Photo: Foxtrot winemaker Gustav Allander
Most Okanagan producers of Pinot Noir have multiple clones
in their vineyards. Foxtrot Vineyards gets by with clone 115.
“They say if you are going to do Pinot Noir from one clone,
115 is a good all round clone that can stand on its own,” says Gustav Allander,
the winemaker and a member of the ownership family. Recent and future vineyard
expansions are primarily with cuttings from Foxtrot’s 20-year-old self-rooted
vines. Next spring’s planting will include some clone 948, a newer Burgundy
clone obtained when another Naramata Bench grower had some extra plants.
To say that Foxtrot gets by is an understatement. Its
terroir-driven wines are among the most coveted of British Columbia wines.
“Part of it has to do with the age of our vines,” Gustav
says. “The roots now are down quite deep and we are getting much more of the
soil influence. There is still clonal influence there but it is much less
pronounced than when the vines are really young.”
The Pinot Noir vines in the nearby Henricsson Vineyard are an
unidentified clone – probably a German clone. Formerly called the Erickson
Vineyard, the property was purchased two years ago by a Vancouver business and wine lover named Peter
As Torsten Allander (Gustav’s father) tells the story, he
and Peter were enjoying a bottle of Erickson Pinot at lunch one day when
Torsten said the owner of the vineyard planned to sell; and that would be the
end of Erickson Pinot.
Peter wouldn’t hear of that. A few days later, he bought the
property. The 2012 is the second vintage with his name on the label. There will
be future vintages because Foxtrot has also become involved in helping farm the
property. It is about four acres in size of which 1 ½ acres consists of the
originally planted Pinot Noir.
“Last year, we had a grafting crew in from California,” Gustav told me early this
summer. “They did about 200 vines as a trial. There was a 99.99% success rate.
One vine didn’t take. The majority of the Henriccson vineyard was actually
planted to Pinot Gris. There was also a
little block of Merlot. Starting next Saturday, we will be grafting all of that
over to Pinot Noir. One section of Pinot Gris that is in a rocky gravelly
section will be grafted over to Chardonnay.”
When the work is done in the Henricsson Vineyard, the new
Pinot Noir vines will be mostly clone 115, with some of clone 667 and 948.
Foxtrot, which produced a total of 2,300 cases of wine last
year, crafts its wines to age, in the model of Burgundy.
cognisant of the acidity in the grapes at harvest time,” Gustav says. “As the
vines have become older, the fruit retains more acidity. I want to make a wine
that you are going to be able to lay down and let it evolve over time. You can
drink them now but I prefer that people hold onto them for a bit.”
Over the years, Foxtrot’s sources of Chardonnay have moved
around, but all from Naramata Bench sources. For several years, the Chardonnay
was from the Coolshanagh Vineyard. The owner of that property, Skip Stothert,
now releases the wine under his own label.
The Four Shadows vineyard now supplying Foxtrot used to be
part of the Mistral Winery on Upper
Bench Road. That winery closed after the
bankruptcy of the Holman-Lang wineries in 2010. The current owner of Four
Shadows appears not to want to revive a winery.
Here are notes on the current Foxtrot releases.
Foxtrot Four Shadows
Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 ($46.15). Like any good Burgundy, this complex wine is structured to
develop with several years of bottle age. On release, it shows a hint of
butterscotch and tangerine in the aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of
ripe peach and vanilla. 91.
Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
($57.90). Once again, Foxtrot has released a seductive Pinot Noir with intense flavours. The wine is made with the fruit of own-rooted Dijon Clone 115 vines planted in 1994 and 1995. Dark in hue, the wine’s aromas of black cherry and plum telegraph the richness and depth of the flavours. On the silky palate, there is black cherry, plum and cassis. The finish lingers and lingers, with notes of red fruit and spice. 94.
Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
($49.90). This wine begins with aromas of
strawberry, cherry and spice. Dark in hue, it
delivers flavours of cherry and ripe raspberry, leading to a lingering finish
of spicy red fruit. The wine is lighter in body than the Foxtrot Vineyard wine
but also has a velvet texture. The bright acidity suggests ability to age well.