Photo: JoieFarm's Heidi Noble
hobbyhorse is the profligate use of the word “reserve” on wine labels.
that quality of the wine is at least a little special. It strains credibility when
a $10 or $12 wine is labelled reserve.
So here is a
tip of the hat to Heidi Noble, the proprietress and winemaker at JoieFarm
Winery. When she labels a wine “En Famille” Reserve, you can count on it being
special. The three reserve whites she released last month are impressive wines.
letter accompanying the wines, Heidi writes that: “Normally, our third release
in our “En Famille” line-up is the Reserve Pinot Noir. However, as a nod to a
difficult Pinot Noir vintage, which had a hot and wet start to the 2013
harvest, we chose not to make a Reserve Pinot. [Rather we chose to] declassify
it to make a better regular Pinot Noir in larger quantity.”
reserve means something at JoieFarm.
I have heard
one or two explanations for the “En Famille” appendage to the reserves. The one
that sticks in my mind is that the winery wants its growers to feel that they
are part of the JoieFarm family. Two of the three reserves are made with grapes
from grower vineyards.
It is an
increasing common practice for wineries to acknowledge the growers it buys
from. A winery that takes pride in its growers very likely had growers who go
the extra mile to deliver quality fruit.
Chardonnay comes from the Con Vida vineyard, which Heidi describes as “our most
prized 29-year-old vineyard site on the Skaha Bluff.”
The 2014 Viognier,
which is offered in lieu of the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir, is made with grapes
from the Trout Creek Vineyard at Summerland. This property is leased and farmed
grapes are farmed by our viticulture team with great care, we decided to make a
very special wine with them,” Heidi says. “Frustrated by the difficulty of
achieving ripe and lush Viognier at the 50th parallel the year
before (Viognier requires the most degree days to ripen of any varietal), we
executed a ruthless vineyard program in 2014, cropping the vines to a very low
yield by removing the shoulders and bottoms of all the clusters. Our program
was a success, achieving very ripe fruit in the vineyard while maintaining
brisk natural acidity.”
The 2013 Gewürztraminer
is made with grapes grown in JoieFarm’s estate vineyard on the Naramata Bench.
notes on the wines.
JoieFarm “En Famille” Reserve Gewürztraminer
2013 ($27.90 for 208
cases). I agree with the winery’s comparing this stylistically to an Alsatian
Grand Cru. The spicy lychee aromas jump from the glass. Rich on the palate, the
wine has flavours of grapefruit and quince. The 15 grams of residual sugar is
nicely balanced with natural acidity to finish comparatively dry. 91.
JoieFarm “En Famille” Reserve
Chardonnay 2013 ($29.90
for 300 cases). This wine was fermented in barrels and puncheons with a
combination of wild and Champagne yeast. The wine also aged eight months in oak
(mostly second-fill or neutral oak). The result is an elegant wine with aromas
of citrus and flavours of tangerine, pineapple and vanilla. There is a touch of
honey on an otherwise dry finish; and the fresh acidity adds a note of
crispness. The wine is drinking well now but, in the style of Burgundy, it has
the structure to develop even more complexity over the next five to seven
JoieFarm “En Famille” Reserve
($27.90 for 143 cases). The winery describes the 2014 vintage as “stunning.”
Here is a lusciously ripe Viognier full of tropical fruit, with 14.6% alcohol
so well-balanced that the alcohol is not an issue. The wine begins with aromas
of honeysuckle and apricot. On the palate, there are honeyed flavours of
apricot, guava and mango with bright acidity to give the wine a lingering and
refreshing finish. 92