Photo: Noble Ridge's winery seen from a next door vineyard
The picturesque Blue
perhaps just two miles east of the equally picturesque vines at Noble Ridge
Vineyard & Winery.
However, the terroir in the Okanagan Falls
region is remarkably complex and that can be illustrated by recent releases
from both wineries, including two Pinot Noirs. The Noble Ridge wines suggest
the site is hotter than Blue
’s vineyard. As
well the winemaking style is quite different.
varieties exclusively (except the recent addition of Sauvignon Blanc). Noble
Ridge has both the Burgundy
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
If this were France,
growing those varieties in such close proximity would seldom happen. But this
is the Okanagan. There are no rules on where to plant varietals. Viticulturists
are free to do that they think will work. Eventually, the consumers will decide
what has worked.
I don’t think these four wines will resolve the argument,
however. None of them disappoint.
Blue Mountain Chardonnay 2012
($21). This winery’s
understated Chardonnay is designed to accompany food. It is an elegant wine
with hints of citrus in the aroma and on the palate, and with a mouth-filling
polished texture. The Blue
style is to
ferment 40% of the wine in stainless steel and 60% in a mix of new to
three-year-old barrels. The wine in barrels ages there for seven months, with
minimal battonage of the lees. Only 10% has gone through malolactic
fermentation. The fruit flavours remain fresh, supported by a fine skein of
Blue Mountain Pinot Noir 2012
($25). This is a
seductively pretty wine, silky in texture, with notes of strawberry, cherry and
a spicy toast gained from 10 months aging in French oak. This is a very complex
wine, involving six clones of Pinot Noir – the vines are between six and 28
years old. The lightly crushed grapes, along with some whole clusters, were
given 16 to 20 days maceration on skins in open top fermentation tanks. Half
the wine was fermented with wild yeast native to the vineyard. The winery
suggests this vintage will age six to seven years. 91.
Noble Ridge Pinot
($25 for 568 cases). In style, this wine is darker and more
muscular than the Blue
. Noble Ridge
says it will age gracefully another five or six years. I would not hesitate to
leave it even longer. The grapes for this wine, after a cold soak on the skins,
were fermented cool in stainless steel. The wine then was racked into French
oak. It aged there a year and then spent another two years aging in bottle
before release. The wine begins with aromas of cherry and raspberry, leading to
a medley of red fruit flavours against an underlying earthiness. The wine
benefits from being decanted. 89-90.
Noble Ridge Meritage
Reserve 2009 ($30 for 538 cases). This is 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet
Sauvignon – and from one of the Okanagan’s best recent vintages. The wine was
aged 15 months in French and American oak (40% new) and then bottle aged 14
months. I would be surprised much is still available because this wine picked
up two golds and two silvers in competition last year. It is a bold, satisfying
red, beginning with aromas of black cherry, vanilla and spice. That leads to
flavours of black cherry, vanilla, chocolate and coffee. The long ripe tannins
give it accessibility now as well as ageability. 91.