The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 61 of 124

{ }  61 After lunch it was off to John Weber's Orofino in the Similkameen Valley— Canada's first straw-bale, solar-heated, 100% eco-friendly winery—whose oak-fer - mented 2013 Old Vine Riesling had citrusy acidity and lots of energy and his neither fined nor filtered 2014 Wild Ferment Syrah was vibrantly vigourous, both superb wines. Four other wineries were present: Eau Vivre, whose 2014 Cinq Blanc, a blend of Pinot Gris, Viognier, Sauvignon, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and a lovely Chinon-style 2013 Cabernet Franc took my vote; Little Farm, where Rhys Pender MW and his winemaker wife Alishan Dreideger make beautifully expressive and pure Rieslings from vines planted in 2009 with a great future; Clos du Soleil, focusing on Bordeaux grapes and converting to bio-dynamism, whose Sauvignon/Sémillon 2013 Estate Reserve white and Cabernet Sauvignon dominated 2012 Estate Reserve red were both classy and classic; Seven Stones, whose 2011 Chardonnay still showed a fresh min - erality. These Similkameen Valley wines are definitely Old World. Overnight was at Spirit Ridge Resort, home to the Solterra Desert Spa but more importantly for us the Nk'Mip (pronounced "in-ka-meep") Cellars, North America's first aboriginal-owned and operated winery. At dinner their 2014 Pinot Blanc and 2012 Meritage red showed well, TIME Estate's 2013 Chardonnay was rich and lay - ered, Tinhorn Creek's 2010 Cabernet Franc ripe and clear, while the stars for me were a phenolic but dry skin contact 2013 Stag's Hollow Viognier-Marsanne and especially their 2013 whole-berry fermentation 100% Grenache that showed stunning freshness. Had I imagined that there were few surprises left, Day Five would have proved me wrong. An 8 a.m. start at Anthony von Mandl's Checkmate Artisanal Winery that makes only small batches of Burgundian-style Chardonnay that will sell in the $C80–$C120 range. We tasted the impressive and as yet unreleased 2013s, four single vineyards from which I preferred the Bâtard-Montrachet– style Queen Taken and the more floral very complex Attack. Then off to Moraine Estate that overlooks Okanagan Lake, where vineyardist/winemaker Jacqueline Kemp was hoping for cooler weather to delay her vintage. Her 2014 Viognier showed great precision and purity, the 2012 and 2013 Pinot Noirs were good, but the 2014 had superb natural warmth and energy, the 2014 Riesling with 22 g/l residual had lifted charm and barrel samples of 2014 Malbec and Syrah were full of promise. Then off to Poplar Grove Winery to meet five producers, many of whose wines have been mentioned already. Senka Tennant's Terravista 2014 Albariño and 2014 Figaro, a Viognier/Roussanne/Marsanne blend were lovely wines; La Frenz's 2014 Viognier was good and their 2013 Viognier/Chardonnay/ Roussanne more exotic; Lake Breeze Vineyards' 2014 Pinot Gris was a star ; and Marcus Ansems's 2013 Daydreamer Shiraz/ Viognier again showed brilliantly, while Poplar Grove's Bordeaux-style 2011 Merlot and 2011 Cabernet Franc were very ele - gant. Time was running out, so B.C.'s wine industry doyenne Christine Coletta met us at Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, the new brainchild of DJ Kearney's husband David Scholefield, Chile's great soil expert Pedro Parra and Italy's flying winemaker Alberto Antonini for the last, totally uplifting, tasting of the trip. Also present was Tyler Harlton of TH Wines with a beautifully textured 2014 Merlot/Cabernet Franc Rose and a briary, earthy 2012 Pinot Noir. Under the Haywire label, the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and especially the 2012 Pinot Gris were superb, while Canyonview's 2014 Pinot Noir showed almost ethereal elegance. The following day, back in Vancouver, DJ Kearney had curated a compara - tive Judgment of B.C. tasting of 12 Chardonnays and 12 Syrahs, six of each from B.C. alongside six international benchmarks. A high level panel of 24 tast - ers set to work, with the following results, my own ranking in brackets. "Not bad for kids from the sticks," to quote Chateau Montelena's Jim Barrett in May, 1976. British Columbia's wines are already inspiring and will become more so as the vineyards age. What a trip! CHARDONNAY 1 (1) Soumah Single Vineyard 2012 Yarra Valley, Australia 2 (7) Kumeu River Hunting Hill 2012, Auckland, New Zealand 3 (10) Hamilton Russell 2014, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa 4 (3) Jean-Marc Brocard 2012 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains, France 5 (8) Bouchard Père et Fils 2011 Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières, France 6 (4) Blue Mountain Reserve 2013, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 7 (9) Tantalus 2012, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 8 (12) Robert Mondavi Reserve 2013, Carneros, California 9 (5) Mission Hill Perpetua 2013, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 9 (6) Quails' Gate Rosemary's Block, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 11 (2) Meyer Family Micro Cuvée 2012, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 12 (11) Haywire Canyonview 2013, Okanagan Valley, B.C. SYRAH 1 (4) C. C. Jentsch 2013, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 2 (3) Langmeil Orphan Bank 2012, Barossa, Australia 3 (9) Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 60 2013, France 4 (10) Nichol 2012, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 5 (5) Le Vieux Pin Cuvée Classique 2013, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 6 (1) Ojai 2011, Santa Barbara, California 7 (8) Jackson-Triggs Sunrock 2011, Okanagan, B.C. 8 (2) Orofino Scout Vineyard 2012, Similkameen Valley, B.C. 9 (11) J. L. Chave Sélection Crozes-Hermitage Silène 2012, France. 10 (12) Tyrell's Vat 9 2011, Hunter Valley, Australia 11 (7) Laughing Stock 2013, Okanagan Valley, B.C. 12 (6) K Vintners The Beautiful 2012, Walla Walla, Washington Autumn vineyards at Okanagan Falls overlooking Vaseux Lake. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BRITISH COLUMBIA WINE INSTITUTE

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