It is spring in the Okanagan, with buds
swelling on the vines. To everyone’s relief, it looks as if spring is a little
earlier this year that in 2011 – more like a normal spring.
Last year, as JoieFarm Wines says in its
vintage comments, “… was a cool vintage from start to finish. Spring was late
arriving and it delayed bud break until May 16. … Normal summer-like
temperatures were not seen until mid-July.” Fortunately, the weather improved
in the latter half of the season, with a long October hang-time that saved the
vintage for many.
Against that background, the quality of the
2011 white and rosé wines now being released is surprising and, almost always
very good. That is certainly so for JoieFarm’s 2011 releases, among the best
from that Naramata winery so far. The cool vintage blessed consumers with wines
that show vibrant acidity and freshness, good flavours and delightfully
Here are my notes on JoieFarm wines,
available in restaurants, private wine stores and through the winery’s website.
A Noble Blend 2011 ($23.90, with a production of
3,467 cases, 486 magnums and 90 double magnums). This is a five-grape blend:
38% Riesling, 33% Gewürztraminer, 14% Pinot Blanc, 11% Pinot Auxerrois and 4%
Schönburger. The wine begins with aromas of herbs, spice and citrus fruit; and
delivers flavours of apples, lychee and lime, with a hint of minerality. The
12.7% alcohol adds to the elegance of the wine. 91.
Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2011 ($22.90 for 1,219 cases).
The wine begins with an alluring aroma of peach and apricot and delivers
flavours of apples, pears and stone fruits. The concentration of fruit flavours
gives this wine a more satisfying weight on the palate that one expects from
12.2% alcohol. The winery has made reference to Chablis on the back label. It
does not echo Chablis for me but it is a delicious wine. 90.
Riesling 2011 ($22.90 for 780 cases). I could close
my eyes while drinking this wine and be transported to the Rhine.
The winery balanced the lively acidity (10.5 grams per litre) with 19.3 grams
per litre of residual sugar. The result is a wine which, while technically
off-dry, tastes crisp and tangy. There is a pristine focus to the fruit aromas
and flavours – flavours of lime, grapefruit – with a good mineral backbone. The
alcohol is 12.4%. I would bet it will age very well for several years, if you can stay away from it.
Muscat 2011 ($22.90 for 427 cases). The winery
refers to the Moscato Canelli grape as “the pure grape” – presumably because
the flavours are so clean and refreshing. There is a delicate spice in the
aroma, with flavours of lime, grapefruit and tangerine. The finish is tangy.
With only 11.1% alcohol, this is a very drinkable wine, whether as an aperitif
or with food. 90.
Pinot Blanc 2011 (22.90 for 180 cases). The grapes
for this wine are from two blocks that were planted in 1987. It shows in the
concentration and weight of the wine. It begins with apple aromas, going on to
flavours of apple and pear. The tiny bit of residual sugar, while well balanced
with acidity, plumps up the fruitiness as well. 90.
Rosé 2011 ($20.90 for 2,026 cases, 340 magnums). I
think you could credit JoieFarm for making rosé wines from the Okanagan
popular. Hardly anybody was making rosé when JoieFarm opened in 2004. Now,
almost everyone is and many are delicious. Certainly this one is. It is a blend
of four grapes: 41% Gamay, 38% Pinot Noir, 11% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot
Gris. The wine, which has an appealing hue, begins with spice and cranberry
aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of strawberry, cherry and cranberry.
This is a crisp, dry rosé meant for food. 90.