Photo: Winemaker Richard Kanazawa
Richard Kanazawa’s ambition to have wines
under his own label, which actually resulted in his departure from two previous
employers, has finally been realized with the release of four wines this fall.
The wines have been made available in a few
Vancouver wine shops and restaurants, including Libations
wine store in West Vancouver.
Except for the white table wine, production is small.
The wines are certainly worth seeking out,
not only for their intrinsic quality but for the refreshing beauty of the
package. The elegant labels and capsules were designed by Richard’s wife and
partner, Jennifer. The signature design element on each label is what the
Japanese call a diamond flower. It has special meaning to Richard because his
mother had a diamond flower on her kimono.
Richard was born in Langley. His first job in the wine industry
was delivering wines for Domaine de Chaberton winery. He had studied food
technology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology but could did not land
a job in a winery cellar. So he headed to Australia
in 2002 where Charles
accepted his BCIT credits. He combined his studies with winery jobs, including
with the Simon Gilbert Winery.
He returned to Canada in 2004 and was hired by Red
Rooster Winery on Naramata Road.
He moved to Blasted
Church a few years later
but not before making a Malbec at Red Rooster that won a Lieutenant Governor’s
Award of Excellence.
He did four or five vintages at Blasted Church until moving on in 2011 to take
over at Lang Vineyards, which was just emerging from bankruptcy. He cleaned up
the cellar, reinstalled winemaking equipment, resuscitated the wines and made
the 2011 vintage. Then early in 2012, the owner reneged on a prior understanding
and decided he would not tolerate Richard making wines as well for the Kanazawa label.
Richard has since moved to Bench 1775
Winery, where the owners are in full agreement with him making both their wines
and his own wines.
One can perhaps understand that a winery
owner might feel possessive of his winemaker’s talents. However, winemakers of
integrity do not favour their own projects over those of their prime employers
but set out to make all the wines competently.
A recent announcement by Mike Lang, who
succeeded Richard as general manager at Lang Vineyards, speaks volumes about
Richard’s integrity in making the wines at Lang. Mike Lang, by the way, is the nephew of Lang
Vineyards founder Günther Lang; neither was involved in issues around Richard’s
“As many of you know this
past weekend marked the start of the Okanagan Wine Festival,” Mike Lang said in
a news release recently. “Each year this festival is started with the Okanagan
Wine Awards. It is an event where the best wine from the Okanagan is submitted
for judging by some of Canada's
leading wine experts. The event took place on Thursday September 27th.
“Lang Vineyards had
entered a few wines into the judging event which we felt were our top wines and
were extremely happy with the feedback we received for them at the Awards
Ceremony. Lang Vineyards received a Gold for our
2008 Farm Reserve
Riesling and Bronze for the 2011 Maréchal Foch.
“While we thought this
news was great we were blown away when we received the announcement that our 2008
Farm Reserve Riesling had also won Best White Wine. It is an incredible honour
to receive these awards and we are truly ecstatic!
“To top off that great
news from the Okanagan Wine Awards, Lang also received news earlier in the day
that we had won a Silver for our 2011 Farm Reserve Riesling and Bronze for our
2011 Bravo White Blend. Both these awards were from the Canadian Wine Access
Clearly, Richard did a
fine job in the Lang cellar.
And he did a fine job for
his own label. Here are notes on the Kanazawa
Kanazawa Nomu 2011 ($19.90 for 530 cases). This is a blend of 70% Viognier and 30%
Sémillon. The result is a wine with intense aromas and flavours of apricot,
peach, pear and banana and with a richness that is quite satisfying on the
Kanazawa Ronin 2010 ($29.90 for 110 cases). This is a blend of 88% Merlot, filled out
with equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Dark in colour, the
wine begins with an appealing aroma of cassis and vanilla. On the palate, there
are bright fruit flavours – black currant and black cherry – with chocolate and
blackberry on the finish. 90.
Kanazawa Raku 2010 ($29.90 for 100 cases). This is a blend of 85% Syrah and 15%
Viognier. The grapes were fermented together, a fairly common practice. And
while Viognier is a white variety, winemakers have discovered that it
stabilizes and perhaps darkens the colour of Syrah as well as lifting the
aroma. This is certainly a dark red with aromas that jump from the glass – aromas
of vanilla, pepper, red fruit and chocolate. The palate is generous, with
flavours of plum, black cherry, fig, pepper and dark chocolate. 91.
Kanazawa Diamond Flower 2011 ($20 for 200 ml). This is a late harvest Pinot Blanc with fresh
flavours and aromas of new apples. The lively acidity balances the sweetness
well in this appealing dessert wine. 89