Photo: Liquidity Winery's hospitality centre
The recent spring tasting by the Okanagan Falls Winery
Association provided an early and comprehensive look at wines from the 2016
The news is very good. The white wines and the rosé wines
are among the best yet from the Okanagan. (Red wines, of course, have not been
The wines reflect a vintage that began with bud break in
early April, giving the vines a three-week head start on the season. That was
fortunate because there was frost one night in mid-October that froze a lot of
leaves. But it had been a generally even growing season without much excessive
heat. Flavours developed well and the essential acidity was maintained.
The result: white and rosé wines with good to intense
flavours. The wines are focussed and clean, with long and refreshing finishes.
It bodes well for the reds.
The 2017 vintage is starting much more slowly, as one might
guess from the snow on the Coquihalla.
It is, of course, much too early to start tearing hair out about the 2017
vintage, especially when the 2016s are showing so well.
Also note that wines from earlier vintages were being poured
as well. The Okanagan has had five good vintages in a row.
This is part one, with a concluding part to follow, just to
keep the size of the blog manageable.
. Elaine Vickers (left), who has a graduate diploma in winemaking
from the University of Adelaide, was so determined to become a winemaker that
she took a job as a cellar hand at Blasted Church late in 2010. After working
with consultant Mark Wendenburg, she was promoted to winemaker within a few
years. AS well-earned promotion. Little known fact about Elaine: she once
played Ultimate Frisbee. But wine is what she does best.
Blasted Church OMG
($24.90). This sparkling wine
is 66% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Blanc. It begins with aromas of
pear and apples that are echoed in the flavours, along with a hint of brioche
from the yeast lees. The finish is crisp. 90.
Hatfield’s Fuse 2015
($17). This is a 10-grape blend: 22% Gewürztraminer,
21% Pinot Gris, 20% Viognier, 13% Optima, 8% Ehrenfelser, 5% Pinot Blanc 4%
Chardonnay, 4% Chardonnay Musqué, 2% Orange Muscat and 1% Riesling. The wine,
as a result, is a big, delicious fruit bowl. 90.
Blasted Church Pinot
($20.50). This is a crisply dry wine, with aromas and flavours of
melon and green apple. The finish is refreshing. 89.
Blasted Church Big
Bang Theory 2015
($19). This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 10% each
Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, 9% Lemberger and 6% Syrah. Here is an
accessible red, ready for the barbecue this summer. The aromas and flavours of
cherry and blueberry mingle with generous, toasty oak. 90.
Nothing Sacred 2014
($45). This is the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend:
40% Merlot and 20% each Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a
full-bodied wine with aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, blackberry, and
spicy fruit cake. 92.
Vineyard & Cellars.
This producer has always impressed as an anchor
of the Okanagan Falls group of wineries. This is doubly so now that the winery
opens its tasting room to the public each summer, something it has done for
five or six years.
Blue Mountain Gold
Label Brut NV
($23.90). This wine has long been a benchmark for affordable
quality sparkling wines. It is crisp and fresh, with some citrus on the nose
and in the flavour. 90.
Blue Mountain Reserve
Brut 2008 Recently Disgorged
($39.90). Here is an elegant sparking wine
that goes toe to toe with Champagne. It is a blend of 50% each Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay. It was on the lees for six and a half years before being disgorged,
acquiring the classic brioche aromas and flavours of Champagne. The finish is
($21). Half of this was fermented and aged in stainless
steel while the other half was fermented and aged on the lees in oak for 11
months. The result is satisfying complexity, with notes of citrus and vanilla
in the aroma. The wine has flavours of lemon and lime with a hint of butter.
The texture is rich and the finish lingers. 91.
Blue Mountain Pinot
Noir Reserve 2013
($N/A). I cannot find this on the winery’s website;
perhaps it is sold out but was poured as a treat. The wine begins with aromas
of cherry and vanilla, leading to intense flavours of cherry with a touch of
good French oak. The texture is evolving towards silkiness. 92.
is the northern-most and newest member of the Okanagan Falls
Winery Association. The winery, which is just completing its tasting room, is
at the southend of Penticton with a view to the west over Skaha Lake. Owner
Teresa Wiseman honours her father, Glennallyn Murray, in the label of the
Gewürztraminer. He was a pioneering grower here.
Glennallyn Gewürztraminer 2014
($NA). This intense wine, with notes of
spice and lychee, recalls Alsace in its style. 88.
Cristal’s Fault Riesling 2015
($NA). With notes of citrus and apple on the
nose and palate, this is a crisp and refreshing wine. 88.
Crescent Hill Olde
Orchard Pearl of Csaba Muscat 2015
($NA). Pearl of Csaba (with variations
on the spelling) is a spicy white variety that once had a greater role in
Okanagan winemaking. Hats off to Teresa for continuing to feature it. The wine
has delicate aromas of rose petals, with spicy fruit on the palate and a dry
Consensual Chaos 2016 Rosé
($NA). Crisp and dry, this rosé has aromas and
flavours of cherry and cranberry. 88.
Legz Vineyard & Winery
opened in Kaleden in 2010. Susan and
Gerry Thygeson (below) named it Krāzē Legz, theming the labels and the wine shop around
the high kicking dance steps of the Roaring 20s. In recent years, the labels
have transitioned to the more contemporary Skaha Vineyards.
Unoaked Chardonnay 2016
($21). This fruit-forward Chardonnay is bursting
with aromas and flavours of apple, pineapple and stone fruit. The flavours are
clean and refreshing; the spine of minerality adds a note of complexity. 90.
($21). This is a blend of 60% Pinot Blanc and 40% Chardonnay.
The wine was fermented cold in stainless steel and the result exhibits a
pristinely fresh focus of aroma and flavour. The wine delivers notes of apple,
melon and pineapple. 90.
Skaha Vineyard Rosé
($21). This is a Merlot rosé with an appealing pink hue, aromas of
strawberry and flavours of strawberry and cranberry. The finish is crisp and
Cabernet Franc 2014
($26). This is a bold wine with aromas of blackberry
and raspberry and flavours of blackberry and black cherry. The structure is
firm, suggesting the wine has five to seven years of further development in
your cellar if you are patient. 90.
Skaha Vineyard Rogue
($49 for 500 ml). This is a fortified Merlot in the style of Port. It
is a rich wine with flavours recalling a good fruit cake. 90.
one of the most attractive wineries in Okanagan Falls. Its wine shop is in an
architecturally-striking building that also includes an excellent restaurant
and a small art gallery.
Liquidity Pinot Gris
($18). This wine sparkles with focussed fresh fruit flavours – lime,
grapefruit, pear – with a crisp, tangy finish. 92.
($18). This is a blend of 34% Pinot Blanc, 34% Gewürztraminer, 21%
Sauvignon Blanc and 11% Pinot Gris. It begins with aromas of herbs and spice
and delivers a basket of tropical fruit flavours. The finish is dry. 91.
($25). This crisp and refreshing wine delivers flavours of citrus and
stone fruit, with a touch of anise on the finish. 91.
($26). Winemaker Alison Moyes (right) built complexity into this wine
by fermenting and aging it 11 months on French oak; and allowing just one third
to go through malolactic fermentation. The result is a wine with bright citrus
and apple flavours supported by notes of vanilla and a rich texture. 91.
, which opened in 2008, has a rising reputation as a producer
of elegant Chardonnay and sophisticated Pinot Noir. It is one of the few
Okanagan wineries that have begun to export to the British market.
Method Extra Brut NV
($40 for 550 cases). This is 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot
Noir. The wine has had a total of four years aging in tank and bottle before
its release. It has the slight bready note of classic Champagne. It also has
brightly focussed fruit showing notes of lemon and granny smith apple. It is
clean and fresh on the palate with crisp finish. The bubbles are fine and
($18). This wine delivers lychee and spice on the palate. The texture
is juicy and the wine is balanced to finish dry. 88.
($20). This is an uncomplicated fruit-forward wine, with a
crisp aroma and with appealing flavours of peach and apple. 89.
($65). This powerful wine is the winery’s flagship
Chardonnay. It was aged 11 months in
French oak barrels (50% new). Brioche in the aroma and flavour mingles with
lively citrus flavours. This elegant wine will age superbly. 95.
Meyer Stevens Block
($28 for 300 cases). The grapes are from a viticulturally
distinctive block in the winery’s Old Main Road vineyard near Naramata. The
wine is intensely fruity, beginning with citrus aromas that lead to flavours of
guava and citrus. The lingering finish is crisp. 92.
Meyer Rosé 2016
for 175 cases). This is a Pinot Noir rosé made with juice bled from crushed
grapes. The technique usually is a win/win situation: the pink wine is delicate
but fruit and the subsequent Pinot Noir is more concentrated. This wine has
aromas and flavours of strawberry, with a dry finish. 89.
Meyer McLean Creek
Pinot Noir 2015
($40). The wine begins with aromas of cherry mingled with
toasted oak. On the palate, which is becoming silky, there are flavours of
spicy black cherry with a hint of cloves on the finish. 91.
Meyer Pinot Noir
Reimer Vineyard 2015
($40). The grapes are from a vineyard in East Kelowna.
It is a bright and appealing wine with cherries and red berries dancing across
the palate. 91.
Meyer Old Block Pinot
($50). This wine is made from a small Pinot Noir block in the
McLean Creek vineyard that was planted in 1994. The clone is unknown but the
wine is very good. It begins with aromas of black cherry and plum with hints of
forest floor. This is echoed on the palate, where the finish is spicy and
Pinot Noir 2014
($65). This wine is made by choosing the best block and
best clones from the McLean Creek Vineyard and then selecting the best barrels
to produce 110 cases. This was aged 11 months in French oak (50% new). The wine
has aromas of cherry and vanilla. On the palate, the flavours of plum and
cherry are subtly integrated with toasty oak. The finish has savoury notes of
forest floor. 95.
opened in 2015 on Green Lake Road, a few kilometers west of
See Ya Later Ranch Vineyards. Initially, it was a partnership of two couples.
Recently, Daniel Bibby and his wife, Christy (right), acquired 100% ownership. Because Danial manages a leading Kelowna
hotel, he relies on Matt Dumayne of Okanagan Crush Pad to make the wines.
($19.90). Fleshy in texture and slightly off-dry, this
wine delivers abundant flavours of spice and lychee. 89.
($24.90). This wine was aged in oak for 10 months – just enough to add
a hint of vanilla to the sweet citrus flavours. 89.
Nighthawk Rosé 2016
This is a Pinot Noir rosé. Close your eyes and it takes you to Provence, with
its hints of cherry and with its dry finish. 90.
Nighthawk Merlot 2012
($26.90). This wine was aged 18 months in French and American oak barrels. It
begins with smoky and toasted aromas from the oak, mingled with black currant.
On the palate, there are flavours of plum, black cherry and dark chocolate. 90.