Friday, September 14, 2012

JoieFarm’s reserve releases in 2012

Photo: Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble

The current reserve releases from JoieFarm Winery underline a growing commitment to making wines from Burgundian varieties.

Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble believe that the Burgundian grapes – Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay – are well suited to the Okanagan terroirs from which they get fruit.

Michael also has strong opinions about varieties ill-suited to the Okanagan. Italian varietals just don’t travel well, he says. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel ripen too late. Many would agree with him – even those making great wine with those varietals.

Since its first vintage in 2004, JoieFarm has focussed on the varieties of Burgundy and Alsace which ripen reliably in the Okanagan and which make wines well suited to the west coast cuisine that Heidi and Michael know so well. She is a chef and he has worked in top Vancouver restaurants before the couple began developing their Naramata winery.

“Before we had even purchased a property, Heidi and I had discussed that we wanted to do a blended white wine, based on Edelswicker,” Michael says.  “We knew that blending worked for a number of reasons: it adds complexity to wine. That was important to us because the vines are still so young here. We were not going to be able to get access to all of the 25-year-old vineyards, right out of the gate.”

When they planted their first Naramata vineyard in 2007, the primary variety was Gewürztraminer.  Last year, they bought Naramata Bench cherry orchard. That has now been converted to a vineyard with five acres of Pinot Noir and three of Chardonnay.

“It is a clone experiment that we will run for the next 10 years,” Michael says. “We planted nine different clones of Pinot Noir and five of Chardonnay. We will do separate bottlings along the way for experimental purposes, along clonal lines. We will determine which clones do the best in that location and then we will graft the vineyard over after a period of time, probably about 10 years.”

The winery, now making about 11,000 cases a year, is also seeking to raise the bar on what has always been a very good portfolio. This is the winery’s first Reserve Pinot Noir and it came about by identifying the best eight barrels of Pinot Noir in that vintage.

The new vineyard should, in time, give JoieFarm additional tools to make even better wine.

“We have been mining a nice high middle, as far as the market goes,” Michael says. “We would like to work the premium end a bit more, not so much from a financial standpoint but from a quality standpoint. Burgundy is one of our great loves.”

Here are notes on the wines, just being released.

JoieFarm Reserve Chardonnay 2010 ($29.90 for 434 cases). The technical notes on this wine illustrate the attention to detail by Heidi Noble and Robert Thielicke, who share the winemaking at JoieFarm. They started with three different clones of Chardonnay from three different vineyards. In the winery, the grapes were whole cluster pressed. Native yeast started the fermentation in French oak barriques and puncheons. The wine was left in contact with the lees, with bi-weekly stirring for 10 months. No wonder this is a complex Burgundian-style white.

For my palate, there is a little too much lees stirring. The texture is excellent but I would like to see more of the ripe citrus fruit pop through the bready aromas and flavours that come with extended lees contact. But remember: that is my palate. I prefer a less cerebral Chardonnay. Having said that, I think this wine will absolutely bloom with a few more years of bottle age, just like a good white Burgundy. 88.

JoieFarm Reserve Gewürztraminer 2010 ($27.90 for 98 cases). Here is a lovely apéritif from the first harvest at the estate vineyard at JoieFarm. The wine is off-dry, with aromas of rose petals and spice and with juicy flavours of white peach and lychee. It is not so sweet that it can’t be paired with food but it is so delicious that you will want to enjoy it on its own. 90.

JoieFarm Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 ($39.90 for 189 cases). This is an elegant Pinot Noir incorporating five different clones from two vineyards – one on the Naramata Bench and one on the Skaha Lake Bench. Just the deep hue alone gives the wine an alluring beauty in the glass. It has aromas of cherry and mocha, leading to flavours of spicy cherries. The wine has a svelte, silky texture. 91.

JoieFarm PTG 2010 ($23.90 for 843 cases). PTG stands for Passe-Tout-Grains, which is what the Burgundians call blends of Pinot Noir and Gamay. This delicious Burgundy-inspired wine is 52% Gamay Noir, 48% Pinot Noir. The deep colour signals the rich but silky weight this had on the palate. It begins with aromas of cherries and pepper, leading to flavours of cherry, spice and pepper. 90.


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