Photo: Interior of Intrigue wine shop; courtesy of Intrigue Wines
Now there are four wineries with tasting
rooms in Lake Country
– the North Okanagan community still better
known perhaps as Winfield.
The senior citizen among these wineries is
Gray Monk Estate Winery, which opened in 1982, and had to attract wine tourists
all on its own until Arrowleaf Cellars opened in 2003 and Ex Nihilo in 2009.
The new kid on the block is Intrigue Wines,
which has had wines on the market for several years but which has now opened a
wine shop at 2291 Goldie Road.
The shop, which overlooks a vineyard, is no more than 10 minutes west of
Highway 97, and about the same distance from Gray Monk.
These four wineries make for a nice one-day
wine tour, including a stop for lunch at the excellent Gray Monk restaurant.
Plus, a fifth winery is expected to open a
wineshop nearby next year: 50th Parallel Estate Winery, which is
growing Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer not far from Carr’s Landing.
Intrigue was launched in 2009 by two
couples: Roger and Jillian Wong, and Ross and Geri Davis. Roger is the winemaker
for Intrigue as well being on the winemaking staff at Gray Monk.
He can juggle the two jobs because of the
difference in scale. Gray Monk, where George Heiss Jr. also makes wine,
produces about 80,000 cases a year. Intrigue made 1,400 cases in the 2011
vintage and might make as much as 3,000 cases in 2012.
To date, Intrigue has been able to sell its
wines through the internet, through private wine stores and through
restaurants. However, as the winery grows, a wine shop open to the public is
essential. The shop is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm until at least October.
The shop, 1,750 square feet in size, is
modest but functional, with a warm interior built with wood and bricks salvaged
from heritage farm buildings that were being demolished.
Currently, there are six wines in the
Intrigue portfolio. Here are my notes.
Riesling 2011 ($16.90 for a production of 420
cases). This exquisitely balanced wine has just enough residual sugar to take
the edge off the racy acidity while lifting the fruity aromas and flavours.
There is a mouthful of lime and grapefruit, with good spine of minerals. 90.
Pinot Gris 2011 ($16.90 for 100 cases). This is a
full-bodied Pinot Gris, with aromas and flavours of apples and pears. The crisp
finish is refreshing and lingering. 90.
Gewürztraminer 2011 ($16.90 for 210 cases). The
winemaker again has left in enough residual sugar to round out the texture
while keeping the finish reasonably dry. It begins with attractive floral and
spicy aromas and has flavours of citrus and lychee. 90.
“11” ($14.90 for 450 cases). In each vintage, Roger
puts together a white blend with some of the best grapes available to him. The
2011 blend is 76% Riesling, 21% Gewürztraminer and 3% Muscat Canelli. The winery’s own notes
describe this as “summer in a glass.” Once again, Roger has balanced the lively
acidity of 2011 with a touch of sweetness. The wine has spicy and herbal
aromas, leading to flavours of grapefruit and peach. 90.
Merlot 2010 ($19.90 for 230 cases). While Roger
relies on vineyards around Lake
Country for most of his
grapes, he goes south, to warmer vineyards, for Merlot. These grapes come from
Summerland; and the wine gets 12 months in French oak before being released.
The wine is still youthfully firm, with a good concentrated texture and with
aromas and flavours of black currant and blackberries. 90.
Focus Riesling 2011 ($19.90 for 69 cases). The
Focus label was created to feature wines made with the grapes that Roger
believes are best suited for a region. For Kelowna
and Lake Country, he thinks Riesling is the best
varietal. And he selected his very best Riesling grapes to make this elegant
wine with citrus aromas and honey and grapefruit flavours. The wine is balanced
to be perceived dry, although there is again enough residual sugar to give the
wine some weight. This wine will age well. 91.