Photo: Lunessence winemaker Michal Mosny
Some years ago, I encountered a grand piano in the barrel
cellar of a California winery.
The explanation, so I was informed, was that the winemaker
liked to play to his wines. I thought my leg was being pulled. But since I have
begun visiting Lunessence Winery & Vineyard in Summerland, I think that
explanation was true.
Michal Mosny, the general manager and winemaker at
Lunessence, plays classical music in the vineyard, in the cellars and in the
tasting room. The vines are treated to Bach and Mozart. The red wines get
Puccini operas while the whites get Verdi operas.
Michal, who was born in Slovakia in 1982, lives and breathes
classical music. “In Slovakia, I had a small garage winery next to a village
where Beethoven used to go,” Michal says. “He wrote Für Elise
In 2011, Michal and his wife, Martina, emigrated to the Okanagan. He
set up a vineyard management company; that led to him being recruited in 2014 to
manage Lunessence and its six-and-a-half-acre vineyard. The property formerly
was the Sonoran Estate Winery until it was purchased and rebranded by Zhizhong
Si, a China-born environmental consultant who was educated in Canada
. He is now based in Vancouver
Since 2014, the tasting room has been renovated and a new production
facility has been built elsewhere on the property. And, of course, speakers
have been deployed in some parts of the vineyard.
“There are a lot of studies about how music impacts the
plants,” Michal says. “I did a lot of research about it. I think there is
something. I can see something in the wines, that they have a different
integrity. I think they are happier. With classical music, every single
instrument produces some emotions.”
He continues: “When we ferment white wines, usually it is
opera we are listening to, to bring some stories into the wines. White wines
are usually fermented to Giuseppe Verdi. When the reds come into the cellar, we
switch to Puccini. It is fun when you are listening to Puccini and there is
some tragedy and you are doing punch downs …”
Michal will concede that it is difficult to prove that wine
benefits from good music. But there is no harm in it. Besides, he loves
classical music. Those who share his taste will agree that the Lunessence
tasting room is one of the most listenable in the Okanagan.
Here are notes on Lunessence wines that I tasted on two different
occasions in 2016. Some will now be sold out but the scores suggest the proof
of Michal’s theories is in the bottles.
($28 for 100 cases). This wine was fermented to dryness with
native yeast. It has aromas and flavours of lemon and lime with a core of
minerality, along with racy acidity. This needs to be cellared for several
years to reach its peak of aroma and flavour. 91.
($28 for 270 cases). Thirty percent of this wine was aged
seven months in Slovakian oak, positively impacting the wine’s full texture
without taking away from the fruit flavours. The wine is bright and refreshing
with flavours of citrus and apple. 90.
Blanc Reserve 2015
($28 for 170 cases). Thirty percent of this wine – which
is sold out – was aged in Slovakian oak. The wine begins with spice and
tropical fruit aromas, leading to rich flavours of mango and lime. 92.
($18 for 800 cases). This is a blend of Riesling, Viognier, Orange
Muscat and Gewürztraminer. The wine is an exuberant bowl of fruit, with
tropical aromas and flavours and with a finish that won’t quit. 92.
Blanc Muscat 2015
($22 for 330 cases). This wine has aromas and flavours of
lime accented by spicy notes from the Muscat. The texture is creamy but the wine
has a crisp, dry finish. 91.
Blanc Oraniensteiner 2015
($20 for 250 cases). This is an unusual but
certainly effective blend. Pinot Blanc is a reliable workhorse white while
Oraniensteiner is an obscure German white, a 1985 cross of Riesling and
Sylvaner, that is grown almost nowhere these days but Canada. The blend here is
70% Oraniensteiner and 30% Pinot Blanc.
The aroma and flavours had me believing the wine was mostly Pinot Blanc.
It has aromas of green apples. On the palate the apple flavours are augmented
with a dollop of lychee. The delicious finish lingers. 92.
Lunessence Rosé 2015
for 250 cases). This is 70% Cabernet Franc, 30% Pinot Noir. The wine presents
with a pale strawberry hue. It has ar0mas and flavours of strawberry and
cherry. This is a juicy rosé with a lingering finish. 90.
($28 for 200 cases). Dark in
colour, this wine begins with aromas of black currants, blueberries and
cherries. This is echoed on the palate. The wine has long ripe tannins, with a
concentrated structure that assures long life in the cellar. Decant this wine
for current drinking. 91.
($27 for 330 cases). The wine begins with aromas of cassis
and cherry. On the palate, it has ageable firmness of Cabernet, with slight
hints of bell pepper mingled with flavours of cassis. There are savoury, spicy
notes on the finish. Lay this down for another five years at least. 91.
Lunessence Syrah Late
($24 for 150 cases). The wine begins with appealing aromas of
black currant jam that seem to promise intense sweetness. Happily, the flavours
are moderated by the variety’s hint of pepper on the finish. This turns out to
be a very nicely balanced dessert wine with lingering hints of strawberry. If
you like a bit of pepper on your few strawberries, this is the wine for you.
Blanc Late Harvest 2014
($24 for 180 cases). The wine begins with aromas of
ripe peach and ripe apple, leading to flavours of pineapple and Mandarin
orange. The wine is not overly sweet, retaining the delicious freshness of the
Gewürztraminer Icewine 2014
($58 for 80 cases of 200 ml). The wine presents
in the glass with a gold hue and with intense aromas of ripe pineapple mingled
with honey and toffee. On the palate, the wine is rich in texture with
concentrated flavours of honeyed mango. 90.
($54 for 150 cases of 200 ml). This wine was harvested and
pressed at -16C, a figure that translates into a big mouthful of sugar
balanced, in this instance, but very bright acidity. The wine has aroma of
honey and ripe pineapple, with very rich and intense flavours that mirror the
Reserve Icewine 2014
($64 for 80 cases of 200 ml). The wine climbs from the
glass with aromas of Ribena. On the palate, it is rich with intense flavours of
black currant jam which last and last. 92.