Photo: Winemaker Bertus Albertyn
The new Golden Mile sub-appellation has such tight
boundaries that it excludes some of the best producers on what was historically considered the Golden Mile.
The only published map of the sub-appellation that I can
find is a bit hard to read. However, Maverick Estate Winery is beyond
the southern limit of the Golden Mile Bench.
As I read the final report on the sub-appellations, wineries
within the historical Golden Mile (as opposed to the bench defined by soil
characteristics) might still be allowed to use a variation of Golden Mile on
Maverick, which was established in 2009 by winemaker Bertus
Albertyn, his father Dr. Schalk De Witt, and their spouses, should be one such
winery. Its wines are bound to reflect well on the reputation of Golden Mile.
A doctor from South Africa,
Schalk was practicing in Edmonton
when he bought he bought two parcels for future vineyards in 2006 and 2009. The
latter block, seven and a half acres beside highway 97, was an organic farm
that was soon planted to vines. Planting is scheduled to begin in 2015 on the
other block, 48 acres of raw land next to the Osoyoos Larose vineyard.
Schalk had great good fortune when one of his daughters,
Elzaan, (also a doctor), married Bertus, the winemaker with the training to
manage vineyards and make superb wines.
When Bertus, born in 1978 in South
, finished his enology degree at Stellenbosch University
he started his career at a large wine cooperative before joining family-owned
Avondale in 1994 as winemaker. He came
to the Okanagan early in 2009 when Elzaan began to practice in Osoyoos. He was
Burrowing Owl Winery’s winemaker until mid-2013, when he left to concentrate on
Maverick began selling wines in 2013. This summer, it opened
an elegant tasting room on the property beside the highway.
The winery has quickly established itself as a rising star
among the new Okanagan wineries. Here are notes on current releases.
2013 ($26.90 for 100 cases). The winemaker uses the term “restrained power”
to describe this wine. My first impression is how exquisitely pure and pristine
the fruit aromas and flavours are. There is a note of peach and tangerine in
the aroma, leading for flavours of tangerine, peach and mango. The wine is very
subtly oaked (just five months in new French oak. The wine is elegant and
refreshing with a lingering finish. 91.
Maverick Rubicon 2012
($25 for 360 cases). This is a blend of 65% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Franc and
15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a very effective blend: the Cabernet Franc brings
vibrant brambly flavours and aromas while the Syrah adds gamey plum and pepper.
The Cabernet Sauvignon adds the structure. The wine, which was aged in a 3,500
litre oak vat, is drinking well now but will age. The winery recommends
drinking it over the next three to seven years – if you can keep your fingers
away from it. 91.
Maverick Pinot Noir
2013 ($29 for 250 cases). Here is a robust, assertive Pinot Noir, beginning
with aromas of toasty oak, dark berries and vanilla. The wine tastes of black
cherries and spice. The texture is elegantly silky, with a rich and
long-lasting finish. 91.
Maverick Sofia 2012
for 285 cases of 500 ml bottles). The back label of this VQA wine describes Sofia
(named for the
winemaker’s daughter) as a Port. I am not sure how this slipped through the
regulators because Canada
under an international agreement, is not permitted to use Europe
wine names on its VQA wines. In fact, the label was rejected but due apparently to a printer's error, it ended up on the bottle. The winery is asking for a one-time exception. That said, I doubt that Portugal
will be up in arms over Maverick’s
make this wine, the grapes – ripened to 28 Brix – were handpicked into 30 pound
trays and were cooled to 10°C
overnight. In the tradition of Port, the grapes went into a large bin and were
crushed by foot. The must was fermented several weeks on the skins, with
alcohol distilled from the winery’s own grapes used to fortify the wine and
stop fermentation. The must was then pressed and the wine was aged 18 months in
French oak. The brandy spirit used to fortify the wine also was aged in oak for
This is a terrific wine but, made with Syrah, also an
atypical Port. The aromas began to fill the room as soon as the cork was
pulled. In the glass, there are aromas of spice, white pepper, and Christmas fruitcake
that are echoed in the flavours. The savoury flavours include plum, liquorice,
chocolate and candied peel. The texture is rich. The wine carries its 19%
alcohol very well, with a finish that goes on and on. 92.