Saturday, October 8, 2016

Corcelettes expanded its portfolio

Photo: The new Corcelettes winery in the Similkameen

Few Similkameen wineries have changed as dramatically in a few years as Corcelettes Estate Winery.

The winery opened in 2013 on a three-acre vineyard (with three white varieties) near Cawston. It was launched by the Baessler family, who are originally from Switzerland. Their son, Charlie, who had gained experience in the vineyard and cellars at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, became the winemaker at Corcelettes. The wines were excellent but there was not enough of them.

The Baessler family’s fortunes looked up in early 2015 when, with silent partners, they acquired the shuttered Herder Winery & Vineyards near Keremeos.
“I have always had my eye on that place since I worked there,” Charlie told me last year. “It is such a beautiful place.” Charlie’s first winery job in 2008 involved vineyard and cellar work with Lawrence Herder, then one of the winery’s owners.

By the spring of 2015, Corcelettes moved its tasting room and wine production to the larger Herder facility. The 6 ½-acre Herder vineyard, while it needed some resuscitation, provided Corcelettes with a number of additional varieties. This spring, another three acres of vines were planted, including more Syrah.

The flagship red blend at Corcelettes is called Menhir (the name of tall standing stones in Switzerland). The wine is a blend of almost equal proportions of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine usually is sold out by early October because, with the limited tonnage of grapes available, production has been small.

The first vintage in 2011 was just 80 cases. The 2014 vintage, which is almost sold out, was 205 cases. Charlie should be able to increase this, if only modestly, in subsequent releases.

The Herder purchase also gave him access to Pinot Noir, including some 14-year-old vines planted by the owner who sold the property to Herder in 2007. Charlie made a light and fruity 2015 Pinot Noir. As well, with Herder wine still inventory at the time of the Corcelettes purchase, he produced a reserve Pinot Noir. In the future, Charlie will continue to make both styles of Pinot Noir.

The Herder inventory included mature Bordeaux varietals that had aged gracefully for up to two years on oak, thanks to Lawrence Herder’s decision several years earlier to install large French oak vats. These do not add oak as aggressively as smaller barrels do. Corcelettes has released both a Meritage and Merlot/Cabernet blend, as well as a Merlot from that inventory. It lays out a road map for future additions to the Corcelettes range made by Charlie.

The other new wine in the portfolio is a sparkling wine called Santé. The first release was built with some Herder whites that had been resting on the lees. Future offerings of Santé may be different blends but sparkling wine now has a permanent place in the Corcelettes portfolio.

Here are notes on the wines.

Corcelettes Trivium 2014 ($19.90 for 370 cases). This is a blend of 50% Chasselas and 25 each of Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. The winemaker says it is intended as an “easy sipper” and it certainly succeeds, with a spicy aroma and flavours of apples, melons and pears. 90.

Corcelettes Chasselas 2014 ($24.90 for 45 cases; sold out). This is a crisply dry wine with intense aromas and favours of apples, green melons and pears. 91.

Corcelettes Gewürztraminer 2014 ($17.90 for 230 cases). Charlie made this wine with grapes from the same vineyard – but he picked one lot three weeks later than the other. The work allowed him to build a wine with layers of luscious fruit and flavours of spice and grapefruit. The acidity from the early pick preserves the freshness of the wine. 90.

Corcelettes Oråcle Rosé 2015 ($23.90 for 205 cases). This is made with Zweigelt grapes; it needed just six hours of skin contact for adequate colour and flavour extraction. The wine begins with a hint of raspberry mingled with pepper on the nose, leading to flavours of pomegranate and rhubarb. 90.

Corcelettes Santé 2014 ($19.90 for 350 cases). This carbonated wine is a blend of 70% Viognier, 25% Pinot Gris and 5% Chardonnay. It has a toasty flavour from the time some of the wines spent on the lees, along with tropical fruit flavours and a crisp finish. 89

Corcelettes Pinot Noir 2015 ($24.90). This is a “nouveau” style, which is to say juicy and easy to drink. The are aromas and flavours of spicy cherries with a hint of oak and chocolate on the finish. 90.

Corcelettes Pinot Noir Reserve 2011 ($27.90). This wine spent 24 months on oak. It has spicy cherry aromas and flavours, with ample barnyard/forest floor aromas and flavours. 89.

Corcelettes Merlot 2012 ($27.90). Aged in an oak vat, this wine has aromas and flavours of black currants. This is a note of black coffee on the savoury and dusty finish. 88.

Corcelettes Menhir 2014 ($31.90 for 205 cases). The blend is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Syrah. This complex and satisfying wine is almost sold out. It has aromas of blueberries and plums. On the palate, there are flavours of plum, black cherry and black coffee with herbs and black pepper on the finish. 91.

Corcelettes Meritage 2011 ($39.90 for 275 cases). This is 40% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. The wine was aged 24 months in French oak vats. It has ar0mas and flavours of black currant. In addition, there are flavours of black cherry, chocolate and leather with a note of spice and cedar on the finish.  90.


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