Monday, February 1, 2016

Adega on 45th raises profile





 Photo: Adega on 45th Estate Winery

Adega on 45th Estate Winery in Osoyoos has had too low a profile since opening in 2011. Perhaps that reflects the most personalities of the owners who are farmers first and promoters of their winery second.

Since quality wines begin in the vineyard, that is an appropriate priority. However, I expect the profile to rise because the winery last year became part of the portfolio represented by Vancouver wine agent Tim Wispinski, president of The Wine List. Other wineries that he also represents include Chaberton Estate, Harper’s Trail, Hillside, Time and McWatters, Wild Goose – and the producer of the Okanagan’s most expensive red wine, One Faith Vineyards.

To help raise the profile, here is the text of my profile of Adega on 45th from the fifth edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.

Ringing the church bells to communicate important village events was an art that Alex Nunes learned one summer in his native Portugal. He was 13 and home from a stint in the seminary. While he emigrated to Canada two years later, the memory of the two big bells in that village church inspired the addition of a bell tower to the winery’s façade when it was built in 2011. Alex intends to add a bell. “It is either buy one, or go back to my hometown and steal one at midnight,” he jokes.

The winery, whose warm butterscotch tones blend with the desert landscape of Osoyoos, was designed by Alex and his brother-in-law, Fred Farinha, who own the winery with their wives, Maria and Pamela. The winery sits high on the vineyard’s west-facing slope. The tasting room windows offer a grand view over the town and the lake. The 557 square meter (6,000 square foot) winery has thick concrete walls and a naturally-cooled cellar for 400 barrels buried against the hillside. The interior’s public areas acquired the instant patina of age by having walls finished with Italian clay and tiles on the floor.

The winery’s European ambiance reflects their Portuguese heritage (Adega is Portuguese for cellar). Alex was born in Portugal in 1950 while Fred was born in Penticton in 1966. Their families were among the many Portuguese immigrants who came to Osoyoos at that time as tree fruit growers. Both Alex and Fred operated orchards until about 2005 when vanishing returns from tree fruits left them with a stark choice: sell the land or plant grapes. “We decided to keep the land and build a winery,” Alex says.

They planted three vineyards totalling 15.4 hectares (38 acres), supporting 5,000 cases a year, with extra grapes for sale to other wineries. “Create our own future, you could call it,” Alex says. Wine is in their blood. “We had wine on our tables and in our homes, always, since we were born,” Alex remembers. “Your mom would ask to you go to the tavern in the village to get a litre of wine. It did not matter if you were five years old or ten years old. You would just go and get it.”  While they use a consulting winemaker, Alex and Fred, with years of experience as home winemakers, do almost everything themselves. “We are hands on,” Fred says. “We are in the field and we are also in here.”

They grow no Portuguese grape varieties because they doubt the vines could survive Okanagan winters. But that has not stopped them from making Portuguese-inspired wines.  Merlot stands in for Touriga Nacional to make a port-style wine.

Here are notes wines currently available from Adega on 45th.

Adega on 45th  Felicidade 2014 ($17). The label does not specify the grapes in this white blend. The spicy and herbal aromas and the gooseberry flavours suggest some Sauvignon Blanc while the anise on the finish suggests Pinot Gris. This is an austere and powerful white which responds well to being decanted. 88.

Adega on 45th  Chardonnay 2014 ($21). This is a full-bodied Chardonnay with honeyed aromas and flavours of apple, tangerine and melon. The soft acidity gives the wine a rich, fleshy texture while the 14.8% alcohol adds to the swaggering personality. 88.

Adega on 45th  Viognier 2013 ($20). Here is another bold, ripe white (alcohol of 14.9%) with aromas of apricots and flavours of apricots and almonds. The tannin that comes from the skins of the Viognier gives backbone to the structure. In the glass, it presents with a golden hue. 89.

Adega on 45th  Cabernet Franc 2011 ($17). This begins with aromas of raspberry, cherry and vanilla. On the palate, the brambleberry flavours are bright and the wine is lively. 89

 Adega on 45th  Merlot 2011 ($20). A typical wine of the vintage, this is lean and bright with aromas and flavours of cherry, raspberry and blueberry. 89.

Adega on 45th  Manuel NV ($20). The winery does not specify the blend in this red but does say the objective was to make a fruit-forward wine while including a portion aged in French oak to “up the sophistication.” The wine has ripe aromas of black cherry. The flavours are generous, with notes of black cherry, cassis, vanilla, chocolate and liquorice.  90.

Adega on 45th  Malbec 2012 ($24). This is a big, generous red with spicy aromas of plum, cherry, black currant and vanilla which are echoed in the flavours. There is an intriguing touch of pepper on the finish. 90.

Adega on 45th Syrah 2011 ($24). This wine begins with aromas of vanilla and black cherry with a touch of pepper. On the palate, there is a medley of black fruit and earthy, gamy notes. The wine benefits from decanting which allows it to show a chewy texture. 88.


Adega on 45th  Quarteto Tinto 2012 ($28). The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 2 ½ % each of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. This is a bold wine that begins with aromas of spice, black currant and black cherry, followed by flavours of black currant and chocolate. The texture is concentrated and rich. 92.

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