Photo: Bordertown's Mohan Gill
Early in September, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon will
be at Bordertown Vineyards, just north of Osoyoos, to present one of the 2016
awards of excellence in wine.
It is a remarkable achievement for Bordertown, which opened
just 16 months ago. It is not unprecedented, but it certainly is rare, for a
new winery to win this award with a wine from its initial vintage. Beginner’s
luck? I don’t think so. The scores on the wines below suggest they are well
grown and well made.
Bordertown is owned by an energetic agriculture entrepreneur
named Mohan Gill. Born in India in 1976, he came to the Okanagan with his
parents in 1993. “March 10, 1993,” he says with striking precision.
“I went to Oliver
recounts. “Then I started working.” It seems he has never stopped working. He
bought his first orchard (with an older brother) in 1996. He took other
opportunities to expand until he and his brother today operate 110 acres of
orchards in the Okanagan.
To accelerate his business, he began delivering his own
fruit to Vancouver
buyers in 1999 with his pickup truck. He turned over fruit delivery to another
agency in 2007 but he still packs cherries, peaches and apples under his own
brand. His customers include several major retailers.
Mohan dipped his toe into viticulture by planting two acres
of grapes in 2005. A quick study, he was comfortable enough with grape growing
that he expanded to 20 acres in 2007.
As he had done with tree fruits, he has continued to
increase his vineyard holdings. He now grows 38 acres of grapes at two Osoyoos
vineyards and another 50 acres in a Peachland vineyard. He has been selling
grapes both to major Okanagan producers and to smaller producers, including
Mark Simpson of B.C. Wine Studio. Mark was one of the people who encouraged
Mohan to expand into winemaking.
Encouragement also came from Jason Parkes, the winemaker at
First Estate Winery in Peachland, who launched the winemaking at Bordertown
before turning the cellar over to consultant Daniel Bontorin.
In its debut vintage in 2013, Bordertown made close to 3,000
cases of wine. Bordertown’s production has jumped to about 10,000 cases, transforming
Osoyoos’s newest winery into one of its largest as well. Mohan also continues
to sell grapes to other producers.
“On this property I am growing five different varieties:
Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat
Gewürztraminer and Viognier and Pinot Gris,” Mohan says, referring to the
vineyard near the winery. He also has Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Pinot Gris and a young block of Grüner Veltliner.
The Peachland vineyard, a cooler terroir, is planted
primarily in white varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and
Riesling. He also grows Pinot Noir
there. As a result, the winery offers an
Here are notes on Bordertown’s current releases.
Pinot Gris 2015
($19) The wine begins with aromas of peach and apple. On
the palate, the wine is full-bodied with layers of tropical fruit flavours,
leading to a persistent finish. 90.
Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2014
($19). I have not changed my mind about this
wine since a previous review; and I was pleased to taste it again at the
winery. It is encouraging to see an
excellent wine from a variety sometimes overlooked by consumers. The wine has
aromas and flavours of apples. It is crisp and fresh on the palate with a dry
finish and with good minerality. 90.
($22). This wine begins with a delicately floral rose petal
spice on the nose, leading to an exotic mix of flavours ranging from Asian pear
to Mandarin orange. The wine has a classic note of ginger on the finish. 91.
Grüner Veltliner 2015
($22). This is the great Austrian white variety that
has gained a foothold in the Okanagan of late. So far, Bordertown is just one
of four BC wineries with the variety. The wine has aromas of melon, green apple
and pineapple which are echoed on the palate.
A good mineral backbone adds to the weight of this crisp and dry
($20). This wine has aromas and flavours of lychee and
grapefruit with a spicy finish. 89.
($19). Tangy with bright acidity, this wine is packed with
lemon and lime flavours. The finish is dry. 88.
Living Desert White 2015
($18 for 1,200 cases). This is a blend of 63%
Pinot Gris, 27% Riesling and 10% Orange Muscat. The wine begins with aromas of
new-mown hay mingled with pear and apple. This is echoed on the palate. The
wine is crisp, with a dry, spicy finish. 90.
($N/A). The wine begins with aromas of tangerine and apple,
leading to cantaloupe and pear, with a light buttery note on the finish. 89.
($27). This wine was fermented and aged eight months in
French oak. That and full malolactic have given this wine the richness of a
California chardonnay. It has aromas of oak mingled with marmalade. On the
palate, there are opulent flavours of marmalade, with notes of butter and
toasted oak on the finish. 90.
Living Desert Red 2013
($25). This wine won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award
of Excellence. It is a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot. The lots
were aged in new and used French oak barrels. A very subtle hint of oak mingled
with aromas of blackberry and black current. On the palate, there are savoury
flavours of red and black fruit, with a touch of fig and dark chocolate on the
Cabernet Franc 2014
($24). Here is a wine with the structure to age and to
develop the bold and brambly flavours. The savoury notes on the finish seem to
reflect terroir; the same spicy/sandalwood notes are in Living Desert Red. 90.
($30). The wine begins
with aromas of plum and black cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of
figs, black cherry, leather and chocolate with notes of black pepper on the smoky