In late summer of 2013, a brief but devastating hail storm
savaged the Gentleman Farmer Vineyard at SpierHead Winery in East
The setback prevented the winery from making either a
vineyard-designated Pinot Noir or Riesling from that vineyard in 2013.
However, winery proprietor Bill Knutson reacted by sourcing
Pinot Noir from a grower in Summerland, just released as the Golden Retreat
Vineyard Pinot Noir. Bill also negotiated a long-term contract for these
grapes. That is good news for lovers of SpierHead wines since it extends the
winery’s admirable Pinot Noir portfolio.
The Golden Retreat Vineyard is also the source of Pinot Gris
for SpierHead. As a result, the winery’s current releases include two vineyard-designated
wines from Golden Retreat along with a Gentleman Farmer Riesling 2014, the
latter vineyard having recovered from the previous year’s hail damage.
Both are excellent vineyards, judging from the wines.
Gentleman Farmer typically produces Riesling with the bracing acidity and the
2014 is no exception.
Bill notes that the 2014 Pinot Gris is similar in style to
the 2013 Pinot Gris. “That wine,” he says of the 2013, “won all kinds of
accolades, including being named one of only five platinum winners at the 2014
B.C. Wine Awards.”
There is a longer-term appeal of Golden Retreat to
SpierHead. “The Golden Retreat Vineyard
grows some different Pinot Noir clones from those in our vineyard,” Bill points
out. “Most notably, the wine contains 60% Pommard, which is a clone that we do
not grow, although I have a small amount coming for planting in 2016. To me,
this clone introduces a spiciness that I don’t usually recognize in the Dijon clones.”
Here are notes three current SpierHead releases.
2014 Gentleman Farmer Vineyard ($19 for 200 cases). With an acidity of 9.2
grams a litre and just 4.3 grams of residual sugar, this is a wine with a crisp
and tangy finish. It has aromas and flavours of lime and lemon, with a good
spine of minerality. The wine is good now but has great potential to express
its rich complexity better if cellared for several years. 88-92.
SpierHead Pinot Gris
2014 Golden Retreat Vineyard ($19 for 710 cases). The wine begins with an
appealing aroma that mingles hints of herbs with citrus and apple. On the
palate, there are flavours of melon and apple. The wine, fermented and aged in
stainless steel, has good weight. 90.
SpierHead Pinot Noir
2013 Golden Retreat Vineyard ($26 for 60 cases). This is 60% Pommard clone,
40% clone 667. The wine was barrel-aged 10 months in French oak (likely not
new, judging from the fact the wine is fruit forward). The wine has aromas of
cherries, leading to flavours of cherry and plum, with a hint of mocha. The
wine has begun to develop the classic silky texture. That was more noticeable,
along with a juicy concentration of flavour, when the wine was retasted the day
after it was opened. Like the Riesling, the wine will evolve toward a peak in
two or three years. 90.