This afternoon J and I headed out to run a few errands, not thinking about doing any wine touring when all of a sudden we found ourselves out along the Naramata Bench. We figured it couldn’t hurt too much to stop in for tasting at one winery, so decided on Lake Breeze as I had not yet tasted any of their 2011 whites and many of their wines were award winners at the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival (2011 Semillon, 2011 Pinot Blanc, 2011 Gewürztraminer), as well as the recent All-Canadian Wine Championships (2008 Tempest won Red Wine of the Year and Double Gold). Nancy welcomed us into the tasting room and ran us through a selection of their whites and reds. The 2011 Semillon had lovely acidity, with lots of lemon and gooseberry flavours. The 2011 Pinot Blanc was a luscious mouthful of crisp Granny Smith apple. The 2011 Gewürztraminer was just slightly off-dry, with lychee on the nose and palate and a hint of rose petals and spice, with a lovely round mouthfeel. The 2011 Bench White (only available at the winery) is one third Muscat, one third Gewürztraminer and one third a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Blanc. This is a lovely aromatic summer patio sipper, easy-drinking, crisp and flavourful. The 2009 Seven Poplars Pinot Noir had really nice structure, a hint of earthiness on the nose, with cherry and spice on the palate. The 2009 Meritage was rich and full-bodied with lots of earthiness on the nose and palate, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2008 Tempest is a big red blend of 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with great structure and fruit. Lots of earthiness on the palate.
It feels like summer has officially kicked off this weekend! It was the first concert of the Canadian Concert Series at Tinhorn Creek on Saturday, featuring The Boom Booms, and it did not disappoint. The concerts are put on every summer in the outdoor amphitheatre overlooking the valley, and Mount Baldy beyond, and are really great events. I’ve been enjoying them since 2009 and have volunteered to help out for the past couple years now. The Canadian Concert Series spotlights fabulous upcoming Canadian bands. This past Saturday, May 26th, was The Boom Booms (www.theboombooms.com) and the remaining concerts this year are:
June 23rd Acres of Lions (http://www.acresoflions.com/music/);
July 28th Redeye Empire (http://www.redeyeempire.com/fr_home.cfm );
August 25th Said The Whale (http://www.saidthewhale.com/music );
and the Grand Finale on September 8th with Sloan (http://www.sloanmusic.com/music ).
If you’ve never attended a concert at Tinhorn Creek I highly recommend it! The music is always great, although I do suggest checking out the bands’ websites ahead of time if you are particularly picky with what you like to listen to, just to know what you’ll be in for. Bring a blanket (no chairs allowed), a picnic dinner and your dancing shoes (or dancing bare feet for that matter!) If you don’t feel like hauling food along with you, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek has a BBQ station set up on the Crush Pad with a couple different options, plus tasty gelato from Osoyoos. Wine is available for sale by the glass or by the bottle as well. Please do not bring your own beer, wine or spirits, as it will be confiscated at the gate during the bag/cooler search. You can order your tickets online or by calling Tinhorn Creek (see Winery Details page). Hope to see you there!
A few of my favourite wines at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards include: 2011 Gewürztraminer, with a hint of sweetness, lovely lychee and floral notes with a touch of spice; 2008 Pinot Noir, with nice structure, cherries and spice; 2009 Cabernet Franc – very tasty, with deep blackberries and cherries and a hint of dill and spice; and my new summer favourite, the 2011 Oldfield Series Rosé. This is made with 100% Cabernet Franc and has lovely strawberries on the nose and palate, refreshing citrus and a hint of spice.
Another great event was happening in Oliver this weekend – the 3rd Annual Half Corked Marathon. The route for this is approximately 18km and passes through 12 wineries. Participants are encouraged to dress up in costume and sample wines at each of the wineries. While there are some serious runners in the group, most people are out for a good time and aren’t concerned with their finishing times, if they finish at all! This was my second year helping out at Rustico Farm & Cellars for the Half Corked Marathon and it is just so much fun! All the people are having a great time (despite a big climb up the hill to the winery) and I love seeing the creativity that goes into the costumes. I am somewhat partial to Rustico as I have become good friends with Bruce, the owner, and worked for him last year and earlier this year helping with Sales and Marketing. These days I help out at the winery when I’m needed for events. It is a great winery with so much character and spectacular views up and down the valley. It’s all about the ranching, mining and farming history of the South Okanagan and the old sod-roofed log house on the site (and featured on the wine labels) used to be a bunkhouse at the Sally Silver Mine near Beaverdell. It was moved over to its current location, log by log, about 50 years ago, when some of the existing vines were planted. Tons of character here!
This year J came along to help out with the Half Corked Marathon and he manned the water station while I handed out wine samples (we had the 2009 Farmer’s Daughter Dry Gewürztraminer and the brand new 2011 Saloon Sally Dry Cabernet Franc Rosé) and helped out with whatever needed doing. The runners were met at the bottom of the driveway by a couple of cowboys on horseback and as they arrived up at the picnic area where we had the wine, food (wieners in a sweet/spicy sauce) and water stations set up, Bruce greeted them all with Deputy Wine Marshall badges. The badges entitle the runners to 15% off selected wines if they come back to the winery at a later date and sign up on the mailing list.
Later in the day we discovered that Katie, the winery’s Golden Retriever was missing. J and I headed out in the golf cart to check out neighbouring properties, with no success, and then headed out in the car to track the marathon route, thinking she may have followed some runners. I was dreading this as it would’ve meant she’d be on the other side of the busy highway. I was dreading the thought of finding her on the side of the road. We went to the next winery on the route, Church & State, and they had last seen Katie a couple hours earlier heading south into their vineyard, away from the race. We searched a bit more with no luck and returned to Rustico. About a half hour later, a truck pulled up with Katie in the back. Apparently she had indeed followed some of the runners (and was keeping a decent pace, which surprised everybody who knows Katie!) to Church & State and finally ended up at Silver Sage Winery, where she collapsed in the shade. Some ladies thankfully recognized her as the winery dog from Rustico, called her over and loaded her into their truck to bring her home. For the rest of the afternoon, as more and more runners came back to the tasting room to sample the Rustico portfolio of wines and to pick up their favourites, Bruce would tell them of Katie’s big adventure. Many of them recalled her running alongside them, or seeing her at Silver Sage and thinking “That looks like the dog from Rustico!” I do believe that Katie was the first dog ever to have participated in the Half-Corked Marathon!
I sampled through all of the wines currently on offer at Rustico. There are two whites, a rosé, and five reds. ’Isabella’s Poke’ is the Pinot Gris. It is light and crisp, with notes of pear, peach and grapefruit. ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ Dry Gewürztraminer has a touch more sweetness than the previous vintage but is still not too sweet. It has a lovely round mouthfeel, with a hint of floral and lots of lychee and spice. The newest addition to the lineup is ‘Saloon Sally’, a dry Cabernet Franc Rosé. This is my summer choice as it is so nice and refreshing on a hot day, with lots of ripe strawberry, citrus and spice. ‘Doc’s Buggy’ Pinot Noir is the lightest of the reds, with strawberry jam and plum on the nose and a bit of smoke on the palate. ‘Motherlode’ Merlot was barrel-aged in older French oak for 18 months. It has berries, plum, vanilla and smoke on the nose, with cherry, plum and cocoa on the palate. ’Last Chance’ is a unique blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Chancellor, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. It is a lovely medium-bodied, easy-drinking red, with cherries and plums on the palate and soft tannins. The new 2009 vintage of the ‘Bonanza’ Zinfandel was released about a month ago. I think it is even more delicious than the 2008 was, with hints of violets, lots of baking spice and jammy blackberries and blueberries. It’s beautifully balanced as well. Finally, ‘Threesome’ rounds out the portfolio. This is Rustico’s Bordeaux-style blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a big red with lots of black fruit and cocoa on the palate, with chewy tannins and a lingering finish. If you haven’t yet visited Bruce at Rustico, please do stop in as it is not an experience you soon forget!
It’s a grey rainy day in the Okanagan. What is there to do? Wine touring, of course! Yesterday J and I piled into the car (this time with the roof firmly on) to head up to Summerland to visit several of the wineries along “Bottleneck Drive”.
Our first stop of the day was at the lovely Summergate Winery. This small family-run winery quickly became one of my favourite discoveries last year when I was introduced to it in my Wine 21 class at Okanagan College. Mike and Gillian Stohler currently produce approximately 600 cases per year of Riesling, Muscat Ottonel and Kerner. They use all organic practices in their vineyard, taking part in the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) network which links people willing to work on farms and gain knowledge in exchange for room and board, and they take equal care and pride in the cellar. In the bright and cheerful tasting room, Gillian served us the 2010 Muscat Ottonel, which has lovely floral notes and is quite fruit-forward with a pink grapefruit finish, and the 2010 Riesling, which recently won a Silver Medal at the Pacific Rim Awards. The Riesling is crisp and dry, with lots of lime and a touch of minerality. As the 2010 Kerner has been long since sold out, Gillian brought us into the tank room for a sample of the 2011. The wine had yet to be filtered so offered a lovely nuttiness from the yeast, in addition to the beautiful aromatics of the Kerner grapes. They anticipate that this batch of Kerner will be bottled in the next couple of months, and I look forward to returning once it is!
Our second stop was at Saxon Winery, which only opened its doors two weeks ago. This property was formerly named Hollywood and Wine but the new owners, Paul and Jayne Graydon, have renamed it and are in the process of making a pile of changes, along with the help of their Winemaker/Viticulturist, Danny. The vineyard at Saxon is organic and currently produces approximately 1200 cases, although Paul and Jayne do plan on increased production this next vintage. Jayne walked us through their current selection of wines, starting with the 2010 Pinot Gris with pleasant apple, pear and citrus flavours. Next came their lovely 2010 Gewürztraminer, with big bold lychee on the nose and palate, and a lovely round mouthfeel. The 2007 Pinot Noir was a bit light for my taste, but had nice flavours and would be lovely chilled as a patio sipper in the summer. Next came the 2009 Pinot Noir, which was much richer and had firmer tannins – more of my kind of Pinot! Next came a couple of tank samples. The first was their 2011 Pinot Gris, with nicely balanced flavours. The second was named ‘Experiment #1’ that was being poured for customers over the weekend for their input. It was a tasty rosé, slightly off-dry, made from Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and a bit of Merlot and I gave it my thumbs-up! Then we moved on to a couple of fuller reds. Saxon Winery is the only producer in the Okanagan of the Léon Millot grape, an early-ripening, cold-hardy French hybrid varietal. The 2011 Léon Millot is a fruity, unoaked wine with soft tannins – very pleasant drinking! The final wine was the 2011 Cranky Old Man, a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Merlot, which surprised me because I would’ve guessed the opposite percentages, based on the structure of this wine. I would happily let this lay down for a couple years to soften the tannins. Beautiful full fruit flavours with this one too.
Next stop: Dirty Laundry Vineyards. This winery is all about the experience. There is no mistaking their consistent branding. It flows all the way from the gates on the property, following the wineglass “footprints” on the pavement to their gorgeous new patio and through to the wine shop and tasting bar. This place is all about the fun, with a little twist of naughtiness. Although I have tried several of their wines in the past, I had not yet visited the winery, which underwent a massive renovation last year. We tasted through a series of the whites, including the 2011 Not So Knotty Chardonnay, 2011 Pinot Gris and 2011 Woo Woo Gewürztraminer. The latter is a top seller but is a bit sweet for my palate. Unfortunately my favourite of the Dirty Laundry Gews, Threadbare, was not open for tasting. It is the driest of the three Gewürztraminers, with Woo Woo in the middle and Madam’s Vines as the sweetest. A surprise for me was the 2010 Hush rosé. I had tasted it in previous vintages and had found it a bit on the sweet side. The 2010 however was showing some nice acidity to balance it out. This is a blend of 35% Pinot Noir, 29% Merlot, 22% Cab Franc and 5% Riesling. Next up came my favourite of the Dirty Laundry reds – the 2010 Kay Syrah, a blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Merlot. This wine had a lovely smokiness and meatiness to it, with rich berry flavours and a hint of spice and smoke. This was followed by the 2010 Merlot and the 2009 Bordello, a blend of 49.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49.5% Merlot and 1% Cab Franc. This was served along with some chocolate, to play with pairings.
Thornhaven Estate Winery was up next. This winery has a lovely southwest-style building with a huge patio overlooking the vineyards and lake. A great spot for a picnic (had the weather been a bit less grey and wet!) I decided to taste a few of the wines that I had not yet tried. First up was the 2011 Tortured Grape, a blend of Orange Muscat, Riesling and Chardonnay. This is a very easy-drinking summer sipper, with lovely flavours, well-balanced. The 2011 Decadence is indeed decadent! This is a late harvest Pinot Noir, which is quite tasty! It’s about a 4 on the sweetness scale so it’s not too sweet, and the acidity balances it nicely. The 2010 Pinot Meunier has lovely flavours of cherry and butterscotch and would be perfect chilled on a hot summer’s day. Pinot Meunier is one varietal that is sadly not used very much in the Okanagan. Wish it was around a bit more as it’s always so tasty! The 2009 Evolution is really tasting well at the moment. The tannins are softening quite nicely and it’s full of rich flavours. The 2010 Syrah has a really meaty nose, nice tannins and good flavours, with a hint of spice.
We headed down the hill a little way to Sonoran Estate Winery. Sadly, this winery seems to get overlooked at times, but they produce some very tasty wines! Arjan Smits, the proprietor, ran me through many of their wide selection of wines. The art work on the Jazz Series of wines is done by local Summerland artist Will Enns. The 2010 Jazz Series Riesling (17g Residual Sugar) had lovely citrus flavours and nice balance. The 2010 Jazz Series Oraniensteiner (13g RS) had beautiful aromatics and good acidity. This is my favourite of the whites, in part because it is something a bit different. Sonoran Estate Winery is the only producer of the Oraniensteiner grape in the Okanagan. The Golf Series Riesling-Gewürztraminer (18g RS) have a round mouthfeel and nice aromatics – great patio sipper. The 2007 Riesling is ageing very nicely – beautifully full flavours and nice acidity. Onto the reds, and some pretty fabulous reds they are! Arjan started off with one of my recent favourites to recommend to people at the VQA store, the 2007 Jazz Series Cabernet Merlot. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and this wine took the Best Bordeaux blend under $25 and Top Value Wine at last year’s All-Canadian Wine Championships. This is such a delicious, well-made red wine. I do believe the next wine was my favourite red of the day – the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This elegant wine is full of black fruit flavours and a hint of smoke, with great structure. This is probably one of my favourite Cab Sauvs in the Valley – beautiful! The 2007 Jazz Series Merlot is full of cherry and plum flavours with softer tannins. The 2007 Jazz Series Malbec is a bit lighter, with cranberry on the palate. The 2007 Jazz Series Pinot Noir had some lovely cherry and spice. To finish off the tasting, Arjan brought out their two Icewines. The first one was the 2007 Forbidden Love, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The second was the 2007 Oraniensteiner Icewine. Wow! It starts off sweet, with the beautiful aromatics and honey tones and then the acidity bursts through on the palate. Delicious! We will definitely return here, perhaps for lunch at their Full Moon Bistro as the smells wafting from the kitchen were wonderful!
Our next stop was just down the hill, at one of Summerland’s newer wineries, Heaven’s Gate Estate Winery. We were greeted at the car by Maggie the winery dog, a friendly yellow lab, and J became her new best friend by playing fetch with her. Andy took us through his full portfolio of wines, starting with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. This was lovely, crisp and dry, with citrus and gooseberry flavours. The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon blend was quite light, with citrus and a hint of banana. The 2010 Pinot Gris had lots of apple and melon and an interesting nuttiness to it. Next up was a comparison between two vintages of rosé. The 2010 Rosé was a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cab Sauv. It was a pale salmon colour, with flavours of strawberry and blueberry. The 2011 Rosé was a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Gamay and was my favourite of the two. It had a beautiful pale ruby colour and delicious blueberry-pomegranate flavours. The 2010 Gewürztraminer was full of lychee and orange blossom, with a lovely full mouthfeel. The 2010 Malbec was lovely and rich, with lots of cherry and plum flavours and nice structure. The 2010 Revelation, a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon had a big black cherry nose, nice tannins and lots of cherry and blueberry on the palate. The 2009 Merlot had a nice nose of spice and berry, which carried through onto the palate. The tannins have softened nicely on this Merlot.
Around the corner we went, to Silkscarf Winery. This has been very high up on my list for favourite wines ever since I tasted their Viognier back in 2009, when I first moved back to the Okanagan, and I have been a fan of their wines ever since. I had my first taste of food from their ‘Kitchenette’ for the first time at the ‘Light Up the Vines’ event last winter and was blown away. So I was disappointed to hear that the Kitchenette will no longer be open on weekends, only for special events. I will now make sure I keep myself informed of future events! Ruth was our gracious hostess this day and was lovely to chat with as she poured us her wines. We started with the 2011 Viognier and this remains one of my favourites in the Okanagan. Full of fresh apricot, citrus and peach. The 2011 Ensemble Blanc is a slightly off-dry blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling. It is practically clear in colour and has a lovely floral nose, reminding me of the recent fruit blossoms. The palate is a nice balance of floral and lychee, with a round mouthfeel. The 2008 Shiraz Viognier is full of cherry and raspberry and pepper, with nice medium tannins. I look forward to drinking some with roast lamb! The 2008 Cabernet Franc has lovely tannins and flavours of plum, berries and spice. To finish off, Ruth poured us some of their Cherry dessert wine, made from the Lapin cherries from their orchard. This was absolutely delicious!
Our final stop of the day was at 8th Generation Vineyard. Stefanie, whose family has grown grapes in Germany since 1691, was our lovely hostess. She started me off with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, light, crisp and citrus-y. The 2011 Pinot Gris spent 2 months in French oak, contributing to the rounder mouthfeel. This is crisp and clean with nice flavour. Next up were the three Rieslings produced this year. I was hard pressed to pick a favourite as each one had its merits, although I think the Riesling Selection may be edging ahead just a bit. The 2011 Classic Riesling (10g RS) is Stefanie’s favourite, with lovely green apple, some minerality and is nicely balanced. The 2011 Riesling Selection (8g RS) was given a bit of skin contact to balance the acidity and was fermented using wild yeasts. This was delicious! The 2011 Riesling just took top honours at the recent All-Canadian Wine Awards, winning ‘White Wine of the Year’. Congratulations to Stefanie and Bernd! This Riesling had a surprising 24g RS, but the fabulous acidity balances it out perfectly. The 2011 Pinot Meunier Rosé is a little bit drier (and therefore more pleasing to my palate) than last year’s vintage. Very tasty! The 2011 Confidence, their frizzante-style rosé is every bit as amazing as last year. Will definitely be a staple this year for bubbles. The 2010 Merlot spent 11 months in 30% new French oak and has been in bottle for about 8 months now. This Merlot was full of cherry and plum, with soft tannins. The 2010 Syrah had a lot of white pepper on the nose. The palate was rich cherry and raspberry with a healthy dose of pepper.
It’s Spring Wine Festival Season! I decided that a great event to attend would be ‘Sip Sip Syrah’ at Seven Stones Winery in the Similkameen Valley. This is the annual release party of George’s fabulous Syrah, along with a lunch in the barrel room. I invited J along and we decided to make a day of it.
We started the day off at the south end of the valley at the ever-so-picturesque setting of Forbidden Fruit Winery. We were greeted at the car by the very friendly winery dog, Suki, who escorted us to the door of the tasting room, where owner Steve Venables took over. I have been to Forbidden Fruit several times and am never disappointed. Forbidden Fruit started off producing fruit wines but have, in the past couple of years, begun producing some wines from grapes as well. Today I sampled a cross-section of their wines. I began with what was their ‘Mystery Wine’, which had recently been revealed. Every year, depending on the crop levels, they will choose one fruit and make a mystery wine from it, only later revealing what it is made from. For 2011 it was their ‘Plum Noir’, a beautiful dry plum wine that spent two months in a mixture of French and American Oak. Delicious, with some nice structure to it. Next came the 2011 Cherysh, a slightly off-dry rosé made from Stella cherries. This will be a lovely summer sipper. Next I decided to try the 2011 SauVidal, a very tasty blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Vidal. This wine has lovely tropical fruit flavours and a lovely mouthfeel, with a small amount of residual sugar. I finished off with one of my favourites – the 2009 Cerise d’Eve Red Cherry Port, made from Stella cherries, fortified to 17% and aged in American oak. Some lovely spice complements the sweet cherry flavours. I look forward to returning here later this summer, when they will have retail sales of some of their 60 varieties of fruit available!
We drove a little way up the highway to Seven Stones Winery, ready for lunch and tasty Syrah! We checked in and were handed our glasses and food tickets. George ran us through all of his wines, so that we could then choose which one we would like to drink with our lunch. The 2011 Pinot Noir rosé is nicely dry, with red fruit flavours and some citrus. The 2009 Chardonnay has a lovely buttered popcorn flavour. I really enjoyed the Row 128 Merlot, with its cherry, blueberry, mint and a hint of leather. The 2009 Cabernet Franc is beautiful, with full plum and raspberry flavours and some nice spice to it. The 2008 Meritage is one I would happily put in my cellar for a few more years. But the star of the show today was most definitely the newly released 2010 Syrah. I have always been a fan of George’s Syrah, and this vintage is no different. The white pepper grabbed me on the nose and carried through the blackberry on the palate. J and I chose this to accompany our lunch. We carried our bottle through to the laughter and conversation in the barrel room and found ourselves some seats. The food was delicious, and I must remember to ask who the caterer was! On the menu was: mixed green salad with celery, beet and carrot with a honey Dijon vinaigrette, roast pork with Madeira cream sauce, chicken breast stuffed with spinach cheese and basil, lemon butter herb infused basmati rice, and grilled veggie skewers. For dessert it was a decadent chocolate paté with marscapone. Delicious food, fabulous wine and lots of laughter and good company – a great lunch!
After having our fill, we carried on up to Cawston and stopped in at Rustic Roots Winery, where Sara Harker (winemaker) was a gracious hostess and filled us in on some of the history of the valley and of their family farm, which has been in operation since the late 1800s! I tried the 2010 Plum, an off-dry table wine with beautiful flavours and a nice counterbalance of acidity. The 2009 Peach Nectarine table wine had a candied banana nose and it carried through to the palate. Sara informed me that this happened to be a characteristic of the nectarine during fermentation. I then tried their 2009 Santa Rosa Plum dessert wine. This is so delicious as the acidity of the plums really balances out the sugar. To finish off I tried their fortified Mulberry Pear (2010). This was the winner by far! This is an Amarone-style fortified wine. A portion of the mulberries are dried out prior to fermentation, it is fortified to 18% and has spent 18 months in oak. This is a beautifully full-flavoured wine! A few exciting new releases will be coming out from Rustic Roots this summer: three different sparkling wines! They will be releasing the 2011 Pippin (made from Pippin apples), the 2011 Fameuse (Santa Rosa Plum and Fameuse Apple) and their 2011 Iced Orin Frizzante.
Clos du Soleil Winery was our next stop and Felix, the assistant winemaker, had quite a full tasting room to contend with. He was great with everyone and ensured we all tasted in the right order. Their 2011 Pinot Blanc, from the Baessler vineyard, is once again a superb example of Pinot Blanc. The 2010 Capella, a blend of Semillon and Sauv Blanc, has lovely mouthfeel and beautifully lush flavours. The 2011 Fumé Blanc will be released June 21 and is a nice balance of acidity, freshness and a bit of oak. Their 2011 Rosé is one of my favourites so far this season! It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and has 6g residual sugar, so is a relatively dry, food-friendly rosé. The nose and palate exhibit juicy candied strawberries – so appealing on a hot summer’s day! The 2010 Célestiale, a Bordeaux blend containing 52% Cab Sauv, 39% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot is also getting released on June 21st. It has slightly heavier tannins than the 2010 vintage and lovely flavours, although it is still a bit tight, having only been bottled in March. The 2009 Signature is a beautiful big red and I can’t wait to lay some of it down in my cellar! This vintage is a blend of 41% Merlot, 28% Cab Franc, 20% Cab Sauv, 7% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec. I finished off with the oh-so-decadent Saturn, a late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc, making a little play on words with “Sauternes”. This is my new favourite dessert wine. There is a beautiful balance between the sugar and acidity. Clos du Soleil also produce another big red, called Eclipse. This is not found very often as only 4 barrels were produced for the 2009 vintage. It is a blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cab Sauv and 25% Cab Franc.
Due to my inattention (I was busy tweeting instead of navigating) we missed Orofino Winery and therefore decided to stop in at another neighbouring winery, Eau Vivre, before returning to Orofino. I have become quite a fan of Eau Vivre’s wines, having been introduced to them last summer. Dale was behind the tasting bar this day and he ran me through a selection of their wines. I started off with their 2009 Gewürztraminer, which is on the drier side, with nice crisp acidity. The 2008 Chardonnay is a nice balance between fruit and oak, with a lovely mouthfeel. The 2008 Pinot Noir is one of my favourites at the moment with some decent structure and lovely cherry flavours. Dale gave me a sample of their new big red, a Cab-dominant blend with a touch of Syrah. They have produced 400 cases and it will be released later this summer. This wine has lovely tannins and beautifully rich dark fruit flavours. I look forward to its release!
Around we turned and headed back to Orofino, the Straw Bale Winery. I had been looking forward to this stop all day as I wanted to try their newly-released 2011 Moscato Frizzante, and thankfully Aaron had it open for sampling! J has discovered that he LOVES bubbles so I thought that this would be a nice treat. This is primarily a blend of three different Muscats, with a touch of Riesling and Pinot Gris added for acidity. All I can say is, “YUMMY!!!!” Beautifully balanced, a delicious bottle of bubbly. Next I tried their 2010 Riesling. This was crisp, dry with lovely acidity and a big mouthful of lime. The 2011 Pinot Gris had a nice round mouthfeel, due to some extended skin contact. It was fermented almost completely dry (0.4g RS) and has some really nice minerality. The 2010 Pinot Noir was up next and it had to be one of the fullest-bodied Pinot Noirs I have tasted from BC. It had an amazing peppery flavour to it in addition to the full black cherry flavour. This was only released last week and I scooped up one of the last remaining bottles. I think perhaps next year I’ll get on their mailing list early! Next, Aaron poured the 2010 Red Bridge Merlot. Its nose is full of baking spice and the palate is full of rich fruit and subtle tannins. The 2010 “Scout Vineyard” Syrah had beautiful flavours, lots of black fruits, blackberry, plum and pepper. The 2009 Beleza, a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cab Sauv, 10% Cab Franc and 10% Petit Verdot, is a beautiful big red that is softening really nicely.
Our afternoon in the Similkameen was a great day out and I’m looking forward to returning soon to get to the other wineries in Cawston and Keremeos.