Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Must! 2014 BC Vintage

This year is looking like a stellar vintage for many winegrowers in the Okanagan. A warm summer has lead to reports of excellent phenolic ripeness and great natural acidity. BUY BC!

This week I attended a rather unique tasting lead by Master of Wine Rhys Pender for the British Columbia Wine Institute. The tasting included 2014 musts, the intermediate bridge between grape juice and wine, along with examples of 2012 and 2013 vintages that are a BCLDB focus promotion for the month of October.  Along with my colleagues it was a rare treat to taste musts for Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, and Cabernet as well as surmise their finished fate.

Rhys Pender, winemaker and owner of Little Farm Winery, as well as an MW; lead the seminar on winemaking basics in the Okanagan and discussion of the flights of wine. He stated an interesting and overlooked fact  that Canada has one of the few iconic wine styles that represent a country “Ice Wine”.  Rhys also discussed Canada as a “cool climate” wine country despite having extremely warm and cool microclimates throughout the Okanagan, The Islands, and Fraser Valley. Time for a re-think of BC’s regions and classifications?

What I found fascinating was the tasting of the musts and freshly picked grapes. They were in various stages of change from juice to partial fermentation, cloudy, and full of organic matter.

Pinot Gris must | Cloudy and grapefruit/orange juice mix in colour. Aromatic but not noticeably Pinot Gris in flavour and aroma.

Gewurztraminer must | Less cloudy than Pinot Gris, pink grapefruit juice colour. Subtle lychee aromas and flavours. Noticeable varietal flavour profile.

Merlot must | vivid purple black colour with flavours and aromas of plum, blueberry, and cocoa. Sweet and full of particulate matter.

Cabernet Sauvignon must | violet purple colour with aromas of cassis and red berries. Lighter than the merlot must.

Throughout October, the BCLDB is promoting British Columbia wines, here are my notes on the ten I tasted being featured in various retail locations.

My Ratings | * = poor ***** = outstanding 

Nk’Mip Pinot Blanc 2013 $15.95
Pale green with green apple and pear aromas. Light-bodied with apple, pear, and subtle mineral notes. ***

Sandhill Hidden Terrace Sauvignon Blanc 2013 $18.99
Straw green with herby gooseberry leaf aromas. Medium-bodied with good concentration and acidity. A herby leafy style of SB. ****

Gehringer Brothers Estate Pinot Gris 2013 $14.99
Straw green with glade fruit, apple, and grapefruit notes. Medium-bodied and crisp with ripe apple and grapefruit pith flavours. ***

Lake Breeze Vineyards Pinot Gris 2013 $19
Yellow green with Alsace style aromas (restrained grapefruit). Medium-bodied, dry, bigger and richer than the Gehringer. Lots of apple and grapefruit and a mineral laced finish. ****

Gray Monk Estate Winery Gewürztraminer 2013 $16.99
Straw green with lychee and subtle rose aromas. Medium-bodied, relatively dry, with ginger and subtle lychee notes.

Wild Goose Vineyards Gewürztraminer 2013 $18.50
Straw green with a very perfumey driven nose (sweet spices and rose). Medium-bodied, drier than Gray Monk, with good concentration and flavours of spice, fresh ginger, and lychee.  ****

Hester Creek Estate Winery Select Barrels Merlot 2012 $18.95
Ruby red with herbal aromas and a touch of cedar. Medium-bodied, easy to drink, with notes of plum, cocoa, spice, and a hint of dill. **(*)

Mooncurser Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2012 $20.90
Youthful ruby purple colour with new oak/cedar aromas. Medium to full-bodied with cassis, blueberry, subtle vanilla and a blackcurranty finish. ****

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $16.99
Ruby purple with aromas of herb and blackberry. Medium-bodied, easy to drink style, and flavours of herb, chocolate, and cassis. **(*)

Time Estate The Girls Vivacious Rose 2013 $19.99

Coppery pink with wild strawberry and raspberry aromas. Light-bodied with a soft mid palate and clean crisp finish. Easy to drink rose with strawberry dominate notes *** 100% of this wine sales goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - BC/Yukon Region (CBCF)

Looking for more information on the wines of British Columbia? Click here for the BC Wine Institute website. 

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