The latest package of releases from Laughing Stock Vineyards
included some news about this Naramata winery which, this year, marks the 10th
anniversary of its first vintage in 2003.
One bit of news: the winery has added concrete eggs to its
fermentation cellar. That actually happened in 2011 but, to the best of my
knowledge, nothing was said about it.
This is at least the fourth winery that now uses concrete
eggs. Okanagan Crush Pad was the first, followed by CedarCreek and Lariana
These are egg-shaped fermenters made of concrete. The
fermenters are slightly porous, like barrels, but impart no flavour. The shape
of the vessels sets up a rolling motion during fermentation, adding to a wine’s
exposure to the lees. Arguably, wines fermented in eggs derive a textural
I say arguably because at least one winemaker – whose
ability I respect – dismisses the concrete eggs. But then, he does not have one
to work with either.
The other bit of news from Laughing Stock is that the winery
is offering its Blind Trust White 2012 on tap in a number of Vancouver restaurants.
The Blind Trust wines, white and red, had been positioned as
a challenge to consumers who are meant to guess the varietals in the blends
each year. The actual blend composition is printed on the neck of the bottle, under
the capsule. To see if you have guessed correctly, you need to peel back
Obviously, there is no capsule to look under when you order
the wine by the glass. Laughing Stock owners David and Cynthia Enns have
addressed that by producing a hanger that servers attach to the stem of the
wine glass. When you have made your guess as to the blend, you simply flip the
hanger over to find out if you are correct.
Perhaps it is a bit gimmicky, but if you don’t have fun when
drinking wine, you should stick with rolling up the rim at Tim Horton’s.
Here are notes on four Laughing Stock releases.
Laughing Stock Pinot
Gris 2012 ($22 for 1,180 cases). This is a richly-textured and complex
wine. Sixty percent was fermented in second fill French oak barrels, 32% in
stainless steel and 8% in the concrete egg. This contributed to the rich mouth
feel, along with six months of weekly lees stirring. The wine has pear and
citrus aromas leading to flavours of pear, guava, baked apple and tangerine.
The finish just won’t quit. 90.
Laughing Stock Blind
Trust 2012 ($25 for 751 cases). Let me spoil the fun by telling you this is
50% Pinot Gris, 38% Pinot Blanc and 12% Viognier. The downside of hiding this
under the capsule is that the bottles are closed with corks. My sample had just
enough cork taint to spoil the flavours and aromas, but not so much that it
obscured totally the excellent quality of the wine. Many consumers would have
finished the bottle but not with enough pleasure to buy a second. That sort of
marginal corkiness is every winery’s bane. A winemaker might prefer full-on
taint, so that the consumers will understand the fault is the cork, not the
A trip to my local VQA store allowed me to get a sound
bottle, which was delicious. Perhaps the surprise is how dominant the Viognier
is, contributing a good backbone and notes to herbs, apricot and honey to go
along with the apple and melon flavours. 90.
Laughing Stock Blind
Trust Red 2011 ($30 for 1,460 cases). This is 47% Merlot, 31% Malbec, 12%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Syrah. The blend is so complex
that I can’t imagine any consumer coming even close. It begins with an
appealing aroma of cherry and black current with a hint of pepper. On the
palate, there are flavours of cherry and cassis, along with plum, mint and
again a touch of pepper on the finish. A suggestion: decant this and let the
aromas and flavours open. 90.
Laughing Stock Syrah
2011 ($36 for 760 cases). The cool 2011 vintage presented a real challenge
in making red wines, especially Syrah. Consumers expect the variety to be
full-bodied and that sort of ripeness was tough to do in 2011. But David Enns
has come pretty close, leaving the grapes hang until the end of October in his
Osoyoos vineyard where this varietal is grown. In the winery, he bled off some
of the juice for rosé and, in the process, concentrated the wine a bit more.
Then the Syrah was co-fermented with 6% Viognier and aged 16 months in French
oak (40% new). The result is a wine appropriately dark in colour, with aromas
of plum, black cherry, vanilla and spice. On the palate, there are flavours of
blackberry, cola, coffee and leather with a hint of pepper. 91.