Photo: Blue Mountain's best Sauvignon Blanc yet
By sheer coincidence, two wineries – one an old favourite,
one I had not hear of – each sent a pair of white wines from the 2014 vintage.
So I take the liberty of reviewing them together, if only to
accelerate the pace of publishing reviews. Two by two, as they say of Noah's Ark.
The familiar winery is Blue
Vineyard & Cellars, which has been producing
interesting wines from its Okanagan
Recently, I was suggesting to a friend that he send a California
house guest and Pinot Noir fancier to Blue Mountain
. He was
unaware that the winery has had a public tasting room for two years now.
It shows how long it takes the word to get out. Blue
has always accepted visitors who had the foresight to make appointments. Those
without appointments sometimes were turned away.
got the reputation of being an unfriendly winery. That was not deserved: the
owners were not hostile to people; they just were far too busy to drop things
whenever an unexpected car pulled into the driveway.
With additional family members now in the business, the
winery’s tasting room is as friendly as any other in the Okanagan.
The winery I had not heard of is Fern Walk Vintners. The
label says it is in Kelowna
but don’t drive around the city in search of it. It is one of that stable of
labels under Mark Anthony Fine Wine Merchants. You will have heard of the major
label in the group: Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.
The place to find the Fern Walk wines is in the Liquor
Distribution Branch and probably in the various Mark Anthony wine stores.
There are at least 29 labels under the Mark Anthony
umbrella, including such strange labels as Kindle, Screw It and Yolo. I presume
it makes business sense to someone.
Fern Walk is a label no one would be embarrassed to have on
the table. In fact, the packaging is quite elegant. You would expect these to
be $30 wines and you will be happy to know they are not.
Here are my notes on the four wines.
Blue Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2014
($19). This is Blue
’s fourth of fifth vintage of this varietal and, in my view, the best so far. It
begins with aromas of herbs, fresh grass and lime. On the generous palate,
there are flavours of lime and lemma with a defining spine of minerality. The wine has a crisp, vibrant finish. 91.
Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2014
($18). Few wineries
take Pinot Blanc as seriously as Blue Mountain
The wine is made from 29-year-old vines and shows the depth of flavour
minerality that comes with old vines. Forty percent of the wine was fermented
in neutral French oak; the rest in stainless steel. The wine has aromas and
flavours of apples, peaches and apricots. It is crisply dry on the finish. 91.
Fern Walk Pinot Gris
2014 ($16.99). No oak is used here; this is all about freshness and
crispness. There are aromas and flavours of pears, apples and citrus, with just
a hint of bready lees. The golden colour obviously results from a little skin
contact which picked up flavour but also very slight hint of bitterness on the
Fern Walk Sauvignon
Blanc 2014 ($16.99). Aged seven months in stainless steel, this is a crisp
and refreshing wine with aromas of herbs mingled with grapefruit. On the lively
palate, there are flavours of lime and kiwi. 89.