Monday, July 16, 2012

Desert Hills rolls out new label for its 2011s

Photo: Jesse and Randy Toor; courtesy of Desert Hills

In the 1980s, Randy and Jesse Toor, the twin brothers who run Desert Hills Estate Winery, spent summers working in vineyards on Black Sage Road.

They remember looking at the orchards that also flourished in the neighbourhood and dreamed about owning one.

That memory inspired the smart new label that Desert Hills launched this spring. The tree embossed onto the crisp white label represents the orchard they once coveted. After buying it in 1988, they soon learned about the difficult economics of apple growing. In 1995, they replaced the apple trees with grape vines, mostly red varietals, opening their winery in 2003.

A decade later, this successful family business (brother Dave is also an owner) produces between 8,000 and 10,000 cases a year of wines that frequently win awards.

The current releases are impressive. Here are my notes from a recent visit to the compact Desert Hills wine shop.

Desert Hills Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 ($16.90 for a production of 600 cases). If a winery has to make unoaked Chardonnay, this might be the template. The wine is crisply fresh, with flavours of apples and citrus and with a long juicy finish. 89.

Desert Hills Cactus Series White 2011 ($16.90 for 1,200 cases). This is an unusual blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay but it works. The aromatic varietals give the wine herbal aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of pineapple, pear and apple with a crisp mineral note on the finish. 89.

Desert Hills Viognier 2011 Sira’s Vineyard ($24.90 for 1,000 cases). Here is a delicious white, with aromas and flavours of apricot, ripe pineapple, apple, and with spice and minerals on the crisp finish. 90.

Desert Hills Gewürztraminer 2011 ($22.90 for 1,133 cases). Here is a very good varietal expression of Gewürztraminer, begin with aromas of rose petals and spice. On the palate, there are layers of lychee and citrus flavours, with a fleshy texture and a long finish. 91.

Desert Hills Gamay 2011 ($19.90 for 2,200 cases). Along with Blue Mountain and Robin Ridge, Desert Hills makes some of B.C.’s best Gamay. This dark-hued wine has black cherry and cinnamon aromas, with earthy black cherry flavours. The cinnamon kicks in again on the long finish. 90.

Desert Hills Merlot 2008 ($24.90). The four years of bottle age enabled this wine to develop aromas of cassis and sweet berries, which carry through on the flavours to a spicy finish. The texture is firm enough to give this a few more years of cellaring. 88.

Desert Hills Syrah 2008 ($36.90 for 1,200 cases). This is a rich and ripe Syrah, with aromas of pepper, red fruit and spice and with earthy flavours of of figs and prunes. 91.

Desert Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Three Boys Vineyard ($29.90). The wine begins with the classic minty aromas of the variety, along with cassis. On the palate, there are flavours of black currants. The tannins are long and elegant. 88.

Desert Hills Cabernet Franc 2008 Eagle’s Nest Vineyard ($26.90). Big and concentrated, this wine begins with brambleberry aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of blackberry, currants and chocolate, with a long, satisfying finish. 90.

Desert Hills Mirage 2007  ($36.90 for 833 cases). This is the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Firm and muscular, this wine begins with aromas of vanilla and cassis. On the palate, the concentrated texture opens to reveal flavours of black currants, chocolate and tobacco, with a note of liquorice on the lingering finish. 92. 


At July 17, 2012 at 12:39 AM , Blogger wine student said...

good article John, looking forward to tasting the new releases

At July 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

good classic looking label


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