Photo: Wild Goose Vineyards
Recently, the Painted Rock Merlot
2013 noted below was one of the Canadian wines served at a dinner in Stockholm
at which Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf was a guest. The king was so impressed
with the wine that he asked if he could buy it in Sweden. Painted Rock owner
John Skinner (who was not at the dinner) has initiated talks with Sweden’s
liquor monopoly, the Systembolaget
The anecdote is an example of the
reaction British Columbia wines are receiving outside the province. Painted
Rock is just one of the wineries beginning to export some wines.
It is a question that is asked all
the time: are BC wines exported? Yes – but not is great volume (except for
Icewine). On a world scale, the BC wine industry is small – and lucky BC
consumers drink most of the wine.
Here are notes on the second half of Okanagan Falls Winery
Association’s recent tasting in Vancouver.
Vineyard & Winery
was opened in 2005 by former Calgary lawyer Jim
D’Andrea and his wife, Leslie (right). The vineyard benefits from multiple exposures,
enabling them to grow Cabernet Sauvignon on one slope and Pinot Noir on the
opposite slope, among other varietals.
Noble Ridge “The One”
($40 for 234 cases). This sparkling wine is 81% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot
Noir. It spent 41 months en tirage before being disgorged. Crisp and
refreshing, the wine has aromas of green apples and citrus leading to flavours
of apple and grapefruit framed by hints of biscuit. 92.
Noble Ridge Pinot
($19.90 for 422 cases). The winery delayed releasing this until
this spring, having concluded that Pinot Gris benefits from some bottle age.
The wine has aromas of citrus and peach which is echoed in the flavour. While
the wine was fermented in stainless steel, two per cent was aged in four months
in French oak. The touch of oak adds structure and complexity. 90.
Noble Ridge Reserve
($29.90 for 415 cases).
The 14 months this wine aged in French oak contributed to a rich and
creamy texture. The wine begins with aromas of citrus, toffee and vanilla which
are echoed in the marmalade flavours. 91.
King’s Ransom Pinot Noir 2013
($55 for 93 cases). This wine begins with aromas of cherries and raspberries.
The palate is intense, with flavours of spicy cherries mingled with toasted
oak. The texture is full, leading to a velvet polish on the finish. 94.
Painted Rock Estate Winery
opened in 2009, based on a vineyard sandwiched between the
Skaha Climbing Bluffs and Skaha Lake. The view from the wine shop – itself
stunning architecture – is one of the Okanagan’s most dramatic vistas (left).
Painted Rock Rosé 2015
($21.69 for 483 cases). This is a blend of juice from Merlot, Cabernet
Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot. It begins with
aromas of strawberries, cherries and rhubarb, leading to tangy flavours of
strawberries and red berries. 89.
Painted Rock Cabernet Franc 2014 ($44.99 for 438 cases). This wine was aged 18 months
in French oak (30% new). It begins with rich, intense aromas of smoky black
cherry and vanilla. The oak subtly frames the flavours of plum, black currant,
black cherry and coffee. The finish is long, with hints of dark fruit and
chocolate. The ripe tannins still have some grip, suggesting the wine will age
well for a decade. Decant it is you want to drink it now. 92.
Painted Rock Merlot 2013
($34.99 for 1,746 cases). The Swedish king got to taste a wine that is
densely concentrated, delivering aromas and flavours of black currant, black
cherry and blueberry, with dark chocolate on the finish. The oak aging has
given this a touch of vanilla. 91.
Painted Rock Syrah 2013
($34.99 for 1,622 cases). The wine begins with a whiff of pepper, plum and black
cherry leading to earthy and meaty flavours of dark fruit, punctuated by pepper
on the finish. 92.
Painted Rock Red Icon
($55 including tax). This is 33% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 19%
Malbec, 16% Petit Verdot and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. Once again, it was aged 18
months in French oak (30% new), accounting for the svelte, polished texture of
its long, ripe tannins. It begins with aromas of black cherry, black currant,
spice and vanilla. The palate is rich, with flavours of black cherry and black currant
mingled with notes of blackberry, mocha, tobacco, vanilla and spice. The wine,
if decanted, is accessible now but is built to age for 10 or 15 years. 94.
is on the southern outskirts of Penticton – too far south to belong to the
Naramata Bench Winery Association. Its contribution to the Okanagan Falls group
includes a unique 5,500-square-foot cellar and winery (right). Paul Gardner spent 10
years carving a cellar into rock at the top of the vineyard. The big glass
doors at the front give him a view over the wines; and give visitors a view
deep into cellar.
Marsanne Viognier 2012
($27). This is a very complex white wine, with stone
fruit aromas and flavours. Even though the wine is five years old, the fresh,
crisp apple and pear flavours are remarkably youthful. Try it with fresh
($20). This is an excellent Charmat method sparkling wine with
citrus aromas and flavours. The finish is crisp. 91.
Pentâge Hiatus 2013
The price signals the intention here is that this should be an approachable
red. It is a blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot,
10% Malbec and 2% each of Petit Verdot and Tempranillo. The wine has aromas and
flavours of plums and ripe cherries. 89.
Pentâge GSM 2013
This is 40% each of Grenache and Syrah and 20% Mourvedre Pentâge
. Dark in colour, this wine has spicy fruit aromas, leading
to flavours where deli spice mixes with dark fruit, black cherry and licorice.
See Ya Later Ranch
is high up on a hillside with picnic area overlooking Okanagan Falls.
The winery has a dog-friendly policy inspired by a former owner of the property
(before there was a winery). Major Hugh Fraser loved dogs and, when they died,
buried them under headstones. The headstones now have all been placed around a
tree at the front of the tasting room. Several wines also are named after
various of his dogs.
See Ya Later Ranch
Sparkling Brut NV
($23). This is 100% Chardonnay, bottle fermented in the
traditional method. The wine has aromas and flavours of apples and grapefruit
with a hint of brioche. The bubbles give a richness to the palate while the
finish is crisp. 89.
See Ya Later Ranch Gewürztraminer
($18). The north-facing vineyard on the slope above winery is regarded
one of the best sites in the Okanagan for this varietal. The wine begins with
aromas of rose petals, spice and lychee which are echoed on the palate. Hats
off to the winemaker: this is dry, food-friendly Gewürztraminer. If only more
Okanagan wineries had the courage to dry out this varietal instead of producing
palate-boring off-dry versions. 90.
See Ya Later Ranch
Pinot Gris 2016
($18). Pinot Gris also does well on this slope, although
much of the fruit is from the Thomas Vineyard just south of Okanagan Falls. Six
percent was fermented in stainless steel, 40% in French and American oak
barrels. The oak notes remain in the background of this dry, fruity wine with
flavours of apple and pear. Bright acidity leaves a crisp and fresh finish. 90.
See Ya Later Ranch Rover
Shiraz Viognier 2014
($25). Rover was the name of one of the major’s 12
dogs. The wine barks boldly with black pepper and dark fruit aromas. It has
flavours of plum, fig and fruit cake punctuated by pepper on the finish. The
firm texture suggests the wine will age well under its screwcap closure. 90.
opened in 1996, one of the trio of wineries that laid a
foundation for Okanagan Falls winegrowing. Owners Larry Gerelus and Linda Pruegger, in a major lifestyle change,
formerly were in professional jobs in Calgary. A number of winemakers cycled
through the cellar until 2008 when Dwight Sick (left), a former airline flight
attendant with remarkable winemaking talent, came here.
Stag’s Hollow Albariño
($21.99 plus tax). This is the second vintage of Albariño, which
Stag’s Hollow grows in its Shuttleworth Vineyard, just south of Okanagan Falls.
The Spanish white seems to do well in the Okanagan. This is a zesty and fresh
wine with aromas and flavours of melon and green apple. 91.
Tragically Vidal 2015
($16.99 plus tax). Vidal was already in this vineyard
when Larry and Linda bought it. They began grafting some to Chardonnay, calling
Vidal “tragic” because it was a vanishing variety. Then the wine developed a
loyal following, perhaps because the juicy, tangy flavours of lime, lemon and
apple are so appealing. 89.
($25.99 plus tax). This is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 9%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Syrah and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine begins with what the
winery calls “masculine” aromas of leather, prunes, coffee and sweet tobacco. I
agree entirely with those descriptors. On the palate, there are flavours of
black cherry, plum and vanilla. 91.
Renaissance Merlot 2014
($34.99 plus tax). This is perhaps the flagship red
at this winery and this is the first closed with a screw cap. There is 10%
Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The wine was fermented in small fermenters,
finishing its fermentation and aging in small French oak (50% new) for 15
months. The wine begins with aromas of black cherry and vanilla. On the palate,
the suite of dark fruit flavours includes black currant, black cherry and plums
mingled with mocha and coffee. 92.
opened in 2011 by Alan Dickinson (right), is emerging as a pre-eminent specialist in
Riesling. Synchromesh fans will be delighted to learn that he has recently
bought more land adjacent to his vineyard. The intent is to plant more
Synchromesh Riesling 2016
($22). This is a blend of grapes from
four different vineyards. The wine is juicy with flavours of lemon and lime.
The balance between the residual sugar and the bright acidity gives the wine a
crisp finish. 90.
Synchromesh Riesling Bob Hancock Vineyard
($26 for 442 cases).
This vineyard is at the northern end of Naramata Road. The wine balances 38.2
grams of residual sugar with a total acidity of almost 10. The aromas and
flavours are intense, beginning with apple and lemon on the nose and evolving
to lime and grapefruit on the palate. 92.
Synchromesh Riesling Four Shadows Vineyard
($26 for 504 cases).
The Four Shadows Vineyard is just east
of Penticton. This wine has 52.2 grams of residual sugar balanced with 8.85
total acidity. This gives the wine fleshy texture on the juicy palate, with
flavours of pineapple, grapefruit and mango. 92.
Synchromesh Riesling Stormhaven Vineyard
2016 White Label
($26 for 88 cases). Stormhaven is the
vineyard at the estate in Okanagan Falls. The grapes for this wine are from a
2010 planting. This wine again balances racy acidity against residual sugar.
The perception is that the wine is dry (technically, it is not) but with
generous fruit flavours of lime, apple, mango with a spine of minerality. 91.
Synchromesh Riesling Stormhaven Vineyard
2016 Black Label
182 cases and 24 magnums). In typical Synchromesh style, bright acidity
balances 38 grams of residual sugar, resulting in a perception of dryness. The
wine is packed with intense aromas and flavours of lime, mango and peach with a
spine of minerality. This wine will age spectacularly well. 93.
Vineyards & Winery
opened in 1990 by the Kruger family; it was the original farmgate wine in the
Okanagan Falls area. Adolf Kruger, the family’s elder statesman, died last
year, leaving the business in the hands of his sons, Hagen and Roland, and
Wild Goose Riesling
($16.62 plus tax). This is a crisp, refreshing Riesling with aromas
and flavours of grapefruit and lemon with a backbone of minerals. 90.
Wild Goose Pinot Gris
($16.52 plus tax for 5,200 cases). The winery boasts that this wine “will
make you the most popular person at dinner parties!” It just might. It is
packed with generous fruit, with peach and pear aromas and flavours. There is a
touch of spice on the finish. 91.
Wild Goose Mystic
River Gewürztraminer 2016
($20 plus tax for 200 cases). This is a wine of
superb intensity, beginning with aromas of spice and lychee. On the palate,
there are flavours of lychee and grapefruit, punctuated with rose petal spice.
Wild Goose Red
Horizon Meritage 2014
($21.74 plus tax for 500 cases). This is a blend of
55% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Petit Verdot., It begins with aromas
of cassis and black cherry, leading to flavours of dark fruit, dark chocolate
and licorice. 90.