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Fresh Approach

Henry of Pelham's new Sibling Rivalry label represents a point of departure — at very least, a fresh approach to marketing its homegrown wines.

    The Speck brothers of Henry of Pelham Family Estate have carved a niche for themselves as makers of fine wine in Ontario. Year after year, the winery ranks as one of the most consistent producers across the wide array of wine styles they produce. A new twist sees them launch two wines that just want to have fun.

    By blending different grapes together, Henry of Pelham has created two affordable wines, a red and a white, that appear to be gateway wines to the time-honoured portfolio of cool climate vintages, including stellar Rieslings, Chardonnays, sweet and sparkling wines.

    The playful label for Sibling Rivary features a drawing of the three brothers (looking a bit like a tribute to A-ha, the Norwegian new wave group responsible for Take on Me) with eye-catching colours and stylish screw-cap closures. With this approach, the winery is clearly targeting emerging wine drinkers with this brand of free-spirited wines that are made with mass appeal and enjoyment in mind.

    "We think of them as serious wine that's seriously fun too," explains Daniel Speck, the youngest brother who is responsible for sales and marketing.  "I like to think of Sibling Rivalry the same way I do designer blue jeans — broken in, comfortable, but classy too."

    Sibling Rivalry Red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2007 vintage, while the white combines Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer from last year's harvest. The grape varieties used are listed in small font on the label. Speck explains that the focus, particularly for the white version, was on being user-friendly. Gewurztraminer and Riesling are "long names and hard to pronounce" for novice wine drinkers, even while the styles of fruity and refreshing wines they produce are easy to enjoy.

    The hope is that consumer who would bypass those foreign or exotic names will embrace the packaging of Sibling Rivalry White and gain confidence to branch out and try something new.

    The Sibling Rivalry wines, which retail for $13.95, will be released in coming weeks at LCBO locations across the province. More information is available online at

Wines of the Week:
Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery 2008 Sibling Rivalry White
Niagara Peninsula $13.95 (126144)
    The new Sibling Rivalry label is a point of departure for the Speck brothers who own and operate Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery. The playful labels picture younger versions of Paul, Daniel and Matt Speck as a way of illustrating the free-spirited approach behind the wine. To my taste, the white is the more engaging of the two. A blend of Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, it is pretty and perfumed on the nose, with a crowd-pleasing fruity and off-dry palate. (LCBO General List)

McWilliam's Wines 2006 Hanwood Estate Chardonnay
South Eastern Australia $13.95 (557934)
    McWilliams's is a family-owned Australian winery that enjoys extensive distribution in North America thanks to its partnership with Gallo Family Vineyards. This crisp and clean white is a pleasant surprise for anyone who has written off Australian Chardonnay as being clumsy, oaky and candy sweet. Pleasant citrus and pear fruit flavours gain interest from subtle vanilla notes from the small portion of the blend that saw oak barrel aging. The 2007 vintage of this wine was just won a Gold medal winner at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in France so we can assume this noteworthy bargain bottle isn't a fluke. (LCBO General List)

McWilliam's Wines 2005 Mount Pleasant Shiraz
Hunter Valley, Australia $19.95 (082396)
    Here's another McWilliam's wine that defies expectations. Hunter Valley Shiraz rings different bells than the concentrated and jammy models that come from Barossa or McLaren Vale. This wine has that fruit-forward character that consumers love in Australian wines, but it reveals more spicy character and more fine-grained structure. (LCBO Vintages)

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