Sunday, November 9, 2014

Le Vieux Pin and La Stella's exclusive releases

Photo (courtesy Enotecca): Winemaker Severine Pinte

Wine collectors know that joining a winery’s wine club is the best route to the front of the line for special wines.

Le Vieux Pin and La Stella, the sister Okanagan wineries operated by Enotecca Wineries and Resorts, both produce such wines, often in such limited quantities that – even at aggressive pricing – the wines come and go in a blink of the eye.

Neither winery attached fees to its wine clubs. The Piccolo Club at La Stella and the Petit Club at Le Vieux Pin offer members two six-bottle shipments a year, typically at a cost of $150 to $200 per wine shipment, plus shipping charges.

Both wineries also have clubs simply called The Wine Society which offer members two 12-bottle shipments each year at an annual cost of around $1,000 for the wines. Shipping is free.

There are other benefits for members, including discounts on the wines, free tastings at the wineries and pre-release offers of limited production wines.

Winery wine clubs now have become a standard way of doing business for most British Columbia wineries. It is a win/win situation. The wineries lock in some customers and you lock in your favourite wines.

Here are notes on currant and upcoming releases from these wineries. Both wineries are fortunate to have the same talented French-trained winemaker, Severine Pinte.

Le Vieux Pin Ava 2013 ($35 for 690 cases). This is a blend of 50% Viognier, 41% Marsanne and 9% Roussanne. The wine begins with aromas of herbs and stone fruit, leading to flavours of apple, grapefruit and stone fruit. The wine has good weight on the palate, with bright acidity and with a dry, lingering finish. 90.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2012 ($45 for 393 cases). The 13.8% alcohol of this wine is the first clue to its elegance. It begins with spicy and gamey aromas along with vanilla and black cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of spicy black cherry with a hint of minerals and sage on the finish. The wine, which is aged 19 months in barrel, is full on the palate. 92.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette 2012 ($29 for 616 cases). This Syrah was co-fermented with a few percent of Viognier, a classic technique that fixes the colour and adds a lightly floral note to the aroma. This wine is softer and juicier than its big brother, with flavours of cherry and blackberry. The wine was aged 14 months in French oak (19% new). 90.

Le Vieux Pin Équinoxe Cabernet Franc 2011 ($145 for 55 cases). The price indicates that the winery pulled out all the stops to make this wine. The vines were limited to a yield of 1.4 tons an acre, resulting in amazing ripeness for a cool year. The alcohol here is 14.5%. The wine spent 26 months in some of the best new French oak the winery could buy. The intense aromas of this wine explode from the glass. There are notes of cherry, leather, spice and cigar on the nose, leading to intense flavours of black berry, black cherry, leather and tobacco. The individual with whom I tasted spoke of this wine having “sauvage” qualities, referring to its exotic, almost wild character. 93-95.

La Stella Fortissimo 2012 ($35 for 836 cases). The model for this wine, which includes six per cent Sangiovese in the blend, is a super-Tuscan blend. This is a big ripe wine, consisting as well of 39% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sangiovese adds the dusty tannins one finds in Tuscan reds (aging the wine 19 months in mostly Slavonian oak also plays a role). The wine has aromas and flavours of black currant and cherry. The wine is scheduled for release in the spring of 2015. The winery recommends aging it eight to 15 years. 92.

La Stella La Sophia 2011 ($85 for 42 cases). This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from 26-year-old vines at the U2 block at Inkameep Vineyards. This is a legendary block from which numerous outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wines have been made by various producers. These mature vines produced fruit, even in a cooler year, which yielded 14.7% alcohol and ripe flavours. The wine has aromas of cassis and vanilla. The texture is almost dense, with flavours of black currants, prune, minerals, spice and tobacco. This is clearly a wine for cellaring or, if you want to open it now, for aggressive decanting. 95.


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