Photo: Serendipity Winery
A wine reviewer of Naramata
Road wines has the same problem that wine tourists
have: it is easy to lose yourself among the 40 or so wineries packed onto a
scenic 20 km strip of vineyards.
This review deals with just two wineries that are almost
neighbours on the southern edge of the village of Naramata
opened in 1996, is one of the most seasoned of the Naramata wineries.
Serendipity Winery is one of the younger wineries, having opened in 2011.
Therapy Vineyards happens to be sandwiched between the two. For some wine
tourists, this would be a full day of touring if one included lunch in
Naramata does not yet have its own appellation, although it
is probably in the works. A European winegrower would find this an astonishing
appellation because the vineyards in this tiny area encompass varieties that
are grown in numerous appellations the length and breadth of France.
The reviews below encompass Bordeaux
varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon), Burgundy varieties (Pinot Noir) and Rhone
How can one explain this? Is it that the people who planted
the vineyards did not know what they were doing? Or is it because the terroir
is quite special?
I lean toward the latter explanation. The Okanagan enjoys
unusually good growing degree days for a viticultural area this far north.
Naramata Bench’s exposure to Okanagan
long hang times in the fall, without which Cabernet Sauvignon would not be
sufficiently ripe. The soils are a complex medley of young, old and volcanic.
To be sure, one can find varieties planted in the wrong
places – but not disastrously wrong if the grape growing is exemplary.
The wine growers who settled on the Naramata Bench seem to
have won the lottery.
Here are notes on some wines.
Kettle Valley McGraw Estate Merlot 2012
($38 for 119
cases). This wine’s seamless texture and intensity is due, aside from excellent
grape growing in a fine vintage, to having been aged 20 months in French oak
and one year in bottle before release. There is vanilla, black cherry and
cassis in the aroma. The bold core of ripe red fruit on the palate echoes the
Kettle Valley Crest Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
24 cases). Few winemakers with as much production as Kettle Valley
would take the time to make a single barrel of anything. Hats off to winery
owners Bob Ferguson and Tim Watts, who have something special in the Crest
Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon and don’t let it disappear into a blend. This
begins with aromas of cassis, black cherry and chocolate, leading to flavours
of black currant framed by the oak notes gained in 20 months in French oak. The
bright fruit and the spicy finish are framed by firm, polished tannins. This
will age superbly beyond its 10th
Blanc 2014 ($20 for 300 cases). The aromas of herbs and lime that leap from
the glass are echoed on the palate, along with flavours of green apples. The
wine’s bracing acidity gives the wine a crisp and refreshing finish that
2013 ($20 for 212 cases). The wine begins with floral aromas, along with
apricot, tangerine and honey that are echoed on the flavour. The delicious
fruity flavours dance pleasantly on the tongue and persist on the dry finish.
Serendipity Rosé 2014
($20 for 298 cases). The vibrant pink hue of this wine results from letting
the juice soak 24 hours on the skins. The blend here is 40% Syrah and 20% each
of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The wine has appealing aromas of
cherry and strawberry, leading to flavours of kiwi and pomegranate. The finish
is dry. 90.
Noir 2012 ($25 for 337 cases). The wine begins with aromas of plum and
vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of plum, black cherry, cola and oak.
The wine appears to have spent about two years in oak. The sweet oak flavours
are still integrating in this tasty wine. The wine is full-bodied with a velvet
texture beginning to develop. 90.
Merlot 2011 ($40 for 550 cases). This wine, dark in colour, was aged two
years in French oak. It begins with aroma of cassis and vanilla. In the palate,
there are flavours of black currant and blueberry. The structure is firm. This
wine benefits from decanting; it can also be aged another four or five years. 90.