Photo: Poplar Grove winemaker Stefan Arnason
In its current releases, Poplar Grove Winery celebrates the
season with six wine that have the fresh and fruity appeal summer dining
It is a touch ironic that five of these wines were grown in
2015, one of the hottest summers in the Okanagan, but are being consumed the
subsequent year when summer has been so reluctant to come.
It is not the end of the world. Restaurant patios switch on
the propane heaters while the rest of us slip on sweaters. Cool weather is no
reason to stop enjoying wine.
One of the first wineries on the Naramata Bench, Poplar
Grove was founded in 1993. Several years ago, it moved from its original
location to a mountainside vineyard. The new winery is sited to give it a dramatic
view over the city of Penticton and Okanagan Lake.
The view is especially appealing for patrons of The Vanilla
Pod restaurant, which shares the facility with Poplar Grove’s elegant wine shop
and barrel cellar.
The secret is that most of Poplar Grove’s winemaking takes
place 100 yards or so down the hill, in the big metal-clad building that also
houses Monster Vineyards and its tasting room.
Monster Vineyards was founded in 2006 and now makes about
5,000 cases a year. The mandate here is the production of value-priced wines.
Stefan Arnason, the winemaker for both Poplar Grove and Monster, crafts
sophisticated and ageworthy wines for the former and accessible wines for the
Here are notes on his recent craftsmanship.
Poplar Grove Pinot
($17.30). Here is a textbook Okanagan Pinot Gris. It begins with
aromas of apples and citrus, leading to flavours of pear and nectarines. The
wine is crisp and refreshing on the finish. 90.
Poplar Grove Blanc de
(Sold out). This sophisticated dry rosé is made with 40% Malbec,
38% Merlot and 22% Syrah. The juice was bled from tanks of those reds without
much skin contact, a common technique also called saignée. The wine was
fermented coolly to capture the fruity aromas and flavours. The wine has aromas
of strawberries, leading to flavours of strawberry, rhubarb and raspberry. The
almost imperceptible touch of residual sweets is balanced with brisk acidity,
giving the wine a tangy finish. 91
($19.05). The wine begins with aromas of tangerine and
apple, leading to lush flavours of cantaloupe, ripe pear, and guava. Twenty per
cent of this was fermented in French oak and the wine was aged lightly in oak.
The fruit flavours remain front and centre with a toasted nut flavour
punctuating the finish. 92.
($19.90). The wine is made with juice from Malbec, Merlot and
Syrah grapes with little skin contact. This refreshingly effervescent pink wine
begins with fruity raspberry aromas. On the palate, the layers of flavours of
raspberry, strawberries and watermelon are intriguing, leading to a spicy
finish with a hint of red licorice. The wine is balanced toward a crisp, dry
Monster Vineyards Rosé
($15.90). Another saignée rosé, this is 54% Malbec, 28% Merlot and 18%
Syrah. Slightly off-dry, this is a big mouthful of cherry and strawberry
Monster Cabs 2013
($19.90). This is 42% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot and 24%
Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a juicy, fruit-forward red, soft in texture. It has
flavours of black cherry, blueberry and vanilla. 88.