Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blue Mountain's ageable wines

Photo: Blue Mountain winemaker Matt Mavety

Having a Merlot lover in the house always creates issues when Pinot Noirs need to be assessed over dinner.

However, a strange thing happened when we were assessing the 2012 Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir. “Pretty good,” the Merlot lover said.

How good? When I reached for the bottle to finish the last glass, the bottle was empty. As they would say in tennis, advantage Pinot Noir.

Blue Mountain has been making consistently good Pinot Noir since 1991. Winemaker Matt Mavety, one of the family that owns this winery, has made significant technical changes in recent vintages that seem to have yielded further improvements.

For example, the 2013 Pinot Noir and the 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir both are totally fermented with indigenous yeast “in order” – quoting winery notes – “to express the terroir of our estate.”

I also note that the winery suggests the 2013 will age six to seven years while the 2012 will age seven to eight years.

My experience confirms that these are ageable wines. Recently, I opened a 2008 Blue Mountain Pinot Noir (the regular, not the estate). The wine was dark, showing no significant browning. The structure was firm (but not hard) and the fruit was still full of life. Clearly, the wine is at a peak. I would not expect it to begin sliding into old age for another couple of years. That is not bad for a $25 bottle of wine.

Blue Mountain wines are built to improve with moderate aging. Last fall, I had a long conversation with Matt about which wines in his portfolio are collectible. Naturally, he said all of them.

“Nobody collects Gamay Noir,” I suggested.

“Then they would be missing something,” he replied.

Perhaps I will set aside a few bottles of the Gamay. Meanwhile, here are notes on the other wines that Blue Mountain released this spring.

Blue Mountain Chardonnay 2013 ($20.90). This wine was fermented and aged 45% in stainless steel, 55% in French oak barrels (new to three years old). On the nose, there are aromas of citrus with a hint of toast, leading to refreshing flavours of apple touched with notes of lemon and hints of good lees aging. The texture is generous with a terroir driven backbone of minerals. This elegant wine is designed to age into an Okanagan answer to Burgundy. 90.

Blue Mountain Reserve Chardonnay 2012 ($29.90). Here is another ageable Chardonnay. The winemaker deliberately did not allow it to go through malolactic fermentation, thus retaining the good acidity that keeps the fruit flavours fresh. The wine begins with aromas of citrus mingled with lightly toasted oak and notes of lees. Half of this wine was fermented and aged in French oak. The texture is full, almost fleshy, with flavours of lemon, tangerine and peach that linger on a lightly spicy finish. 92.

Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Gris 2012 ($27.90). In a blind tasting, one might take this for a Pinot Gris from a fine producer in Alsace. The wine – 40% of which was fermented and aged in French oak – begins with aromas of toasted oak and lees mingled with pear. On the palate, there is a layered cascade of fruit flavours – apple, pear, citrus – and a finish that just won’t quit. With its structure and its good acidity, this wine age as readily as the Pinot Noirs. 92.

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir 2013 ($24.90).  This is a blend of six clones from vines ranging from seven to 29 years in age. The wine was aged 10 months in French oak before being bottled. It begins with aromas of lightly toasted oak mingled with cherry. The palate is silky, with flavours of cherry and raspberry, with a touch of vanilla and mocha. 91.

Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 ($39.90). This wine, which spent 10 months in French oak, has benefitted from significant bottle aging before release. Dark ruby in colour, the wine begins with aromas of lightly toasted oak mingled with red fruit. On the palate, there are rich flavours of strawberry and plum supported by toasty oak. The texture is silky and the finish is spicy. The wine is seductive and delicious. 93.


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