Photo: SpierHead's original winery
Along with the samples of SpierHead’s
trio of 2015 white wines come the news of modest expansion at this East Kelowna
Winery president Bill Knutson announced
that two acres of old apple orchard were removed this spring, making room both
for a new building and for more vines.
As well, the winery is planting two more
acres elsewhere on the property, taking the area under vine in the so-called
Gentleman Farmer Vineyard to about 15 acres.
Bill does not say what varieties are being planted but it would be one
of the three already growing there. The major variety is Pinot Noir. There is also
Riesling and Chardonnay.
Of course, SpierHead also has grapes
from other sources. It has a long-term contract with the Golden Retreat
Vineyard in Summerland.
“For the last
couple of years we have been buying some Pinot Noir from a Summerland vineyard
owned by a very conscientious grower named David Kozuki,” Bill told me last
year. “His vineyard is called Golden Retreat.” The 2015 Pinot Gris also is
from Golden Retreat grapes.
The estate vineyard is called Gentleman
Farmer to reflect the urban background of two of the founding partners. Bill is a Vancouver lawyer while Bruce Hirtle is a
semi-retired investment dealer with Okanagan roots.
The 24-acre property, a former apple orchard, has been redeveloped
gradually as vineyard since 2008. The winery opened in 2010 with a portfolio
that included Bordeaux blends from grapes grown on Black Sage Road. The last
vintage of Bordeaux reds was made in 2013. SpierHead’s future rests with Pinot
Noir and other cool climate varieties.
“We don’t grow Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and
I don’t think it would make sense to plant those varietals in our area,” Bill
told me last year. “Also, for a while I’ve been concerned that we were
trying to do a bit too much for a small winery. I think a wiser course is
to focus on Pinot Noir and do a good job with it. As you know, the
Kelowna area is emerging as a pretty strong region for Pinot Noir, so I’m
hoping that we can play a role in strengthening that perception.”
I don’t think there is any doubt of that, based
on the most recent SpierHead Pinot Noirs that I have tasted.
Meanwhile, here are notes on the three 2015
SpierHead Chardonnay 2015 ($22 for 278 cases). Here is an elegant
Chardonnay that is both complex and refreshing. It begins with citrus and apple
aromas. On the juicy palate, there are flavours of peach and apple, with a hint
of minerality. One-third of this wine was aged in barrel, two-thirds in
stainless steel. The winery increased the use of new oak with the intention
(quite successfully) of building a bigger, more Burgundian wine. 92.
SpierHead Pinot Gris 2015 ($19 for 1,100 cases). This pale straw-coloured
wine begins with aromas of citrus. The nose is still developing. You will not
be disappointed of you let your bottles rest another month or so. On the
palate, the peach and pear flavours of luscious. Good acidity makes for a
refreshing finish. 90.
SpierHead Riesling 2015 ($20 for 234 cases). The wine begins with aromas
of citrus and a hint of the petrol that will develop with age. In fact, this a
good candidate for cellaring two or three years to allow the concentrated
flavours of lime and grapefruit to express themselves fully. The finish is
crisp and dry. 90-92.