Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tinhorn Creek, JoieFarm and 8th Generation begin releasing 2013 wines

Here is a sign of spring: wineries are  releasing some 2013 wines.

I have been able to taste two examples, Tinhorn Creek’s 2013 Pinot Gris and 8th Generation’s 2013 Pinot Meunier Rosé.

As well, JoieFarm has announced the release of six of its 2013 wines – five whites and a rosé. These mark the winery’s 10th anniversary release. In another example of a maturing industry, Tinhorn Creek is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

When the early 2013s show up, don’t be in too much of a rush in opening them.

The Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2013 ($18.99 for 7,943 cases) was bottled in January and still was suffering bottle shock when I opened it on March 5. The aroma and the flavours were somewhat muted. It would be unfair to score the wine now. I will pick up another bottle in April and I am confident that it is at least a 90 point wine when it knits in the bottle.

The devastating impact of bottle shock was demonstrated perhaps five years ago when CedarCreek Estate Winery came to Vancouver to show off three aromatic whites that had just been bottled. Tom DiBello, who was the winemaker then, also brought tank samples of the same wines, anticipating bottle shock might have happened.

Because the hand-bottled tank samples had not been beaten up in the filling line, the wines all were expressive on the nose and palate. But the recently bottled examples, especially a Gewürztraminer, were almost dead in comparison.

Depending on the variety, newly bottled wines usually need a month to three months to get over being bottled.

The other thing I have learned about Pinot Gris over the years is that it is often better in the fall after the release. Maturing in bottle takes the wine to the next level. Since Tinhorn Creek is releasing 8,000 cases (at a good price), why not buy half a dozen bottles and open one every month between May and October.

The 8th Generation Pinot Meunier Rosé 2013 ($20) was shown by the winery at a February 6 tasting in Vancouver, hosted by Icon Fine Wine and Spirits, the agency now representing this Summerland winery.

I think the wine was a tank sample because it was far too expressive to have been recently bottled. The rhubarb and strawberry aromas just exploded from the glass. On the palate, it is a delicious fruit salad. The touch of residual sweetness is perfectly balanced with lively acidity, resulting in a refreshing rosé. 90.

While I have not had a chance to taste the JoieFarm wines, I am indebted to JoieFarm owners Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn for comments on the 2013 vintage in their release announcement.

“A note about the vintage itself,” they wrote. “The 2013 growing year was long and flavourful. It was our second bumper crop in a row and the vines have really outdone themselves in terms of quantity and quality.  The vintage shows our regional trademark of excellent acidity and reasonable alcohols as well as great intensity of flavour, the benefit of a nice long growing season and a cool dry October.”

Mind you, the vintage was not quite the walk in the park that implies. There is a more detailed vintage report with the specifications of each JoieFarm wine:

“The 2013 vintage presented a different set of challenges with each season. Spring arrived at its normal time and bud break occurred during the first week of May. May and June were cool and wet, encouraging very little growth until early July when the vines took off in earnest. This rapid growth had us running in the vineyard, shoot positioning constantly and managing rapid canopy growth.

“Flowering in the central part of the Okanagan occurred in early July and, fortunately, fruit set went uninterrupted by heavy rains or wind. Above average temperatures continued through until the first week of September. Veraison was even and … completed in mid-August and ripening continued on like a freight train.

“A warm early September, coupled with heavy rain, had us starting to panic. We began harvesting thin-skinned varieties like Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir extremely early and had to work quickly in order not to lose quality crop to rot.

“After an early beginning to harvest, with all red varieties harvested by late September, we had a 10-day pause for more rain. From there, the weather dried up, staying cool and dry and we finished up at out usual time, with the last vineyard picked by October 25.

“A warm dry August and a dry October allowed for extended hang times, producing very flavourful grapes with full phenolic ripeness and complex flavour development. Overall, we saw higher than normal brix levels, achieved early due to the summer’s heat, but fresh acidity and ripe flavours that came with the benefit of our normal long harvest period.”

JoieFarm has released six wines from 2013. They are:

JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2013 ($24 for 6,236 cases, 486 magnums and 90 double magnums).

JoieFarm Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2013 ($23 for 901 cases).

JoieFarm Muscat 2013 ($23 for 483 cases).

JoieFarm Rosé 2013 ($21 for 2,838 cases).

JoieFarm Pinot Blanc 2013 ($23 for 438 cases).

JoieFarm Riesling 2013 ($23).


At March 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Max Wedges said...

Thanks John Schreiner for keeping us "posted".
We feel a little less "Insular" now (among the Baynes Straight's oysters) after reading his column:

We really must explore the Okanagan a bit more:

Many good things happen there, far from the Coast.

Wines, hopefully, ARE 'Personalities':

"Art" if of "Craft & Elegance"...
"Man" if of "Character"...
"Gentleman" if of Honour (inspiring of Love)...

More frequently wines are 'boys', pleasant in the ways of youth, warts and all, yet undefined.

All must express 'Terroir of Origin' in order to belong, lest they be 'gimmicks'.

The Okanagan/ Semilkameen allows for"character". The Coast's season is iffier...
No excuse, where "belonging" is concerned.

e. g. John Wrinch's (Starling Lane) "Foch", of sweet fond memory, was a real "Man of War"!

Bottle shock deserves leniency:
Kindness in rating allows the odd "off day".
(even dogs are granted their first bite?!)

Best wishes to TINHORN... I' ll visit, I promise


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