Photo: Daydreamer's cosy tasting room
For just the third time in a decade, an Okanagan winery has
released a Sparkling Shiraz.
Naturally, the winemaker is an Australian – Marcus Ansems MW,
the proprietor (with wife Rachel) of Daydreamer Wines at Naramata.
I say “naturally” because this style of sparkling red wine
was created in Australia and is produced by a number of wineries there. Some of
those wines have been in this market from time to time. Currently, the BC
Liquor Distribution Branch lists just one – a $37 wine from Majella, a good
Australian producer that has cultivated the BC market. Brian Lynn, one of the
proprietors, has been a regular participant at the Vancouver International Wine
There is clearly a modest following for this style of wine.
There are just over 100 bottles of the Majella wine, spread across 12 stores. That
is hardly a critical mass for what is an interesting category.
Steller’s Jay, the sparkling wine house spawned by Sumac
Ridge Estate Winery, released a Sparkling Shiraz in 2006 and then released its
second in late 2015. The latter release, priced at $25, still seems to be
available online at Great Estates of the Okanagan.
The wine from Daydreamer is a veritable bargain, at $20 a
bottle, or $240 a case if ordered online.
If you are not familiar with Daydreamer, here is an excerpt
from John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour
Two of the signature
wines from Daydreamer are Syrahs, a variety that practically runs in the veins
of winemaker Marcus Ansems, the owner of this winery with his wife, Rachel. His
family in Australia once owned a share of Mount Langi Ghiran, the legendary
Shiraz producer in the state of Victoria, and his uncle, Trevor Mast, was a
“One of my favourite wines in the world was
made at my family winery,” Marcus says. “It is just unique to that site … an
atypical Shiraz. That wine was what inspired me to want to get involved with
the industry.” Born in 1974, he graduated
in enology in 1996 from Adelaide University. He went abroad to gain experience,
first with Simonsig in South Africa and then in Tuscany and the Rhône. He picked up his career in Australia briefly
before a Canadian wine entrepreneur, Peter Jensen, recruited him in 1999 to run
wineries in Ontario and Nova Scotia. In Niagara, before he returned to
Australia in 2002 as a consulting winemaker, he met Rachel, an accountant with
a talent in design and photography.
They moved to British Columbia in 2004 where Marcus
became the winemaker first for Blasted Church Vineyards and, a year later, for
Therapy Vineyards. Since late 2008, he has been the buyer for Hemispheres Wine
Guild, a Canadian club for wine collectors.
Daydreamer is the culmination of a family winery
dream that Rachel and Marcus share. They
operate a boutique winery, producing perhaps 2,000 cases a year.
Last year, they
opened a tasting room at 1305 Smethurst Road, not far from Nichol Vineyards. It
is a cozy and convenient place to visit and, for those not into buying
caselots, to buy single bottles.
website provides no suggestions on how to serve the Sparkling Shiraz and with
what food. I think it should be lightly chilled, but not so chilled that the
aromas and flavours are anaesthetized. As for food, this is a robust and
versatile wine that stands up to full-flavoured food. It can handle anything
from strong cheese to pulled pork. I am told Australians quaff the wine at
Here are notes
on that wine and several other releases from Daydreamer.
Marcus Ansems Chardonnay 2015
wine begins with aromas of marmalade mingled with oak. The flavours are
intense, with notes of citrus and orange zest. Bright acidity gives the wine a
refreshing palate. 90.
Marcus Ansems Shiraz 2015
($20). The wine
begins with aromas of plum and smoked deli meats. On the palate, there are
flavours of plum, fig and pepper mingled with toasted oak. The tannins are soft
and ripe. 91.
Daydreamer Tay 2015
($15). This is
a Pinot Noir. It is robust on the palate, with aromas and flavours of cherries
mingled with toasted oak. The texture is silky. 89.
Marcus Ansems Sparkling Shiraz 2014
($20). Dark in
colour, this is frothy in the glass and dry on the finish. Pepper and spice
mingle with flavours of plum. The wine’s robust earthiness makes it versatile
as a food wine. 90.