Today was the spring trade tasting of the Naramata Bench wineries at the revitalised New Westminster Quay River Market. The twenty-one member wineries presented a series of wines from the 2009 to 2011 vintages at their spring release. In a nutshell BC has five generic wine regions; Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver island and the Gulf Islands. The Naramata falls into the catch all Okanagan Valley designation. The region is in reality an eleven kilometre stretch from the town of Penticton to the village of Naramata. The "Bench" lies within a two and half kilometres of Lake Okanagan and benefits from its northern latitude for extended daylight hours, the moderating influences of the lake, and a complex soil make up of sand, loam, and lake alluvials. To the North, Nichol vineyards, and to the South, Perseus anchors the region. Production is relatively small with annual case production ranging from 2000 to 10000 cases. Overall white wine production in my opinion is better than red. Whites have lively acidity and good aromatics; whereas the reds seem to develop premature tertiary notes in youth. Some of my best finds include a selection of both red and white varieties. Must buys from todays tasting are:
2011 Poplar Grove Pinot Gris $20
Pale green with intense fresh pink grapefruit aromas. Medium-bodied, refreshing crisp acidity, and notes of pink grapefruit, melon, and apple.
2010 Laughing Stock Chardonnay $26
Straw yellow with a nose of restrained oak, nut, and mineral. Medium-bodied with a lush mid palate and crisp balancing acidity. Complex with "Meursault" like nuttiness, steely mineral undertones, and a long finish of citrus sorbet.
2011 LaFrenz Sauvignon Blanc $22
Pale green with balanced gooseberry and capsicum aromas. Medium-bodied, rich mouthfeel, and nice zippy acidity. Lovely fresh gooseberry and passionfruit flavours.
2010 Kettle Valley Gewürztraminer $22
Straw yellow with lychee, grapefruit pith, and mineral aromas. Medium-bodied, rich, dry, and Alsatian styled with rose, lychee and subtle bitter notes, Good value.
2009 Township 7 Syrah $24.99
Ruby red with classic bacon/meaty aromas. Medium-bodied with some tannins (2-3 years additional ageing), lushly textured with tea, spice, and meaty notes.
2008 Township 7 Reserve 7 $34.99
Ruby garnet with tertiary aromas of black tea and strawberry compote. Medium-bodied with soft tannins, cherry, tea, and plummy notes.
2009 Perseus Invictus $32.90
Dense ruby purple with oak resin aromas. Medium to full-bodied with layers of secondary and tertiary fruit (cassis, tea, olive, and, cigar, subtle mint and garrique herbs). Complex and good value.
More information on Naramata Bench wines are available at www.naramatabench.com or Twitter @naramatawines. Most of the Naramata Bench wineries have embraced social media and more information can be found on their websites, Facebook, Twitter, and the in the case of Perseus bottle QR codes.