Monday, October 4, 2010

Barrel Tasting at Stag's Hollow

On October 3rd I visited winemaker Dwight Sick at his picturesque Okanagan Falls winery Stag's Hollow. The scene from the cellar door is of a beautiful hidden green valley with sloping vineyards twisting this way and that. Down the slope, below the cellar is a steep bowl in which grows one of the only Tempranillo plantings in BC. The fruit from this block, as well as the product from a Grenache plot in a vineyard near Penticton, go into blends that Dwight described as "keeping the winemaker happy" wines. I would call them two of the most unique wines soon to be released in BC (target is currently December). They can be pre-ordered here.

2008 Tempranillo Blend "Limited Edition" No. 01 - $50
A "Super-Douro", if you will, blend of 40% Tempranillo, 35% Merlot, 20% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. A fine example of constructing a unique taste out of different components and techniques. Fairly butch, yet refined and fun. Only 250 half-cases available (6X750ml).

2009 Grenache Blend "Limited Edition" No. 02 - $50
A blend of 50% Grenache,  46% Syrah, 3% Viognier and 1% Marsanne is Dwight's take on the many blends on offer in the Southern Rhone. A truly special wine with layers of complex aromas and flavours that delivers Carmenere-like food pairing options. (Restaurants should be stocking up!) Only 80 half-cases available (6X750ml).

We also tasted the components to a few 2009 vintage reds still in barrel: the Syrah/Viognier, the Estate Merlot and the SHV Pinot Noir. Both the Syrah and Merlot will typify the bold fruit character and ripe tannins of the hot 2009 growing season. The Pinot is produced with the appropriate let-the-land-speak approach but I was left not knowing what it was trying to say...yet. The Pinot needs more time to find its voice. All three will be released next year. Keep a look out for release dates from the winery - especially for the Syrah!

One last preview that we tasted was the new fully-oaked Renaissance-level 2009 Chardonnay which will be replacing the estate grown "2008 SHV Chardonnay". The 2009 is positive step forward from their current Chardonnay which I found to be "a nice drink" but lacked the winemaker's signature that the 2009 will have. Look for its release next Spring.
 - Liam Carrier

Reviews coming soon:
Stag's Hollow 2008 SHV Pinot Noir
Stag's Hollow 2008 Simply Noir

Current releases available:
Stag's Hollow Winery 2007 The Heritage Block
Stag's Hollow Winery 2008 Syrah
Stag's Hollow Winery 2008 SHV Chardonnay

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