Photo: Gold Hill Winery: you can't miss it
There is a house style emerging a Gold Hill, a winery that
opened in 2011 not far north of Osoyoos.
The style is unapologetically big and ripe, with flavours
that fill the mouth and have such a long finish that you need a stop watch to
It is a style that can be achieved in the south Okanagan,
especially in warm vintages like 2012, 2013 and 2014. Gurbachan and Sant Gill,
the winery owners, have become adept at growing grapes since 1991, a few years
after arriving in the Okanagan from India. They now own 65 acres of
vineyard, most of it in the south Okanagan.
Gold Hill was launched in the 2009 vintage. That was another
hot season and there was no shortage of ripe grapes for Phil Soo, the
consulting winemaker. The Cabernet Franc from that vintage won a Lieutenant
Governor’s Award of Excellence, helping to establish Gold Hill’s profile.
Of course, the gold-hued winery beside the highway also
helps the profile with those wine tourists who turn in.
The current releases include the winery’s first Meritage.
Aged 16 months in French oak, this wine aims to be Gold Hill’s entry into the
ranks of producers of icon reds.
Those are the wines that consumers buy not just for
Saturday’s barbecue but to lay down, and to accumulate several vintages with an
eye to vertical tastings in the future. Wines like that signal a growing
confidence consumers have in the rising quality of British Columbia
The wines don’t have the longevity (yet) of collectible and
reds. However, the reasonably priced British
Columbia red icons will age, on average, 10 years.
The Gold Hill Meritage is a little softer and I would sample the bottles by
their fifth year to see how they are developing. It is always better to drink a
wine too young and too old.
Here are notes on the current releases.
Gold Hill Chardonnay
2013 ($20.90). This is a refreshing, unoaked Chardonnay, with appealing
aromas of green apples and citrus. On the palate, there are flavours of apples
and white peach. This delicious wine has a crisp finish. 90.
Gold Hill Viognier
2013 ($21.90). This is a big ripe Viognier with a rich texture and honeyed
aromas and flavours of apricot and guava. The alcohol is a warming 14.9% but it
is balanced by the abundant fruit on the palate. 90.
Gold Hill Rosé 2013 ($18.90).
This dark-hued rosé is mostly Cabernet Franc, with a dash of Pinot Gris. The
jewel-box colour comes from fermenting on the skins for two days, a technique
that also turbocharged the cherry aromas and the cherry and black currant
flavours. A touch of pepper on the finish wraps up this full-bodied rosé. I
wonder if the wine is not too full-bodied for a rosé. Why ferment on the skins
for two days? Did the winemaker forget to rack off earlier? 87.
Gold Hill Cabernet
Merlot 2013 ($19.90) This has big ripe stewed black cherry and vanilla
aromas. The wine is juicy on the palate with fig, cherry and blueberry
Gold Hill Pinot Noir
2012 ($24.90). The wine begins with aromas of cherry, raspberry and a touch
of oak. On the palate, the flavours begin with spicy cherry; there is even a
hint of white pepper. The texture is silky. 89.
Gold Hill Cabernet Franc 2012 ($26.90). The wine
begins with appealing aromas of toasty oak, blackberry and black currant. That
leads to flavours of black cherry with a hint of ripe raspberry and pepper on
the finish. The tannins are ripe and the finish is satisfying and persistent.
Gold Hill Merlot 2012
($24.90). Here is another boldly ripe wine (15%) but with long, silky
tannins. It begins with aromas of cherry and blackberry. There are flavours of
black cherry and vanilla with a hint of tobacco and chocolate on the finish.
Gold Hill Syrah 2012 ($26.90).
Dark in colour, this wine begins with classic deli meat aromas, along with
spicy black cherry and plum. On the palate, there is a satisfying gob of cherry
and plum enlivened by black pepper on the earthy finish. This is a deliciously
ripe Okanagan Syrah, with a very long finish. 92.
Gold Hill Meritage
Family Reserve 2012 ($34.90). This is 33.3% Merlot, 22.2% Malbec, 22.2%
Cabernet Franc and 22.2% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine begins with perfumed
aromas of cassis and blueberry (that’s the Malbec asserting itself). The wine
needs to be decanted to let the berry flavours and the texture develop. 90.