Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fabulous whites from Black Hills, Foxtrot

Two of the most interesting 2009 whites released this year from the Okanagan crossed my desk at the same time. Here is a two-for-one review.

Black Hills Viognier 2009 ($30) is the first Viognier from the winery that also makes Nota Bene and Alibi, among other wines. Winemaker Graham Pierce made 440 cases, with grapes grown for the winery at vineyards Osoyoos, the Golden Mile and Naramata Bench.

There is one word for this wine: exuberant! It begins with a glorious, room-filling aroma of tropical fruits. Think of guava, lychee, peaches and nectarines. The wine delivers all these flavours to the palate, along with ripe pineapple and citrus. The structure shows the classic backbone of minerals and tannin that give well-made Viognier crisp definition on the finish. The 14.2% alcohol adds a touch of warm but not too much. This is a memorable wine. 92.

Foxtrot Chardonnay 2009 ($45) is the second vintage of Chardonnay from this Naramata Bench production that already has an iconic reputation with its Pinot Noir. Winemaker Gustav Allander made 340 cases. His fruit came from two vineyards: six-year-old vines (three clones) at the Coolshanagh Vineyard north of Naramata; and 36-year-old organic vines at the Pisicoli Vineyard at Westbank. Both vineyards have rocky, gravelly soils.

There are two words for this wine: elegance and power! It begins with citrus aromas and a hint of spice. The winery suggests hazelnut toast and I won’t argue with that. I expect that reflects the fine French oak – Tronçais and Alliers, 75% new - in the wine was fermented. The oak flavours add subtle complexity to the buttery citrus flavours and minerality of the wine. There is a lovely taste of cloves on the lingering finish. As delicious as this wine is already, it really should be laid down for a couple of years, as one would with a good Burgundy. It will develop even more richness and complexity. 92.


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