Photo: Noble Ridge vineyards in the autumn
region has come
into its in recent years for wine touring.
The area got a major lift a few years when the wineries
formed an association and when Blue Mountain
the area’s anchor tenant, began opening its tasting room regularly.
I have wandered the region again during the spring and
summer and visited most of the wineries. One exception has been Wild Goose
Vineyards because I could never work my schedule to east at the new bistro
there. I will: I hear nothing but rave reviews for the food. It goes without
saying that the wines are outstanding. No winery has won more Lieutenant
Governor’s Awards of Excellence. Another exception was Blue
Vineyards, only because I have blogged on their
Here are notes on some of the other wines I have tasted.
Unorthodox Chardonnay 2013 ($18.50 for 584 cases). This is an utterly
delicious unoaked Chardonnay that includes some of the spicy Chardonnay Musqué
clone in the blend. It begins with
aromas of peach and citrus. The wine gives the impression of rich palate weight
because it brimming with fruit (peaches, apples, lime). The finish is tangy and
quite refreshing. 91.
Blasted Church Pinot
Gris 2013 ($20.50 for 2,500 cases). The wine was released in May and only
700 cases remain. It is no wonder it sells so quickly. The wine begins with
appealing aromas of peach, apricot and pear. The flavours are packed with stone
fruit and pear, with a touch of anise on the finish. The texture is generous
and the finish is refreshing. 91.
Blasted Church Mixed
Blessings 2013 ($18.50 for 605 cases). This delicious wine also is close to
being sold out. It is a blend of Viognier (60%), Chardonnay Musqué (18%), Ehrenfelser
(10%), Sauvignon Blanc (8%) and Pinot Gris (4%). Both the Viognier and the
Chardonnay spent 24 hours on the skins for additional flavour. Dare I repeat
myself: brimming with fruit! This is a wine that begins with aromas apples,
pears and citrus, leading to generous flavours of melon, apple and apricot. The
finish is long. 91.
Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($19.50 for 343 cases). This lean wine begins with
aromas of herbs and tea. On the palate, there are flavours of lime, herbs and
minerals, wrapped up with a crisp, dry finish. 88.
Blasted Church Big
Bang Theory 2013 ($19.50 for 3,300 cases). This is an easy-drinking red with aromas and juicy flavours
of spicy black cherry. The blend is Merlot (48%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%),
Syrah (13%), Pinot Noir (10%), Lemberger (8%), Malbec (3%), Cabernet Franc (1%).
Blasted Church Merlot
2012 ($26.50 for 714 cases). This wine invites the consumer with aromas of
cassis, blackberry and vanilla. The long, ripe tannins give the wine a full
texture, with juicy flavours of black currant, cherry and plum. This is a
delicious, drink-now red. 90.
Blasted Church Syrah
2012 ($26.50 for 1,584 cases). The blend is 95% Syrah, tweaked with 2%
Petit Verdot, 2% Viognier and 1% Merlot. The ripe tannins have given this wine
a supple and juicy texture. It has aromas of red fruit and vanilla (from 15
months in barrel) with a hint of pepper. The flavours include black cherry and
plum wrapped up with the classic notes of black pepper. 90.
Liquidity Bubbly NV ($23.90
for 71 cases). This is the winery’s first sparkling wine. Crisp and refreshing
with flavours of apple and grapefruit, it is a 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot
Noir cuvée. The finish is dry. 90.
2013 ($23.90 for 97 cases). This is a finely balanced wine, with lemon and
lime aromas and flavours. The hint of residual sweetness is offset with bright
acidity, giving the wine a dry finish. 90.
Liquidity Pinot Gris
2013 ($19.90 for 417 cases). The grapes are from own-rooted vines planted
in 1996. That maturity shows in the good backbone of minerality in this dry
wine. It has refreshing aromas and flavours of citrus and pears. 90.
2013 ($23.90 for 465 cases). An exceptionally complex Viognier, this wine
was begun by giving skin contact to some of the grapes. Winemaker Matt Holmes
then used wild yeast (for the most part). Then he aged the wine four months in
older oak barrels. The wine is generous in the mouth, with aromas and flavours
of apricot and fresh apple. The bright acidity gives the wine a refreshing lift
on the finish. 92.
Liquidity White Blend
2013 ($19.90 for 394 cases). The winery describes this wine as a summer
sipper. It is a little more complex than that. The blend is 64% Chardonnay, 25%
Viognier and 11% Pinot Gris. The aromas are floral and tropical, leading to
flavours of apple and pineapple. A touch of residual sugar balanced with good
acidity broadens the texture. 90
2012 ($23.90 for 330 cases.) The winery is fortunate to have 20-year-old
Chardonnay in its vineyard. The wine was barrel-fermented with wild yeast and
aged in barrels and on the lees for 10 months. The wine is full on the palate,
with butterscotch, hazelnut and citrus aromas and with tangerine flavours. 89.
Liquidity Rosé 2013 ($20.90
for 90 cases). This wine is made from the Dornfelder grape, a German varietal
planted in the Okanagan for its ability to add colour to red wines. The
winemaker fermented this in older French barrels with wild yeast. It is a
vibrantly-hued rosé, with aromas and flavours of strawberry and cranberry. 90.
Liquidity Pinot Noir
2012 ($24.90 for 405 cases). The winery also has mature Pinot Noir vines,
and five clones. Once again, the winemaker fermented the majority of this wine
with wild yeast, giving the wine about 20 days of skin contact. The colour is
dark. There are aromas and flavours of spice and cherry, with savoury notes of
mushroom and earth. 89.
Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block 2013 ($24 for 113 cases). This elegant
wine is from grapes on the winery’s Naramata Bench vineyard. It begins with
aromas of toasty oak and citrus, leading to citrus and ripe apple flavours.
While generous on the palate, the wine has a crisp finish. 91.
Vineyards Rosé 2013 ($20 for 150 cases). Made with Merlot, this exuberant
rosé delivers a blast of cherry and strawberry flavours with a crisp and dry
Valley Pinot Noir 2012
($25 for 1,600 cases). This is the
entry-level Pinot Noir from a winery that has made Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay)
its speciality. This is a concentrated wine with juicy flavours of raspberry
and strawberry, and a silky but full texture. 89.
Vineyards Reimer Pinot Noir 2012 ($40 for 318 cases). Made with grapes from
a Kelowna area
vineyard, this is a Pinot Noir with both intensity and length. It has a good
dark colour, with aromas and flavours of cherry and spice. 90.
Vineyards McLean Creek Pinot Noir 2012 ($40 for 360 cases). This is a
seductively pretty wine, with delicate notes of cherry and strawberry on the
nose and palate. The texture is ever so silky and the wine is ever so elegant.
($17.99 for 487 cases). This is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 38% Gewurztraminer, 18% Pinot Grigio and 4%
Pinot Noir. A double gold winner at the All Canadian Wine Championships this
spring, this is a zesty and delicious wine. It is packed with flavours of spicy
citrus, peach and apple. It has good volume on the palate, along with a
refreshing and dry finish. 90.
Pinot Grigio 2013
($18.90 for 405 cases).
This wine has two gold medals and a silver in competition, so far. The
wine begins with appealing aromas of peaches and pears, with a touch of orange.
The wine has a generous texture, with citrus and pear flavours. The finish is
refreshing, with just enough acidity to give the wine a crisp tang. 90.
Reserve Chardonnay 2011
($23.90 for 426 cases). Best of class in the
Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, this Chardonnay begins with aromas of buttery
tangerine, pear and vanilla. On the palate, the crisp, bright apple and pear
flavours are framed subtly with oak. The wine was cold-fermented in stainless
steel and then aged 14 months in French and American oak, a quarter of it new.
See Ya Later Ranch
Jimmy My Pal 2012
($16.90). Jimmy My Pal was one of about a dozen dogs
owned by one of the former owners of the property. Some of the proceeds of this
wine are donated now to the SPCA. The wine is a blend of 87% Chardonnay and 13%
Pinot Gris. The wine is crisp and fresh, with aromas and flavours of citrus and
See Ya Later Ranch
Gewürztraminer 2013 ($Sold out). Without a doubt, this winery has one of
finest Gewürztraminer blocks in the Okanagan. This wine begins with herbal and
spicy aromas and goes on to spicy grapefruit flavours. The finish is dry. 90.
See Ya Later Ranch
Pinot Noir 2011 ($20). This is a pretty wine, with a fine colour and aromas
of strawberry and cherry. The texture is silky, perhaps the result of 18 months
in French oak. 89.
Tragically Vidal 2013 ($19 for 400 cases). This fruity white is always the
crowd pleaser in this winery’s wine shop. The winery once grafted Chardonnay
onto the Vidal roots and subsequently reversed the grafts to satisfy the demand
for Vidal. People like it because the aromas and flavours of tropical fruit and
lime explode from the glass. 89.
Renaissance Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($25 for 81 cases). This wine was
barrel-fermented in new French oak; just half went through malolactic fermentation.
As a result, the wine has bright fruit flavours of grapefruit and gooseberry,
with herbal and lime aromas. 91.
Riesling 2013 ($20 for 380 cases). Some of the grapes were touched with
botrytis. As a result, there is an appealing note of honey in the aroma, along
with lime and peach. Those fruit flavours carry through to the palate and the
wine ends with a vibrant, tangy finish. 89.
Stag’s Hollow Syrah
Grenache Rosé 2013 ($22 for 168 cases). The wine is 85% Syrah, 15% Grenache
and 100% delicious. The hue is dark; the aromas are bold, with lots of
strawberry and plum which carry through to the full palate. The finish is dry.
Grenache 2012 ($30 for 170 cases). The varietal is rare in the Okanagan
because the vines do not handle winters well. This is a delicious wine, with
aromas and flavours of spiced plums, currants and even strawberry. 92.
Tempranillo 2012 ($30 for 305 cases). This varietal is one of the major
reds in Spain.
Stag’s Hollow winemaker Dwight Sick followed the Rioja tradition of using
American oak when he aged the wine in barrel for 15 months. The wine has
slightly toasty aroma mingled with dark fruit notes. It has flavours of
blackberry and pomegranate. 90.