Photo: Jim and Leslie D'Andrea; photo by Paul D'Andrea
Jim and Leslie D’Andrea bought vineyard
property near Okanagan
Falls in 2001. From the
beginning, the planting decisions included varieties dedicated for sparkling
Their winery, Noble Ridge Vineyards & Winery,
now has released its initial sparkling cuvée – “The One.”
As they explain on the back label: “Champagne has always
been part of our lives. Whether celebrating the holidays, a birthday,
anniversary or just the end of a long week, Champagne seemed to enhance any occasion.”
As we know, Champagne can be expensive, even for this
power couple. Jim is a senior lawyer in Calgary
with one of Canada’s
biggest law firms and Leslie has had a career in heath care management.
I am sure that economics was not the reason
that Noble Ridge’s winemaker, Phil Soo, crafted a sparkling wine for his
employers. However, The One is cheaper than most Champagne, but every bit as good.
It is the star of the winery’s new
releases. Here are my notes.
Ridge 2011 Mingle ($17.90). The winery’s
aptly-named white blend, Mingle is crisp and fresh, beginning with herbal and
citrus aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus, ripe apples and
herbs. The instinct for summer drinking is to chill this wine – but don’t overdo
it, or you will miss the juicy, fleshy mid-palate texture. The varietals in the
blend, not given on the label, are 44% Pinot Gris, 40% Chardonnay and 16%
Ridge 2010 Pinot Grigio ($18.90). This wine begins
with an appealing aromas of tangerines and honey, leading to honeyed citrus
flavours and then to flavours of pears and peaches. There is good weight on the
palate, with just a touch of warmth from the 13.8% alcohol. 89.
If I may grumble, this should be renamed Pinot
Gris. Wines as ripe as this, and with this much ripeness, are hardly the
classic Pinot Grigio style from Northern Italy,
which generally is lighter and lower in alcohol. (Nor is this the only Okanagan
Pinot Grigio that should be rechristened.)
Ridge 2010 Chardonnay ($23.90). Here is a wine that
does not apologize (nor should it) for being rich, buttery and boldly oaked.
Both the aroma and palate deliver oak, butterscotch and tangerine, with a
splendid core of citrus flavours. 88.
Ridge 2009 Pinot Noir ($24.90). With 15% alcohol,
this is a Pinot Noir that wants to be a Zinfandel. Spectacularly ripe and
full-bodied, this begins with aromas of black cherries. On the palate, there
are flavours of plums, black cherries and mocha. The fruit is so rich and concentrated
that you don’t get any heat from the alcohol. The singular style sets this wine
apart from the valley’s Pinot Noirs. That said, it is absolutely delicious, and
big enough to go with your barbecues this summer. 90.
Ridge 2009 Meritage Reserve ($29.90). At 14.7%
alcohol, this is another example of the ripe and generous reds which the 2009
vintage delivered. The wine begins with aromas of vanilla, plum and black
currants. On the palate, there are juicy black currant and plum flavours, with
a generous texture and a long finish. 91.
Ridge 2009 “The One” ($39.90). Made with Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay, this wine has a slight bronze tint, adding to its eye appeal in
the Champagne flute, along with the vigorous
bubbles. The aroma shows the classic toasty bouquet of a wine aged on the yeast
lees before being disgorged. The flavours include hints of minerals and citrus.
The initial impact on the palate is creamy but that gives way to a crisply dry
finish. This wine, which has already won silver at a major American
competition, has all the elegance one desires in fine sparkling wine. 92.