For years, driving along York Road in Niagara-On-The-Lake, it stood alone. I’ve always admired it—that grand palatial structure that appeared, plucked out of the French countryside—Château des Charmes. Indeed, the traditions of this family-run winery began in the Alsace region of France. Through the grapevine, the Bosc family traveled from France to Algeria, and then, finally, to Canada, to establish Ontario’s first winery built specifically with the visitor experience in mind.
When I first met Michele Bosc, she could not have been more gracious and friendly. At that time, Château des Charmes was exhibiting a gallery of unique art works by an extraordinary local artist, Kendall Hurley. Michele spoke to me about pairing wine and art. No one else was doing that. I had never even thought about that before. And yet, in that one moment she expanded the lens through which I would view wine. I think she did that for a lot of people.
We sampled the Bosc Family’s Earth and Sky Pinot Noir and Rieslings. They embodied the fresh and vibrant sun and the rain-kissed vineyards along St. David’s Bench. Combining the art gallery made the wine an enriching ingredient in a larger experience, one that was both accessible and elevating.
Years later I was invited to a Men In Pink lunch at Allen’s on The Danforth to celebrate a bouquet of Ontario rosé wines. I was actually not that interested in rosé. Then, I tasted Rosé Cuvée D’Andrée from Château des Charmes. They say, “You never forget your first.” I never will. 100% Pinot Noir, it was vibrant, crisp, and bursting with strawberries and cranberries. I was immediately hooked. This was my new favourite wine, and rosé became my new go-to wine. I was surprised. I was excited. I called Michele. She was excited for me, and with her good natured encouragement told me, “You know what you should do Adam? Try pairing it with lamb burgers with a hint of mint aioli. It has the weight for that, and it has the acidity to pair with a salad with raspberry vinaigrette.” I did! And it was lovely.
Later, I wanted to write an article about my conversion to rosé. I visited Michele for some pointers. “You know what Adam?” she said, “You should really be writing about all the wonderful sparkling wines that are being produced here (in Niagara.)” She then introduced me to the Château des Charmes Blanc to Blancs. It was creamy with fragrant fruit and notes of baked bread. I was again, hooked. That year I wrote two wine articles in DINE and Destinations magazine: one about Ontario rosé wines; the other about Canadian sparkling wines—both inspired by Michele Bosc.
She was a wonderful and strong champion of the Niagara wine industry, and for me, she was a mentor, warm, engaging, erudite and genuine. And so…I raise a glass and say, “Thank you…Le chapeau, Michele.”
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.