Thursday, April 15, 2010

Naramata Bench Spring Release - Part 1

This year's Naramata Bench Wineries Association's Spring Release event was held at The Westin Bayshore Hotel in downtown Vancouver on April 12th and featured both red and white wines from the member wineries. The event showcases the upcoming vintage releases but also allows the wineries to preview new small-lot wines, one-off specials and works-in-progress. Below are the tasting notes of our returning favourites and mischievous debuts (both impressive and otherwise).

D’Angelo Estate Winery
This family owned and run estate winery chose to pour back-catalog wines rather than new releases. Their wines are available through VQA stores.

2005 Sette Coppa - $30
A Meritage blend of the 5 main Bordeaux varietals. This estate grown wine has benefited nicely from the five years of aging since its harvest in 2005. The name translates from the Italian as :Seven Measures". Nice concentration of fruit on the beautiful nose and smooth palate. 89pts

2006 Pinot Noir - $25
A classic Pinot Noir garnet in appearance, this example of the heartbreak-grape does not possess classic Pinot Noir flavours or aromas. A smooth, medium palate with decent fruit concentration and chemical notes.  It fell quite flat on the palate. 84pts

2005 Merlot-Cabernet - $20
85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. The Cab does add some needed character to the nose but the Merlot suffers from being too vegetal. 85pts

Hillside Estate Winery
One of the oldest wineries from Naramata made the biggest impression for us at the event with a solid flight of whites and reds. We've found Hillside to be hit and miss in recent vintages but their current flight of whites and reds are, on the whole, fantastic.

2009 Old Vines Riesling - $18.99
First vintage since 2007. A touch of sugar on the palate with excellent control of the spectrum of mineral flavours the 25+year old vines. Very long finish with a full texture in the mouth. 88pts

2009 Muscat Ottonel - $17.99
A nearly colourless but very tasty Muscat full of fruity aromas and flavours of citrus, apricot and light orchard fruits. 87pts

2008 Reserve Pinot Gris - $19.99
Although only partially oak-aged, the oak aromas and flavours dominate the fruit and leave this wine a little unbalanced. In the competitive world of BC Pinot Gris this one competes but doesn't place. 85pts.

2007 Viognier - $24.99
Light straw in appearance. Warm honey and floral notes on the nose with bright tropical fruits on the palate. Light and smooth mouth feel with a medium finish. Could use a touch more acidity, but very solid Viognier. 88pts

2007 Cabernet Franc - $24.99
Cab Franc is gaining popularity with Canadian producers and they are becoming quite adept at creating full bodied and round wines with amazing aromas.  The 2007 CF had notes of currant, chocolate with a touch of spice.  Well balanced and built to age for a few years.  Very nice and a good price.  88pts.

2008 Old Vines Gamay Noir - $24.99
Intriguing colour of a dirty strawberry. An easy-drinking wine with good mouth feel and ligering spice. Medium finish. Kind-of a Pinot Noir-Syrah cross. Great food wine that would pair nicely with Turkey or light game. 87pts

2006 Syrah - $29.99
A nice addition to the growing list of excellent BC Syrah. Aromas of candied cherries, tobacco and spice wrapped in a Rhone-style bright nose. Good acidity and fruit concentration on the smooth textured palate. Balanced, long finish. 88pts

2006 Mosaic - $39.99
Nearly every winery feels compelled to make a high priced, Bordeaux-inspired, reserve blend but only a few can truly pull it off, worthy of their price tags. The Hillside example is a good effort but falls a bit flat and lacks concentration on the nose and palate. 87pts

Howling Bluff Estate Winery
The tiny estate winery currently only produce three wines; a Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon, a red blend called Sin Cera and an award winning Pinot Noir. Only the white blend and Pinot are new releases this Spring.

2008 Pinot Noir - $29.99
Fantastic example of Naramata's ability to make terroir-driven Pinot Noirs when the fruit is left to show its natural flavours and the winemaker avoids interfering with too much oak. They get it just right. Nicely balanced with a smooth, long finish. 90pts.

2009 Sauvignon Bland-Semillon. - $18.99
This is an odd wine. A blend of Bordeaux's classic white varietals that has produced off-putting aromas of  pungent feet and cat's pee. Solid fruit concentration on the overly sweet palate. 85pts

La Frenz Winery
An Icon Wines favourite with good reason - they have an uncanny ability to produce quality wines year-in and year-out. Winemaker Jeff Martin is especially gifted at producing well-balanced whites and the 2009 vintage examples are no different. Look for a classic, elegant new lable when you visit the winery this Spring.

2009 Riesling - $19
Released on May 1st. Made from grapes grown on their Osoyoos property, this excellent, well-balanced, off-dry Riesling has good fruit concentration matched against refreshing, crisp acidity and stony minerality. A long, long finish. 90pts
Full Review

2009 Chardonnay - $20
Released on May 1st. A 50% oaked Chardonnay that display classic flavours of orchard and tropical fruits with excellent minerality and crispness. A bit toastier than the 2008. 89pts

2008 Reserve Chardonnay - $29
Should be released in June. An exceptionally smooth and refined Chardonnay with good aging potential. Big orchard fruit concentration with a touch of residual sugar. Beautiful. 90-92pts

2008 Malbec - $25
A fresh, bountiful candied-fruit nose. The palate is tasty and food friendly but lacks a bit of complexity. 86pts

-Continued- Go To Part 2

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