Sunday, August 7, 2016

Foxtrot: “Can’t act, slightly bald, also dances”.

 Photo: Foxtrot's Torsten and Kicki Allander

If you have encountered a wine from Foxtrot Vineyards without knowing the back story, the bear on the label will have puzzled you.

Fortunately, this Naramata Bench winery explains it on its website:

Every year, just in time for harvest, Foxtrot has had a resident Black Bear around the vineyard. Sometimes he has been known to make an appearance at picking time and pickers would comment that it looked like he was dancing when standing up on his hind legs. At the winery we have come to affectionately call him Fred.

When it came time to design our label we enlisted Bernie Hadley Beauregard of Brandever Designs to assist us with coming up with a design. We wanted a label that told our story and conveyed a sense of place. Thus on the front label you will see an image illustrated by Michael Halbert, of our vineyard at harvest time and a bear asking a picking girl to dance the Foxtrot with him, gramophone in hand, harking back to the era the dance was most popular. Many people ask, what does the quote on the back mean?

The Quote: “Can’t act, slightly bald, also dances”.

The Foxtrot dance made its debut in 1914 and from the late 20’s through the 1940s was the most popular fast dance in North America. The vast majority of records during this time were Foxtrots.

In 1933 MGM studios made a musical movie, starring Joan Crawford, called Dancing Lady. For one of the dancing scenes involving the Foxtrot in the movie they loaned a dancer for a few days from neighbouring studio RKO pictures. Of the screen test the tester wrote, “Can’t act, slightly bald, also dances”. The actor was of course none other than Fred Astaire one of the preeminent and most influential dancers of his time. The picture became a big hit and Fred Astaire went on to have a successful movie career.

The winery is owned by an elegantly-mannered retired pulp and paper engineer, Torsten Allander. In 2002, he and his wife Elisabeth (the family calls her Kicki) retired to a 1.4-hectare (3.5-acre) on Naramata Road planted entirely with Pinot Noir. After selling the grapes to another winery for a few years, Torsten enlisted Lake Breeze Vineyards in 2004 on a three-year winemaking trial with his grapes. “I wanted to convince myself before I invested a lot of money in a winery that we can produce a top wine that can compete on a world level,” Torsten recalled.

The acclaim which the initial vintages received left no doubt about the quality of the Foxtrot Pinot Noirs. In 2008, Torsten and his winemaker son, Gustav, built a winery and cellar with the barrel capacity for 2,000 cases of wine. They will need to consider expansion in a few years because, in 2012, Torsten bought an adjoining two hectares (five acres) of orchard. The fruit trees are being replaced with Pinot Noir vines propagated from cuttings of Foxtrot’s clone 115 Pinot Noir.

Foxtrot has no tasting room and the wines seldom show up in private wine stores. Those who want to buy a single bottle or two are directed to the Naramata General Store.

Here are notes on the current releases.

Foxtrot Chardonnay 2014 Four Shadows Vineyard ($46.15). This elegant wine begins with aromas of citrus and tropical fruit subtly framed by toasted oak notes. There is a pristine clarity to the fruit, with flavours of lemon and apples and very subtle oak. The wine has good weight, with a rich, almost creamy texture and a persistent finish. 93.

Foxtrot The Waltz Pinot Noir 2013 ($49.50).  The Waltz is the winery label for Pinot Noir made with grapes not from the home estate; or from young vines. But do not consider this a lesser wine. It begins with spicy cherry aromas with a slightly volatile lift to the aroma. On the palate there are bright flavours of raspberry and cherry. Decanting hells the wine express its flavours and develop its silky texture. 91.

Foxtrot Pinot Noir 2013 ($57.90). The wine begins with aromas of cherry and raspberry with a slight volatile lift on the spicy nose that makes the wine pop from the glass. On the palate, there are bright flavours of cherry and raspberry mingled with spicy oak. The wine's lush and silky texture is revealed with decanting. The bright acidity adds a tangy note and the assurance that this will age well. 92-94.


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