I must begin by apologizing – I have been a bit remiss lately in my blog postings. I have a backlog of a few wineries that I have visited but have lately not had any time for writing. I will now get these out in the next week or so though.
A few weeks ago I went to visit Pascal Madevon at Osoyoos Larose. Osoyoos Larose was created in 1998 by Groupe Taillan, from France, and Vincor Canada. Within this arrangement, Groupe Taillan is responsible for making the wine (and therefore growing the grapes) and Vincor is responsible for marketing and selling the wine. Groupe Taillan, established in 1961, is owned by the Merlaut family and owns 21 châteaux in Bordeaux, the Loire and Cahors (France); they are the largest AOC wine group in France. The goal of the partnership was to develop Osoyoos Larose, a top-quality Canadian wine using Bordeaux varietals and showcasing the terroir of the South Okanagan valley. Osoyoos Larose was named for the location of the vineyards, overlooking Osoyoos Lake, and one of Groupe Taillan’s most prestigious châteaux in Bordeaux, Gruaud-Larose. The vineyards were planted between 1999 and 2001, comprising of 80 acres planted primarily with Merlot, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and small percentages of Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Pascal Madevon was hired from France to be the Vineyard Manager and Winemaker of Osoyoos Larose. He spends approximately 80% of his time in the vineyard and 20% of his time in the winery because he believes that the wine is made in the vineyard. Without good vineyard practices, it is difficult to make good wine, especially good wine that reflects the terroir. And to quote Pascal, “Terroir is the base of Osoyoos Larose. First is the terroir, second is the wine grower, and third is the winemaker.” He also considers that a very high quality of staff and equipment is required, along with the cleaning practices within the winery. I was visiting on a day during crush and despite the staff having spent the day pumping over etc; the winery, tanks and bins were all spotless! In the barrel room at Osoyoos Larose there are approximately 1200 French oak barrels. The wine for Le Grand Vin is always split 50/50 between new barrels and 1-year-old barrels. The wine for Pétales is always a 50/50 split between 1-year-old and 2-year-old barrels. The older barrels are used for press wine. When Osoyoos Larose’s first vintage (2001) came out, the production was only 1200 6-packs. Since then, word has spread and now production has increased to 15,000 12-packs of Pétales and 18,000 6-packs of Le Grand Vin. And surprisingly (for BC product anyway) 60% of the sales are to the SAQ, the government-run liquor stores in Quebec! Apparently Osoyoos Larose is finally looking into plans to have their own winery building, with wine shop and tasting room, on their vineyard site in Osoyoos. Until now they have been located within the large Jackson-Triggs facility at the north end of Oliver and there has been no public access. Pascal would like to see this change, so that their customers can finally have somewhere to visit, try and buy the wines, and so that they can see where these great wines come from. So hopefully this will come to fruition in the not-too-distant future!
Pascal opened a bottle of the 2009 Le Grand Vin for me to taste (not yet released). It is a blend of 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. It has cherry, cassis and mint on the nose, with cherry, spice and lots of complexity on the palate. It has heavy tannins and medium acidity. As always, this is a wine that is cellar-worthy. I’d easily put it down for another ten years or so. I also got to try a few of the daily samples from the 2012 vintage that is close to being completely fermented. There was incredible richness in colour and flavour and I look forward to sampling the final product in a few years! Pascal was a lovely host and a very interesting man to speak with. I very much enjoyed our conversations on the vineyard, winery and wine, but also our mutual passion for architecture and design!
Note: all photos in this post are courtesy of Pascal Madevon.