Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The musical wines of Lunessence Winery



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 there.”

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.

Lunessence Riesling Reserve 2015 ($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.

Lunessence Chardonnay Reserve 2015 ($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.

Lunessence Sauvignon 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.

Lunessence Quartet 2015 ($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.

Lunessence Sauvignon 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.

Lunessence Pinot 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 ($18 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.

Lunessence Merlot 2014 ($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.

Lunessence Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($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 Harvest 2014 ($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. 92.

Lunessence Pinot 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 variety. 91.

Lunessence 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.

Lunessence Riesling Icewine 2014 ($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 aroma. 92.

Lunessence Merlot 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.




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