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As I get closer to the end of my list of wineries I’m left primarily with a few of the larger wineries in Oliver and Kelowna whose tasting rooms are open year-round. On this day of touring I decided that we’d head down to Oliver to finish off the wineries down there, but since I had not yet visited Painted Rock this year we started our day there. Upon our arrival in the tiny tasting room in the vineyard we were warned about the bears that have been roaming about the property. Apparently the bears decided that the electrified bear fencing was not going to keep them from feasting on the tasty grapes and so they have been digging their way under the fencing! Thankfully we did not run into any of those grape-hungry bears.  Those bears have posed quite a challenge to Painted Rock, especially for the 2010 vintage that will be released next year. The bears ate so many grapes that year that production went down by 40-45%! So if you do want to get your hands on any of the new releases next spring you might want to act quickly. As usual, I quite enjoyed the tasting at Painted Rock. The 2011 Chardonnay is a mix of oak-fermented with malolactic, and stainless steel. It has crisp citrus and flint on the nose and rich pineapple on the palate. The 2009 Merlot has blackberry, cassis and liquorice on the nose with blackberry, cherry and plum on the palate. It has medium acidity and medium-plus tannins. The 2009 Red Icon (Painted Rock’s flagship red) was awarded the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wine and just recently won a Gold Medal at the Canadian Wine Awards. It is a blend of 30% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 1% Syrah. It has cassis and cedar on the nose with rich cassis, blackberry, cedar and a hint of green bell pepper on the palate, with a chocolate finish. It has medium-plus acidity and heavy tannins. The 2009 Syrah won a Silver Medal at Syrah du Monde and was awarded the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wine. It has pepper, blackberry, plum and cedar on the nose with plum, dark chocolate and spice on the palate. It has medium-plus acidity and medium-plus tannins.

Then J and I headed down to Oliver, to Inniskillin Okanagan Estate on the Golden Mile. The 2011 Chardonnay Reserve has citrus on the nose with citrus and apple on the palate and crisp acidity. I decided to move on to a selection of reds from their Discovery Series, a tier of wines that are made from small lots of grapes that are not so commonly grown in BC, or Canada for that matter! Some of the wines in this series include Chenin Blanc and Marsanne Roussanne for the whites and Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Pinotage, Sangiovese, Malbec and Petit Verdot for the reds. The 2009 Pinotage is rich with smoke and dark fruit on the nose and palate and smooth tannins. The 2009 Sangiovese is only available at the winery as only 150 cases were produced this vintage. It has sour cherry and plum on the nose and palate with a chocolate finish. It has medium-to-high acidity and medium tannins. The 2009 Zinfandel has raspberry and blackberry on the nose and palate, with a hint of sweet liquorice on the finish. It has medium-plus acidity and tannins. The 2007 Petit Verdot has black cherry and cassis on the nose and palate, with medium acidity and medium-plus tannins. We were given a chance to compare two Icewines to finish the tasting. The 2011 Reserve Riesling Icewine has a clean nose of honey, peach and a hint of apricot. It has a rich palate with nice acidity and flavours of honey and peaches. The 2008 Dark Horse Vineyard Riesling Icewine had a deeper golden colour with a richer nose of honey pear and peach and a hint of petrol. The palate offered a lot of complexity and flavours of honeyed pears – yum!

Next stop was at Gehringer Brothers where Heidi ran us through the tastings from their very extensive wine list. I decided to choose some of the wines that I had not tasted recently. The 2011 Private Reserve Pinot Blanc has Granny Smith apple on the nose and palate and crisp acidity. The 2011 Optimum Pinot Gris has pear on the nose with pear, citrus and spice on the palate and a round mouthfeel. The 2011 Dry Rock Chardonnay has citrus, pineapple and apple on the nose and is quite light on the palate. The 2011 Auxerrois has an aromatic nose, is clean on the palate with a round mouthfeel and flavours of citrus, apple and pear. The 2011 Ehrenfelser has flavours of citrus, apple and spice with a round mouthfeel. The 2011 Dry Rock Merlot has a rich smoky, meaty nose with cherry, plum and spice that carries over to the palate. It has medium-plus acidity and medium tannins. The 2011 Cabernet Merlot is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It has some green bell pepper, cherry and cassis on both the nose and palate, with a bit of spice on the palate as well. It has medium tannins and medium acidity. We finished off with the 2011 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc, with its lovely ruby colour and raspberry cherry nose with a hint of spice on the palate. It is sweet, but not cloyingly so.

Our final stop of the day was at Tinhorn Creek. After checking out the self-guided tour overlooking the winery, crush pad and barrel cellar we headed in to the tasting room to sample some of the wines. Despite having been at Tinhorn for each of the concerts through the summer season I had not yet sampled many of this year’s vintage (having just stuck to my favourites!). The 2011 Oldfield Series 2Bench White is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon and Muscat. It has crisp acidity and flavours of peach and citrus. I did a side-by side comparison of the 2009 Pinot Noir and the 2008 Oldfield Series Pinot Noir, a first from Tinhorn Creek. The primary winemaking differences between these wines are that the Oldfield Series Pinot was made from the premium grapes, spent an additional 4 months in oak and had an additional year of bottle-aging prior to release. The 2009 Pinot Noir has an earthy nose with a bit of maraschino cherry. It has cherry and spice on the palate with medium-plus acidity and soft-to-medium tannins. The 2008 Oldfield Series Pinot Noir has an earthy, slightly subdued cherry nose. It has bigger flavours of black cherry and spice, with medium-plus acidity and medium tannins that are softening nicely. Next I compared the 2010 Merlot with the 2009 Oldfield Series Merlot. The 2010 Merlot has raspberry and cherry on the nose and palate, with some cedar on the palate and a chocolate finish. It has medium-to-high acidity and medium-plus tannins. The 2009 Oldfield Series Merlot is in fact a blend of 87% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 2% Syrah. It has an earthier nose with cherry and flavours of cherry, plum, cedar and spice. It has medium acidity and medium-to-heavy tannins. The 2009 Oldfield Series Syrah has blackberry, violets, orange zest and pepper on both the nose and the palate, with medium acidity and medium-plus tannins. I finished the tasting (J had checked out of tasting by this point and had gone in search of snacks in the tasting room’s deli case) with the 2011 Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine, served in a dark chocolate cup. It has beautiful aromatics and flavours of honey, citrus, pear and a hint of floral notes – delicious!

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