100 points for this Niagara Riesling (and I haven’t even tasted it yet)

October 20, 2016 - winesinniagara.com by Rick Vansickle

One hundred points out of one hundred. That’s my score for Fielding Estate’s Theo Block Riesling 2015.

I assigned that score even before tasting the wine — I can’t bring myself to drink it, not yet — but I am not changing the score. It will forever be a 100-point wine in my estimation, the highest rating I have ever given a wine from anywhere in the world.

I believe that perfection is extremely difficult to achieve, even in wine, but in this case it seems appropriate, necessary even.

I believe in the Theo Block Riesling and the 100 points bestowed upon it today. It is perfect in each and every way and not one thing can change that for me. Perfect is perfect, in this case.

First, a little bit about this amazing wine that I have not even tasted yet.

Fielding winemaker Richie Roberts sourced the fruit from Theo and Shelley Procyshyn’s tiny Vinemount Ridge vineyard in Beamsville, not far from the Fielding Estate Winery.

Roberts says what makes this vineyard so special and meaningful is that it “so greatly reflects two things: the nature of where it was grown, and the dedicated family who farms the vines that grow there.”

Says Roberts: “When I met Theo and visited his vineyard in the fall of 2011, I was stunned. In such a difficult growing season, he was able to keep a picture-perfect vineyard. Over the past five years I’ve come to know that every vine in that vineyard is meticulously hand-tended to by the Procyshyn family. The vineyard is a perfect location for the cool-climate varieties that grow so well there, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the amount of work that a family can put into a vineyard, true stewards of the land.”

In 2015, Fielding kept a small plot of Riesling vines from the Procyshyn Vineyard separate from our other Riesling blocks.

“Thoroughly impressed by its character – it’s balance, texture, and the way it spoke to the vineyard and the family who tended it – we bottled the wine on it’s own as a tribute, a thank you, to Theo and his family.”

On the very day Fielding released Theo’s Block Riesling 2015 — the very first Theo’s Block — and the very day Richie picked the fruit for the next Theo’s Block Riesling, last Saturday, on Oct. 15, 2016, “Theo closed his eyes,” as the short obituary describes his passing. “Pain gone and at peace.”

Theodore William ‘Theo’ Procyshyn died with his family by his side. Another one taken by cancer.

In the vernacular of dying, he was taken far too soon, with a family and obligations, with a joyous future with grandkids and sweet dreams of retirement and a chance to pass the farm duties onto the next generation.

All taken away on the very day the wine bearing his name was released into the world. All taken away on the very day his next legacy was being lovingly harvested by hand in the vineyard he tended.

It’s truly beyond sadness.

I did not know Procyshyn, I have never seen his vineyard and only became aware of it yesterday when I visited Roberts at Fielding Estate. It is there that I learned of his story, his death, and the emotions that followed.

He is but one of the hundreds of farmers in Niagara who passionately grow grapes that bring such pleasure to so many people. They are hard-working people of the land. Humans with families, dreams and lives far beyond that bottle of wine in front of you.

Theodore William ‘Theo’ Procyshyn will be buried on Friday. His visitation is today (Thursday). In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society in Theo’s honour was suggested.

I raise a glass of the most perfect wine ever made, the Theo Block Riesling 2015, and the man who grew it.

Rest in peace.