In Niagara (8) Domaine Queylus

Website: Domaine Queylus

This is one of Niagara’s top wineries, and it has an interesting history. Queylus was started by a group of 12 wine geeks from Quebec. Initially they wanted to invest in Burgundy, but they were inspired by the success of the wines from Clos Jordanne, made by Thomas Bachelder. So they decided to work in Niagara, with Thomas at the helm. He was winemaker for a long time, but recently handed over this project to assistant winemaker Kelly Mason.

They planted the Queylus vineyard in 2007, and 2010 was the debut vintage. The first few vintages were made in the Southbrook winery, but in 2013 Queylus built their own winery, which is where I caught up Kelly Mason and assistant winemaker Brooke Husband.

There are two vineyard sites: the Queylus vineyard, and a leased 3.26 hectare site dubbed ‘Neudorf’ that used to be Clos Jordanne’s La Petite Colline. Queylus is below the bench and has deeper soils, making richer wines, while Neudorf is above the bench and makes wines with what Thomas describes as ‘limestone minerality.’ He divides both vineyards into sections. ‘We are trying to capture different parts of the vineyard and discuss what they taste like,’ he says.

Queylus is a largely red wine winery, and 60% of production is Pinot Noir. The remainder is Bordeaux varieties, chiefly Cabernet Franc which does so well in Niagara. Vineyards are managed organically and all ferments are wild yeast. Everything is destemmed. ‘We are trying to learn our vineyard,’ Thomas says. ‘The zeitgeist of the new world is not to have everything separate. Everything is contiguous. If you have 10 varieties then you never learn about your terroir.’

Now Queylus make 22 different wines each year, with a production of 5000-6000 cases.

Pinot Noir vinification is 100% destemmed, with whole berry ferments. ‘The key to making amazing Pinot Noir is extraction,’ says Kelly. Everything is wild fermented and nothing is added except organic nutrients, although sometimes she might add tartaric. Kelly explains that 6-7% alcohol is the window for extraction. Everything stays in tank 23-30 days. ‘In that time frame with alcohol and heat and finished wine the punch down is a way of seasoning the wine like a chef,’ she says. ‘It’s a crazy time for Pinot at harvest because it is so detailed. You need to have a team dedicated to Pinot: it is a journey, a labour of love.’

The Pinots are all made the same way, with the same oak. ‘The quality is there for all of them,’ says Brooke.


Domaine Queylus Chardonnay Tradition 2018 Niagara Peninsula
This is complex, rich and a bit nutty with nice depth of fruit. Very expressive with lovely pear and lemon notes, and a touch of mandarin richness. This has depth and generosity, but there’s focus, too. 92/100

Domaine Queylus Réserve du Domaine Chardonnay 2019 Niagara Peninsula
12.5% alcohol. This is from the Mountainview vineyard in Lincol Lakeshore: it’s 20 acres with 4 acres of Chardonnay. This has clones 548, 124, 95 and 76, which helps from a blending perspective because these are kept separate. Lovely complexity here with meal, spice and some nuttiness, with hints of cabbage and spice, as well as pear and apple and then a citrus flourish on the finish. Has some meal and spice and then lovely mandarin and a touch of lime on the finish. Quite profound. 95/100

Domaine Queylus Le Grande Reserve Chardonnay Cuvée Champlain 2020 Niagara Peninsula
13% alcohol. This was the hot vintage, but they picked early and they are trying to make something leaner and less oaky (there’s no new oak here). This is complex and layered with intense pear, white peach and citrus fruit, with some meal and some orange peel notes. Very lively and fruit driven, but also showing some richness. Has layers of flavour with a fine spicy finish, and freshness considering how warm the vintages was. 94/100

Domaine Queylus Tradition Pinot Noir 2019 Niagara Peninsula
This is a blend of vineyards. The parcels are kept separate (there are 18 small tanks) although the clones aren’t, so this is a different model to the Chardonnay. This has lovely volume but also sweet cherry and plum fruit, backed up with firm spicy structure. It’s very pretty with nice flesh and a touch of redcurrant, but also sweet cherry fruit with a warm, grainy, spicy finish. Very expressive and fine. 93/100

Domaine Queylus Réserve du Domaine Pinot Noir 2019 Niagara Peninsula
This is complex and interesting with dried herbs, some spice and a touch of cedar on the nose, as well as supple, elegant cherry and plum fruit. There are some floral characters, but also a textured, sliky mid palate and then a fine, spicy structure shoring up all the fruit. This has so many layers: it’s pretty and elegant but it has substance. Very fine. 95/100

Domaine Queylus La Grande Reserve Pinot Noir 2018 Niagara Peninsula
Great concentration here: this is quite serious with a sweet core of black cherry and plum fruit, showing good concentration, and with some fine savoury characters too. Lovely flesh, but also some bones. Dried herbs, lavender, fine spices and even a touch of iodine, and then some cedar and a grainy mineral character on the finish. Quite remarkable. 95/100

Domaine Queylus Réserve du Domaine Cabernet Franc 2020 Niagara Peninsula
Mountainview vineyard. Powerful and intense with lovely blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, as well as some notes of tar, dried herbs and spices. Concentrated and bold with a slight saltiness on the palate with some savoury olive and spice notes. Has good structure and acidity. Very fine with great intensity. 95/100

Domaine Queylus La Grande Réserve Merlot 2020 Lincoln Lakeshore (magnum)
Powerful and intense with some structure to the fleshy black cherry and blackberry fruit, showing focus and weight. There’s ripe fruit but also some good tannin. This is fleshy and appealing but also structured. Lovely weight and intensity. 94/100

Older notes

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Tradition 2014 Niagara, Canada
This is fine, supple and savoury with nice cedar spiciness under the fresh red cherry and plum fruit. Has nice structure and a bit of grip, with good acidity and nice elegance. Fine spices here. 92/100

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Réserve du Domaine 2014 Niagara, Canada
There’s some supple sweetness here with fine red cherry and plum fruit. It’s quite mineral with good acidity and nice structure under the fruit. Has some elegance, and fine savoury detail. Grown-up Pinot Noir. 94/100

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Le Grande Reserve 2014 Niagara, Canada
‘This has a coiled spring in it,’ says Thomas Bachelder. ‘You want to cellar it.’ Has the two eastern blocks of the home vineyard and a big slice of Neudorf. So fine. Has some raspberry and red cherry fruit with good acidity. This is all about elegance, with lovely precision and weight. There’s a lovely acidity here, with a juicy freshness to the red fruits. This needs time but it’s really fine. 95/100

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Tradition 2015 Niagara, Canada
Very fine aromas of red cherries, herbs and spice. The palate has lovely freshness with a density to the cherry and raspberry fruit. There’s real concentration here with dense fruit but also some elegance. Has good acidity and some structure. This is a big wine that’s lovely, but will need time to come round. 94/100

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Réserve du Domaine 2015 Niagara, Canada
There’s some real elegance here with fine red cherries and plums. Supple and elegant with lovely focus, some fine sappiness and lovely integrated acid and tannic structure. This is really linear and focused with a lovely purity and potential for development. 95/100

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir La Grande Réserve 2015 Niagara, Canada
This is beautifully focused and sweetly fruited with taut, compact, yet elegant red cherries and a fine silky texture. Everything is in focus, and there’s a real elegance. Such purity and focus here with a very fine structure. Massive potential. So elegant. 95/100

Domaine Queylus 7 Terroirs 2014 Niagara, Canada
A blend of all four grapes, just one barrel made, never marketed. Has some Chardonnay even! This is for the partners from Montreal, who wanted all the terroirs represented in it. Started with Pinot and added the other grapes. Spicy, cedary and dense with some warmth. Fresh with red fruits and some spiciness. Sappy and a bit herby. Grippy with some tannins. 92/100

Domaine Queylus 7 Terroirs 2015 Niagara, Canada
Lovely density with raspberries and plums and nice structure from the tannins and the acidity. Very lively and expressive. Lovely concentration weight and freshness with lots of everything. This is fun. A decadent wine. 93/100

Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Tradition 2014
The Cabernet Francs all have some Merlot in them. This is really fresh and supple with nice sweet cherries and plums. Nice acidity and some fine-grained structure. Has some raspberry and some sappy herb notes. Very juicy and lively, with real elegance. 92/100

Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Réserve du Domaine 2014
Juicy, fine, supple and elegant with fine red cherries and blackcurrant notes, with lovely juiciness and a hint of greenness that’s perfectly integrated. Nice raspberry freshness. Young but elegant. 94/100

Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Tradition 2015
Very fresh and fine with supple red fruits and a bit of blackcurrant. Very expressive and supple with some raspberry. Very expressive and elegant with purity and a hint of meatiness. Lovely fruit here. So fine and pure. 94/100

Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Réserve du Domaine 2015
Lovely juicy, bright blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some raspberry freshness. Pure and quite elegant with nice brightness but also substantial concentration and weight. A hint of meatiness. Lovely. 95/100

Domaine Queylus Merlot La Grande Réserve 2015
Such finesse here: bold and structured with lovely cherry and raspberry, plus some blackcurrant freshness. Has grip and good acidity with very fine structure and keen acidity. Substantial but elegant with real purity. 95/100

Domaine Queylus Chardonnay Tradition 2015
Lovely freshness and purity with lemons, pears and fine spiciness. The oak (just 10% new) is well integrated and pure with lovely stony freshness and lemony precision. 92/100

Domaine Queylus Chardonnay Réserve du Domaine 2015
Fresh, nutty and pure with transparent lemon and pear fruit. Has a nice mouthfeel with hints of wax, spice and fennel in the background. Nice purity and density here. Bright finish. 93/100

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