Yesterday I was a speed tasting virgin. Now that I actually understand this speed tasting thing, I’m slightly better prepared. For starters, I intend to spit! Somehow this isn’t coming out the exact way I’d meant it to. Perhaps I should just type at this point… Enjoy the wine, spit if you must (and I must)… Ten wines, 5 minutes each – here we go!
Black Sage Vineyard, Merlot 2010
Produced in and about Osoyoos and actually grown in an extension of the Sonora Desert, the Merlot is from 20 year old vines (they were one of the first plantings in the Okanagan Valley). It’s got beautiful blueberry and red fruit featuring some raspberry and strawberry. There’s significant spice, cedar, herbs and even sage on this wine – Okanagan terroir! Retails for $21.99 and has sold out at the VQAs but is available at the winery. Aged for 2 years prior to release so it’s ready to drink now. Good tannins and fruit mean this can be enjoyed for 3-5 years to come.
Upper Bench, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
A brilliant purple, light body for a cab sav, but fruity and acid with smooth tannins. Only 141 cases produced of this lovely wine. They have the Curds + Corks Club which one can join – and the recommended cheese for this wine is the King Cole, a take on Stilton. This wine is available for $35 and produced from 15 year old wines.
Perseus, Tempus Syrah 2010
Available for $28.99 this wine has sage leaping out on the nose. Fruity and lightly spicy, this Syrah is blended with 3.5% splash of Viognier. The fruit comes from Oliver and the wine is produced at Perseus, just up the road from Penticton. Cherries, a touch of tobacco and blueberries are most apparent with the Tempus – as well as that sage.
D’Angelo Estate Winery, Sette Coppa Riserva Unfiltered 2007
Located on the Naramata Bench, this is a family owned winery 12 years old making only 1,500 cases of wine per year with estate grown grapes, mostly Bordeaux varietals. This wine is a blend of five varietals and the joke with the Sette Coppa is that if you can find the other two, you win the prize. Aged for 24 months in French, Hungarian and American oak, the wine is very balanced, a little light in body, but food friendly. I can see enjoying this with bbq at the family-owned bed and breakfast co-located with the winery itself.
Mt Boucherie, Zinfandel 2009
There’s some residual sugar on this wine produced on BC’s largest privately owned grape-growing lands (300 acres). Spicy with red fruit, this is very drinkable and happily, not one of those jammy versions one often associates with the varietal. It does have high abv at 14.8%, but definitely is one to be enjoyed with bbq’ed steak or say, a lamb biryani.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Cabernet Franc 2006
Made at BC’s first organic and Canada’s largest organic winery, this is a single vineyard Cab Franc with that telltale graphite scent and tons of Okanagan plum to boot. Able to last for another 15 years at least with the strong tannins, fruit and acidity, but drinkable now. Perhaps the best Cab Franc in the bunch today – unique. It’s available at the winery for $29.95 and there’s a newer version from 2009 as well.
Hillside Winery and Bistro, Cabernet Franc 2009
They’ve been growing on the Naramata Bench since 1984, and this wine has fruit from Stoneboat as well as from their own acreage. Red fruit, plum, plum and more plum. This is a more restrained Cab Franc than the Summerhill Pyramid version (more structured). They are just very different. Less graphite and more black tea, lavender and flowers on this version. There are only 700 cases of this produced.
McWatters Collection, Meritage 2009
With 44% Cab Sav, 32% Merlot, the balance is Cab Franc. More Cab Franc – what are these Okanagan growers on about!? Well, it seems to be working. The vines are 17 years old and the wine retails for $30 (annual production of only 500 cases). The wine has great acidity and fruit and would be very food friendly. Their feeling is that wine=food, so they are careful to make the wine appropriate for all food options.
***Laughing Stock Vineyards, Portfolio 2010
This is a Bordeaux blend with 5 varietals from their gravity fed winery that the owners/winemakers put together specifically when they retired from the investment management business. Great wine. Period. Even Jancis Robinson agreed recently when she did a tasting of Canadian wines and named this one a favourite top 3 for Canadian reds. (Glad to see I’m not delusional – if JR enjoyed it, then I must know basically what I’m talking about). There are 2000 cases of this wine produced each year – unfined, unfiltered, ‘the real deal’. Get one before they go. Run, now. Don’t stop or pass ‘go’ – @LFNGWine
Bench 1775, Cabernet Merlot 2011
One of 3 wineries in Canada with private beach access! This wine has blueberries and plums and a slight vanilla tone. Nicely balanced and only 12.2% abv which makes it easy to drink lots of. Drink now, not intended for ageing. Enjoy with pizza or light Italian-style cuisine, $22.90 at VQA stores or the winery.