When you consider where the BC wine industry may expand to next your first thought isn't likely to be the Creston Valley in the East Kootenays, neither would mine, but we're not Bob Johnson and Petra Flaa, the proprietors of Baillie-Groham winery.
In 2006 they envisioned the valley as a destination for quality VQA wines and purchased the adjacent property to Skimmerhorn Winery and Vineyard who had already proven that grapes for wine production could be grown in the valley but who's impact on the greater BC wine industry has been relatively small.
They've hired an experienced Kiwi winemaker, Dan Barker from Moana Park Winery in Hawkes Bay, who is focused on producing balanced, terroir driven wines. At a recent media luncheon Barker mentioned that the Creston Valley has a similar landscape and terroir to that of the famed Pinot Noir producing New Zealand region of Central Otago. It is no coincidence then, that the estate Pinot Noir from Baillie-Grohman has a similar red fruit and earthiness flavour profile that one expects from Central Otago Pinots.
The 2009 vintage, now available, represents the inaugral release for Baillie-Grohman whose vines were planted in 2007. Judging such a young estate winery one must look at the potential of the site as much as the current product, both of which show promise. First to hit the market are two Alsatian whites, a Pinot Gris and a Gewurztraminer, a Rosé made of 100% Pinot Noir and the "Estate" Pinot Noir (a barrel select "Reserve" Pinot Noir will also be released in the future).
The wines can be characterized in a general sense has having a strong, aromatic nose contrasting their less complex palates. Likely, this has everything to do with the fact that the vines are on their "third leaf" thus far and have a lot of maturing to do before we get more concentrated and complex flavours. However, the winery, and winemaker, should be praised for producing wines that are showing as well as they are so young.
Pinot Gris - $21.99
This wine was the star of the media tasting. Lovely, aromatic nose of perfume and citrus notes. Good balance on the slightly off-dry palate. 50% oak aged has added good texture and allowed the winemaker to dial the sweetness down while keeping some body. Very tasty.
Gewurztraminer - $19.99
Due to higher production limits for this wine, it will be the easiest one to find being available through select VQA stores. Light brass in colour, fruity and mineral in character with a touch of spice. Off-dry palate has body due to the residual sugar and alcohol (14%). Complexity and acid is a bit low but should pair with Asian food well.
Blanc-de-Noir Rosé- $19.99
Made in the traditional "Saignée" method from 100% Pinot Noir. Good colour, an enchanting nose and a sweet palate will make it a great hot deck sipper next summer. Massive body may over-power most foods except the spiciest dishes.
Estate Pinot Noir - $24.99
The oak treatment adds complexity to the nose and palate of this estate-grown Pinot Noir. Dry palate with a good balance of fruit and savoury flavours and smooth tannins. Lacks depth and concentration but shows good promise for the site and nice lingering spiciness on the finish.
To learn more about the winery, including future releases and availability, visit their website here.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2010