Sunday, April 5, 2015

50th Parallel ramps up production

 Photo: Winery logo superimposed on a Pinot Noir cluster

Since opening two years ago, 50th Parallel Estate has impressed many critics with its wines.

This Lake Country winery is based on a young vineyard. It did not have a lot of wine to release from the 2011 vintage, its first. The current releases, from 2013 and 2014, show that the winery is ramping up production quickly as the vines mature.

This can be illustrated with the flagship varietal, Pinot Noir. 50th Parallel released 100 cases from 2011, 1,286 cases from 2012 and 2,145 cases from 2013 (along with 195 magnums).

There is a comparable growth progression the other wines, with exception of Chardonnay. That variety was planted only after winemaker Grant Stanley joined the 50th Parallel partnership in 2013. The Chardonnay reviewed here is made with purchased grapes. I don’t know the grower but, judging from how excellent the wine is, I wonder if 50th Parallel might be tempted to keep those grapes in the mix after its own vines are producing.

The winery’s public facilities have grown incrementally with production, from a tasting room that was little more than a plank over two barrels to a large and elegant one opening soon.

Because the winery, near Carr’s Landing, might be perceived as being off the beaten path, the owners of 50th Parallel are developing it as a destination. The 10,000-square-foot winery opened last fall, with tasting facilities being augmented this summer.

The winery’s website includes photographs and details about this facility, which has been designed by a leading Canadian architect. Future plans include food services and event facilities with great views over Okanagan Lake.

The amenities will attract visitors and the wines will keep them coming back.

Here are notes on the current releases.

50th Parallel Gewürztraminer 2014 ($18 for 1,708 cases).
This wine delivers explosions of tropical fruit in both the aroma and the palate. It begins with aromas of lychee, peach and spice, leading to flavours of lychee, honeydew, grapefruit and spice. The perceptible sweetness on the palate makes this a real crowd pleaser, especially as an aperitif. 89.

5oth Parallel Riesling 2014 ($18 for 577 cases).
This wine begins with an appealing aroma of citrus (lime, lemon zest) with a hint
of minerals. The flavours show pristine focus, with notes of lime, lemon, apple and minerals. An exquisite balance of acidity and residual sweetness creates a tangy and refreshing finish. Buy more than one: this wine is too delicious to stop with just one bottle. 91.

50th Parallel Pinot Gris 2014 ($19 for 2,260 cases).
The wine begins with alluring aromas of pears, apples and nectarines. It is a luscious fruit bomb on the palate, with flavours of apple, citrus, gooseberry and pear. It has a lingering finish that does not want to quit. Some of the complexity and weight here comes from fermenting 20% of the wine in three-year-old French oak. The other 80% was fermented cold in stainless steel tanks. The wine is delicious now but the winery recommends cellaring it up to five years. 90.

50th Parallel Chardonnay 2013 ($32 for 328 cases).
This wine was fermented and aged 12 months in premium French oak barrels. The wine begins with a buttery and spicy aroma of expensive oak (think of cinnamon and apple pie). That translates to a creamy palate, with flavours of hazelnut, marmalade, baked apple and a never-ending finish. This is an elegant and satisfying Chardonnay. 92.

50th Parallel Pinot Noir Rosé 2014 ($18 for 803 cases).
The salmon pink hue, dramatically displayed in a clear bottle with minimal labelling, comes from the 48 hours of cold soaking the juice on the skins after crushing. The wine begins with aromas of strawberry, raspberry and watermelon. On the palate, there are flavours of cherry and wild strawberry with a hint of Pink Lady apple. This light-bodied rosé has a crisp, dry and food-friendly finish. 88.

50th Parallel Pinot Noir 2013 ($32 for 2,145 cases and 195 magnums). The wine presents itself with a deep red hue. It has aromas of strawberry and blackberry with a suggested of toast. On the palate, it has flavours of strawberry, cherry, truffles and spice. Aged 12 months in French oak, the wine still has a slightly firm texture, but with hints the silkiness that will develop. This wine is built to cellar and is nowhere near its peak. The winery suggests cellaring up to 10 years. 92.


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