Thursday, September 10, 2009

Southern Okanagan Wine snuggles up to Burgundy

Here are my tasting notes for my recent Southern Okanagan wine trip. It blew me away as usual, one of my favourite wine regions in the world and cheaper than most BC wines by a few bucks. The region is similar to Burgundy in it's focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but with much more diversity due to the hot microclimates this desert region affords. Excellent merlot, pinot gris, meritgae and syrah are produced with gusto. A few stand out bottles of Gewurztraminer and a stunning sauvingnon blanc by Le Vieux Pin amazed me. Generally, I would say that they should leave the riesling to the Northern Okanagans cooler climate.

Below is a list of the shining stars of my collection from this trip. If you are going on a trip to this region (and I would recommend you do), hit these wineries for sure, especially, as you can't buy most of them anywhere except at the winery.

A note on 'facing' and soil- wineries gather grapes from different plots throughout the Okanagan, but their 'house grapes' would follow the facing I have listed. Soil types listed are general, specific sites will vary.

The Golden Mile Region
Soil - underlain by glacial fluvial sand and gravel, and alluvial fan deposits
Slope Facing - East
-Road 13-
2008 Chardonnay - Solid fruit, very fresh with a nice spicy finish from the finessed oak aging $20
2007 Jackpot Chardonnay - This is a big chardonnay, buttery as hell with balanced acidity, minerality and spice finish $35
2007 Pinot Noir - Cherry pie nose with characteristic pencil shavings, mouth full of delicate currents $23 great buy
2007 Jackson Pinot Noir - Same as above but bigger, more spicy and smooth. $35
2006 Fifth Element - Fine Bordeaux style wine, excellent value for the complexity. $36 & worth it
Syrah - generally high quality syrah with an earthy old world complexity
-Fairview Cellars- - sold out and closed, darn it

The Black Sage Bench

Soil - underlain by glacial fluvial sand and gravel, and alluvial fan deposits
Slope Facing - West
-Burrowing Owl-
2008 Pinot Gris - Light patio sipper with full fruit flavours; apple, pear with honeysuckle to boot. $25
2007 Merlot - A mouthful of earth and spice balanced on a handful of blackberries, caramel finish and light spice makes this one ready to drink. $30
-Le Vieux Pin-
2008 Sauvignon Blanc - Stunningly bold lychee & rose petal nose is reminiscent of a gewurtztraminer. Palette displays a balanced acidity delivering tropical fruit and a surprising minerality. Definitely stood apart from the rest in the valley. $35
2008 Petit Sigma Syrah Rose - A truly unique rose. Strawberries and spice dominates this lovely dry wine. $20

Osoyoos Lake Region
Soil - underlain by glacial fluvial sand and gravel, and alluvial fan deposits
Slope Facing - West, except for LaStella which is East facing
-Twisted Tree-
One of the most interesting South Okanagan Wineries, they edge their wines towards Spain and the Rhone Valley in France.
2008 Viognier Roussanne - Floral nose followed by a mineral grapefruit finish, really well done Rhone style wine. $20
Syrah - Bouquet of cinnamon, mild pepper, spice and a distinctive Okanagan sage note. Very buttery palette of current, spice and bitter lemon. Tannins are greenish and present, body is medium.
2007 Six Vines - Cassis, blackberry, cherry and dried herb aromas. The palate is broad and sweet showing cherry and cocoa flavors. The tannins are well integrated and fairly soft. The finish is long and smooth.
-Nk Mip- (pronounced Inkimip)
Very affordable, good quality wines in general, lacked the finish of the other wineries in the region.
2007 Pinot Noir - Black pepper, current and earth on the nose. Palette finds light cedar and cherry. Short finish, med+ acid. Amazing value. $20
2006 Merlot - Big fruity wine. Caramel, white pepper and strawberry nose. Green med+ tannins coat the mouth with a cedar brush. Plum and bitter lemon finish.
2006 Syrah - Full red berry, plum and jam notes with cedar box and cracked pepper to create an intriguing balance. Chewy tannins linger on the palate and harmonize with a soft, vanilla finish.
-La Stella-
This was a new find (only a year old) and the sister winery to Le Vieux Pin, showcasing more Italian style wines. They were bit high price straight out of the gate, but good quality and worth a try.
2008 Vivace, Pinot Grigio - Full nose of grapefruit and lychee; apple, flinty, lemon on the palette. A fine wine, but not worth $25
2008 Lastellina Merlot Rosato - Strawberries with a nice mineral bite to the finish. Again, a fine wine, but should be a few dollars cheaper. $25
2006 Allegreto Merlot - Smooth vanilla, blackberry and a dash of cloves on the nose. Mouth of current, cedar and a calming vanilla finish. Slightly green tannins give the wine a nice edge. $38 and worth it

Okanagan Falls Region - I think I'm in love.
Soil - underlain primarily by glacial lake silt
Slope Facing - Mostly West
-Blue Mountain-
This is the pinnacle winery of the Southern Okanagan in my book, and they are very affordable for the quality level. They baby their grapes from start to finish; all vines are solely from their own property. If you love French style wines; gorgeous pinot noir, lovely traditional method sparkling wine, make an appointment and go for a tasting at Blue Mountain.
Brut - Finessed, characteristic pear, almond nose, slight brioche. Palette is tart and refreshing with a lovely toasty finish. $24 !!! This is an amazing price.
2007 Pinot Gris - Light nose of pear followed by a subtle palette of pears and lemons. Lovely minerality, great patio wine. $21
2007 Pinot Noir - This is a classic Pinot. Berry fruit like currents and new strawberries are balanced wisely with notes like pencil shavings, vanilla and a good bout of earth. Excellent value Pinot Noir at $25
-Wild Goose-
If you want a good, dry riesling in the Southern Okanagan, this is your place. This winery is solid across the board, pinot gris to merlot to port style.
2008 Autumn gold - Great fresh and fruity sip some on their licensed patio.$19
2008 Gewurztraminer - Classic dry gewurztraminer with its intense lychee nose with a honeysuckle, apple palette. $19
2008 Pinot Gris - Fruit forward peach, great summer wine. $19
2007 Merlot - Nose of light spice and full berries with an interesting nutty note. Take a sip and you are met with black currents and vanilla, balanced acidity. Loved it at $20
2007 Merlot Reserve - Same as above merlot but more finessed and more plum like fruit. $25
2008 Black Brant - Mouthful of cassis, deep chocolate nose and a smokey finish. We have a WINNER! Especially at $20
-Noble Ridge-
Another favourite winery, you couldn't go wrong with buying any of their wines.
2007 Chardonnay - Siver medal winner in Burgundy, France for the Chardonnay du Monde competition, and rightly so. Crisp and fine with a strong minerality. Amazingly priced at $21
Kings Ransom - This one gave my head a shake; it was almost Spanish in style. Earth and spice dominated with lovely cherry, plum fruit. Smokey, tobacco, current finish, med+ tannins. Outstanding and very age worthy (5yrs min). $65

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