Photo: David Enns
Everyone has his own defence against a
A month on a BMW motorcycle in South America is the self-prescribed cure for David Enns,
the winemaker and co-owner of Laughing Stock Vineyards.
“I just spent 30 days in South
America, drinking a lot of really bad wine,” he says. To be fair,
he also found some really good wine, amid the profusion of $5 - $8 wines.
But he returned last weekend from his third
South American bike tour with a refreshed perspective. “You know, we are making
good wine in B.C., period,” he believes. “We’ve got a great thing going here in
Now he is turning his clear head and fresh
palate to one of the winery’s most important tasks each year: blending the
winery’s 2010 reds, including Portfolio, Laughing Stock’s flagship
Bordeaux-style wine. Since the first vintage in 2003, Portfolio has become one
of British Columbia’s
Laughing Stock makes between 3,000 and
3,400 cases of red wine each year, including about 2,000 cases of Portfolio. Each
year the winery offers “futures” on Portfolio, usually selling between 500 and
700 cases. This year, the futures offering is open on the winery’s website for
just one month, until the end of February.
In a futures offering, buyers of the wine
are asked to order and pay for wine that is not even bottled yet, for delivery
in about 10 months.
In exchange for taking a chance on the
future, the buyers get a reasonable discount. Portfolio will retail at $42 a
bottle on release next October. But if you buy the futures offering now, you
pay $35 a bottle. The futures price has not risen in eight vintages.
The five varietals that will be blended
into Portfolio 2010 are still in French oak barrels. During the next two to
four weeks, David will taste each barrel and put together various blends before
deciding on the final blend for the wine. The barrels that don’t quite make the
cut for Portfolio typically end up the winery’s lower-priced, but still
delicious, Blind Trust blend.
While David blends to an established taste
profile, Portfolio blend varies a bit, depending on which varieties are strong
in any given vintage. Over the years, Merlot has dominated the blend – but not
Portfolio 2009 is a blend of 36% Merlot,
27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot.
Portfolio 2008 is 53% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 9%
Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot.
Blind Trust 2010 will be bottled in April
and released in June. The final Portfolio blend, however, is returned to
barrels for another three months before being bottled. The wine also gets
several months of bottle age before it is finally released.
So why put money down for a wine that is
not even blended? Because David Enns and Laughing Stock have established a solid
track record with successive vintages of Portfolio.
“I think we are working hard at Laughing
Stock to do that consistently year in and year out,” he says.
The vintages in the Okanagan, until 2010
and 2011, have given winemakers big, ripe fruit to work with. David believes that consumers will notice a
difference in the two most recent vintages because both were cooler that any
vintage since 1999.
“One thing with the 2010 vintage, and I
think it will be a repeat in 2011 reds, is that the wines are going to be lighter
and much more elegant, without the heavy mouthfeel viscosity associated with
the previous five years,” he says.
Like many other Okanagan winemakers, he
thinks the 2010 and 2011 Okanagan reds will have more in common with Bordeaux than with California.
They will be wines with slightly lower alcohol, slightly higher acidity and –
in the hands of a skilful blender – with bright fruit flavours and elegant
balance. And they will age well.
“2010 and 2011 will be Old
World years,” David suggests. “One of the reasons I came to the Okanagan was
to make wines that are like the international wines that I like to drink. That
allows for a variation from year to year. It does not have to be super dark
black fruit every year. It can be a number of different things, as long as
there is a sense of balance and a full ripeness.”
Photo: Laughing Stock winery