It’s pale garnet-ruby and just a touch clouded (unfiltered). The nose has cran-raspberry-beet fruit with, thyme-like herb and oak spice nuance, along with fresh dug potato earthiness. The palate is beautifully cohesive, with some firm, fine grained tannin. Very good to excellent. Age it another year or two. – 90 points David Lawrason

But as Pinot Noir has been the County’s clarion call, let’s discuss. Not surprisingly (to me at least) very few new wineries are showing mastery of the heartbreak grape. In a half dozen examples tasted in March as I toured the new wineries, only one – a 2008 Pinot Noir from Bruno Francois at The Old Third Vineyard – pinged my Pinot sonar, joining a 2007 pinot from Keint-He I first tasted last fall. Both high-density planted pinots capture the complexity and drive of great pinot, while most others are touched with one of pinot’s tripple O-sins: over-ripeness, over-oaking and oxidation.” – David Lawrason

 

“The Old Third Vineyard is run by two very focused and ambitious gentlemen, with such a passion for Pinot that they have devoted their entire endeavor to this one grape. Bruno Francois and Jens Korberg are partners in this serious, courageous and admirable endeavor. They have converted a large, historic barn into a lofty, airy and modern space that is sure to impress any visitor.”

***The Old Third 2009 Pinot Noir: Intense and very expressive floral nose with dried herbal and boysenberry notes. Rich and serious but also tangy with great elegance. Dried herbal notes throughout as well as older, integrated wood. Very good length.

***The Old Third 2009 Pinot Noir Pourriture Noble: This botrytis-affected Pinot Noir exhibits a sweet and inviting nose of peach nectar, white flower, beeswax and bright acidity. Palate is medium-sweet with elderflower, white cranberry and cherry blossom. Very elegant minerality is present on the long, lingering finish. Excellent with creamy blue cheeses. – Sara D’Amato, Wine Align

 

***The Old Third 2008 Pinot Noir: This debut from a brand new small, single-minded pinot producer on Closson Road immidiately joins the top echelon of County pinots, with refined layering aromas, and fine, sturdy – if youthful tannic – texture. It easily handles the complex six-year-old cheddar from Black River (Milford/Picton) and the earthy semi-hard sheep cheese called Bonnechere from Back Forty (Lanark), as well as, surprisingly, an almost liquid sheep cheese called Operetta from Fifth Town (Picton). For comparably sturdy Niagara pinots at Vintages, look to Le Clos Jordan. – 90 points David Lawrason