Sunday, August 25, 2013

Intrigue meets Therapy

Two of the less conventional winery names in the Okanagan are Intrigue Wines Ltd. and Therapy Vineyards and Guesthouse.

That seemed as good a reason as any to group reviews of the wines in a single blog.

Intrigue is a Lake Country winery operated by winemaker Roger Wong (below), with his wife Jillian Garland and partners Ross and Geri Davis. The tasting room opened last year. It is now part of an informal wine touring route that includes the new 50th Parallel Estate Winery as well as Gray Monk, Arrowleaf and Ex Nihilo.

This is a quiet and scenic back country with rolling hills, orchards and periodic views of Okanagan Lake. It is a good choice if you find other tour destinations a bit crowded.

The centrepiece at Intrigue is the two Riesling wines. Roger believes that this is one of the best varieties for the Okanagan. He backs up that belief with two excellent examples.

Therapy is near Naramata. The winery is part of the most concentrated collection of wineries in the Okanagan. There are close to 30 wineries packed into about 20 km from Penticton and heading north.

Therapy is one of the last wineries on the route. A complaint of the northernmost producers is that wine tourists exhaust their budgets and palates by the time they get half way out to Naramata. I wonder how many wine tourists have considered starting one of the days at the north end, on the theory that the tasting rooms will be less crowded. 

The “intrigue” of Therapy’s wines, if I may use that phrase, is the inventive use on the labels of terms from psychotherapy. The newest wine is a sparkler called Fizzio Therapy Blanc.

If you don’t get to either of these producers this season, the wines are widely available in VQA and private wine stores.

Here are my notes.

Intrigue Riesling 2012 ($16.90). The wine begins with aromas of lime and pink grapefruit that are mirrored in the flavours. The bright acidity gives the wine a crisp but also refreshing finish. 90.

Intrigue Pinot Gris 2012 ($16.90). Here is a wine the delivers gobs of fruit: peach, pink grapefruit and apple with a tangy, crisp finish. 90.

Intrigue Twelve 2012 ($14.90). This blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer is great value. It has spice and fruit on the nose and layers of fruit on the palate. 91.

Intrigue Focus Riesling 2012 ($19.90). This is the winery’s flagship Riesling, bigger, riper and more intense than the other Riesling. It has aromas and flavours of lime and lemon with a good mineral backbone. This is a dry and disciplined Riesling, good now but best aged for a year or two, so that it can peak. 92.

Intrigue Merlot 2011 ($19.90). The grapes for this wine come from Trout Creek Vineyards near Summerland. The wine has bright cherry and vanilla aromas with flavours of blackberry and cherry. 88.

Intrigue Damitz Good N.V. ($22.90). This is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon made as a tribute to Rob Damitz (1958-2011), a friend of the winery owners. A portion of the proceeds go to the Canadian Lymphoma Society. This is a tasty red with flavours of black currants, cherries and vanilla, with a touch of spice and chocolate on the finish. 89.

Therapy Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($19.99). The wine begins with aromas of herbs and grapefruit. On the palate, there are herbal and citrus flavours, with a finish that is crisp and dry. There is also a lingering note of lime on the finish. 88.

Photo: Therapy winemaker Steve Latchford

Therapy Vineyards  Gewürztraminer 2012 ($23.99). The winery’s notes recall that most of the Gewürztraminer grapes in 2011 were eaten by birds, deer and bears. In 2012 Therapy’s crew succeeded in deterring wildlife from their free lunch (probably to the detriment of less vigilant neighbours). Therapy’s winemaker let his grapes, after crushing, soak on the skins for 24 hours before pressing off the juice. The object was to extract the varietal’s spicy aromas and flavours. This wine has a big punch of spicy fruit aromas and flavours, including a touch of grapefruit and lime. The residual sugar, 14.4 grams per litre, gives the wine weight, with an off-dry finish. However, enough natural acidity remains that the palate is refreshed. 88.

Therapy Vineyards Alter Ego 2011 ($19.99).  This is a blend of 45% Pinot Gris, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Viognier and 5% Chardonnay. The wine begins with aromas of butter and coconut. On the palate, there are honeyed flavours of peaches and apricots with a soft underpinning of oak. The texture is rich and the finish lingers. 89.

Therapy Vineyards Pink Freud 2012 ($17.50). This rosé has always been a crowd pleaser, probably because the winemaker consciously leaves enough residual sugar (11 grams a litre in this vintage) to pop the aromas and flavours. The wine is 66% Merlot, 34% Pinot Noir. Both varieties were crushed and the skins were left in contact with the juice for four days before being crushed. This technique aims to get good colour and character. There is a lot of fruit here – raspberry, cherry and plum on the nose and the palate. The wine almost has the weight of a light red. 89.

Therapy Vineyards Fizzio Therapy Blanc 2012 ($22.99). The blend is 90% Chardonnay, 10% Orange Muscat. The grapes were harvested deliberately with slightly higher acidity than would have been the case for a table wine, because the winemaker wanted to make a crisp sparkling wine. The wine was carbonated in a pressure tank before bottling. The wine presents a creamy palate, with aromas and flavours of apple, peach and spice. It manages to be off-dry on the mid-palate, yet crisp on the finish. This would be great for brunch. 88.

Therapy Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011 ($22.99). The 11.7% alcohol suggests this might be a light wine until one sniffs the almost porty aromas. Winemaker Steve Latchford worked hard to extract aromas and flavours, starting with five days of cold soak, followed by a long ferment (two to three weeks) with pump overs and punchdowns adding up to two or three macerations a day. The result is a slightly rustic wine, but still a satisfying red with cherry and prune flavours. 87.


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