Friday, October 14, 2016

Dolcetto and friends at Stag's Hollow

The three reds released this fall by Stag’s Hollow Winery at Okanagan Falls include a Dolcetto. That wine coincides with the release of a Dolcetto from Moon Curser Vineyards of Osoyoos.

This is great news for lovers of this varietal, usually identified with producers in Piemonte in Italy. Larry Gerelus and Linda Pruegger, owners of the winery, have a block of this variety in their Shuttleworth Creek vineyard just south of Okanagan Falls.

The two Dolcetto wines send me look up Dolcetto in Grape Vines, the marvellous resource from Jancis Robinson (with two colleagues). The book reports that the grape was first mentioned in 1593.

“The name Dolcetto, meaning ‘little sweet’, comes from the low natural acidity of the berries but Dolcetto wines are almost always dry,” the authors write. “Varietal Dolcetto wines are generally deeply coloured, soft, round and fruity; the best are fragrant with flavours of liquorice and almonds.”

They write that there are scattered plantings of the variety in California, Washington State, Oregon and even Texas. These two British Columbia producers planted Dolcetto after the book was written.

The wines fit the book’s descriptors, although they differ from each other somewhat. The Moon Curser wine is leaner in texture than the Stag’s Hollow wine. I expect that reflects the differing soils in which the vines grow. The Osoyoos East Bench soils would be sandier than the Okanagan Falls soils.

I reviewed the Moon Curser Dolcetto 2015 ($26.90) in a recent blog. This is an unoaked red which suits the soft and juicy texture. The wine has luscious aromas and flavours of cherries, finishing with a fruit sweetness at the end. Of course, it is a dry wine. 
The Stag’s Hollow trio also includes a Grenache. This is a late ripening variety not widely grown in the Okanagan. The grapes for this come from a vineyard on the West Bench in Penticton and East Bench in Osoyoos. The variety has been championed  since the 2012 vintage by Dwight Sick, the winemaker at Stag’s Hollow, who likes to release the wine for International Grenache Day, September 16.

Here are notes on the three Stag’s Hollow releases.

Stag’s Hollow Dolcetto 2015 ($21.99). Sixty percent of this wine was aged five months in 300 litre French oak (third fill) while the remainder was aged in stainless steel. The wine begins with aromas of plum, black cherry, chocolate and a hint of tarragon. Fleshy in texture, it coats the palate with luscious cherry and plum flavours. Indeed, there is a touch of liquorice on the finish. 90-92.

Stag’s Hollow Grenache 2015 ($25.99). There is 12% Syrah in this bold, brawling red with 15% alcohol. It begins with aromas of cherry and vanilla with a hint of pepper. On the palate, it has savoury, meaty flavours of cherry and blueberry with vanilla and pepper on the powerful finish. 92.

Stag’s Hollow Heritage Block 2013 ($21.99). This is 50% Merlot, 26.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.5% Cabernet Franc, 10.5% Malbec and 1.5% Petit Verdot. The wine begins with appealing aromas of black cherry, plum, chocolate and cedar. It has a generous texture, with flavours of cherry, chocolate, leather and toasty oak (from having aged in barrel 18 months). It is astonishingly good value. 92.


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