Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New releases from Pentâge Winery




Photo: Pentâge Winery's current releases include Icewine


Six years after opening in 2003, the Pentâge Winery in Penticton has yet to open an onsite wine shop and tasting room.

However, that does not mean the wines are hard to find. The winery’s website lists an astonishing number of British Columbia restaurants and private wine stores in which one can get a Pentâge wine (aside from ordering it directly from the winery).

Proprietors Paul Gardner and Julie Rennie have had other priorities. One was nurturing the new vineyard (not far from the winery’s original vineyard). Those vines will yield their first fruit this fall, enabling Pentâge to extend its already interesting portfolio of wines. Coming in a year or two is Zinfandel, Mourvedre, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot.

Paul’s other priority has been completing the new wine cellar. He has dug an immense cavity into the hard rock on the highest point on the Pentâge property. Think of a small airplane hangar which now houses tanks, barrels and cases of wine at a temperature that is cool the year round.

Some time next year, a huge door with glass panels will be fitted on the side where the cavity emerges from the rock. This will afford views across the vineyard and toward Penticton’s Skaha Lake beaches to the north. And in good time, a tasting room will rise from the roof of this magnificent cellar, offering some of the best winery views in the Okanagan.

Of course, visitors want to come here for the delicious wines made by Paul and Adam Pierce, the winemaker who joined Pentâge last year when Dwight Sick moved to Stag’s Hollow. The current releases reflect the work of both of these fine young winemakers, along with Paul’s effective work in the vineyard.

These are notes on current releases, except for the Icewine, which will be reviewed later.

Pentâge Gewürztraminer 2008 ($18). Fermented entirely in stainless steel, this is a textbook example of this popular aromatic variety. The wine invites you with aromas of spice, lychee and peaches, leading to all of those flavours on the palate. Packed with fruit, it has a rich finish. The fruitiness creates an impression of sweetness but the wine has a crisp, dry finish. 90 points.

Pentâge Riesling 2007 ($19). Here is another solid serious dry Riesling. It begins with aromas of lime and a bready note, suggesting it was aged a bit on the lees to add texture. On the palate, there are flavours of lime. The wine has a backbone of minerality, an important character of good Riesling. The lively, but well-balanced acidity, gives the wine a crisp and refreshing finish. 89-90. It was a silver medal winner in last year’s Canadian Wine Awards.

Pentâge Viognier 2007 ($23). The winery is moving from corks to screw cap closures. It is too bad the move did not begin with this vintage, for my sample suffered a cork taint – slight enough, fortunately, that one could taste through it to the flavours of melons and apricots. The aromas had been killed by the cork taint. I am confident that a sound bottle would easily score 90.

Pentâge Rosé 2008 ($19). This is a vividly ruby-hued wine with tons of flavour – cranberry, cherry, raspberry, spice. It is made with Gamay grapes, cold-soaked for 48 hours on the skins before fermenting, a technique that explains the colour and the flavours. The fresh acidity gives the wine a good tangy finish. This wine would be excellent with barbecued salmon. 88

Pentâge Cabernet Franc 2006 ($28). Another silver medal winner at last year’s Canadian Wine Awards, this is a generous wine, tasting of blackberries, cherries, and spiced currants. The long ripe tannins give this wine a firm, chewy texture. It is drinking well now but has the structure to develop even more complexity over the next four or five years. 88-90.

Pentâge Syrah 2006 ($26). Here’s a powerhouse with a colour as dark as the Ace of Spades and classic white pepper in the aroma. On the palate, it delivers peppery flavours of prunes, black cherry, cocoa, even spiced meat. This satisfying wine is generous in texture, with a Rhone-like elegance on the finish. 91

These wines should create a sense of anticipation among Pentâge fans for the additional wines that the new vineyard will add.

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