Photo: winemaker Grant Stanley
In the recent Pacific Rim Wine Competition at Orange County in California, Quails’ Gate Estate Winery came away with two gold medals and flour silvers.
This is one of the earliest international wine competitions in the season. Quails’ Gate will go on to compete in many more this year and, as usual, will bring home a host of awards.
The Pacific Rim awards: gold for both the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Pinot Noir in the “under $25” category. Silver for the 2010 Pinot Noir (under $25); for 2010 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay; for the Dry Riesling 2011; and for the Optima 2010 dessert wine.
Quails’ Gate is one of those Okanagan producers so reliable that you don’t need my scores before you buy the wines. But here they are anyway.
Quails’ Gate Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris 2011 ($18.99 for a production of 10,237 cases). This wine is a blend of 40% Chasselas and 30% each of the other varietals. The winery has the oldest planting of Chasselas – a Swiss white variety – in the Okanagan. A few vintages ago, winemaker Grant Stanley began blending it with Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, partly to make a more interesting white and partly to reduce the size of the portfolio. As the production indicates, the wine is hugely popular. This one brand is bigger than most wineries in B.C.
The wine begins with an appealing aroma of tropical fruits and flowers, leading on to tangy flavours of pink grapefruit and lime. There is a slight touch of residual sugar balancing the acidity and adding weight on the palate. This is a delicious summertime white wine. 90.
Quails’ Gate Gewürztraminer 2011 ($16.99 for a production of 4,627 cases). This is an attractively understated Gewurz, with delicate aromas of rose petals, spice and citrus; and with flavours of grapefruit and lychee. The wine has just enough residual sugar (10 grams) to plump up the fruitiness without taking away from crisp finish. 89.
Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc 2011 ($18.99 for 3,843 cases). Quails’ Gate is believed to be the largest producer of Chenin Blanc in British Columbia. Only a hand full of wineries has this varietal, alas, for it is a great wine with shellfish and other seafood. It is a tangy, racy wine with dramatic aromas of lime and lemon and flavours of lime, grapefruit and tart apples. The minerals and the fresh acidity give the wine good structure and weight. While this is drinking well already, it will age superbly, developing a richness of flavour and texture in four or five years. 91.
Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2011 ($16.99 for 4,404 cases). This bone-dry Riesling, very good now, will age over the next decade to great elegance. It begins with lime and green apple aromas which also are expressed in the flavours of lemon, lime and minerals. The bright acidity makes the wine savoury and mouth-watering, with a tangy finish. 90.
Quails’ Gate Rosé 2011 ($14.95 for 4,245 cases). This is blend of 85% Gamay Noir, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Gris. The red grapes were crushed, with the skins left in contact with the juice overnight to extract colour and flavour. Then the juice was racked and fermented cool, like a white wine. The wine begins with aromas of strawberry and cranberry. On the palate, it has flavours of strawberry, rhubarb and pink grapefruit, with a tangy, refreshing finish. 90
Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2010 ($25 for 9,000 cases). Fairly dark in colour, the wine begins with aromas of sour cherry and spice. There are flavours of cherry and chocolate. The winery’s notes speak of a silky texture but I think the texture is still firm and a little closed – nothing that time won’t resolve. The wine has only been in the bottle since December and will benefit with another six to 12 months of bottle age. This won gold in the “under $25” category. 88.