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
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
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.
* 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.
* 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
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.