Photo: Lariana's Dan and Carol Scott
Two wines, a white and a red, which recently arrived for review,
are singled out here for special review for two reasons.
The wines are both excellent. Secondly, they speak volumes
for the consistency of both producers.
The white is the 2013 Viognier from Lariana Cellars in
Osoyoos, only the second release from this winery. The 2012 Viognier, which was
scored 95, was one of the best Viogniers from the Okanagan last year.
Well, that was no first-time lucky accident. The 2013
Viognier is as good.
Dan and Carol Scott opened Lariana last year on a property
tucked tightly against the U.S.
border, on 2nd Avenue
in Osoyoos. To get there, you turn left from Highway 97 immediately before
entering the American customs and immigration line-up.
With just a five-acre vineyard, the Scotts have built two
small winery buildings. One is a barrel cellar for their Cabernet Sauvignon-anchored
blend, not yet released. The 2012 blend, tasted from barrel just before bottling
this spring, is delicious. The release date may be this fall, depending on how
the wine develops in bottle.
The wine processing building houses one of the secrets to
the quality of the Viognier: an 1,800-litre concrete egg in which consulting
winemaker Senka Tennant ferments the wine and matures it on the lees.
Egg-shaped concrete fermenters first were introduced to the
Okanagan in 2011 when Okanagan Crush Pad brought in six from a California manufacturer.
One of the first wines “raised” in these eggs, the Haywire Canyonview Pinot
Noir 2011, has just won a Lieutenant Governor Award of Excellence.
A few other wineries, including Laughing Stock and
CedarCreek, have since added eggs to their cellars. OCP, meanwhile, installed
six 4,400-litre concrete fermenters last fall.
Among the claimed advantages, fermenting in concrete seems
to improve the texture of the wines. Texture is one reason why the Haywire
Pinot Noir was a winner. The Lariana Viogniers both are rich in texture.
red wine is the 2012 Célestiale,
blend, from Clos du Soleil Winery in the Similkameen. This winery was opened
six years ago and by now has established a solid track record with its wines.
Célestiale is the more immediately
approachable of the winery’s two Bordeaux
reds. The high-priced ($40 compared with $27) Signature is structured for
though the 2011 vintage was challenging, the 2011 Célestiale achieved scores of 90 and 91 from several reviewers.
The 2012 vintage was a much riper one, producing wines that are generous in
flavour and texture. As a result, the 2012 Célestiale has immediate appeal.
du Soleil’s consulting winemaker is Ann Sperling. There is change underway in
the cellar here, in part because Ann is increasingly busy with Sperling
Vineyards and other projects. As well, Michael Clark (right), the new partner who
joined Clos du Soleil last year, is also a winemaker.
financial analyst who also has degrees in physics, Michael began a career shift
in 2010 while still working as a portfolio manager with Switzerland
oldest private bank. He has made wine both in France
and in Switzerland
taking his diploma in winemaker from the University
taking over a portfolio of Bordeaux-inspired wines at one of the Similkameen’s
best boutique wineries.
are notes on the two wines.
Lariana Cellars Viognier 2013 ($23 for
221 cases). This wine begins with appealing aromas of peach and apricot,
leading to luscious flavours of peach, apricot, guava and apple. There is just
the right degree of acidity to give the wine a refreshing and tangy finish. The
texture is utterly sybaritic. 93-95.
Clos du Soleil Célestiale 2012 ($26.90
for 575 cases). This is 31% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc,
13% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. This juicy wine begins with aromas of black
cherry, cassis and vanilla, which follow through to the palate. As well, there
are flavours of blueberry and a touch of liquorice. The ripe fruit flavours are
so lush that there is an impression of sweetness on the palate. The soft
texture suggests this is not meant for long-term aging. However, the wine is so
delicious that it won’t be around long either. 92.