Forbidden Fruit masters grapes as well as fruits
The challenge that fruit wines give a reviewer is coming up with descriptors after having used up all of the allusions to fruit while describing grape wines.
If Pinot Noir has strawberry or cherry flavours, presumably one would find Pinot Noir notes in strawberry or cherry wines. Of course, you don’t find Pinot Noir there. You just find that the cherry aromas and flavours are so much more intense in the cherry wine.
But there are times when a grape wine is just as intense, as I discovered in tasting the current releases from Forbidden Fruit Winery – two grape wines and a range of fruit wines. Tasting these wines was a great sensory experience, even if I ran out of suitable descriptors.
The winery, which is tucked away beside the river at the south end of the Similkameen Valley, is marking its fifth anniversary this year. Here, Steve Venables and Kim Brind’Amour operate a rather special orchard. It has been farmed organically for 34 years and has been certified organic for 25 years. Nearly half of the farms in the Similkameen today are organic; this one blazed the trail.
They sell 90% of their fruit on the fresh market. The winery was launched to give a home for fruit that is surplus to the fresh market. Steve and Kim produce the wines to the same high standards as their fresh fruit. The evidence is in the winery’s consistent record of awards. Forbidden Fruit has won medals in each of the last five years at the Northwest Wine Summit. Just this spring, the winery brought home 15 medals from several festivals.
The grape wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc – are released under what the winery calls its Earth Series. This program started several years ago and contributes funds to the Suzuki Foundation. The winery also raises funds for the Land Conservancy of British Columbia through the tasting donation jar in the wine room. Kim and Steve are dedicated to green values and sustainable farming practices.
2007 Earth Series Cabernet Sauvignon ($26). This wine, which spent a year in oak and a year in bottle before release, is unmistakeably a Cabernet with the hint of bell pepper in the aroma. On the palate, there are flavours of currants, blackberries and chocolate. It opens nicely with decanting. 86-88.
2009 Earth Series Sauvignon Blanc ($21). This wine is such a bowl of tropical fruit flavours that it was more than at home in a line-up of fruit wines. It begins with aromas of peaches and guava and has flavours of pineapple, gooseberry and peaches. A real tour de force. 88.
2008 Adam’s Apple Dry Table Wine ($17.95). One of my guests said this reminded her of Strongbow Cider, which she likes. In my view, this is tangier and lighter than an English cider, with the more appealing flavours (to a Canadian audience) of dessert apples. This is a good wine with food. 87.
2009 Cherysh Rosé ($19.95). This is a fairly full rosé with a complex flavour of the cherries and the nuttiness from the pits. It is balanced toward a dry finish, like a good Provence rosé. 87.
2008 Crushed Innocence ($21.95 for a half bottle). A dessert wine made with white peaches, it is luscious and delicate at the same time, with a sweet finish that goes on and on. 89.
2008 Impearfection ($21.95 for a half bottle). This dessert wine is made with Asian pears. The appealing spicy aroma recalls Gewürztraminer (sorry, I am running out of descriptors). The spicy aromas and flavours are beguiling and exotic; the fruit flavours – pear and spice – are pristinely fresh and clean, with a wonderful delicate elegance. The finish is sweet but with lovely balance. 90.
2009 Plumiscuous Plum Mistelle ($26.95 for a half bottle). A Mistelle is a wine made by adding spirit to unfermented or partially fermented juice. This wine has 17% alcohol, obvious only in its warming richness. There are layers of plum jam and cranberry flavours. The wine has the spectacular hue of an expensive ruby. Delicious on its own, it would also be brilliant in a glass of good sparkling wine. We would drink to the great double entendre in the name. 90.
2008 Caught Apricot Mistelle ($26.95 for a half bottle). Gold in colour, it begins with aromas of spiced apricots. The flavours are of ripe apricots and ripe pineapples. 88.
2009 Cerise D’Eve Cherry Port ($29.95 for a half bottle). This is like drinking a Christmas pudding, with its rich flavours of spicy cherries and mocha. The wine has the alcohol of Port but not the heaviness. 88.
2009 Pomme Desirée Iced Apple ($29.95 for a half bottle). This icewine-style dessert wine is an attractive gold in colour, with aromas and flavours of spiced baked apples. While this wine is sweet and juicy, the natural acidity balances the wine so that the finish is refreshingly clean. 89.
The bottom line: Forbidden Fruit Winery takes fruit wine seriously. Maybe the rest of us should do the same.