Tastings to begin a new year
Because the last two months have been incredible busy at my desk, notes on interesting wines have begun to pile up. You might ask what have I been doing that is more important than drinking wine. To begin with, I have completed a revised fourth edition of John Schreiner's Okanagan Wine Tour Guide for release in the spring. The number of new wineries in the past two years is amazing, requiring a good deal of new research. Now that the book is locked down in final design, I have already found some new producers. They will have to wait for the fifth edition or the e-book.
I have in fact been tasting steadily and making notes until such time as I have a window for blogging again. Some of the wines reviewed here are limited production wines. The wineries may have begun to sell out but that does not mean you can't find the wines in private stores and on restaurant lists. I hope these notes will be helpful. Here are wines tasted in the last two months.
CedarCreek Platinum Pinot Noir 2008 ($39.90). CedarCreek's style with Pinot Noir over the decade has produced wines that can be firm and closed when first opened. This wine, which spent 16 months in French oak, was deliberately decanted to help it open up. That liberated lovely aromas of strawberry and cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of raspberry and cherry, with a hint of cloves and mocha on the finish. 88.
Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Red Willow Shiraz 2008 ($15.99). If you have been a fan of the popular Australian Shirazes at this price point, you will like this accessible wine. A generous red with flavours of plum, black cherry, blackberry and white pepper, this has a core of sweet fruit but is not as sweet as the Aussie competitors. 88.
Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Regatta #1 Red 2009 ($14.99). This interesting red blend extends the excellent budget portfolio of this producer. This wine is 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, supported by Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a dash of Syrah. The Cabernet contributes a touch of bell pepper to an otherwise ripe and juicy red,with plum and cherry flavours. 88.
Herder Estate Pinot Noir 2009 ($35 for a production of 68 cases). This wine establishes Herder as another top Pinot Noir producer in
Jackson-Triggs Gold Series Chardonnay 2009 ($17.99 ). Don't make the mistake of serving this wine too chilled. It shows its toasty/citrus/tangerine aromas and flavours best when moderately chilled. 88.
Jackson-Triggs SunRock Shiraz 2008 ($34.99). SunRock is the name of one of the winery's best vineyards in the south Okanagan. It is a hot site that grows great Shiraz; the winery has garnered awards internationally for this wine. This vintage begins with aromas of plum, spice, leather and even earth (that's meant to be positive). The wine is generous on the palate, with flavours of plum, fig, black cherry, spice and leather; there is liquorice on the finish. The wine has soft ripe tannins but will cellar well for a few more years. 90.
Mission Hill Pinot Noir Reserve 2010 ($24.99). During the past several years, Mission Hill has quietly but successfully raised the bar on its Pinot Noir, having mastered most other varieties. This is a robust wine with aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry, with spice on the finish and with the classic silky texture of the variety. 90.
Mission Hill Chardonnay Reserve 2010 ($19.99). Here is a textbook example of oak need only be a grace note if the objective is to make a fruit-forward Chardonnay. Only 45% of the wine in this blend was aged in oak, and then just four months. The wine begins with aromas of citrus and butter, with a hint of toast. On the rich, creamy palate, there are flavours of pineapple, apple, citrus and hazelnut. The finish is clean and crisp. 90.
Peller Private Reserve Syrah 2009 ($20). Here is a muscular wine with 14.9% alcohol but with so much substance that it does not have a hot finish. It has leathery, smoky aromas and flavours of figs, dark chocolate and pepper, with a gamey, earthy finish. 89.
Nichol Vineyard 9 Mile Red 2009 ($27 for 108 cases). This is a cheerful blend of quite complementary varieties - St. Laurent, a red grown mostly in Austria - and Pinot Noir. The winery used to release the St. Laurent on its own. This is a more interesting blend, a little more robust that Pinot Noir but with all the charm of that variety. 89.
Nichol Vineyard Syrah 2009 ($35). Nichol was the first to plant Syrah in the Okanagan in 1990, making a reputation both for itself and for the variety. With just 12% alcohol, this release is not as powerful as some Okanagan Syrahs but it makes up for that with elegance. It has lovely aromas and flavours of black cherry, pepper, spice, liquorice and deli meats. 91.
See Ya Later Ranch Rover 2009 ($24.99). This Syrah is one of several wines from this winery named for the dogs that an early owner of the property owned (and buried under on-site headstones). The wine begins with aromas of plum, cherry and pepper. It is full-bodied, tasting of plum, fig, blackberry and chocolate. 89.
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewurztraminer 2010 ($14.99). This is believed to be the largest selling Canadian Gewurztraminer, and has been so for a long time. It has the classic spicy aromas and grapefruit flavours of the variety, with a defining note of Muscat bitterness on the finish. 89.
Sumac Ridge Steller's Jay Brut 2007 ($26.99). If you did not have this on New Year's Eve, get a bottle for Valentine's Day. This is as fine a vintage as the winery has yet released, with notes of toast and yeast on the nose (classic Champagne!), with delicious fruity flavours and a creamy texture. The bubbles create an active and long-lasting display. The finish is clean and dry. 91.