Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Maverick adds a sparkling wine

Winemaker Bertus Albertyn

The best day for visiting Maverick Estate Winery’s tasting room is Friday.

The reason: that is the only day when Ella, the winery’s excellent new sparkling wine, is open for tasting.

There is an alternative if you arrive any other day. Just buy a bottle and keep it for New Year’s Eve.

The tasting room, by the way, is just beside the highway half way between Oliver and Osoyoos. An elegant and tastefully designed facility, it opened last year, giving much needed access to the first rate wines in the Maverick portfolio.

The winery is operated by winemaker Bertus Albertyn, his physician father-in-law Dr. Schalk De Witt and their spouses. Bertus and Schalk are both from South Africa.

Bertus, born in 1978, earned his enology degree at Stellenbosch University and worked at a large wine cooperative before joining family-owned Avondale as winemaker.  He came to the Okanagan early in 2009 when Elzaan, his wife and Schalk’s daughter, began to practice medicine in Osoyoos. He was Burrowing Owl Winery’s winemaker until mid-2013, when he left to concentrate on Maverick.

Maverick’s 7 ½ acres vineyard had been planted in 2011. The winery also owns 48 acres of raw land near the Osoyoos Larose vineyard. Planting is scheduled to begin next year.

Meanwhile, Bertus and Schalk are getting the brand established. “The most important thing about wine is that you have to sell it,” Bertus says.

Bertus seems to be covering all the bases with a portfolio that begins with sparkling wine and ends with a port-style wine. Bertus says that his model Champagne is Billecart-Salmon, which makes an excellent pink Champagne. This prestigious family-owned Champagne house is a great producer to aspire to.

Here are notes on current releases.

Maverick Ella 2013 Brut Rosé ($35). The winery has produced about 6,000 bottles of this sparkling wine. It is 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. It presents itself beautifully in the glass, with a salmon pink hue and fine, persistent bubbles. On the palate, the wine is toasty with light notes of strawberry. The texture is creamy and the finish is dry. This is a very elegant wine. 92.

Maverick Origin 2014 ($17). This is a blend of Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of Viognier. The wine begins with aromas of spice and citrus leading to intense flavours of spice and grapefruit, with good weight on the mid-palate. The finish is dry and very long. 91.

Maverick Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($19 for 500 cases). The wine begins with aromas of lime and peach. These are echoed in the tropical fruit flavours. The wine also has an herbal zest on the long finish. 92.

Maverick Pinot Gris 2014 ($19 for 550 cases). This variety, which Bertus regards as a fine stand-in for the Chenin Blanc he once made in South Africa, was fermented with natural yeast; a quarter was fermented in neutral oak barrels and the rest in stainless steel. It begins with a bold aroma of ripe apple, citrus and melon and goes on to deliver flavours of apple, melon and banana. It has good weight and a dry finish. 92.

Maverick Rubeus 2013 ($25 for 500 cases). This wine was formerly called Rubicon. The name was changed in this vintage to avoid a trademark dispute with a South African producer of a red also called Rubicon. The blend here is 35% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. After gentle foot stomping, the grapes were co-fermented in 3,400 litre wooden vat, then aged in older oak for 18 months. The result is a generous wine that begins with aromas of blueberry and black cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry and black currant with hints of tobacco and white pepper. 93.

 Maverick Syrah 2013 ($32 for 200 cases). These grapes were also crushed by foot, fermented in a vat and then aged 18 months in older oak barrels. This is a bold red, with the pepper on the nose and on the finish framing flavours of black cherry, deli meats, black olive and tobacco. 91.


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