Thursday, September 19, 2013

Great Grenache

In honour of International Grenache Day on Friday, September 20th, we pay tribute to the unsung hero of the wine world, with an exploration of Grenache based wines coming out of the Okanagan Valley in recent years via Okanagan Falls producer, Stag's Hollow. As well, we offer up a few selections from traditional Grenache-producing regions around the world.

Stag's Hollow Winery has been trending towards Rhone Valley inspired wines for a number of years now. With the release of BC's first-ever 100% Grenache wine, this 'trend' has become more of a full-on devotion. The new release, sourced from vineyards in Penticton and Cawston during the hot 2012 vintage, shows that Grenache is viable in the Okanagan Valley when the site of the vineyard has been appropriately selected and the vintage conditions oblige the sun-loving grape. Future releases, not matching this select criteria, will go a long way to proving Grenache's long-term viability in the Okanagan Valley. Time will tell.

Below are our notes on Stag's Hollow's recent wines exploring the many facets of Grenache's personality.

A Solo Act
Stag's Hollow Winery 2012 Grenache - $29
Drinking this Grenache is pure joy. Brimming with layers of aromatic flowers, sweet spice and a medley of ripe, red fruit aromas on the sensual and feminine nose. The palate offers amazing continuity - the wine truly tastes like it smells - rich, feminine and complex with concentrated red fruit creating the perception of light sweetness through to the long, balanced, rounded finish.
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The Blending Partner

Stag's Hollow Winery 2009 Cachet No. 02 - $50
Released under Stag's Hollow's premier label, Cachet Wines, this beautiful Grenache-Syrah blend opens with a feminine nose of crushed violets, potpourri, dried cranberry, spiced oak and sweet red fruit. The complex and intense palate needs more time in the bottle for the rich red fruit, savoury characters, bright berry acidity and fine tannin elements will meld together further and evolve as expected over the next 2 years.
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Grenache Blanc
Stag's Hollow Winery 2011 GVM - $28
Consisting of  63% White Grenache, 22% Viognier and 15% Marsanne, this charming wine offers a subtle nose layered with citrus fruit, savoury herbs and Asian pear aromas. The palate explodes with a textural battle between the mouth watering effects of fresh acidity and the mouth coating qualities of rich tropical fruit and light tannins.
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Around The World
Domaine Saint-Damien 2010 Côtes du Rhône Vieilles Vignes - $22
Opening with a pungent and powerful nose of meaty, forest floor this fabulous Côtes du Rhône gem may overload the sense of some wine drinkers. However, those willing to to be patient with the wine to open up and then venture forth will be handsomely rewarded.
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Xavier Vins 2009 Gigondas - $32-36
Gigondas, from the wine buyer's expectations perspective, should fit somewhere between quality Côtes du Rhône and entry-level Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the Xavier offering fits the bill. A masculine Gigondas with spicy garrigue, cedar, dried plum, berry fruit and loads of river stone mineral aromas.
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Château de Beaucastel 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape - $90
An unmistakable Chateauneuf expression of concentrated, rich dark fruit, warm rock, garrique and tobacco characters. The opulent, ripe fruit is balanced nicely with crisp acidity and presented in the ultra-fine, silky smooth manner we expect from the iconic Château.
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Cellar Besllum 2008 Montsant - $20
Mustn't forget the lovely Grenache of Spain where the grape is known as Garnacha. This offering, a blend of equal parts Carignan and Garnacha, has plenty of character on the layered nose and smooth palate. Smoke, cured meats, strawberry, cranberry and leather make up an eclectic mix of aromas for the developed bouquet. The dry palate will open up beautifully when decanted properly, producing an array of flavours, similar to the nose, with added bitter chocolate, ripe red fruit and savoury spice notes.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fairview Cellars Barrel Tasting 2013

Bill Eggert, proprietor and winemaker of Oliver's Fairview Cellars, has his eye on the future. Expansion, vintage bashing and eventual retirement are all on his radar. Now before any Fairview faithful go nuts, let me reassure you that Eggert hasn't indicated that he's retiring anytime soon. Not to worry, BC's "Mad Cap" winemaker will be creating your beloved blends and manning his tasting room for the foreseeable future. But everyone needs to plan ahead.

The Word Du Jour
'Expansion'. The portfolio of wines, the underground lair, er, cellar and the winery's yearly case production are all expanding over the next few years. 2013 saw Fairview add a new working cellar/cave that tripled the winery's functional, climate controlled working area. The new construction will be topped by a patio and commercial kitchen that will overlook the winery's beautifully situated vineyard which overlooks the Fairview Mountain Golf Course and has a great view of the Southern Okanagan Valley. Keep an eye out for future winery events that will take full advantage of the gorgeous vistas and provide you the chance to sip the Fairview's flagship wine, The Bear, beside the very vineyard the grapes used in this outstanding blend are sourced from.

A third underground cellar is planned on an adjacent lot, the potential future site of Eggert's retirement house, expected to store the winery's finished wines which may help put Fairview in a position to extend the length of time before wines are released to the public - a long-term vision designed to improve overall quality and drinkability upon release.

At First Sip
The 2012 vintage is a beast - and there's lots of it. An expanded lineup may include (final decisions have yet to be made) two single-vineyard Pinots via the Eagle Bluff label and new vineyard designated varietal wines under the Fairview label.

The barrel samples tasted suggest robust Cabernets and blends whose beastly intensity and tannins will get a chance to mellow as the wines continue to age in barrel through 2013 with an expected release beginning in late 2014/early 2015. As well, one heck of a tasty Merlot was sampled (not usually a focal point of the Fairview portfolio) with loads of intense, dense berry fruit and spice which may be bottled as a unique one-off release a la Wrath - need I say more?

An Off Vintage?
Also tasted were the soon to be released Premier Series wines from the much maligned 2011 vintage; The Bear, Cabernet Sauvignon & a new 100% Syrah wine. The initial impression of these wines is very positive with the key question for all cool-climate 'Big Reds' answered: "Yes, they are ripe".

Much was learned from the equally cool 2010 vintage where fruit was dropped by the ton in reaction to colder than expected late-Summer conditions to ensure the remaining fruit ripened. Seeing similar weather conditions in 2011 develop, the decision for some wineries to drop fruit was made quicker and the result is actually greater tannin ripeness and bolder, more complex fruit intensity when compared to their 2010 counterparts. The Fairview Premier Series wines are a great example of this contrast where the 2011 line-up, on a whole, feel more complete than the 2010s.

If you're more of a taste-it-to-believe-it type then call up Bill Eggert for a tasting and he'll be pleased to show you that 2011 might not be the total write-off that some in the industry projected for the valley's 'Big Reds'.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Monthly Picks: September 2013

We'll keep the theme for this month's wine picks nice and straight forward. These are all recent must-try BC white wines. If you can get your hands on a bottle or two, snap them up. As always, the list is sorted by price. Enjoy.

River Stone Estate Winery 2012 Pinot Gris - $20
The ultimate descriptor for this Pinot Gris is 'balanced'. It's not as flashy as some of its Black Sage Bench cousins-from-other-puncheons™, but it works; it delivers the right balance of fruit'n'terroir to acid'n'texture.
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Maverick Estate Winery 2011 Pinot Gris - $20
Boasts apple sauce, Bosc pear and fruity brioche aromas on the reserved, yet, complex nose followed by an equally intricate palate offering similar flavours with added minerality, more citrus influence and a nice balance of creamy texture and mannered acidity.
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La Frenz Winery 2012 Riesling - $20
Off-dry levels of residual sugar are well-balanced by the mouth-watering green apple and pineapple acidity on the palate adorned with boisterous orchard and tropical fruit flavours. A nice vein of minerals runs through the palate to the long, balanced finish where just a hint of spice is perceptible.
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Fairview Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
This crisp wine opens with a flash of sweet papaya fruit before quickly transitioning to a medley of stonefruit, green apple and tangy citrus flavours; lemon/lime, quince and mandarin orange. The finish is long and tastefully tart with lingering lime rind notes and just a hint of spice.
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JoieFarm 2011 "En Famille" Reserve Gewurztraminer - $28
This is a classic BC Gewurztraminer with excellent balance and attention to detail from the refined floral medley and seductive tropical fruit on the nose to the lip-smacking, off-dry palate full of ripe lychee fruit and generous spice that lingers on the long, long finish.
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Painted Rock Estate Winery 2012 Chardonnay - $30
Textured and concentrated with lush tropical, juicy melon, caramel and stonefruit characters supported by a vibrant backbone of citrus acidity and a long balanced finish of tangy, green apple, tangerine and brioche flavours. Effortless compatibility of all elements.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

BC Wine Deal: September 5th

The following BC VQA wine prices have been reduced for September. Find them at participating BC VQA wine shops and BC Liquor Stores.

Cedar Creek Shiraz Cabernet was $22.95 is now $21.95
Jackson Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon Black Series was $16.99 is now $14.99
Jackson Triggs Sauvignon Blanc Black Series was $13.99 is now $11.99
Le Vieux Pin Rose was $25.00 is now $23.00
Mission Hill Sauvignon Blanc was $14.99 
is now $13.99
Prospect Pinot Grigio was $14.99 
is now $13.99
Red Rooster Gewurztraminer was $16.99 
is now $14.99
Red Rooster Pinot Gris was $17.99 
is now $15.99
Sandhill Pinot Gris was $18.99 is now $16.99
Saturna Pinot Gris was $14.90 
is now $10.90
Saturna Rose was $14.90 is now $10.90
See Ya Later Gewurztraminer was $16.99 
is now $14.99
Sumac Ridge Cabernet Merlot was $14.99 
is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Chardonnay Private Reserve was $13.99 
is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Merlot Private Reserve was $15.99 
is now 14.99
Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc was $19.99 
is now $18.99
Volcanic Hills Eruption Red Blend was $29.90 
is now $23.90
Volcanic Hills Syrah was $28.90 
is now $27.90
White Bear Riesling was $11.99 
is now $10.99