Photo: Winemaker Severine Pinte
It is safe
to say that winemaker Severine Pinte never has a chance to get bored.
She is the
winemaker from two Okanagan wineries, Le Vieux Pin (LVP) near Oliver and
LaStella near Osoyoos, both owned by Enotecca Wineries and Resorts of
portfolios are dramatically different, as are the styles of the wines. “We want
Le Vieux Pin to make wines of balance and finesse and restraint, and LaStella
to make wines of lushness and exuberance and power,” says managing partner
French-trained winemaker who joined the Enotecca group in 2010, works with
different varieties at each winery. It is the sort of creative challenge that
appeals to her.
“I like the
challenge of having the two wineries,” she says. “I do have to think out of the
hat, and really change my way to approaching the grapes and the final product.
I joke that I turn my hat the other way when I switch wineries. I do approach
the grapes in a completely different way. I won’t work the Merlot the same way
I would work the Syrah.”
interview last summer, she told me: “I do think that the Okanagan is a great
place to make wine. This is my sixth harvest here. There is huge potential. We
have great soils, we have an exceptional climate in which to grow grapes. Yes,
we can have winters that can be a bit cold but, other than that, we are pretty
vintage was famously hot. Almost all wineries began the harvest in late August
and certainly in September. The challenge was to being in grapes, which had
matured to good flavours, before the acidity dropped too much. Some producers
had to acidity wines, a practice not uncommon in hot regions.
Rasoul, the two Enotecca wineries avoided adding acid, with a few minor exceptions.
“When you try the whites, they don’t actually cry 2015, because we picked
ridiculously early,” he says. “Sauvignon Blanc was the first grape that came in,
on August 17 or 18. We also picked the Chardonnay super soon.”
decided not to make a barrel-fermented premium Chardonnay in 2015 from the
early-picked grapes because an oak-aged wine with comparatively low acidity
might have been flabby.
“We did not
want to wait and acidify,” Rasoul says. “So we made unoaked Chardonnay and we
did not do malolactic fermentation. The Leggiero [unoaked Chardonnay] is 11.9%
vintage was almost as warm. Winemaker Severine had to be equally nimble to
produce wines to the standard expected by consumers of LVP and LaStella.
A case in
point is Fortissimo, the winery’s Tuscany-inspired (because it includes
Sangiovese) red. LaStella has produced this wine in every vintage since 2007. The
wine is a blend primarily of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a volume of
Sangiovese that varies with the vintage. In 2014, the blend has 21% Sangiovese,
the highest ever, because the variety was critical adding needed acidity to the
never been to Italy,” Severine admits. “We often do tastings of wines from
Italy, trying to see where we would like to fit in terms of style. But I don’t
want to taste a wine and say, this is what I want to do. We can get inspired
but I don’t copy. We do not need to copy other regions in the world. We cannot
copy anyway. We don’t have the same climate and soil.”
releases from the two wineries are an exhibition of her confident and
LaStella Vivace 2015 ($21.99 for 1,240 cases). This is
Pinot Gris but made in the light fruity style of Pinot Grigio, with just 12.8%
alcohol. To preserve purity and freshness, the juice was not left in contact
with the skins; nor did it sit on the lees. It has notes of lemon on the nose
and on the palate and finish with crisp, tangy citrus flavours. 90.
LaStella Leggiero 2015 ($21.99 for 350 cases). Although a
portion of this wine was fermented in a neutral puncheon, basically this is a
refreshing unoaked Chardonnay, crisp with apple flavours, and lean and dry. The
alcohol here is 11.9%, the result of picking early in a hot vintage. 90.
LaStella Lastellina 2015 ($20 for 715 cases). The rosé is a
blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese. The hue is a vibrant pink. The wine begins
with aromas of cherry and plum, leading to refreshing sour cherry flavours balanced
with a touch of residual sugar that gives the wine a juicy texture. 90.
LaStella Fortissimo 2014 ($29 for 1,374 cases). This is the
winery’s bread and butter signature wine – a blend of 57% Merlot, 21%
Sangiovese, and 11% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. One can
consider this savoury wine an Okanagan version of a super-Tuscan wine. The
Sangiovese brings cherry aromas and flavours that blend with flavours of black
currant, saddle leather and mocha chocolate. The tannins are long and silky.
LaStella Maestoso “Solo” Merlot 2013 ($89.90 for 188 cases). This wine
will be released in the fall but it is already drinking well. It is a bold, rich
Merlot with fruit aromas that bound from the glass and flavours that fill the
mouth: plum, cassis, lingonberry and spice. 92.
LaStella La Sophia 2013 ($79.90 for 125 cases). This is a
Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes from the famed U2 block at Inkameep Vineyards.
The aroma of cassis and mint candy thrusts itself from the glass. On the
palate, there are complex flavours including black currant, deli spices and
dark chocolate. It is an intense, big-boned wine with 15.1% alcohol, a
structure that portends very good aging. 94.
Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($29.90 for 416 cases). Here is a
white that is a match for fine Sancerre. It begins briskly with aromas of lime
and herbs and continues just as briskly on the palate with flavours of lime,
pink grapefruit and guava. The finish is crisp and refreshing. 91.
Le Vieux Pin Petit Blanc 2015 ($18.50 for 790 cases). This is the
winery’s entry level dry white, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat and Viognier.
It has flavours of melons and apples with a savoury herbal note on the finish.
Le Vieux Pin Roussanne 2014 ($29.90 for 50 cases). This is the
first time that LVP has release a single variety Roussanne. It is an
exceptionally complex white with aromas of herbs and tea. On the palate, there,
the herbal notes are entwined with flavours of pear, hazelnuts, toasted cereal
grain. The wine is dry, with good weight on the palate. The wine is sold almost
exclusively to members of the wine club. 91.
Le Vieux Pin Vaïla 2015 ($21.99 for 780 cases). Made entirely with Pinot Noir, this rosé
wine’s appeal begins with a vibrant hue. It has aromas and flavours of cherry
and strawberry and has a zesty, dry finish. 90.
Le Vieux Pin Petit Rouge 2014 ($21.99 for 460 cases). This is a
blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a small percentage of Syrah. The
wine has been barrel-aged (30% new) for 15 months. The wine begins with aromas
of black currant and cherry. It has flavours of black currant, blackberry and
hits of espresso coffee. 88.
Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette
2014 ($26.99 for 850
cases). Dark in colour, this wine begins with the classic note of black pepper
on the nose. It has flavours of fig, plum, black olives, dark chocolate with a
savoury, earthy note on the finish. 91.
Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2013 ($79.99 for 267 cases). This wine
was aged in barrel, but with no new oak to ensure nothing obscures the rich
fruit flavours of fig and plum. The texture is concentrated. The wine will be
released this fall; it is still developing in bottle. 92.
Le Vieux Pin Retouche 2013 ($59.99 for 125 cases). This is 40%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Syrah; aged 18 months in French oak
(none new). The wine is sold just to LVP’s wine club and a handful of
restaurants. It is a dense, concentrated wine with aromas of cassis and
flavours of black currant, coffee and dark chocolate.