The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 60 of 124

60 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 { steven spurrier's letter from London } OUR FIRST VISIT ON MY THIRD DAY of this action-packed trip was to Painted Rock Estate Winery, InterVin's 2014–15 Winery of the Year, on a spectacular bench that overlooks the eastern shores of Skaha Lake. Owner John Skinner, an ex-Vancouver stockbroker, leaves one in no doubt that funds have been invested in all aspects of production to arrive at a pinnacle of quality and the wines did not disappoint. A fine citrusy 2014 Chardonnay with oak and acidity in perfect balance was followed by four reds: 2013 Cabernet Franc with lovely fragrance and purity despite 14.8 abv, 2012 Syrah, black-red, rich and spicy with a silky smooth texture, 2012 Merlot even better with earthy autumnal fruits and tannins for ageing and finally his 2013 Icon, a 33% Merlot/21% Cabernet Franc/21% Petit Verdot/12% Malbec/5% Cabernet Sauvignon blend whose smoothness and vigour lived up to its name. Next was Meyer Family Vineyards, whose owner JAK Meyer has been send - ing samples of his Burgundy-inspired single lot Chardonnays and Pinots to me in London for three years. Quality here is both impeccable and excitingly vineyard- influenced, winemaker Chris Carson hav - ing the same "hands off " approach of the best Burgundians. Chardonnays were ripe, crystal clear with lemony acidity; Pinots had energy, depth, no heaviness and an assured future. My notes were too long, so I will just list the wines and ranking: Chardonnays – 2013 Old Main Road Tribute Series 18/93, 2013 McLean Creek Road 17.25/90+, 2012 Meyer Family Vineyard 17.75/92; Pinot Noirs – 2013 Reimer Family 17/90, 2013 McLean Creek Road 17/90, 2012 Micro Cuvée 17.5/91, 2008 Meyer Family Vineyard 17/90. After a light lunch with DJ Kearney at Liquidity Wines' restaurant, sharing a carafe of lovely 2014 Blue Mountain Gamay, we set off for what turned out to be the most fun afternoon and evening of the trip, the Third Annual B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration in the beautiful Linden Gardens in Kaleden. This is the creation of JAK Meyer and it welcomed 26 wineries showing two or three vintages each to around 300 guests. Perhaps it was the bucolic setting that saw 22 of the wineries reach or exceed the 17/90/Silver Medal score in my notes. These names may well crop up again, but here they are: 50th Parallel Estate, Averill Creek Vineyard, Blue Mountain Vineyard, CedarCreek Estate, Foxtrot Vineyards, Howling Bluff, JoieFarm, La Frenz Winery, Meyer Family Vineyards, Mission Hill Winery, Moraine Winery, Okanagan Crush Pad, Orofino Vineyards, Privato Vineyard, Quails' Gate Winery, Road 13 Vineyards, Spierhead Winery, St Hubertus Estate, Stoneboat Vineyards, Tantalus Vineyards, Tightrope Winery. The vineyards are mostly still young and the wines showed such well- defined fruit that British Columbia Pinots are now a force to be reckoned with. Day Four began with a tasting in the middle of the vineyards of Osoyoos- Larose, the superb estate on an 80-acre bench overlooking the Osoyoos Lake, now 100% owned by the Groupe Taillan, owner of Château Gruaud-Larose in Saint-Julien. Vines were first planted here in 1998 and from the start has been Bordeaux-centric, the first taste being the "second wine" Pétales d'Osoyoos 2012 with good cedary fruit and nice balance. Five vintages of Le Grand Vin followed with the proportion of Merlot declining from 75% to 50%: a fully mature 2003, a very good, very Medoc-y and still young 2007, a richer and more structured 2009 from a warm vintage, a very well-made 2011 in a difficult year and an excellent 2012 with florality, fra - grance, really good middle palate, a great success. Barrel samples of 2014 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon continued the successful search for elegance under new winemaker Mathieu Mercier from Cognac. This finely presented wine maintains its price at $C50 a bottle, which is a bargain. After this immersion in "Bordeaux," tasting followed tasting and I can only record brief notes on each. At Culmina Family Estate, Canadian wine industry pioneer Don Triggs, whose Jackson-Triggs winery is now part of Constellation, showed five wines in his brand new win - ery: 2014 Unicus Grüner Veltliner, 2014 Decora Margarets Bench Riesling, a 2014 Saignée Rosé from Bordeaux grapes, 2012 Dilemma Chardonnay in the Chablis style and a meaty yet elegant Hypothesis 2012 Bordeaux Blend. These are wines to watch. From the modernistic Culmina winery, the contrast could not have been greater arriving at the timbered farmhouse at Le Vieux Pin, where Séverine Pinte-Kosaka from France's Languedoc is making won - derfully expressive Syrahs, her 2013 Cuvée Violette showing the grape's feminine side, the 2012 Equinox being truly masculine, while the white Rhône blend 2013 Ava was a delight. Three other producers were there: C.C. Jentsch showing a fine stone fruit 2013 Chardonnay; The Chase a lovely Bordeaux blend, an elegant 2013 Malbec and a spicy black olive 2013 Syrah; Black Hill Estate with 2014 Alibi a grape - fruity Sauvignon/Semillon blend, their very impressive 2012 Nota Bene and the now mature 2006; Burrowing Owl with a rich but dry 2014 Sauvignon, a brambly 2012 Merlot and a more impressive Napa-style 2012 Meritage. The Best of British Columbia, Part Two by Steven Spurrier

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