Monday, September 13, 2010

How Burrowing Owl Winery treats its whites

There is an interesting strategy at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery regarding the two white wines, which recently appeared on the market.

The Pinot Gris is from the 2009 vintage. It was bottled this March and seems to have been released a few months later, bursting with fresh fruit. The winery’s web site already says it is out of stock. I am not sure whether to trust that, since the tasting notes are actually for a Chardonnay. At $20, the Pinot Gris was excellent value and likely is still on many restaurant wine lists.

The Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris has long been a benchmark among Okanagan Pinot Gris. The simple winemaking process - whole cluster pressing, cool fermentation and aging in stainless steel – is designed to not mask the attractive natural flavours of the variety. Here is a crisp, refreshing white with herbal and stone fruit flavours and with a kiss of anise on the finish. 89.

Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2008 ($25) has had interventionist winemaking because Chardonnay is a variety that lends itself to being shaped by the winemaker. The juice was inoculated with multiple yeasts and fermented in barrels (half new, half one year old and 90% French oak). Only a portion of the barrels went through malolactic fermentation, a technique that gives the winemaker a range of flavours when it comes to building a blend. The wine spent nine months on the lees, which were stirred every two weeks to add a rich palate to the wine. Then the wine spent months in bottle before release. A lot of work for a $25 wine!

The result is an attractive and complex Chardonnay that begins with aromas of citrus with notes of honey, butter and hazelnuts. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus and apricots subtly framed with just the exact amount of oak. The finish, with a hint of orange peel, is lingering and satisfying. 91.


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