The SOMM Journal

October / November 2015

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Page 127 of 132

{ }  127 gone far, far further with an extravagance tamed by meticulous precision that has to be experienced. His new winery at CedarCreek from the same designer, which will specialise in Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in time for this year's vintage, will be simply stunning both inside and out. While most B.C. wineries have restaurants, for the region receives over 800,000 visi- tors a year, von Mandl's are world-class. But what about the wines? CedarCreek 2014 Block 3 Riesling—silver pale, white flowers, fine fruit flavours and natural acid- ity, supple charm, 16.5/20; Platinum 2103 Block 5 Chardonnay—lemon yellow, ripe but constrained Chardonnay nose, good natural acidity, good future; Platinum 2012 Block 2 Pinot Noir (the Decanter Trophy winner)—fine colour, smooth Volnay-style fruit with added richness, seamless finish; Platinum 2013 Block 4 Pinot Noir—more floral and lifted, more expressive and linear, more Vosne-Romanée, perfect harmony. Dinner that night was at Mission Hill, dur- ing which we tasted the Viognier 2013 with apricot flavours and fresh acidity; Perpetua 2013 Chardonnay, quite rich with bright acidity, quite Meursault; Lone Pine 2013 Chardonnay, more spicy and oaky; Compendium 2011 a Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot blend with 13% Cabernet Franc, good richness and depth and balancing acidity; and Oculus 2012, the icon blend, with 52% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, a really good, smooth and classy wine, very well made. After such a sophisticated and comfort- able introduction, the real marathon began the next day with a 9 a.m. tasting at nearby Quails' Gate Winery with long term owner Tony Stewart, (whose excellent 2013 Chardonnay I enjoyed on my Air Canada flight) for an exciting range of hand- crafted wines: a floral, nicely exotic 2014 Gewürztraminer, a spicy "garrigue-y" 2014 Chenin Blanc, an elegant 2014 Chardonnay, moving to a slightly oakier 2103 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay and a superb, Puligny-style 2013 Rosemary's Block Chardonnay with a very good future. The reds were even better : three 2013 Pinot Noirs, Quails' Gate, Stewart Family and a superb Richard's Block with damson fruit, wonderful vigour and depth, then a 2006 Quails' Gate Pinot that was still firm and youthful. Then two Syrahs, the only wines not under a Stelvin closure: a Côte-Rôtie– style 2012 and an even more exuberant 2013 with fine fragrance and purity. At 10:15 we were at Sperling Vineyards, owned by husband and wife Peter Gamble and Ann Sperling, both respected old hands in the B.C. and Niagara wine scenes. Here the concentration is on white wines, with three excellent sparkling wines, my favou- rite being from Pinot Blanc, some complex Riesling from vines planted in 1978, a Burgundian Pinot Noir and a Chablis style Chardonnay, an "Orange Wine" 2014 Pinot Gris and a 2103 Icewine Pinot Blanc, both fascinating. From here we went to Tantalus Vineyards, dedicated to producing pedigree Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, for an early lunch before the British Columbia Salon Tasting, a mere 117 wines of all colours and varietals from every corner of the region. The selection was made by DJ Kearney and very wide and convincing it was. The only wines I allowed myself to skip were from those wineries I had already visited. Here, in the order tasted, are the wines I awarded 17/20 (90/100) or above: WHITE Tantalus Old Vine Riesling 2012, Wild Goose Stony Slope Riesling 2013, Little Farm Riesling 2013, Orofino Riesling 2013, Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013, Fandango Albarino/Verdejo Terravista Vineyards 2014, Van Westen Viognier 2014, TIME Estate Meritage (68% Semillon, 32% Sauvignon) 2014, Clos de Soleil Middle Bench Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2013, Hillside Muscat Ottonel 2014. RED Deep Roots Gamay 2014, Spierhead Pinot Noir 2013, Joie "en famille" Pinot Noir 2012, Moraine Pinot Noir 2012, Howling Bluff Summa Quies Pinot Noir 2012, Meyer Family Vineyards Micro Cuvée Pinot Noir 2012, Daydreamer Wines Marcus Ansems Shiraz 2013, Painted Rock Syrah 2012, Stoneboat Pinotage 2012, Cassini Cabernet Franc 2012, Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2012, Summer Hill Meritage 2012, McWatters Meritage 2012, Black Hills "Nota Bene" Red Bordeaux Blend 2013, Moon Cursor Vineyards "Dead of Night" Syrah 2012, Culmina "Hypothesis" Syrah 2012, Le Vieux Pin Syrah Classique 2013, Sandhill Syrah 2013. There were also many 16.5s, overall an exhaustingly impressive line-up. It was then off to Liquidity Wines' Guesthouse in the heart of Okanagan Falls with stunning views over Lakes Vaseux and Skaha, where the Visa Infinite Dinner would be prepared by four renowned local chefs. After a raft of appetizers that included arctic char sausage, ground lamb and beef kabobs, Canadian oysters, Little Qualicum fromage frais, Northern Divine caviar and local wild mushrooms, all washed down with a refreshing Noble Ridge "The One" 2010 Sparkling Wine, Liquidity Winery's Robert Walker served whole grain–fed duck carpaccio accompanied by an oaky yet fresh Liquidity Pinot Noir 2013. Daniel Pizarro of Avec Bistro in Calgary followed with a superb trio of vegetable ravioli alongside a marvellous Meyer Family Vineyard McLean Creek Pinot Noir 2013. Next came Trevor Bird of Fable Kitchen in Vancouver, whose sablefish with whole roasted eggplant, apricot chutney and gin- ger dukka was paired with a fine Tantalus Chardonnay 2012, with a lemony nose and energetic stone fruit finish. Vikram Vij of Vancouver' famous Vij's served a slow- cooked Indian-spiced beef tenderloin that the Northern Rhône grip of the Moraine Estate Syrah 2013 stood up to very well. With the Dairy Farmers of Canada cheeses, Liquidity's 2013 Viognier seemed an odd choice, but actually worked, but not as superbly as Inniskillin's Riesling Icewine 2012 with Rob Walker's O.K Falls summer stone fruit dessert with peach-lemon curd, grilled apricot, honey poached nectarine, blood orange, Devonshire cream, pie crust streusel and pistachio meringue crisp as side dishes. Most of the wineries I was taken to had restaurants serving varied cuisines based on local products, which are bountiful. After two in-depth tastings at Painted Rock and the Meyer Family Vineyards, DJ Kearney and I had a delightful tapas-style lunch at Liquidity with a delicious Blue Mountain 2014 Gamay, which called for another glass. Both Gamay and Pinot Noir seem to be very French in Okanagan Valley. The next four days of my visit continue in the December-January issue.

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