Winemaker Jeff Del Nin
Church & State Wines Coyote Bowl winery
on the Black Sage Bench has one of the Okanagan’s most appealing tasting rooms.
Guests are seated comfortably at a long
bar, looking into the winery’s premium barrel cellar. Behind the guests, floor
to ceiling windows provide an expansive view over vineyards.
This summer, the winery added a covered
outdoor tasting bar with an unusual feature: a chiller to keep wines cool and,
on days when the heat soars, to keep guests cool as well.
The main event here, of course, is the
wine. Jeff Del Nin, the winemaker, seems to be crafting the wines in style that
is consistent. The white wines are stress clean, vibrant fruit flavours,
although he indulged in making one Chardonnay with plenty of oak. The bold reds
invariably show ripe tannins, giving them an accessible richness that is
immediately appealing without compromising their ability to age.
Here are notes on current releases.
Church & State Cuvée Blanc 2011 ($20). This refreshing white is a blend of 61% Gewürztraminer, 39%
Riesling and 10% Chardonnay Musqué. Given the array of aromatic varieties, it
is no surprise that the wine begins with aromas of floral spice, with flavours
of apple and melon and more spice on the finish. Even though there is a touch
of residual sugar, the wine is balanced to finish dry. 90.
& State TreBella 2011 ($25.90). This is the
winery’s second vintage of this complex Rhône-style white, a blend of Marsanne,
Roussanne and Viognier. The aroma includes a hint of smokiness, perhaps
reflecting the acacia barrels in which some of the wine was finished. On the
palate, there are flavours of apricot and tangerine. The minerality gives the
wine a disciplined texture. 90.
& State Viognier 2011 ($N.A.). This is a big,
ripe barrel-fermented Viognier with flavours of ripe pear and apricot. The
finish is dry but rich. 90.
Church & State Church Mouse Chardonnay 2011 ($NA). Designed to be a fruit-forward Chardonnay, this wine was aged
in neutral oak barrels. The wine has citrus aromas, with flavours of tangerine
and a touch of the buttery character that comes with a bit of malolactic
influence. Lees stirring contributed to a rich texture on the palate. 89.
& State Chard0nnay 2010 Gravelbourg Vineyard ($24.90).
This a bold Chardonnay; a third of the wine was aged in new French oak. Think
of the ripe California
style. The wine begins with an appealing golden hue and offers rich buttery
citrus flavours on a full palate. 91
& State Cabernet Blanc Rosé 2011 ($20). The
winery now produces between 500 and 700 cases of rosé annually. That says
something about the popularity of rosé in general and of the Church & State
style in particular. The wine is made primarily with Cabernet Franc juice, with
a little Merlot, left on the skins until the appropriate colour has been picked
up. Then the wine is fermented like a white wine. This juicy, flavour-packed
rosé has aromas of strawberries and cherries and tastes of strawberries and
kiwi. It is balanced toward dry with just enough residual sugar to give the
wine a juicy appeal. 90.
& State Cabernet Franc Coyote Bowl 2009 ($35).
The term, Coyote Bowl, on the label of a Church & State wine signifies a
premium wine. The wine may have been grown in the winery’s Coyote Bowl Vineyard
– but not necessarily so. The grapes in this wine were purchased from a
Similkameen vineyard. It is a classic brambly Cabernet Franc, with spicy aromas
of currants, cherries and blackberries and with flavours of black currants,
blackberry, vanilla and mocha. Delicious now, it has the structure to age well
for another five years. 90.
& State Cabernet Sauvignon Coyote Bowl 2009 ($35).
The grapes for this elegant Cabernet Sauvignon come from an Osoyoos vineyard.
The warmth of that terroir comes through in the ripe, concentrated texture of
this wine. It begins with aromas of mint and red berries. On the palate, there
are rich flavours of cassis, black cherry and vanilla. This wine has at least
five years of aging potential. 92.
& State Meritage Coyote Bowl 2008 ($35). This
wine, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from several
vineyards, has won at least two gold medals in competition. Aged 31 months in
oak, the wine has achieved a polished texture. There is a hint of blueberry and
sage in the aroma. The berry flavours rest on long ripe tannins. 90.
& State Syrah Coyote Bowl 2009 ($40). This was
the red wine of the year in the Canadian Wine Awards last year. Ripe and
powerful, the wine has aromas of spice, pepper and black cherry, with meaty
flavours that recall rare barbecued steak, along with fig. plum and black