Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tasting Road 13’s portfolio

 Photo: Road 13 Vineyards and winery

Several years ago, Road 13 Vineyards announced that it would trim its wine portfolio, eliminating most varietals in favour of blends.

Happily for consumers and members of the winery’s wine club, that did not last. There are at least 24 wines in the current portfolio.

That is not to say that winemaker J-M Bouchard has created a total logistical nightmare for his employers, Pam and Mick Luckhurst. Five of the wines in that portfolio, all very good, comprise about half of the winery’s total production.

The most recent releases included 6,350 cases of Honest John’s Red, 3,592 cases of Honest John’s White and 1,762 cases of Honest John’s Rosé. These are affordably priced between $16 and $20 a bottle. The other big volume red, Seventy-Four K, is a 5,200-case brand selling for $25 while the big volume white, Stemwinder, is a 2,263 case brand at $17.

The rest of the portfolio comprises small lot varietals or blends that simply are too remarkable to be lost in big blends. During a recent winery visit, I was able to taste through most of them with J-M (right) and Pam at the bar of the winery’s elegant tasting lounge and restaurant. Those wines which are available only from the winery (and occasionally from select wine stores and restaurants), are marked with a *.  It is worth a trip to pick up a few.

Here are my notes.

* Peter’s Vineyard Riesling 2012 ($N.A.). Only 108 cases are available. It is a classic old vines Riesling, with aromas and tangy flavours of lime set against a mineral background. The concentrated fruit on the palate gives this a lingering and satisfying finish. 90-91.

* Mitchell’s Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2012 ($24 for 89 cases). If this were from Alsace, it could be called late harvest. With 15.1% alcohol, the wine is rich, even bold. There are aromas of spice and grapefruit, leading to flavours of citrus and ginger. The finish is dry. The vineyard is in Summerland and is farmed by Ron and Susan Mitchell. 90.

* Mitchell’s Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012 ($24 for 235 cases). The wine has aromas of honeysuckle and grapefruit, leading to a rich palate with flavours of pear and a lingering, dry finish. 90.

Stemwinder 2011 ($16.99 for 2,263 cases). This is a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 3% Chardonnay Musqué, 20% Viognier and 2% Roussanne.  There are abundant fruity aromas and flavours, including citrus, apples and stone fruit built around the focussed backbone of the Viognier. 90.

* Viognier 2012 ($24 for 100 cases). The trick with Viognier is to pick it in the exact window, seldom more than three days, when the exotic flavours pop in the grapes. Road 13 succeeded here. The result is a luscious wine with aromas of apricot and peach and with layers of flavour – apricot, honey, vanilla and spice. 91.

* Jackpot Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2012 ($29.00 for 297 cases). Jackpot designates the top tier wines at Road 13. This wine is 47% Viognier, 38% Roussanne and 15% Marsanne. The previous vintage won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award. This wine is rich and powerful (15.2% alcohol), with aromas and flavours of apricots and tangerine. This is a ripe wine with notes of honey and vanilla on the long finish. 92.

* Jackpot Chenin Blanc 2012 ($24 for 145 six-packs). This wine is from vines that were planted in 1968, very likely the oldest Chenin Blanc in the Okanagan (and only 20 acres in total are grown in the entire valley). J-M fermented this wine in neutral oak barrels, using wild yeast and deliberately letting the ferment temperatures rise to give the wine a full texture. The aromas are very complex, with hints of quince and honey. On the palate, there are layers of apricot, fig, quince and honey. 91.  

* Jackpot Chardonnay 2011 ($40 for 416 six packs). This wine was fermented with natural yeast in French oak and had weekly lees stirring for nine months. After blending the wine spent another five months in neutral oak before bottling. All of that detailed attention produced a richly textured Chardonnay. There is plenty of oak but not so much as to overwhelm the flavours of tangerine, ripe peach, butter and honey. 91. 

* Castle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 ($45 for 125 cases). The winery pulled out al the stops, from low tonnage, a week of cold soak, fermentation with wild yeast and very gentle handling. This wine was never pumped and was neither fined nor filtered. The wine begins with a fine dark colour and with aromas of cherries and black olives. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherries and mocha chocolate. This is a wine with power that is still developing its silky texture. 91.

* Jackpot Pinot Noir 2011 ($40 for 125 cases). Dark in hue, this wine is developing the classic silky texture. There are aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry. 91.

Seventy-Four K 2011 ($25 for 5,200 cases). This is 46% Merlot, 45% Syrah, with touches of Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Mourvedre. Dark ruby in colour, the wine begins with aromas of blackberry, mocha, vanilla and pepper. On the palate, there is black cherry, plum and prune. There is an earthy touch on the finish. 90.

* Syrah 2011 ($35 for 630 cases). This has six per cent Viognier which was added to the blend prior to bottling to lift the aromas and add weight and texture to the palate. The wine begins with aromas of spice and white pepper, along with vibrant red berries. There are flavours of blackberry and plum. This is a good cool-vintage Syrah with 13.6% alcohol and fairly bright acidity. 90.

* Syrah-Malbec 2011 ($32 for 550 cases). This is 66% Syrah, 34% Malbec … and the partnership is excellent. There is spice and pepper in the aroma with flavours of blueberry, black cherry and plum. This is a wine with impressive elegance. 92.    

* Road 9 Farm Syrah-Mourvedre 2011 ($35 for 290 cases). There is only nine per cent Mourvedre in this Rhone-style blend. The wine has a brooding personality, with early aromas and flavours of plum, fig, mulberry, coffee and leather. 91.

Jackpot Malbec 2011 (N.A.). This wine has not been released but when it is, I suspect it will be available only at the winery. The wine, which was aged in neutral oak, presents appealing fruit and berry flavours. 90.

Jackpot Petit Verdot 2011 (N.A.). This is a 2014 release, needing more time in bottle to let the tannins round out. Dark in colour, it has floral aromas, along with notes of graphite. There are flavours of black cherry and black currant. 91-93.

* The Fifth Element 2010 ($49 for 248 cases). This complex red is 48.7% Merlot, 8.1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20.4% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot, 17.1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1.7% Malbec. I can’t even imagine how complicated it was the put the blend together! It begins with aromas of sage, black olives, blackberries and black currants, leading to flavours of cassis and prune. The fruit presents itself sweetly on the palate but the finish is dry and the texture is elegant. 91.


At August 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM , Blogger Ed Sadowski said...

I suspect you misidentified the Road 13 Jackpot Chenin Blanc 2012.

Shouldn't it be Road 13 Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2012?

At August 1, 2013 at 4:27 PM , Blogger JohnSchreiner at Goodgrog said...

No. I have the Jackpot Chenin Blanc in front of me. The Road 13 website lists an Old Vines Chenin for $24, only for wine club members. I don't understand what the winery is doing in this instance.


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