Last Saturday I had a busy day lined up, revolving around winery events. I was helping to organize the wine service at Rustico Farm & Cellars for the 4th Annual Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country Half-Corked Marathon in the morning and I was volunteering at Tinhorn Creek’s Canadian Concert Series in the evening. This left a period of time in between that I decided should be taken up with an impromptu wine tour!
The Half-Corked Marathon is a fabulous event that just seems to get better every year. It sells out its online registration within minutes every time and the participants seem to get more creative every year with their costumes. This year there were 650 runners/walkers and they covered the 18km circuit that includes 10-12 wineries. Each winery has wine, water and some nibbles on offer, and at the finish line at the Oliver Community Park, there is a picnic for all the participants, with food from local restaurants and featuring some of the wineries that weren’t on the route. This year’s best costumes (in my opinion) included the horse-drawn chariots, the cork heads, the wine bags and of course… Malibooze Barbies! We were also excited at Rustico Farm & Cellars to have our own team in the race – the Rustico Reds, complete with bums hanging out of the Rustico long johns! Congratulations to all of the participants this year for the amazing effort on costumes, and the sheer determination to complete the circuit while “half-corked”. After we’d cleaned up following the onslaught of people, I made my way down towards Osoyoos, stopping at Gold Hill Winery en route. Last year when I had stopped in, they had already sold out of many of their wines, so I was glad to be in there early this year. The 2012 Viognier has lovely aromatics with a nose of peach, apricot, nectarine and citrus. The palate offers flavours of citrus and apricot, with a round mouthfeel and nice acidity – yum! The 2012 Rosé is made from 100% Cabernet Franc and is a deep shade of ruby. It has aromas and flavours of strawberry, blueberry and a hint of watermelon. It is very fresh, with a rich full body for a rosé and great concentration of flavour. The 2011 Pinot Noir has some nice spice on the nose and palate, with lots of cherry. It has a bit too much oak on it for my taste though. The 2011 Merlot is medium ruby in colour, with cherry, plum and spice on the nose. It offers flavours of spice, vanilla, cherry and plum, with a bit of tobacco and tea. It has nice acidity and medium-plus tannins. The 2011 Cabernet Franc has aromas and flavours of raspberry, cherry and spice, with medium body and acidity. It is very tasty! The 2011 Syrah has a bit of meatiness on the nose, with flavours of blackberry and pepper. It has a full body with nice fruit and acidity and medium-plus tannins.
I stopped to grab a light lunch at Dolci’s Deli on Main Street. If you are visiting Osoyoos and are not familiar with this fabulous place, please do stop in; it is just up from the Home Hardware Building Centre. I have always been very impressed with the homemade soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes here, and there is a great selection of sodas, juices, beer and wine, as well as delicious coffees. The rear garden patio is a little oasis in the sometimes-scorching temperatures of Osoyoos. The special of the day was a Summer Pea Soup with side salad and slice of homemade bread. It was beautifully presented and oh-so-tasty!
After getting a bit of food in my belly I made my way up to one of my favourite wineries – Moon Curser – to try some of the new vintages. The 2012 Afraid of the Dark is back to its original blend of Roussanne (47%), Viognier (32%) and Marsanne (22%). This year they have a rosé! And it’s a tasty one too, made from Syrah with the saignée method (“bleeding” off the juice after 9 hours of skin contact). The 2012 Nothing to Declare Rosé is pure ripe strawberry on the nose, with flavours of strawberry, citrus, grapefruit rind and spice, with nice crisp acidity. The 2011 Tempranillo has cherry, tobacco and a hint of oak on the nose, with flavours of tart cherry, vanilla and caramel and a hint of leather. This is definitely a wine that will develop very nicely with a bit of age. The 2011 Syrah is a bit on the lighter side, with flavours of mulberry, a bit of meatiness and spice and nice acidity. The 2010 Border Vines (Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenère & Petit Verdot) is drinking really well right now. It has flavours and aromas of cassis, plum, cherry and spice, with pronounced intensity, medium-plus acidity and tannins – delicious! This year offers another first from Moon Curser – a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon! The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas and flavours of cassis, tobacco, blackberry, plum and cedar with pronounced intensity, medium acidity and medium-plus tannins. This is delicious but can certainly age for a few more years. The 2010 Dead of Night offers something a bit different for Canadian wine – the Tannat grape! This is a 50/50 blend of Tannat and Syrah. It has a rich nose of stewed dark fruit with a hint of pepper. It has flavours of prune, pepper and tobacco. It has medium acidity and medium-plus-plus tannins. I love this wine and look forward to ageing it a few years.
I stopped in at one of the newer wineries in Osoyoos – Adega on 45th – which is located just down the hill from Moon Curser, and on the road to Nk’Mip Cellars & Spirit Ridge Resort. Last year I happened to stop in during their grand opening party and enjoyed the wines but didn’t have the time to savour them in the crowds. This time I decided to run through their entire list of wines on offer, which is quite lengthy now that they have released their reds. The 2012 Chardonnay is unoaked, with an apple nose, round mouthfeel and a peach/nectarine finish. The 2012 Viognier has a citrus nose, round mouthfeel and apricot and citrus on the palate. The 2012 Pinot Gris has aromas of peach, with flavours of peach, apricot and citrus; it’s quite pleasant. The 2012 Felicidade is a blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. It is off-dry but nicely balanced, with flavours of apple and citrus and a hint of the Muscat aromatics. The 2012 Rosé is a blend of Merlot and Viognier. Perhaps an unconventional blend, but very tasty indeed! It has aromas of raspberry and cherry, with flavours of raspberry, cherry and blueberry. It has a bit of residual sugar to it but also has nice acidity. This is fruit salad in a glass! Manuel is their red blend. It is light in body, with flavours of spice and cherry – quite pleasant. The 2011 Malbec has aromas and flavours of violets, blackberry, prune, and a hint of tobacco, with medium-plus acidity – very tasty. The 2011 Syrah seemed to have a whiff of VA, which put me off a bit. It has aromas of pepper, vanilla and blackberry, with flavours of black fruit and tobacco, high acidity and medium-plus tannins. The 2011 Merlot has a plum nose, with flavours of plum and cherry, medium-plus acidity and tannins. The 2011 Cabernet Franc has a rich nose of cherry, spice and a hint of floral. It has flavours of plum, spice and some earthiness. It has huge tannins and medium-plus acidity. The 2011 Quarteto Tinto is their Meritage blend, with 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. It has rich aromas and flavours of plum and cassis, with some meatiness on the finish. It has medium-plus acidity, heavy tannins and a long finish. All of the reds here definitely have the ability to age 3-8 years, easily. I finished off with a sample that I savoured, instead of spitting – the 2009 Portao. This is their fortified Port-style wine (fitting, as the owners are Portuguese). It is a medium ruby colour, with a hint of brick red. It has a rich nose of black cherry, plum, black currant, and hints of herbs and clove. It has luscious flavours of vanilla, baking spice and dark cherry. It is oh-so-smooth and delicious. There are very limited quantities of this remaining, so you’d better snap it up soon!
My next stop was at LaStella Winery, on my way back up to Oliver. The 2012 Leggiero is an unoaked Chardonnay with a crisp citrus nose, flavours of citrus, apple and peach, with medium-plus acidity. The 2012 Vivace is a Pinot Grigio with crisp citrus and pear on the nose, a nice mouthfeel with a bit of roundness, and flavours of peach, pear and citrus. The grapes were sourced, and fermented separately before blending, from vineyards in West Kelowna and Osoyoos. I was offered a side-by-side comparison of the 2011 and 2012 LaStellina Rosés. The 2011 is 100% Merlot and has a bit higher residual sugar than the 2012. It has some hints of herbs on the nose, with flavours of strawberry, citrus and spice. The 2012 is a blend of 80% Merlot, with Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. It is drier than the 2011 and a bit fresher. It has flavours of crisp citrus, melon and berries. I liked them both, although I would prefer the 2011 on the patio and the 2012 with food. The 2012 Moscato d’Osoyoos is delicious as per usual! It is light, delicate and aromatic with a bit of petillance – fabulous. The 2010 Fortissimo is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. It has medium-plus acidity, medium-plus-plus tannins and flavours of cherry and baking spice. The 2010 Allegretto is 100% Merlot, from a single vineyard of un-grafted rootstock that is cropped very low at 1-2 tons/acre. It has big tannins, medium-plus acidity and is tasty, but really needs to be cellared for several more years. The 2010 Maestoso Merlot has a rich meaty nose with spice and cherry on the palate. It has a very full body and can also be laid down for several years.
Intersection Winery is almost ready to open its tasting room at the corner of Highway 97 and Road 8, south of Oliver. I stopped by and Bruce invited me in to taste a couple of wines. I was very impressed with the appearance of the tasting room (albeit it still somewhat under construction), with some creative use of barrel staves on the walls – some creative design work! The 2012 Rosé is 100% Merlot, with a candied strawberry nose and flavours of strawberry and citrus. The 2010 Unfiltered Merlot has rich aromas of dark fruit, plum and black cherry, with medium-plus tannins and medium acidity. It has intense flavours of spice and dark cherry – very tasty. There are a couple of soon-to-be released white wines in the Reserve Barrel-Fermented line: a Viognier-Marsanne blend and a Sauvignon Blanc. I will have to return to try them later this summer.
I stopped quickly at Hester Creek, simply to buy some of their 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc, as I had run out of it at home. But I was offered a chance to taste some of their 2012 Old Vines Trebbiano Block 16. Just over 500 cases were produced of this delicious wine, produced from Trebbiano vines that are over 40 years old. Anybody who thinks of Trebbiano as a bland white wine from Italy must really try this one from Hester Creek. It has a hint of liquorice on the nose, with rich flavours of baked apple, citrus and passionfruit. It has a round mouthfeel, full body and is really quite lovely!
Finally I ended my day at Tinhorn Creek for the first concert of the season. BrickHouse, from Vancouver, was performing and I must say that they put on one of the best shows I’ve seen yet at Tinhorn Creek. There was just an amazing energy between the band and the audience. People were up dancing before the intermission, which is a sure sign of a good band. Normally the audience needs to be a bit more ‘lubricated’ before venturing up to dance. The Canadian Concert Series at Tinhorn Creek is fabulous entertainment at a very reasonable price. A season’s pass is available for only $100 and gives you four concerts (May through August). The season finale is in September and is not part of the package. This year’s remaining concerts are:
Saturday June 20th – Jackie Treehorn
Saturday July 27th – The Matinee (back again – they’re great!)
Saturday August 24th – Five Alarm Funk
Saturday September 7th – Blackie & the Rodeo Kings
The concerts start at 7pm and generally go until 9pm, plus an encore or two. Wine is available for sale by the bottle or by the glass (no outside alcohol is allowed). You can either bring a picnic dinner or there are always some BBQ dinner selections available on the crush pad, courtesy of Miradoro Restaurant. If you’re planning on being in the South Okanagan around any of the concert dates I would highly recommend grabbing some tickets (they are not always guaranteed at the gate). If you’re worried about drinking and driving, shuttles are available from Penticton, Oliver & Osoyoos and shuttle tickets can be purchased alongside the concert tickets on the Tinhorn Creek website.