Monday, November 25, 2013

Blue Mountain's refined bubbles

Photo: Blue Mountain winemaker Matt Mavety 

Just in time for the festive season, Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars has released three vintage-dated sparkling wines in addition to its old standby, the Non-Vintage Brut.

These are excellent wines, as are the four table wines released at the time.

In the tradition of Champagne, the vintage sparkling wines have rested in bottle on the yeast lees for three to seven years before being disgorged. It is remarkable that the prices are so reasonable, considering how long these wines have tied up Blue Mountain’s capital.

Compare that to some  vintage Champagnes. Bollinger La Grande Année 2004 is $150. Krug Vintage 2000 is $276. Roederer Rosé Brut 2007 is $87. Blue Mountain is leaving money on the table. Who says that B.C. wines are too expensive?

The table wines included three whites. I learned something about them from taking my time and tasting them over two days: these wines improve with decanting. The techniques employed by Blue Mountain winemaker Matt Mavety give the whites texture and structure so that they can be cellared for three to seven years.

Most whites are 40% fermented in barrels (older barrels) and aged on the lees for perhaps six months.  Then the barrel fermented wines are blended with the tank fermented wines and bottled in the spring after vintage. The tight texture of young wines means that they need a bit of time to open. I wonder how many other fine whites benefit from being decanted?

Here are notes on the wines.

Blue Mountain Brut NV ($23.90). This elegant but inexpensive bubbly has New Year’s Eve written all over it. The wine, with fine, persistent bubbles, is crisp on entry and on the finish but with a creamy mid-palate. There is a hint of bready aromas and flavours of fresh apples and citrus. The finish is refreshing. 90.

Blue Mountain 2005 Reserve Brut R.D. ($39.90). This wine spent seven years on the yeast lees before being disgorged in March 2013. The blend is 60% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Gris. The prolonged sur-lies aging promotes a fine mousse with delicate bready aromas. The winery’s own notes speak of strawberry on the nose and palate. I found the finish crisp and even austere. Yet this is a fine, complex wine that more than holds its own against Champagne. 91.

Blue Mountain 2006 Blanc de Blancs R.D. ($39.90). This is 100% Chardonnay. The wine was aged sur-lie for six years before being disgorged in March 2013. This is a very refined wine, with bready aromas and citrus and apple flavours. The crisp finish, with an acidity that is still bracing, gives this wine a brilliantly focussed personality. 92.

 Blue Mountain 2009 Brut Rosé ($32.90). Made with 84% Pinot Noir and 16% Chardonnay, this wine has a lovely blush hue. The aroma suggests strawberries and apples and this carries through to the creamy palate. The finish is crisp and clean. This wine is so delicious that you probably want to buy it by the magnum. A bottle is not enough. 94.

 Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2012 ($17.90). The wine has aromas of peaches and apples. On the rich palate, there are flavours of apples and stone fruit. The flavours and aromas were clearly more generous on the second day. It was this wine that got me thinking that Blue Mountain whites, which are good to begin with, benefit from decanting. 90.

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2012 ($20.90). This wine begins with the complex aroma of lees, pears and citrus fruits. On the rich palate, there are flavours of pears and apples with a lightly spicy finish. 91.

Blue Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($18.90). Think of Sancerres, not New Zealand. The wine begins with herbal and citrus aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of grapefruit and grapefruit rind. The finish is spicy and dry, almost austere until the wine has a chance to open up. 88-90.

Blue Mountain Gamay Noir 2012 ($20.90). The wine begins with a cherry hue and aromas of cherries. On the rich, ripe palate, there are flavours of cherry and strawberry with a touch of spicy mocha on the finish. 90.


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