Photo: Smoke from the Testalinden fire in August
This blog post repeats info
posted in early September, along with reviews of Portfolio 2013 and Chardonnay
The reasons for the repeat:
September blog unaccountably vanished and I have been unable to re-post
turns out I was correct when I surmised the Portfolio 2013 would be
superb, based on how excellent the Blind Trust 2013 was.
winery was correct in predicting that smoke taint would not be a major
issue in 2015. The smoke was much less intense than 2003.
In an earlier 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?
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
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 still toasting the fire fighters, here are some
excellent wines from Laughing Stock.
Portfolio 2013 ($45 for 2,500 cases). This is a blend of 41% Merlot, 30%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot. Dark in
hue, the wine begins with aromas of black cherry, cassis, vanilla and cloves.
The wine has an appealing core of fruit on the palate, including flavours of
blueberry, black currant and black cherry with a hint of spice and chocolate.
The long ripe tannins and the 19 months of barrel-aging give the wine an
incredibly polished elegance and a finish that persists. 93.
Chardonnay 2014 ($28 for 215 cases). This barrel-fermented, lees-stirred
Chardonnay has an appealing creamy texture. It has aromas and flavours of
tangerine, ripe pineapple and butterscotch. There is a slight warmth from the
14.6% alcohol but the full texture compensates nicely. 91.
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
($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.