Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blue Mountain releases two fine 2013 whites




 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 Falls property. Ian 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 or Germany.

The Blue Mountain winery opened in 1992 and has consistently been one of the best in the Okanagan.

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’s 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.




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