Photo: Smoke of the Testalinden Creek fire
In a recent newsletter, Laughing Stock owners David and
Cynthia Enns addressed an issue on the minds of a lot of people in the 2015
vintage: will there be smoke taint on the wines?
The smoke in the southern Okanagan was especially heavy for
several days, beginning August 22. Air Canada
and several other airlines, cancelled all flights to and from Penticton Airport
on August 23 and 24. In the smoke, visibility was marginal, given the airport’s
limited navigational aids.
This inconvenienced the travelling public. However, the
Laughing Stock owners don’t think the smoke was heavy to cause taint in the
wines (unlike 2003 when the Okanagan Park
forest fire caused significant taint to
vineyards and wines from East Kelowna
Here is what David and Cynthia wrote:
Living in the Okanagan
brings its pluses and minuses. And in a hot year like 2015, one of the biggest
stressors we deal with is the threat of forest fires.
While none of our
vineyard properties have been immediately affected by the raging forest fires
this summer, you can see from this picture from our Perfect Hedge Vineyard in
Osoyoos, that the potential of damage from the Rock Creek fire that started
August 13th, was a very real threat to us when watching the mushroom cloud of
smoke erupt above the vineyard.
Fortunately we and
other vineyards and wineries have not had any measurable damage to date, even
though our Osoyoos
vineyard manager, Sukhi Dhaliwal, and family were evacuated on the
Golden Mile when the Testalinden Creek fire burnt right up to within 100
metres of his house and vineyard.
winemaking community is abuzz with chatter about the potential of smoke taint
as a heavy haze settles into the valley from the Washington State
fires south of us.
From our experience
from the fires in 2003, the vineyard has to be exposed to extensive smoke from
close proximity to create smoke taint, which has fortunately not been the case
for us this year.
We wish all our winery
community a safe harvest and to be forest fire free!
The photograph at the head of this column is not the one
they refer to. Rather it is a photograph I took earlier that week of the
Testalinden Creek fire. That fire was a threat for almost two weeks.
If you are in a mood to toast the fire fighters, here are
some excellent wines from Laughing Stock.
Laughing Stock Pinot
Gris 2014 ($22). The winemaking style aims for a fruit-forward Pinot Gris.
Half of the wine was fermented in neutral French oak, 30% in stainless steel
and the remaining 20% in concrete eggs. The winery has been using concrete eggs
since 2011. The aroma begins with a hint of bready lees mingled with lemon and
pear. The wine has a rich palate with flavours of citrus and pear and ripe
apple. The finish is crisply dry. 90.
Viognier 2014 ($26). This wine was fermented 40% in stainless steel, 40% in
French oak, 20% in concrete eggs. The wine’s lush aromas jump from the glass,
with floral aromas mingled with citrus and apricot. The wine has a full weight
on the palate, with honeyed flavours of apricot and ripe apple. The finish is
long with subtle hints of spice. 91.
Laughing Stock Blind
Trust 2014 ($25). The blend is 50% Pinot Gris, 20% Viognier, 18% Pinot
Blanc and 12% Roussanne. It begins with aromas of grapefruit and goes on to
deliver mouth filling flavours of lime, apple and peach. 90.
Amphora VR 2014 ($24 for 500 ml, but all 162 cases are sold out). This
blend of 50% each of Viognier and Roussanne was fermented and aged on the skins
in a terracotta amphora. The grapes went into the amphora and were left to
ferment naturally without intervention for two and a half months. The winery
says wines were made like this 1,000 years ago but probably a lot longer back
in history than that. Both the Romans and the Greeks had amphorae. This
unctuous white presents honeyed tangerine aromas. There are both fruity and
nutty flavours. The finish is dry and the alcohol, while only 14.2%, is surprisingly
obvious. The wine is cleverly packaged in a squat 500 ml bottle with a glass
stopper. You won’t want to return this for the dime. 90.
Laughing Stock Blind
Trust 2013 ($30). This is 40%
Merlot, 36% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc. The
components for this wine aged in French oak for 16 months. This is a dark wine
with the glorious Malbec perfume on the nose. It has flavours of cherry and
black currant mingled with white pepper and vanilla. The texture has good
concentration. This wine is made from the barrels that don’t make the winery’s
flagship red, Portfolio. The 2013 vintage of Portfolio must be spectacular
because the leftovers are superb. 92.
Laughing Stock Syrah
($38). In the classic Rhone
there is 4% Viognier in this wine, something winemakers do to stabilize the
almost black colour and to lift the aromas. This wine has complex aromas of
black cherry, blackberry, leather, rare steak and pepper. It delivers all of
those flavours to a palate that is big and ripe. The tannins are generous, not
hard. The finish is long, with notes of earth and spice. 93.