Therianthropy Wines : a rising garagiste collective from Niagara, Ontario

Therianthropy is the mythical process of shapeshifting, which is another way to view turning nature into wine. Therianthropy Wines is a small collaborative garagiste project launched in Creemore Hills in Niagara, Ontario, in late 2019, with David Eiberg as winemaker. The group of wine industry veterans source grapes from sustainable, organically farmed vineyards across Ontario for an adventurous set of low-intervention wines. All the ferments are natural, they don’t employ fining or filtration, and there are low to no sulphur additions throughout. They also finish their bottles with recyclable plant-based composite corks, and top with an organic beeswax button. 

The characterful wines each have their own half human / half animal identity, with their respective profiles and personalities outlined on the Therianthropy website. Their charming labels are instantly recognizable to any natural wine lover as Michel Tolmer’s design. The project has quickly made a name for itself with their tight collection of cool-climate, single vineyard wines, shifting each year as the vintage conditions and contracts allow. 

Notes by Treve Ring (TR) and Jamie Goode (JG)


Therianthropy Claire de Lune Riesling 2018, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From Twenty Mile Bench’s famed dry-farmed Foxcroft Vineyard, and its rich, calcarious clay loams, this dry Riesling was whole cluster pressed and native fermented over 2 months, with 10% receiving 8 days on skins to build texture. This underwent full MLF, and spent 8 months in stainless on fine lees with no bâtonnage before being bottled without fining or filtration. Dry and grippy, with apricot fuzz, tangerine pith, green apple, with a fine grip, and a mineral buzz that drives this along the palate. Some botrytis this vintage brought a lovely white honeyed sheen, and additional subtle savoury layers to the palate. Another example of Ontario’s excellence with Riesling. 91/100 (TR)

Therianthropy The Negotiant Redfoot Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2020 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
13.3% alcohol. This is joyful. Perfumed and aromatic with sweet cherries and plums and some floral notes. The palate is bright and fruit focused with some spicy notes, a silky texture, and lovely fruit. It’s softly tannic with good acidity and a fine spicy finish, and a texture reminiscent of carbonic maceration. Lovely fruit-forward style with gorgeous balance, and lots of interest. Very fine. 94/100 (JG)

Therianthropy Bonnie Vivant Chardonnay 2020, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From St. David’s Bench’s Bock Vineyard, this dry farmed Chardonnay is rooted in loamy clays (Tavistock red phase, Toledo loamy phase, Toledo phase), planted 9 years ago. After a whole cluster, native ferment (with 14% seeing 3 weeks on skins) in concrete egg, this remained there for full MLF and 7 months on lees without bâtonnage. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Fine lemon pith and peel brighten a lightly creamy palate, lightly textured by the concrete and whispering skin contact. The finish lingers with flax and delicate white blossoms. Impressive move forward from their inaugural 2019 Chardonnay, and certainly one to watch. 90/100 (TR)

Therianthropy Bonnie Vivant Chardonnay 2020 St David’s Bench, Niagara, Canada
13.1% alcohol. Fermented in concrete with 14% skin contact. This is bottled with the lees. Complex, mealy and spicy with lovely citrus fruit. Layered and saline with some apple and nut characters. But the focus is on the mineral, mealy citrus fruit with lots of interest, and a fine tapering finish. Very stylish. 93/100 (JG)

Therianthropy Bonnie Vivant Chardonnay 2019, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From St. David’s Bench’s Bock Vineyard. The soils (Tavistock red phase, Toledo loamy phase, Toledo phase) are not common to the region, and are various mixes of loamy clays. The soils are reflective in the creamy, softer palate, with yellow apple, peach, light corn, grapefruit, held tight by the stainless to a snappy finish. 88/100 (TR)

Therianthropy Mouflon Viognier Chardonnay Marsanne 2020, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Cofermented Viognier, Chardonnay and Marsanne from Bock Vineyard on St. David’s Bench make up this orange wine. This was whole cluster, native fermented in two small eggs, where it remained on skins and stems for 6 months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pouring a glowing peach / orange hue, this rings with apricot pith, clementine, grapefruit along a slight palate, positively grippy with tannins through a lingering, humming, white pepper finish. Lovely purity and freshness here. 90/100 (TR)

Therianthropy Mouflon Viognier Chardonnay Marsanne Skin Fermented White 2020 St David’s Bench, Niagara, Canada
12.6% alcohol. Co-fermented on skins. Small egg ferment for six months with skins and stems. Wonderfully aromatic nose with apricot, pear and baked apple, as well as some floral notes. The palate is fresh and lively with lovely fruit expression, some nice grippy structure, and good acidity. Clean as a whistle and finishing tart and tannic, but in perfect balance. 93/100 (JG)

Therianthropy Mouflon Viognier Riesling 2019, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
This, their first orange wine, was an experiment, and a worthy one at that. From St. David’s Bench and Twenty Mile Bench, this is a blend of cofermented Viognier, Riesling, and Marsanne, native fermented in egg, where it was left on skins and stems for 5 months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered, and topped with a recyclable and renewable plant-based cork, sealed with a beeswax button. Grippy and intense, this hazy orange-hued wine beams astringent apricot, bergamot, peach blossom, on a tight palate. The finish is rinsed with bitter orange, and mouthwatering salinity. A very tasty orange, well make and whistle clean, and a lovely addition to an already very interesting range of wines. 89/100 (TR)

Therianthropy David Eagle Gamay 2020, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From Four Mile Creek’s Willms’ vineyard, and 34 year old vines rooted in calcareous clay loams, this was native fermented with 60% whole cluster in Bourgogne concrete eggs, where it remained for 7 months, bottled without fining or filtration. Bright and juicy with crunchy plum, boysenberry, and purple florals, this lifted lighter red is etched with balsamic, and framed with fine, downy tannins to the tart, snappy, saline finish. Lovely with a light chill. #GoGamayGo! 90/100 (TR)

Therianthropy David Eagle Gamay Wilms Vineyard 2020 Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Canada
12.2% alcohol. 34 year old vines on calcareous clay loams. 60% whole cluster, wild ferment, aged in concrete egg for 7 months. Lively, bright, primary and intense with juicy cherry and raspberry fruit, with some spicy edges and fine green hints. Lots of complexity and good tannin and acid structure. This is really characterful and intense, and I like it a lot. Just a tiny hint of volatility but it doesn’t distract. 93/100 (JG)

Therianthropy The Negotiant Cabernet Franc 2020, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From the organically farmed Redfoot Vineyard, in Lincoln Lakeshore, this Cabernet Franc is rooted in the region’s rich red clays, planted 18 years ago. It was native fermented 75% whole cluster over 3 weeks, before resting in Bourgogne concrete eggs for 7 months, and bottled without fining or filtration. Luring purple florals, cassis, savoury herbal branchiness, and wild blackberry flood this juicy, fruity, youthful and carbonic-forward red. Tannins are downy and sticky, and acidity is crunchy, propelling this to a softly floral, amply saline finish. Easy, harmonious, fun Franc for enjoying now, with a light chill. 90/100 (TR)

Therianthropy The Negotiant Cabernet Franc 2018, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From 21-year-old vines growing on Twenty Mile Bench’s dry farmed Foxcroft Vineyard and its rich calcareous clay loams, this employed 80% stems and 80% whole cluster in the native ferment. After 18 months to rest in neutral barriques, this was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Alluring fleshy plums, perfumed dark raspberries, darting violets is finely tightened with a green herbal sapid edge, and gripped firmly by fine tannins. Acidity is bright, carrying this to a spiced finish. A beautiful interpretation of Niagara Franc. 91/100 (TR)

Therianthropy Le Maillot Cabernet Franc 2019, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
One of two Cabernet Francs released boy Therianthropy in 2020, Le Maillot is in the lighter, chill-worthy, smashable, Loire-esque vein, a style that Twenty Mile Bench does very well. From Foxcroft Vineyard’s calcareous-limestone gravels, these 22 year old vines were dry farmed, 60% whole cluster with times on skins, native fermented in stainless, where it remained for 4 months prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. Pouring a bright cherry hue, this opens with a wave of reduction before moving into wild raspberry, cherry, earthy green branch, and ample pink pepper. Tannins are soft and lightly sticky, and acidity is bright, easily lofting this medium bodied light red to a spiced finish. Chill and enjoy. 89/100 (TR)

Therianthropy Hunter’s Moon Cabernet Franc 2018, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
From the highly regarded Foxcroft Wismer Vineyard, on Twenty Mile Bench, these 21 year old Cab Franc vines are planted in calcareous clay loams. This was 80% whole cluster, native fermented over 3 weeks before aging 18 months in 225L barriques. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Alluring fragrant dusky violets, wild blackberry, black plum, wild thorns fill the medium palate, framed by firm, fine, lightly chewy tannins and buoyed by a bright and crunchy acidity. There’s a charming and pure plum core this charming cab franc is wrapped around. The finish lingers with a dusting of pink peppercorn, kiss of balsamic, and a return of that darling violet note. Drinking well now, and with some time ahead still. 91/100 (TR)

Therianthropy Hunter’s Moon Cabernet Franc Foxcroft Wismer Vineyard 2018 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
13.4% alcohol. This is fantastic. Great concentration of black cherries and blackberry fruit with some gravelly, chalky undertones to the sweet fruit. Essence of Cabernet Franc with good structure and focus and amazing balance. This is pretty serious stuff, drinking beautifully now. There’s quite a bit of tannin, but the fruit absorbs it. 94/100 (JG)

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Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]