Photo: Winemaker Anthony Buchanan
arrived recently from Desert Hills Estate Winery near Oliver, a solid producer
whose wine are always anticipated.
It was only
when I had tasted the wines and started organizing my notes that I discovered I
had tasted and rated four of these in a blog last fall.
referred back to that blog to see if I had scored the wines any differently.
Either the wines are consistent or I am consistent, but my scores were identical.
Below, I repeat those four wines. The two samples not reviewed before are
marked with a star.
else is new at Desert Hills: Anthony Buchanan, who had been the winemaker at
EauVivre Winery in the Similkameen, has taken over from George Phiniotis, whose
career was sidelined by an accident last year.
EauVivre outlined his biography in a 2013 announcement when they hired
him: “Anthony is a graduate of the Professional Enology Certificate Program
through Washington State University and the Winemaking program at Okanagan
College. He has also completed Sommelier and WSET training as well as Vineyard
Management training. He has worked at Blue Mountain
Vineyard & Cellars, Church & State Wines, Soaring Eagle Estate Winery
and Paradise Ranch/Bench 1775 Winery.”
“I love the wine industry,”
Anthony was quoted as saying. “I love the artistic side and creating wines that
people love to savour. I enjoy the challenge of constantly
looking for ways to innovate and evolve the various winemaking processes.”
He should certainly have those opportunities in spades at Desert Hills.
Proprietors Randy and Jessie Toor farm about 70 acres of prime vineyard on the
Black Sage Bench. The wines are produced in a recently expanded winery, significantly
larger than it was when Desert Hills opened in 2003.
Here are notes on those six wines.
Desert Hills Gewurztraminer 2014 ($22.90 for 1,300 cases). This wine has strong varietal definition,
with aromas of ginger and orange marmalade. On the palate, the fruit flavours
are intense, with spice and lychee. The texture is lush and the finish is quite
persistent. The wine is balanced to finish dry. 90.
Desert Hills Viognier 2014 ($24.90 for 650 cases). The wine
begins with appealing aromas of apricot and cantaloupe. The palate has intense
fruit flavours that include honeydew melons, citrus and apples. The finish is
crisp and refreshing. Fermenting this wine cool, at 15C, preserved the
Desert Hills Gamay 2014 ($19.90 for 2,600 cases). Few
wineries in the Okanagan have such a major commitment to Gamay Noir. Usually
regarded as the junior partner to Pinot Noir, it produces some very drinkable
wines. This is a bold, juicy red with aromas of black cherries. On the palate,
there are ripe, spicy flavours of cherry and mocha. The finish lingers. 91.
Desert Hills Syrah 2011 * ($36.90 for 904 cases). Dark in
colour, this wine begins with earthy, spicy and meaty aromas. On the palate,
there are flavours of figs, plums, black olives and espresso coffee with a hint
of black pepper on the finish. 90-91.
Desert Hills Cabernet Sauvignon
Reserve 2012 ($29.90
for 500 cases). Dark in colour, the wine begins with aromas of cassis, cherry
and vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant with hints of
leather and tobacco. The wine, which was aged 14 months in French oak, has
disciplined age-worthy tannins. Decant this for current drinking. 90.
Desert Hills Mirage 2011 * ($36.90 for 450 cases). This is a
blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc and
5% Petit Verdot. The individual wines are aged 18 months in French oak before
being blended. The result is and elegant and complex wine with aromas of black
cherry, vanilla and chocolate with a slight suggestion of bell pepper. On the
palate, there are flavours of black cherry and other vibrant red fruit, along
with vanilla, chocolate, black coffee and licorice. The tannins are polished
and the finish is long. 92.