Words and Photos by Liam Carrier
Edited by Sheila MacCallum
We concluded our wine-tasting excursion with a visit to Godfrey-Brownell Vineyards. Access to the winery is via a long dirt road that weaves first through a wooded area and then through the rustic estate vineyards. “Rustic” is my attempt at a non-judgmental description of Godfrey-Brownell’s philosophy of vineyard management which includes “multiculturalism for plants and fauna.” Broom and Alder trees are allowed to grow randomly in both the estate vineyards and their offsite vineyard named Basking Turtle (below the Averill Creek vineyards on Mt Prevost). The winery is experimenting with herb cover crops to fight powdery mildew at both vineyards. They are somewhere between a fully biodynamic winery and an organic farm, growing crops which have a self-imposed limit of 4800 cases per year.
Pouring for us was one of the many exchange student/traveler/workers who run the tasting porch – an outdoor area adjacent to the main winery building. The setting is pastoral and earthy. I enjoy open-air tastings very much, but I wonder what they do on rainy days? Live jazz accompanied our tasting which was a treat for the senses.
At Godfrey-Brownell we tasted:
2006 Bacchus - $18A light, crisp wine with apple and citrus flavours. Medium acidity. 82pts.
2005 Chardonnay - $18A maloactic fermented, oak-aged Chard with full-bodied flavours of melon and butter. Lacking residual acidity and layers. 83pts.
2004 William Maltman’s Double Red - $22A blend of Marechal Foch and Gamay Noir, this wine has a dark garnet colour and dark fruit nose. Full-bodied on the palate. 87pts.
2003 Reserve Pinot Noir - $30A light-garnet coloured Pinot aged in older French oak. Soft intensity on the nose with a palate of soft tannins and a medium finish. 84pts.
2003 Reserve Merlot - $40Made from south Okanagan grapes. Intense on the nose. Nicely matured dark yet transparent ruby wine that has smooth tannins and an inviting full-bodied palate. 89pts.
2002 Reserve Foch - $40This is very smooth wine that shows its age. Roasted marshmallow on the nose, dark-ruby colour, full-bodied with a long finish. A unique and quality wine coming into its peak, but over-priced. 90pts.
Cowichan Valley - In Conclusion
There are many more wineries to visit and many more wines to try in the Valley and in other Vancouver Island appellations; this was but a small taste of what is on offer. I hope this article helps illustrate the diversity of the product and producers available on Vancouver Island to the BC wine enthusiast. I look forward to furthering my own exposure to this unique region and broadening my knowledge of these wines.
If you have any recommendations for Vancouver Island and Gulf Island wineries to visit and wines to try, please send them my way: firstname.lastname@example.org