Photo: Winemaker Dylan Roche
New in the market, Roche Winery is a tiny artisanal producer
that happens to make very good wines.
Roche did its first public tastings last summer, along with
other artisanal wineries, at the Garagiste North festival, held on the grounds
of Meyer Family Vineyards at Okanagan Falls.
the owners Dylan and Pénélope Roche have been introducing
the wines into the market. So far, they have a grand total of 300 cases. These are
now available in the leading private wine stores in Vancouver
as well as in the B.C. Wine Info
Centre in Penticton
and the B.C. Wine Museum
They are also on several top restaurant wine lists, including Hawksworth in
Vancouver and Bogner’s in Penticton
are New World wines with the fingerprints of France
all over them: the owners are both trained in France.
was born in Vancouver in 1976, the son of a lawyer and a nurse, and got a
degree in urban geography from the University
of British Columbia
had been a shop manager in a a Vancouver
bicycle store while in college. With that experience, he went to Burgundy
in 2000 as a
bike mechanic and cycling guide.
was where he “suffered a conversion experience,” as he says on the Roche
). He began
exploring wineries in France
By 2003, he was enrolled in enology studies in Beaune.
dint of hard work, he filled his resume with jobs at various French wineries
while also working with Butterfield & Robinson, the Canadian-based cycle
winery resume includes:
* Winemaking apprenticeships in Côte d’Or, Chablis and New Zealand over five years.
* Wine educator and program director at Château Lynch-Bages
in Pauillac from March, 2006 to February
Assistant winemaker at two estates in Péssac-Léognan.
at Château Bellevue de Tayac in Margaux from 2010 until returning to Canada in 2012
to work in the Okanagan, where he is now the winemaker at Intersection Estate Winery.
Pénélope, his wife and partner in Roche Wines, was born in France, with
five generations of winemaking and viticulture behind her in the family estate,
Château Les Carmes in Haut-Brion. She also has formal winemaking and experience
in Spain, New Zealand and Australia.
Dylan has been busy at the Intersection winery and vineyard, Pénélope has worked with the vineyards that supplied the grapes
for their debut wines here.
Chardonnay is made with fruit from the Coulombe Vineyard, a half-acre block of
Chardonnay south of Oliver. The Pinot Gris is from Kozier Organic Vineyard near
Wines has yet to license its own winery. However, they are able to produce the
wines under the license of Parallel 49 Vineyards (the license under which
an independent winery is in the cards down the road: Dylan and Pénélope bought an eight-acre block last summer on Upper Bench Road in
Currently, that includes 3.5 acres of Schönburger (under contract to another
winery) and one acre of Zweigelt. Dylan made a rosé from the Zwiegelt. The
couple are considering other varietals that may or may not be planted after the
Schönburger contract ends in 2017.
Wines will release 180 cases of rosé this summer at $20 a bottle. The couple
also have 300 cases of Pinot Noir still in barrel and not yet priced.
are notes on the current releases. Not reviewed is a 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay.
Dylan made 40 cases and sold it all to Merchant’s Oyster Bar on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive.
Roche Chardonnay 2012
($28.90 for 85 cases). This wine was fermented in French oak barrels (one
was new) and remained on the yeast lees for six months. This is a wine with
pure focussed fruit on the nose and palate, with aromas of citrus and a note of
brioche. It tastes of lemon and fresh apples, with a good backbone of minerals
and with bright acidity. With a few years of age, this will develop Burgundian
Roche Pinot Gris 2013
($26.90 for 175 cases). This wine was also fermented in barrel – neutral
French oak – and remained on the lees for 10 months. It is one of the most
complex Pinot Gris wines I have seen in a long time. Think of Alsace. The racy acidity gives the wine a
bright, refreshing attack. It has aromas of pear and spice and flavours of
apple, melon and citrus. The flavours seem to come in richly-textured layers
and the finish is very long. The winemakers give this an aging potential of
four to six years, a recommendation that speaks to the wine’s complexity. 92.