Friday, September 26, 2014

Get To Know... Gavin Miller

Photo by Lionel Trudel
Gavin Miller
Vintner, Upper Bench Winery and Creamery
Naramata Bench, BC

When you meet Gavin Miller you quickly soak-in his passion and pride for the wines he produces. Before opening his own winery (with like-minded partners) Gavin contributed to the success of notable Okanagan brands such as Painted Rock and Poplar Grove. With Upper Bench Winery, the same attention to detail and focus on quality  that helped make the other wineries must-visits for any BC wine lover is on offer. Thanks to this, Upper Bench will likely become the next must-visit winery along the Naramata Bench with the added bonus of an on-premise Creamery, run by his wife Shana.

Get to know Gavin a bit better and get to know Upper Bench's wines...
Key Wines To Try:
Merlot: 2011, 2012
Pinot Noir: 2011, 2012
Pinot Gris: 2011

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
The Vineyard, watching how it changes throughout the season. Trying to balance production to the strength of the season. Then capturing it all in a bottle.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I went back to school to learn about grape growing in order to go out and become a wine agent. After about two weeks of being tutored by the very passionate Bill Eggert. I no longer wanted to sell wine, I wanted to grow it. So began my new career, first in the vineyards then into the cellar learning from everyone I could find.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
Harvest doesn’t really stress me. It is attention to detail that I find matters most, so a calm approach works best.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché?
"No Whimpy Wine around Here” comes to mind.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
My Wife the “Big Cheese". (Editor's note: Gavin's wife, Shana Miller, runs the CFIA registered creamery attached to the winery. More on her story here.)

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
Beer in the Hot Tub with the Big Cheese

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
Tantalus Riesling, so much acid, so concentrated. I have really enjoyed watching this wine develop over the years.

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
Saag Lamb with our Riesling or 2012 Merlot with Upper Bench King Cole

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
Hopefully a return to dry wines and truth in labelling. I am really tired of tasting large amounts of residual sugar and having producers denying it, especially red wine, there is no place for sugar in red wine.

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
Both have their place, I still think big reds are better under cork but  screw cap for all others

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Try This, Cellar That - Grenache/Garnacha

This week we feature Grenache/Garnacha:

Try This....
Bodegas Breca 2010 Old Vines Garnacha - $24
This 100% Garnacha (Grenache) is sourced from vineyards ranging from 70-100 years old and offers an equally intense palate where the spicy-plum profile continues supported by cherry-cola, vanilla-bean and mineral notes. Though powerful and layered with meaty tannins and savoury flavours, the body doesn't feel weighted down or thick thanks to well-balanced acidity and a refined texture.
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Cellar That....
Stag's Hollow Winery 2013 Grenache - $30
Still youthful, the nose needs hours to open up. When it does, it reveals beautiful layers of perfumed incense, huckleberry, sage brush, wild flowers, cooking spice, cola bottle candy and a plethora of other red fruit aromas. The palate offers excellent continuity from the nose. The overall balance is superb with a nice kick of fresh berry acidity, helping the rich, rounded mouth feel finish fresh. Best enjoyed in early 2015. Drink 2015-2018.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Get To Know... Daniel Bontorin

Daniel Bontorin
Vintner and Consultant
Seven Directions Wine and Wine Country Consulting
West Kelowna, BC

Operating as a consultant winemaker since 2005 where he contributed to the early success of notable BC wineries such as Le Vieux Pin and Quinta Ferriera, Daniel has since added to his growing portfolio his own label, Seven Directions, which focusses 
solely on producing single-vineyard rosé wines - the first winery of its kind in the Okanagan. 

Get to know Daniel a bit better and get to know Seven Directions' wines...

Key Wines To Try:
Zweigelt Rosé 2013
Kalala Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2012,  2013

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
I enjoy how each season brings on new challenges through growing conditions and mother nature. Every vintage invokes its own unique flavours into the wine. Like a chef, having the freedom to create a wine that I created and appreciate, knowing that this wine will be enjoyed by many others. I am Italian and grew up with food, wine and Sunday family gatherings. Winemaking to me is not only an art but a lifestyle to be shared.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
Besides growing up with my father always making wine at home, I was introduced to winemaking by a family friend who lived below a winery here in the south Okanagan. The winemaker of that winery would help him out with his home winemaking from time to time. Over a short period of time getting to know this winemaker, he saw that I had a naturally good palate and nose. I took his advice and pursued winemaking. I have no formal wine schooling, instead hard work dedication and knowledge from working along side some of the best in the Okanagan.

I believe in a hands off minimalist approach to winemaking and have always made single vineyard wines as this is truly the only way to showcase terroir. The winemaker Frank, passed away in a tragic winemaking accident a few years after meeting him.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
I am a father of three and a winemaking consultant for a few wineries in BC so the most stressful part of harvest is maintaining a level of sanity over the immense long hours and not having enough of them in a day. It pays to have an awesome crush crew. I love what I do and wouldn't change a thing. Year after year my perseverance and the passion for wine pays off in the end.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché
Favourite - It takes a lot of beer to make good wine, in my case gin and tonic.

Least favourite - The use of 'terroir' when soil type is only used. There are many other factors that contribute to the terroir of a vineyard and wine.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
Besides my kids and fiancé, I enjoy reading up and collecting wine books both technical and practical; I have 110 in my library currently. I enjoy doing an array of things such as camping, puttering and tasting wine both locally and in the USA. We lead a simple everyday life.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
Depending on the weather, if it is really hot out, I'll enjoy a nice cold beer. Other times gin and tonic is my go to drink now. I think its better for you than rum and coke! If that's even possible.

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
The 2006 Maestoso Merlot from La Stella Winery. A monumental wine that shows what this region can produce when the right variety is teamed up with amazing terroir, great minds and old school techniques. 

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
Our focus is making dry Rose wines, which are very food friendly and versatile. I really don't have a favourite paring, but turkey dinner comes to mind this season; charcuterie, meaty salads and even foie gras. I could say the classic salmon but honestly, our French oak fermented Pinot Noir rose when young can stand up to steak nicely.

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
You will see more appellations/ sub appellations being mentioned and enforced, and with that a better sense of place. I feel grape producers will focus on what will grow best on their vineyard site and less on what is trending. What will be trending will be what wines we can make best in the valley in that particular area. As is all around the world, each area specializes in a specific variety, and from then different styles within that area, that is how a region gets better, focus! 

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
For me style and price point of the wine drives this decision. Certain wines have the feel and luxury that scream a nice long cork, while other wines that are quick to be consumed only need a screw cap. It is definitely a preference of the maker and buyer. However some very expensive Australian Shiraz are under screw cap.

- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

BC Wine Deal: Sep 4th, 2014

The following VQA wines have been reduced in price at your local participating VQA and BCLDB stores.

Ancient Hills Gewürztraminer was $18.90 is now $15.99
Arrowleaf Pinot Gris was $17.95 is now $16.95

Bartier Scholefield Red was $19.90 is now $16.90
Bartier Scholefield Rose was $18.90 is now $15.90

Bench 1775 Chardonnay was $18.90 is now $16.90
Bench 1775 Chill White Blend was $15.90 is now $12.90

Bench 1775 Sauvignon Blanc was $17.90 is now $15.90
Blasted Church Hatfield's Fuse was $18.50 is now $17.99

Bonitas Merlot Artist was $33.95 is now $29.95
Cedar Creek Ehrenfelser was $18.95 is now $17.95
Cedar Creek Pinot Noir was $24.95 is now $23.45

Daydreamer Rose was $22.00 is now $20.00
Desert Hills Cabernet Franc was $26.90 is now $21.99
Diabolica Red was $15.99 is now $13.99
Diabolica White was $15.99 is now $13.99

Gray Monk Odyssey Meritage White was $23.99 is now $18.99
Harper's Trail Gewurztraminer was $17.95 is now $16.90
Hester Creek Character White was $17.95 is now $15.95

Inniskillin Chenin Blanc was $16.99 is now $14.99
Inniskillin Dark Horse Meritage was $24.99 is now $21.99
Inniskillin Pinot Blanc Reserve was $13.99 is now $11.99
Jackson Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was $16.99 is now $14.99
Jackson Triggs Sunrock Meritage was $34.99 is now $29.99
Jackson Triggs Gold Series Merlot was $23.99 is now $21.99
Jackson Triggs Sauvignon Blanc Private Reserve was $13.99 is now $11.99
Jackson Triggs White Meritage was $19.99 is now $18.99
Kalala Harmony White Blend was $13.95 is now $11.95
Kalala 3 Cru Traveller was $19.87 is now $14.90
Kalala 3 Cru Wanderlust was $14.87 is now $11.90
Kalala Harmony Red was $15.95 is now $13.95
Kalala Pinot Gris was $16.95 is now $13.95
Kalala Zweigelt was $19.95 is now $13.95
La Stella Lastellina Rose was $20.85 is now $19.00
Le Vieux Pin Petit Blanc was $19.85 is now $17.00
Little Straw Tapestry was $17.90 is now $16.90
Lixiere Gewurztraminer was $19.90 is now $18.50
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Cabernet Merlot was $16.99 is now $15.49
Mt. Boucherie Gamay Noir was $15.50 is now $12.00
Paradise Ranch Cabernet/Merlot Late Harvest 375ml was $18.90 is now $16.90
Perseus Viognier was $21.99 is now $14.90
Prospect Fats Johnson Pinot Noir was $16.99 is now $15.99
Prospect Pinot Blanc was $13.99 is now $11.99
Prospect Pinot Grigio was $14.99 is now $13.99
Prospect Regatta Red was $14.99 is now $12.99
Prospect Riesling was $12.99 is now $11.99
Red Rooster Pinot Gris was $17.99 is now $16.49
Rigamarole Red was $14.99 is now $12.99
Rigamarole Rose was $14.99 is now $12.99
Sage Hill Gewurztraminer was $28.85 is now $27.90
Sage Hill Rose was $28.85 is now $27.90
Sandhill Pinot Gris was $18.99 is now $16.99
Sandhill Sauvignon Blanc was $18.95 is now $17.99
See Ya Later Belle was $18.99 is now $16.99
See Ya Later Chardonnay was $16.99 is now $15.49
Stag's Hollow Heritage Block 1 was $24.99 is now $22.99
Strut Red Over Heels was $13.99 is now $10.99
Strut Risque was $13.99 is now $10.99
Strut Well Heeled was $13.99 is now $10.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Chardonnay was $13.99 is now $11.99
Sumac Ridge Stellar's Jay Brut was $24.99 is now $21.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewurztraminer was $14.99 is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Merlot was $15.99 is now $13.99
Sumac Ridge Pinot Grigio was $13.99 is now $11.99
Summerhill Ehrenfelser was $19.95 is now $18.95
The View Red Shoe Pinotage was $16.40 is now $13.85
Thornhaven Pinot Gris was $17.90 is now $15.90
Volcanic Hills Gewurztraminer was $18.90 is now $17.90
Wayne Gretzky Cabernet Syrah was $17.99 is now $15.99
Whistler Merlot Late Harvest was $16.90 is now $14.90
Young and Wyse Black Sheep was $26.90 is now $23.90

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monthly Picks: September '14 - Summer Favs

With Summer coming to a close and the grind of Fall about to start, we pause to showcase some of our favourite wines of the season.

Nederburg Wines 2012 Winemaster's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - $13
Few Cabernet Sauvignon in the under $15 category produce as pleasant a nose as the Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve does. Vibrant blackberry, nibs candy and vanilla-coke aromas are supported by an even blanket of sweet, oak spice and blooming flowers.
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Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - $19
Elegant and layered, this is a Loire Valley-styled Sauvignon Blanc with a kiss of subtle oak, whose but de la vie is to deliver scrumptious, mineral-infused, citrus fruit aromas and flavours via its engaging nose and refined, balanced palate.
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Bench 1775 Winery 2013 Glow - $20
Possibly BC's most Provence-like rosé on the market today, Bench 1775's Glow is a gorgeous, orangy-salmon colour and boasts lovely, delicate aromas of strawberry, nibs candy, pomegranate, raw honey and sweet pot-pourri.
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Serendipity Winery 2013 Viognier - $20
A lovely example of the Rhone Valley variety presented in a balanced, New World, fruit-forward style with plenty of tropical and orchard fruit complimented by mineral notes and the fullness of extended lees contact.
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J Vineyards and Winery 2013 Pinot Gris - $20
The palate is rich from malolactic fermentation and ripe melon flavours, not from oak ageing, and is nicely balanced by grapefruit and lemon peel acidity, resolving into a long, crisp finish with hints of light spice.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2011 Oldfield Series Merlot - $30
A sweetly scented, complex Merlot blended with 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Syrah that offers a developed bouquet of beautiful, pot-pourri, ripe blackberry, blueberry, vanilla and exotic chai spice aromas.
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Upper Bench Estate Winery 2012 Merlot - $30
Given time to breath, the nose opens up to reveal sweet-scented, floral and vanilla-oak notes above the layers of dark berry and cherry fruit. Delightful. The palate is full of texture, restraint and fine tannins with dense dark fruit flavours complimented by oak, mocha and mineral notes.
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