The SOMM Journal

April / May 2015

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Page 77 of 112

{ }  77 Some highlights from my recent foray through this dramatically evolving region. OKANAGAN VALLEY SPARKLING WINE Summerhill Pyramid Winery 2008 Cipes Blanc de Noirs This certified Biodynamic winery fearlessly ages méthode Champenoise bottlings as long as 15 years. This 100% Pinot Noir saw a mere six years en tirage, finishing amazingly fresh, silky, perky and pinpoint with deeply yeasted strawberry/rose petal, sweet cream and marmalade-on-toast complexities. OKANAGAN VALLEY WHITES CedarCreek Estate 2013 Riesling From north end of Lake Okanagan; very Germanic in weight (9.9% alcohol) and trocken-like dryness (8.9 grams residual sugar/liter), radiating a lemon/lime fragrance with mineral and petrol nuances; tart, mouth-watering, long, silky. Tantalus Vineyards 2012 Riesling This estate's current release; just begin - ning to shed its prickly baby acidity, yet still sharp and steely, couching floral, citrus and pineapple perfumes in earthy/organic notes in a light-medium body (about 12% alcohol), finishing emphatically dry despite halbtrocken-level residual sugar. CedarCreek Estate 2012 Platinum Chardonnay "Block 5" Epitome of the minimalist, terroir-driven style of the Okanagan Valley today; mineral sensations on even keel with fruit (bright yet low slung fig/pineapple), against a backdrop of under - played oak (strictly French puncheons); lemony edged and long, fluid, medium body. Mission Hill Family Estate 2012 Terroir Collection Lone Pine Chardonnay Musqué-like floral spice, orange/citrus and mineral notes give this varietal rendering its unique Okanagan stamp; medium-full bodied, with the mineral and citrus qualities prevalent on the palate. Laughing Stock 2013 Perfect Hedge Vineyard Viognier While this winery is located on the Naramata Bench towards the south end of Lake Okanagan, their Perfect Hedge planting is located on a slightly warmer site, further south near Osoyoos Lake. The nose is hugely exotic— billowing tropical flower and peppercorn/ ginger/fennel spice perfumes—and its crisp yet silken, airy, medium-full bodied sensa - tions are almost epiphanic. Hard to imagine a finer New World Viognier. Church & State 2013 Trebella A Marsanne (52%)/Roussanne (43%)/ Viognier (5%) barrel-fermented primarily in acacia wood barrels (known to enhance floral notes while imparting minimal "oaki - ness"). Here, the nose is of honeyed nuts and marzipan-like cream; driven by steely, tart, coiled, springy sensations across a medium-weight body. Burrowing Owl Estate 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Grown on Okanagan's Black Sage Bench—a literal pile of sand and gravel, hundreds of feet deep, just north of Osoyoos Lake—this may be the clos - est thing to Péssac-Léognan west of the Atlantic. 12% Sémillon and 30% barrique fermentation (the balance in steel tanks) enhance mineral, floral, melon sensations with mild toast and creamy texturing, while bright with acidity in its moderate weight. Quail's Gate 2013 Chenin Blanc Medium-bodied style; effusive with flowery, melony fruit underscored by lemony fresh tartness and dry finish, with a whisper of sweetness (7.2 grams). Nk'Mip 2013 Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine Most of the Okanagan Valley's top producers also excel in Icewine, which is 100% natural by BC VQA law, utilizing any grape (I tasted fine examples made from Kerner, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, even Zweigelt), and picked anywhere from November to the following January. Still, Riesling is the classic choice, and this one by Nk'Mip—North America's first Aboriginal- owned and operated-estate—is a stunning, perfectly balanced nectar, bursting with fresh, honeyed apple and pineapple; silken fine, bright, lacy, buoyant (10.28% alcohol; 240 grams residual sugar). OKANAGAN VALLEY REDS CedarCreek Estate 2012 Platinum Pinot Noir "Block 2" Nostril-tingling strawberry perfume tinged with mace/ cardamom-ish spice; fleshy entry, turning fine and silky on the palate; the sprightly, fragrant red fruit mingling with faintly sage- like, earthy sensations. Laughing Stock 2012 Perfect Hedge Vineyard Syrah It's almost maddening when the most spectacular wine tasted during a tour is a Syrah—so fine, so underappreciated. Laughing Stock crafts world-class stuff: 4% Viognier co-ferment; ultra-spicy, perfumed and delineated nose, laced with violet, white pepper, rare meat, black olives and fennel sausage; unabashedly full (14.6% alcohol), luxurious yet velvety, layered, bright and finesseful. TIME Estate 2012 Syrah Not to be out - done, this Black Sage Bench growth—grown by the pioneering Okanagan viticulturist Dick Cleave for TIME's iconic founder, Harry McWatters—exudes strikingly Northern Rhône-like fennel/spice, bacon, lavender and violet perfumes, stretched gamely across a full, fleshy, yet zippy, velvet textured body. Black Hills Estate 2013 Nota Bene This Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend is what B.V. Georges de Latour is to Napa Valley: the Okanagan Valley's historic breakthrough red (since Black Hill's 2000 vintage). The 2013 is a power pack - aging of black cherry, blackcurrant, violet, tobacco and minty weediness, meaty with tannin, yet with the steely acid and moder - ate weight bearing the Okanagan signature. Oak Bay Vineyard 2012 Maréchal Foch While now a relic of Okanagan yes - teryears, this hybrid grape (blended with 11% Chambourcin, another fading French/ American hybrid) still produces an appeal- ingly purplish, ripe (14.8% alcohol) and roly-poly red, redolent of bramble-berries, blackberry compote and sprigs of tobacco, finishing soft and lush. TASTING NOTES Church & State Trebella is a Rhône-style white blend fermented primarily in acacia wood. Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah was the most spectacular wine tasted during the tour.

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