Photo: Volcanic Hills Estate Winery
Volcanic Hills Estate Winery was opened in
2009 by the father and son team, Sarwan and Bobby Gidda.
Sarwan is one of the three brothers who
previously started Mt. Boucherie
Estate Winery. Sarwan left that family partnership and moved a few hundred
yards down the hill, building an imposing 15,000 square foot winery fronting on
busy Boucherie Road.
Whatever the family dynamics, both of the
Gidda-owned wineries make solid wines and sell them at reasonable prices.
Volcanic Hills made its mark in 2011 by
winning a Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence for its 2010 rosé. The two
rosé wines released this year are also delicious.
Daniel Bontorin makes the wines. He has
been a consulting winemaker in the Okanagan since 2005 and previously made
wines at Quinta Ferreira, Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries.
Here are notes on the current releases,
which are widely available in VQA and other wine stores.
Hills Magma White Blend 2011 ($15.90 for 841 cases).
This is a blend of 55% Riesling, 13% Müller Thurgau, 8% each of Pinot Blanc, Schönburger
and Kerner; 6% Pinot Gris and 2% Viognier. That little bit of Schönburger goes
a long way – giving spice to the aroma and a hint of Muscat on the dry finish. There are also
fresh citrus aromas and flavours. The winery calls this an “aromatic,
tantalizing” blend and I agree. 90.
Hills Magma Rosé 2011 ($15.90 for 455 cases). This
wine is 88% Gamay Noir and 12% Chardonnay. It is juicy and full-bodied, with
aromas of raspberry and flavours of raspberry, strawberry and rhubarb. Finished
dry, it is a serious rosé for the dinner table. 89.
Hills Magma 2010 ($16.90 for 491 cases). This is an
unusual blend: 51% Zweigelt (an Austrian red); 25% Michurinetz (a Russian red);
20% Maréchal Foch (a French hybrid); and 4% Syrah. The wine was barrel-aged for
nine months in new French oak. I wonder whether American oak might not have
been a better match (and a cheaper one) with the gamey flavours of these varieties.
The wine has smoky aromas and savoury flavours of plum, dark chocolate, spice
and liquorice, with an herbal note on
the finish. 87.
Hills Pinot Gris 2011 ($17.90 for 592 cases). This
unoaked Pinot Gris begins with aromas of pear, pineapple and apricot. That
carries through to deliver a medley of tropical flavours, with tangy citrus on
the finish. 88.
Hills Rosé 2011 ($18.90 for 920 cases). This is
100% Gamay Noir, made in a slightly off-dry style of a summer sipper. There are
aromas of cherries and strawberry jam, with juicy flavours of strawberries and
pink grapefruit. Even though the winemaker left 11.3 grams of residual sugar in
the wine, it is so effectively balanced with lively acidity that the wine is
refreshing to drink. 88.
Hills Gewürztraminer Single Vineyard 2011 ($19.90
for 377 cases). This wine begins with
appealing rose petal and lychee aromas. On the palate, it delivers layers of
tropical fruit flavours, including lychee and pear. The wine is deliberately
off-dry, with 19 grams of residual sugar. It finishes with clean and refreshing
sweetness that pairs well with spicy foods. But not too spicy – a full bore
curry would submerge the lovely delicacy of the flavours. 90.
Hills Gewürztraminer 2011 ($17.90 for 377 cases).
This wine begins with aromas of lychee and spice. It delivers a fruit bowl of
flavours – peach, mango, lychee. The hint of residual sweetness lifts the
flavours and gives the wine a fleshy palate weight. However, it is balanced to
finish almost dry. 89.
Hills Merlot 2008 ($24.90 for 218 cases). This wine
has had 24 months in oak barrels before being bottled; and has been released
with optimal bottle age. Dark in colour, it has aromas of currants and
cherries, with rich fruit flavours of plum, black cherry, blackberry and
Hills Syrah 2008 ($28.90 for 497 cases). Appropriately
dark in hue, thus begins with aromas of white pepper, black cherry and plum. On
the palate, there is the classic flavour of cracked pepper over white cherry,
accentuated with vanilla and spice on the finish. 89.
Hills Eruption 2009 ($29.90 for 1,069 cases). This
is a blend of 40% Merlot, 32% Syrah and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. The funky
sulphur on the aroma covers the fruit – although it emerges with decanting. The
flavours are much more appealing: there are gobs of blueberries, black
currants, black cherries and dark chocolate. Decanting is a must. 88.
Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($29.90 for 300 cases).
Dark in hue, this begins with aromas of black currants, plus and figs. On the
palate, the wine is big and bold – typical of the great 2009 vintage – with
flavours of black currants, plums, mint, dark chocolate and toasty oak. 91.
Hills Chardonnay Icewine 2009 ($29.90 for 200 ml;
83 cases produced). Gold in hue, this wine presents a rich aroma of ripe
pineapple with a marmalade bowl of citrus fruits. The intense citrus jam
flavours are deliciously rich. The acidity gives this wine an excellent
balance, allowing a clean finish. Sweet without being cloying. 91.