Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Class of 2015: The Hatch Winery

 Winemaker Jason Parkes of The Hatch Winery

The Hatch Winery
3225 Boucherie Road
West Kelowna
V1Z 4E4
T 778.755.6013

It was not long after The Hatch wine shop opened on June 1 that a buzz developed about this winery.

A fellow wine writer who visited told me this was the most fun he had had in a tasting room in a long time.

“The Hatch tasting room is a very high energy place, very raw,” says winemaker Jason Parkes. “People love the place.”

If you did not visit The Hatch this season, you can still experience the unbuttoned and edgy vibe of the place by reading the winery’s website and by studying the exuberant labels on its wines. This represents the clever and imaginative mind of general manager Jesse Harnden.  The wines measure up very well.

The Hatch is one of two wineries operated by Terrabella Wineries, a holding company based in Summerland. (The other is Perseus Winery in Penticton.) It is based on a vineyard that Terrabella purchased in 2013, just north of Quails’ Gate Estate winery. The 15 acres of vines include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Gamay.

Originally, this winery was to be called Helios until a conflict was found with another brand. The owners then came up with Black Swift Vineyards, named for a high-flying migratory bird. Flocks of black swifts are called screaming frenzies.

In the course of refining the brand, The Hatch emerged as the winery’s name with Black Swift and Screaming Frenzy becoming brands within The Hatch portfolio.

Some of the branding decisions evolved from the work of Paul Morstad, a Vancouver artist whose style recalls the legendary Ralph Steadman. The latter is the British cartoonist well known for the labels he created for Bonny Doon Vineyard. (His irreverent label for a wine called Cardinal Zin caused the wine to be banned in Ohio.)

Jesse Harnden happens to admire the Bonny Doon vibe. He was receptive when Morstad was recommended to create some labels for The Hatch. Jesse was floored by the string of coincidences that unravelled subsequently, beginning with the fact that the artist grew up in West Kelowna.

It turned out that Morstad already had what you might call an intimate connection to the vineyard that supports The Hatch. When he was an undisciplined sixteen-year-old, Morstad went drinking with friends. When they ran out of beer, he “borrowed” his father’s truck to get more. On the way back, he managed to flip the truck end over end three times. Miraculously, he was uninjured. A neighbour hid the beer and convinced the police that Morstad was a good kid.

The ironic coincidence is that the truck had come to rest in what is now the vineyard at The Hatch.

“This was meant to be!” Harnden says of his decision to use Morstad’s art on The Hatch Wines.

Harnden’s creative marketing combined with Morstad’s images to spawn wine packaging that gets consumers talking and chuckling (although without the irreverence of Cardinal Zin).

An octopus swimming in what Morstad says is Champagne fostered the label for The Hatch ‘Octobubble’ Brut Rosé.  The image of a torso topped with a nest and an egg adorns two house wines – a white blend called B. Yanko and a red blend called Ross O. For two other blends labelled Dynasty – a big white and a big red – an elephant appears on the labels of the unusually squat bottles.

And several wines use images from a Morstad painting that features hobos.

The inspiration from Morstad just kept rolling along. A hobo hut from the painting served as the design model for the deliberately rustic wine shop.

The Hatch vineyard fronts on high-traffic Boucherie Road, a strategic location because there are six other wineries on, or close to, that road. There was an early plan for a grand Hatch facility on the road as well. But when economic reality got in the way, it was decided to renovate old barns or tractor sheds at the rear of the vineyard.

The resulting wine shop echoes the unrestrained art of the labels. Doors are salvaged from an old mansion; the ceiling is salvaged from an old building; the interior walls are salvaged wood from a Vernon barn. It would be hard to find a tasting room with more personality.

Jason Parkes, the winemaker, is a perfect fit with the vibe of The Hatch. He once was the leader of a “spacepunk” rock band from Kitimat called Glasshead. When music was not paying the bills, a vineyard job at Hainle Vineyards led to a flourishing career as a consulting winemaker. He now makes wines for many of his clients from First Estate Winery near Peachland, which he leases.

Here are notes on the wines at The Hatch and its partner labels. Some are small lot wines and will be sold out after a very successful season in the wine shop.

The Hatch B. Yanco 2013 ($13.99). This is a blend of 70% Pinot Blanc and 30% Viognier. The wine begins with aromas of apple and stone fruit, leading to flavours of apple and peach. The wine is refreshing and crisp on the finish. 88.

The Hatch Ross O 2012 ($15.99). This is 92% Pinot Noir, 8% Gamay. It is full of bright cherry flavours and aromas. 87.

The Hatch Muscat 2014 Hobo Series ($21.99). This is a good dry Muscat, with spice on the nose and spicy citrus flavours. 88.

The Hatch Sémillon 2014 Hobo Series ($21.99). The wine begins with aromas of citrus and banana and delivers grapefruit flavours. The texture is rich. 90.

The Hatch Gamay 2013 Hobo Series ($21.99). This is a light, cheery Gamay with aromas of strawberries and flavours of strawberry and cherry. 88.

The Hatch Octobubble Brut Rosé ($27.99). This is a traditional method sparkling wine with Gamay grapes. Tangy and fresh, the wine has appealing aromas and flavours of wild strawberry. 91

The Dynasty White 2013 ($29.99). This is a blend of equal parts of Pinot Gris, Viognier and Chardonnay. The varietals were fermented in barrels but were aged in stainless steel barrels. The wine is rich and buttery on the palate, with flavours of pear, pineapple and mango. There is a touch of spice on the finish. 90.

The Dynasty Red 2013 ($39.99). This is 70% Merlot and 15% each Malbec and Syrah. The wine is bold, with concentrated flavours of red berries, plums and black currants. There is a hint of pepper on the finish, along with black coffee and chocolate. 91.

Hatchchild 2012 ($33.33). The sheep on the label inspired the punning name for what is a pretty serious wine. It is Cabernet Sauvignon, with grapes from Inkameep Vineyard’s legendary U2 block. It is an elegant wine with ripe tannins and aromas and flavours of cassis and plum. 90.

Screaming  Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($16.99). This Sancerre style Sauvignon Blanc has appealing aromas and flavours of lime, lemon and herbs, with a crisp, tangy finish. 90.

Screaming  Frenzy Pinot Noir 2013 ($21.99). The wine begins with aromas of cherry and spice. On the palate, the wine is a bowl full of strawberries. The texture is juicy. 89.

Screaming  Frenzy Meritage 2013 ($22.99). This is 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot. Full on the palate, the wine is almost porty in the ripeness of the aromas and flavours. 89.

Black Swift Chardonnay 2013 ($40). This is a full-bore voluptuous Chardonnay fermented in puncheons. It has flavours of citrus, butterscotch and cloves with a lingering and rich finish. 91.

Black Swift Merlot 2013 ($45). This is another big red aged 18 months in oak. It has flavours of black currant, black cherry and vanilla, with notes of chocolate, tobacco and cedar on the finish. 90.


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