Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Garlic meets Merlot on the Golden Mile

Photo: Hester Creek general manager Mark Sheridan

On October 4, during the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, Hester Creek Winery is hosting its third annual garlic festival.

Here is a chance to sample and buy locally grown garlic; and to taste wines paired with garlic-influenced dishes prepared by the winery’s in-house chef, Roger Gillespie.

This event – admission by donation – is a fundraiser for the Farm to Table Lunch Program at the Oliver elementary school. Twice a week, the students are treated to lunches made with ingredients from local farms.

Mark Sheridan, Hester Creek’s general manager, calls it a “terrific” program. “It promotes the use of ingredients from our local producers as well as healthy eating,” he says. “It also helps raise awareness in the next generation of Okanagan residents.”

They don’t, of course, get a taste of Hester Creek wines, which will be poured during the garlic festival, as well as in at nearby Terrafina Restaurant. And the current Hester Creek releases include an exceptional Merlot.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, one of Hester Creek’s neighbours on the Golden Mile, also has a suite of events to show off its newest reds – a 2012 Cabernet Franc and a 2012 Merlot. Both also are outstanding.

No doubt, the chef at Tinhorn Creek’s Miradoro Restaurant will use the occasional garlic clove in the recipes there as well. The events include an October 2 dinner, Hops, Grapes and Grub, which involves beer pairings as well as wine pairings. It is a recipe for a boisterous evening.

There is a good chance there will be a bit of garlic around on October 10 when the winery hosts the 18th  of the 20 events to celebrate its 20th anniversary. This is a dinner at Miradoro prepared by guest chef Angus An (of Vancouver’s Maenam Restaurant) and Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro’s chef.

Even if you don’t go, here are notes on the three red wines. You can find them in private wine stores and the Liquor Distribution Branch. All are made in good volume. And all three are made with grapes from older vines, which accounts for the generous and satisfying texture of the wines.

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2012 ($24.99 for 4,782 cases). The vines were 19 years old in 2012. The wine explodes with aromas of raspberry and blackberry. Rich in texture, the wine has flavours of blackberry and black cherry. There is a subtle note of oak here; the wine spent a year in two and three-year-old French and American oak barrels. It is a delicious wine. 91.

Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2012 ($19.99 for 7,790 cases). Once again, bold aromas of black cherry, black currant and plum roar from the glass. It is a big ripe (14.9% alcohol) wine with flavours of plum, prune, black cherry and vanilla. The texture is generous, almost fleshy. The wine, which aged a year on American and French oak, is quite satisfying to drink. 91.

Hester Creek Block 2 Reserve Merlot 2012 ($28.95 for 800 cases). Hester Creek has some of the oldest vines on the Golden Mile; the plantings began here in 1968. The Merlot in Block 2, if not that old, certainly has been producing for a couple of decades. This wine is also bold and ripe, with enveloping aromas of plum, vanilla, coffee bean and sage. Rich and soft in texture, the wine has flavours of black currant, black cherry, plum and vanilla. This wine was aged between 12 and 16 months in French (75%) and American (25%) barrels. 92.


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