Thursday, September 13, 2012

Inniskillin Okanagan releases in 2012

Photo: Inniskillin Okanagan's Sandor Meyer

The marketing people behind Inniskillin Okanagan are making winemaker Sandor Mayer’s life a little less complicated by paring down the number of wines offered under the winery’s Discovery Series.

The Discovery Series line was launched several vintages ago to explore varietals that had been planted basically in test blocks in Vincor’s Okanagan vineyards.

The object was to determine what varieties succeeded in the vineyards, in the winery and in the marketplace. The first of the Discovery Series varietals, and still one of the top sellers, was Zinfandel.

By now, there has been enough experience, at least for the marketing department, to figure out what will stay in the line and what will go.

On the way out are Sangiovese and Pinotage. The blocks of both varieties are small – so small in the case of Sangiovese that production is about 150 cases a year. Inniskillin bottles its wines at the big Jackson-Triggs winery north of Oliver. It is not worth setting up the bottling line for such a small run; and no additional plantings of these varieties are planned.

“We need a certain volume,” Sandor says. “We are going to wines with a production ranging from 500 cases to 2,000 cases.  You don’t fire up a bottling line for 200 cases.”

The Discovery Series Sangiovese reviewed here likely is the final one. You may want to order it from the Inniskillin Okanagan website. There is not much of it around.

The other wines here are from various tiers. Dark Horse Vineyard is the superb vineyard just above and behind the winery. It has a special place in Sandor’s heart. He was hired to replant this vineyard in 1990, shortly after arriving from Hungary. The red Bordeaux varieties, notably Cabernet Sauvignon, do particularly well here.

Here are notes on the wines.

Inniskillin Okanagan Dark Horse Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2011 ($17.99). Pale straw in colour, this wine has restrained aromas of apple and citrus. On the palate, there are flavours of apple and pear, with a light lemon acidity to give it a crisp finish. On the lingering finish, there are flavours of ripe apples and peaches. 90.

Inniskillin Okanagan Reserve Series Pinot Grigio 2011 ($15.99). The wine begins with aromas of pear and orange. On the palate, the texture is fleshy, with flavours of ripe apple, ripe pear and tangerine. The fruit flavours are persistent in the lingering finish. 90.

Inniskillin Okanagan Reserve Series Chardonnay 2011 ($13.99). Light gold in hue, this barrel-aged wine begins with toasty notes of oak and buttery tangerine. On the palate, there are creamy citrus flavours with unapologetic oak flavours. Perhaps this is no longer the fashionable style for Chardonnay, but there is a fan base for the style ... and the wine is well made. 88.

Inniskillin Okanagan Reserve Merlot 2010 ($16.99). As soon as the cap was twisted off, aromas of blueberry and cassis burst from the bottle. How is that for an argument for screw caps? The wine delivers these flavours on the palate, along with black cherry and vanilla. The ripe tannins give this an accessible texture for such a youthful wine. 90.

Inniskillin Okanagan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($16.99). Dark purple in hue, this wine has the classic mint and eucalyptus aromas of the variety (Coonawarra Cabernet sprang to mind!) On the palate, there are flavours of mulberry and cherry. There is a spine of ripe tannin here that suggests this wine should be cellared another year or two to achieve its peak. There is 10%  Merlot in the blend, adding volume to the texture. There is spice on the finish. 89.

Inniskillin Okanagan Dark Horse Vineyard Meritage 2009 ($N/A). This excellent blend, anchored around Merlot, is made with grapes from the vineyard just behind the winery. The 2009 vintage was one of the best. This wine begins with a lovely aroma of cassis mingled with toasty oak. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant. The tannins are long and ripe but the wine also will cellar very well. 91.

Inniskillin Okanagan Discovery Series Sangiovese 2009 ($30.09 for 150 cases). This is one of the varietals being dropped because of the modest volume. There is nothing else wrong with it. This is a rich and elegant wine with a spicy cherry aroma and flavours of spice, cherry, plum and chocolate. 90.

Inniskillin Okanagan Discovery Series Zinfandel 2009 ($26.09 for 1,300 cases). This is a bold, brambly red with a concentrated texture and a brooding personality. There are flavours of blackberry, fig and dark chocolate. The wine merits being cellared a few years to develop fully in the bottle. 91.

Inniskillin Okanagan Discovery Series Malbec 2009 ($25.09 for 900 cases). This is a delicious red beginning with floral and spice aromas that evolve in the glass, taking on notes of rare beef. The fruit flavours just erupt on the palate, with plums, cherries and spice. This wine is a bold, swaggering tour-de-force. 94.

Inniskillin Okanagan Riesling Icewine 2008 ($N/A). Inniskillin’s sister company in Niagara put Canadian Icewine on the map 20 or so years ago. Inniskillin remains one of the world’s premier Icewine brands, with wines like this. The wine has powerful aromas of ripe pineapple, with flavours that suggest a pineapple and lemon conserve, along with honey. The fresh, racy acidity leaves the palate refreshed. 90.

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