Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rocky Creek releases for autumn 2012

Photo: Rocky Creek sparkling wine with Zork closure

The new releases from Rocky Creek Winery in the Cowichan Valley this year come with exceeding sophisticated new packaging.

Each bottle is embossed with a stylized R and C, so beautifully done that it might be turquoise raven by Bill Reid, set off dramatically against the colour of the wines and the bottles.

This is a package that catches the eye on the shelf of the wine store and also looks smart on the table.

The other feature that sets the Rocky Creek package apart is the winery’s use of the Zork closure. This is an Australian-developed alternative to screw caps with, arguably, more eye appeal on the bottle. The Zork and the screw cap producers can fight it out amongst themselves which is technically better. Suffice it to say, there is no risk of cork taint.

Rocky Creek began using the closure with its table wines several years ago. “We have done a pilot test of the Zork closure over the last three years and learned many challenges associated with this product,” says Linda Holford, one of the winery’s owners.  The challenges, mostly with getting bottles made to the right specifications, have been met and the winery believes this is a superior closure.

This fall, Rocky Creek became the first winery in North America to start using the Zork closure designed for sparkling wines. The closure comes off (a bit stubbornly) with a satisfying pop. One advantage is that it can be re-applied to preserve the bubbles. By resealing a bottle and keeping it in the fridge, you can actually enjoy a glass or two before dinner each day for at least three days.

Here are notes on the wines. They can be purchased in wine stores on Vancouver Island or directly from the winery.

Rocky Creek Katherine’s Sparkle Brut 2011 ($23.90 for 85 cases). Here is a delicious bubbly with a fruity aroma, flavours of apples, fine bubbles and a crisp, refreshing finish. It was amazing how quickly we finished the bottle. 90.

Rocky Creek Jubilee Brut 2011 ($23.90 for 85 cases). The dark rose blossom hue – the wine is Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris - adds to the festive personality of this wine in the glass. The wine is creamy on the palate, with aromas and flavours of strawberries, but also with a crisp and dry finish. 89.

Rocky Creek Pinot Gris 2011 ($17.90 for 265 cases). The wine has a slight bronze blush, indicating that the winemaker gave it skin contact both for colour and flavour. There are aromas of spice, pear and citrus, followed by flavours of citrus and apple. The wine is well balanced and finishes crisply. 88.

Rocky Creek Pinot Noir 2010 ($21.90 for a production of 155 cases). The wine begins with aromas of spice and candied cherry. The winery’s notes speak also of a hint of butterscotch. It is all part of the candy in the aroma. On the palate, there are flavours of wild strawberry, cherry and cloves. The wine is delicately light but the typical silky texture of the variety. 88.

Rocky Creek On The Mark 2011 ($16.90 for 140 cases). This is a blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Foch and Maréchal Foch. The Cab Foch is a red hybrid developed by Valentin Blattner in Switzerland. This wine reflects the difficult vintage on Vancouver Island for reds in 2011 in that the wine is lean and light. It begins with an interesting aroma that reminded me of one of my favourite lunches – a BLT with HP Sauce. I almost made a sandwich to pair with this quaffer. 86.

I look forward to tasting this blend from the 2012 vintage, a far riper year on Vancouver Island. Winemaker Mark Holford’s intent with this blend is to create the biggest red he can with what the year gives him. It would be easier to bring in Okanagan grapes but Rocky Creek is one of those island wineries that won’t do that. They are counting on their Cabernet Foch – the vines still are young – to be their primary big red.

Rocky Creek Wild Blackberry 2011 ($19.90 for 250 cases of 500 ml bottles). Dark in colour, the wine opens (as it should) with spicy aromas of wild blackberries, leading to aromas of blackberry jam. The texture is fleshy without being heavy. The flavour is naturally sweet, like the berries, and not sticky sweet like Icewine. The back label recommends this with chocolate. It is tasty on its own and would also be an excellent base for cocktails. 90. 


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