Friday, September 21, 2012

Colour 2012 Highlights

Each September the BC Wine Institute holds its Fall tasting of VQA wines. The event, Colour, attracts a large contingent of VQA member wineries ranging from the big conglomerates like the many Vincor properties to the small Mom and Pop shops and everything in-between. The event has an afternoon Trade and Media component and a consumer-friendly, evening food-pairing tasting that always draws a great crowd. It's hard to taste all the wines on offer, however, reporting on what was tasted and having sought-out mostly new releases, below are my notes on a few gems worth seeking out.

Most Memorable White:
Painted Rock Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay - $30
Absolutely gorgeous nose that will make you smile. Warm, sweet fruit and light brioche. Harmonious palate builds from a whisper on the entry to a full-bodied crescendo of orchard-fruit-goodness and a long, long finish. Very impressive.

Most Memorable Red:
Black Hills Estate Winery 2010 Syrah - $30
A nice surprise considering the cooler vintage and pedestrian 2009 release. Nice floral notes on the nose add complexity to the concentrated red fruit and pepper. Palate's balance is impressive with all components fitting nicely; good fruit, oak influence, mouth-watering acid and good length.

Best Value Wine:
Arrowleaf 2010 Pinot Noir - $17.99
Contender for best value wine of the year! A delicate nose of cherry cola followed by a light bodied, yet intense and fresh palate of red fruit and forest floor. Straight forward, no piece out of place. Delicious.

The Best of the Rest (A-Z):
Black Hills Estate Winery 2010 Nota Bene - $54
Fantastic concentration and depth. Deep, seductive, dark fruit on the nose with a full-bodied, fruit'n'herb palate to follow. Seems to embrace the cool vintage conditions rather than combat them.

Fairview Cellars 2010 The Bear - $34.90
Despite the success of the following single-variety wine, the best way to manage a cool vintage when trying to produce a hearty red wine is via a creative blend of components. Winemaker Bill Eggert succeeds again with his signature Bordeaux blend and similar to the Nota Bene, embraces the cool vintage conditions.

Fairview Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - $39.90
There's just something about Fairview's terroir and vineyard program that squeezes every once of available ripeness from nature to produce the style of Cabernet Sauvignon folks are willing to pay good money to get. For 2010 we're at the lean and masculine end of the spectrum. But an herbal mess? No. A ripe Cab with delicious flavours? Yes - but you'll need to be patient. 2-3 years at least.

Fort Berens 2010 Meritage - $26.99
Rather different style than the fruit-forward, ready upon release 2009. The 2010 will need to lay quietly in your cellar for a while to mellow out, but, it deserves to be there. Super dry palate with big tannins and an austere style are the biggest changes. Think Right Bank Bordeaux

Fort Berens 2010 Cabernet Franc - $26.99
Similar to the Meritage, the 2010 Cabernet Franc has been made in an ultra-dry, austere style with big tannins that need some time to chill. Lean, focused with a great texture on the palate.

McWatters Collection 2009 Meritage - $29.99
Another stunning, full-bodied and concentrated Meritage from the hot 2009 vintage. Classic New World Meritage nose with ripe berry fruit dominant. Palate is juicy, full of flavour, well balanced and the wine finishes long.

Moon Curser 2010 Border Vines - $25
This wine stands out from its Meritage peers with a unique blend that includes Carmenere (35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Carmenere, 7% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot) and prune notes on the nose. Rich, ripe, chewy tannins and a little extra body from a splash of RS. A big blend.

Moon Curser 2010 Dead of Night - $38
Another proprietary blend with 47% Tannat and 53% Syrah all sourced from the Osoyoos Bench producing a rich and intriguing wine. Again prune notes help distinguish it from the pack, but, will they be to everyone's liking?

Osoyoos Larose 2009 Petales d'Osoyoos - $25
Consistant with the house style of massive tannins and a dense character of dark fruit, licorice and toasted oak. Ripe tannins and fruit, good structure and well balanced. The best Petales in years.

Osoyoos Larose 2008 Le Grand Vin - $45
The 2008 vintage is one to pass on. The tannins are absolutely huge and slightly under ripe which no amount of time in the cellar will improve. 2009 vintage should be released fairly soon and given the success of the firm's 2nd wine from that vintage (see above) I would save your cash and hold out.

Platinum Bench 2010 Benchmark Red - $?
From a new winery on the Black Sage Bench wedged between Black Hills and Desert Hills with a mature vineyard that used to conract out its grapes. This is a proprietary blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Gamay Noir. Ripe and fruit forward.

See Ya Later Ranch 2009 Ping - $27.99
Expressive, ripe berry and plum fruit on this Meritage blend of 54% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. Good intensity with friendly, round tannins. Best Ping I've ever tasted.

Seven Stones 2009 Row 128 Merlot - $30
Unfortunately, this wine is now sold out according to the winery's website. If you do come across it, however, snatch it up and be reminded just how good Merlot can be in BC when it is nicely extracted and properly oaked. Big, fruity and robust with decent complexity and superb balance.

Tantalus 2011 Riesling - $21.90
Off-dry Riesling with grapefruit, lime and loads of green apple acidity. Quite full, perhaps a tad too sweet, but, a great spicy food wine to be sure.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012


  1. Hey Liam,
    What does this mean in the Arrowleaf Pinot Noir review?
    Straight forward but piece out of place.