In Niagara (4) Cloudsley Cellars


Adam Lowy worked for premium Toronto-based importer Lifford Wines for a couple of decades before setting out on his own. His experience in tasting some of the world’s best wines, and then seeing the potential for Niagara to make world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, inspired him to get in on the act.

So Adam started Cloudsley Cellars in 2015 with the focus of making Pinot Noir from the Twenty Mile Bench appellation in Niagara. He’s a Burgundy Fan, and started the project virtually, using other people’s cellars. His own winery was built in 2017, when he added Chardonnay to the program.

The winery is next to the Wismer Lakeview vineyard, and the Wismers own all the properties he sources from. Production is around 40-50 tons of fruit a year, and 3000 cases is the goal.

Winemaking is in the hands of Matt Smith, and assistant winemaker is Eden Garry, who was previously at Ravine.

Chardonnay winemaking is classic. The grapes are whole-bunch pressed then settled for 24-48 hours. Then the juice is fermented in barrel with wild yeast. All French oak, mostly neutral (25-30% new in most, but 50% new in Foxcroft). They have an off-site barrel cellar, and elevage is quite long at 18 months. They only feed the ferment if it needs it.

For Pinot Noir, elegance is the key. Cloudsley use six different vineyards for Pinot Noir now; they did four single vineyards in 2018, which is the current release. We tried three of these: they made a small amount from Hanck vineyard which sold out quickly. They hand sort, destem, but don’t usually crush. Wild yeast ferments. Often, they cool fruit overnight in a refrigerated room before processing. They also try not to over extract the Pinot, and they are looking for alcohol levels of 12-12.5%. 


Cloudsley Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé 2021 Twenty Mile Bench
Mostly from young vines in front of the winery. This is supple and bright with lovely cherry and pear fruit and some nice acidity. It’s quite textural and bright with lovely balance and it finishes dry. 90/100 (Retail $25)

Cloudsley Cellars Chardonnay 2019 Twenty Mile Bench
Foxcroft and Wingfield vineyard. Really fresh and vital with some fine spiciness, and notes of nut and oatmeal. Lovely intensity of fruit here with good acidity. There is a brightness to the palate with lots of flavour and focus. 93/100

Cloudsley Cellars Wingfield Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 Twenty Mile Bench
This is fresh and fruit driven with some bright citrus and pear, as well as a touch of apple. Vivid with lovely fruit focus and intensity. Subtle spice and meal notes, but with brightness, a touch of salinity and keen acidity on the finish. 94/100

Cloudsley Cellars Foxcroft Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 Twenty Mile Bench
Such a beautiful wine. There’s a touch of nice reduction and some well integrated spicy oak. The fruit is mainly citrus with a lovely intense mineral core. Very fine and expressive with lovely intensity and precision. This is superb. 95/100

Cloudsley Cellars Pinot Noir 2018 Twenty Mile Bench
12.5% alcohol. Supple, fine and juicy with red cherries and plums, and a nice leafy edge that sits beautifully with the sweet elegant fruit. Lovely weight in the mouth with smoothness but also some savoury spicy hints. This has wonderful balance and some nice detail. Very fine. 93/100

Cloudsley Cellars Glen Elgin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Twenty Mile Bench
12% alcohol. Thin rocky soils here, about 800 m up the escarpment from the winery. This is very fine and fresh. Quite pale in colour it has lovely floral red cherry aromatics with a hint of undergrowth. The palate is really elegant with good structure and acidity, with a fine-grained structure. Such precision here. Sappy and fine, with potential for development. 95/100

Cloudsley Cellars Cuesta Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Twenty Mile Bench
12% alcohol. Not a Wismer property but they farm it. A warmer site, protected by forest up on the bench, but with good airflow and sun exposure where the Pinot is planted. Some flesh here, with sweet cherries and plums, and lovely delicacy and purity. Shows precision and focus with lovely depth but also elegance and finesse. Such a refined, pretty and expressive Pinot Noir. 94/100

Cloudsley Cellars Parke Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Twenty Mile Bench
There’s some depth here: it’s quite weighty but still has delicacy, showing nice tea and herb complexity with lovely depth on the palate. There’s a touch of richness here, and some sleek texture, with a hint of stewed strawberry in the background giving a touch of sweetness. Has lushness, but there’s also elegance. 94/100