Monday, January 24, 2011

Herder - big wines in big bottles

Since opening in 2004, Herder Winery & Vineyards has acquired a loyal following for its wines, perhaps even a cult following.

The appeal is that the wines, especially the reds, are big and full of flavour. That is why California-trained Lawrence Herder (who once had a winery in Paso Robles) set up in the sun-bathed Similkameen Valley. He can grow big wines there. When he needs to supplement his own vineyards, he purchases grapes from the south Okanagan, another source of ripe, flavour-packed grapes.

The latest three wines released by Herder reflect this style. So do the weighty bottles. The Syrah in particular is in a heavy bowling-pin shaped bottle with such a deep punt that it reminded me of the Bowser & Blue’s Ballad of the Colorectal Surgeon, one of the funniest songs I have heard. Check it out on You Tube.

These are serious wines, to be sure, but one does not need to be entirely earnest about them!

Herder Chardonnay 2009 ($19). Half of this wine was aged in stainless steel, half in French oak. The barrels had added a smoky note to the finish. It has aromas of citrus and pineapples, with flavours of tangerine, nectarine and guava. The texture is full. Even with all the fruit and texture, the wine’s 13.4% alcohol is a little warming on the finish. 3,600 bottles produced. 87.

Herder Merlot 2008 ($35). Dark in colour, this bold red starts with aromas of vanilla, red berries and spice. It has flavours of black currants and blackberries, with a rich, concentrated texture and firm ripe tannins. The finish is long and satisfying. 1,248 bottles produced. 91.

Herder Syrah 2008 ($35). This is as much a blood transfusion as a wine. It is a big juicy red with aromas of vanilla and red berries. On the palate, there are gamey flavours, ranging all the way from black cherry to rare steak with a touch of white pepper on the finish. The texture is rich and concentrated. 1,620 bottles produced. 90.


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