Saturday, March 18, 2017

Therapy's New Zealand lookalike

Photo: Therapy Vineyards winery

A New Zealand wine tour some years ago included two days in Marlborough. The majority of wines tasted by our group were Sauvignon Blanc, the signature white of the region.

Because of the cool growing conditions, most of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs are high in acidity. After a day of wine tasting, one member of our group skipped the second day to go to the dentist. The wines had exposed a cracked filling of which she had not been aware until that day.

Toothaches can be an occupational hazard with New Zealand winemakers and wine tasters. One winery owner told us that she dreaded the vintage because of the painful aches she had to endure while assessing – by chewing them – the grapes in her vineyard.

Those memories came back when I was tasting 2016 releases from Therapy Vineyards at Naramata. The Sauvignon Blanc, with 7.8 grams of acid per litre but just 5.3 grams of sugar, took me right back to Marlborough.

Technical notes on the wine tell me that was the intention of winemaker Steve Latchford and his vineyard team. “The vines were left to grow through the season [without being] leaf thinned, crop thinned or shoot thinned, allowing the grapes to remain more shaded, which produces fruit more expressive in the New Zealand style with greener, herbaceous flavours.”

The grapes were picked early in the harvest and still at less than 20 Brix. The wine is light, with 11.6% alcohol, but with fresh and bracing flavours.

It is clear that Steve works hard at shaping his wines. The 2016 Gewürztraminer fermented on the skins for nine days, an unusual approach. The 2016 Pinot Gris, however, only had a two-hour cold soak. The winery’s popular white blend, Freudian Sip, includes six grapes fermented with five different yeasts. The rosé is blended with juice of four grape varietals.

Here are notes on the current releases.

Therapy Gewürztraminer 2016 Estate Vineyard ($20.99 for 114 cases). The wine presents with a light gold hue, the result of having fermented nine days on the skins (with wild yeast). The aroma recalls Sultana raisins and that is echoed in the fruit salad of flavour. The texture is rich and viscous. This controversial wine is not a mainstream Gewürztraminer but it has appeal to those who follow the rising natural wine styles. 87.

Therapy Pinot Gris 2016 Tada Vineyard ($19.99 for 545 cases). The Tada Vineyard is in Summerland. The wine begins with aromas of apples and nectarines. On the palate, there are flavours of apples and melons. The finish is crisp and clean, making for a very refreshing wine. 90.

Therapy Riesling 2016 Schweinle Vineyard ($19.99 for 402 cases), The Schweinle Vineyard, which Therapy manages, is on North Naramata Road. This appealing dry Riesling, with just 11.7% alcohol, begins with somewhat muted aromas of lime and pineapple. Since the wine was just bottled on January 30, the aromas have only now begun to develop. Give the wine another two or three months of bottle age. The wine has lime, apple and grapefruit flavours. The moderate alcohol makes it easy to finish the bottle. 90.

Therapy Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Sutherland Road Vineyard ($19.99 for 504 cases). Winemaker Steve Latchford emulated the New Zealand style, producing a zesty, bracing wine with herbal aromas and grassy flavours of lime. The alcohol is a moderate 11.6%. 88.

Therapy Freudian Sip 2016 ($17.99 for 2,920 cases). This is a six-grape blend fermented with five different yeasts. The blend is 30% Gewürztraminer, 23% Pinot Gris, 18% Chardonnay, 15% Riesling, 9% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Viognier. The wine begins with aromas of tropical fruits with a spicy accent. On the palate, there are flavours of ripe apple, nectarine and mango. The touch of residual sugar on the finish adds texture and easy drinkability. 89.

Therapy Pink Freud 2016 ($17.99 for 1,020 cases). This rosé is a blend of 56% Pinot Noir, 33% Merlot, 10% Pinot Meunier and 1% Dunkelfelder. The wine begins with aromas of strawberry, apples and even red licorice, followed by a bowl of fruit on the palate. This juicy wine will be a hit in the tasting room but I would prefer just a touch less of residual sweetness. 88.         


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