Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Anything but Albariño? Not likely!

At Terravista Vineyards, their new winery, Senka and Bob Tennant have scored another Canadian winemaking first by releasing a white blend from two Spanish varietals, Albariño and Verdejo.

When they were partners at Black Hills Estate Winery, that winery released the first Carmenère in Canada. Carmenère is old Bordeaux red that is practically extent in France but flourishes in Chile.

Black Hills was sold in 2007. Bob and Senka took a little time off before buying a small property on the upper Naramata Bench. They decided to do something different again by planting these two Spanish whites. A neighbour also planted a few acres.

The new Terravista winery, with a capacity to produce only 1,700 cases a year, was completed last year, introducing the first of the two whites – and the only wines – that they plan to make.

The initial release was a 2010 vintage called Figaro, made with purchased Roussanne and Viognier. Their own vineyard was not yet in production.

Now, Terravista has released both whites from the 2011 vintage – another Figaro and the new blend of the two Spanish whites from their own vineyard. It goes by the catchy name, Fandango.

Figaro is $24 a bottle and Fandango is $25. They are being offered by the case (or mixed case) on the winery’s website. Terravista does not have a wineshop.

I have not had a chance to taste the new Figaro. I expect I will find it at least as impressive as the 2010, which I did taste.

Senka and Bob were the first to plant Albariño and Verdelo in the Okanagan. I believe a little more has been planted since, but there will never be enough to spark an “anything but Albariño” movement. In fact, the fine Terravista wine is likely to spur others to plant some.

Albariño is grown primarily in Spain and Portugal and typically goes into white blends. You might see some Australian Albariño but it turns out that the Australians were erroneously sent cuttings of a French white called Savignin.

Verdejo also grows mostly in Spain and is used for sherry as well as white wine. It is logical that Senka would grow both for a blend because the varieties are quite complimentary – the Albariño brings the structure, the Verdejo brings aromatics and fullness.

On my recent Russian river boat vacation, the house wines on the ship were both Spanish. The white, undoubtedly a blend using these two grapes and perhaps others, was particularly good. There was not a day when I did not have a few glasses. So you might imagine I was looking forward to Senka’s wine. Yes, it took me back to cruising again.

Here are my notes on Fandango.

Terravista Fandango 2011 ($25). Fairly pale in colour, the wine begins with a lovely floral perfume … honey suckles, rose blossoms … to draw you in with a springtime freshness. There are layers of flavour on the palate, beginning with lime and lemon and going on to melon and apple. The fresh, crisp finish and the touch of minerality give this wine a laser-like focus. A marvellous white! 92.


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