Photo: Blue Mountain winemaker Matt Mavety
If one needs a reminder of the contribution of mature vines
to good wine, pick up a bottle of Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars’s 2013 Pinot Blanc
a bargain at $17.90.
The Pinot Blanc vines in this vineyard – two French clones –
were planted in 1985. The variety was the star of the Becker Project, an
industry trial of varietals that ran from 1977 to 1985.
I can’t say that was the sole reason why Ian Mavety planted
the variety on his Okanagan
always marches to his own drummer. However, this was the time when he had begun
to transition the vineyard from hybrid varieties to vinifera.
Subsequently, he added Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay
and (in 2006) Sauvignon Blanc. These largely Burgundian choices emerged from
his conclusion that the Okanagan Falls
terroir had more in common with Burgundy
than with either Bordeaux
The Blue Mountain
winery opened in 1992 and has consistently been one of the best in the
It is interesting that Ian, who can be something of a
contrarian, would stick with Pinot Blanc. As well as the variety grows in the
valley, it has struggled for profile compared with more popular Pinot Gris and
Chardonnay. With some producers, the wines were so bland that I once said that
Pinot Blanc was “the Holiday Inn of wines.”
By comparison, Blue Mountain
2013 Pinot Blanc is a suite at the Fairmont
The grapes were whole cluster pressed for greater purity of fruit flavours.
Sixty per cent of the wine was fermented in stainless steel; the other 40% was
fermented and aged six months in four-year-old French oak barrels. The latter
also was aged on the lees, with minimal stirring, for a few months to enhance
the texture. The two lots were blended in May.
This complex wine has aromas and flavours of apples and
peaches, with a slight herbal note on the dry finish. The wine is full on the
palate and the flavours linger a long time. 91.
Blue Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2013
($18.90). Some of
the earlier vintages of this wine had struck me as too austere. Winemaker Matt
Mavety nailed it with this vintage. Again, the grapes were whole cluster
pressed, with 65% fermented in stainless steel while 35% was fermented and aged
four months in French oak (two to four years old). The wine spent a few months
on the lees for texture. The lots were blended in April. This is an elegant wine with aromas and
flavours of grapefruit and with an herbal note that recalls Sancerre. The
texture gives the wine a long rich finish. 91.