Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sad News From Niagara Wine Country


Sheena credits John Marynissen, and his daughter Sandra, with igniting a passion and respect for good wine - wine made with hard work, with care, with respect for nature and for the labour that goes into it. He taught that wine is made to be shared, with love, with family and friends, with good food and never without inspiring conversation.

It was 1994 and Sheena was on her honeymoon. A Niagara wine tour. We drove and tasted all weekend, keeping notebooks of scribbles and maps and ratings, going back on the very last day to buy the best of the best and drive back home to Ottawa. The cases we bought at Marynissen that weekend formed that foundation of our now-dual cellars to this day. Year after year, we went back, sometimes together, sometimes apart, introducing new friends and visiting family whenever we could. New places popped onto the radar, as incomes rose so did the taste for Aussie and Californian wines, but every single year came back for John's and later Sandra's handiwork. Some of the most beautiful reds in Ontario: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, the Cab-Sauv/Merlot blend by the case as the house red Chez Sheena for so long.

The handwritten scribbler under their tasting counter. You had to be nice and polite at the shop to get on "the list". The special small batches of Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sandra's first solo Baco Noir, the unfiltered experiments that may or may not ever see the light of day...

The 5-year vertical tastings at their anniversary party where only Sheena scored 100% pegging year to the blind samples. I did it because they taught me well - about colour and nose and legs and how they reflected harvest and weather... and it all stuck with me. I started to develop a near photographic memory for wine because of the pictures they painted for me.

Through picnics in the vineyard, to the grouchy mean cats and overly friendly dogs... this place was one of Sheena's happy places among happy places.

Rest in peace, Mr. Marynissen. You touched lives across the continent with your love of nature, family and hard work.


At 9:20 AM, Blogger petite gourmand said...

One of my favorite wineries in NOTL....

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also one of my favorite wineries in the region.
I'm sorry to hear it Sheena.

Although, I just happen to have a very nice 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon from there, so I think I'll drink it tonight in John's memory.


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