Friday, June 16, 2017

Township 7 hits home run with Cabernet




Photo; Winemaker Mary McDermott

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the great red wine grapes in the world.

It is also a variety that needs a slightly longer season than either Merlot or Cabernet Franc. In some vintages, Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon has been underwhelming because of a truncated autumn.

The 2014 vintage, however, was a fine, long season. Producers in the Okanagan and the Similkameen have begun to release much more satisfying Cabernets than in most, if not all, previous vintages.

At Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, winemaker Mary McDermott hit it out of the park with the winery’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. She made a robust wine with grapes from the excellent Vanessa Vineyard in the Similkameen. Unfortunately, she made only 148 cases and the wine is available only to the Township 7 wine club. I wonder if it is too late to join the club for this release?

Mary came to Township 7 in the fall of 2014 after six vintages in the Niagara wine region. In a note accompanying the recent releases, she explains that she was attracted by the opportunity to expand the Township 7 portfolio; and specifically, to make more premium and small lot wines.

“To accomplish these goals,” she writes, “I’ve worked closely with local growers to source grapes from premium sites throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. By developing sound long-term relationships with these growers, we are able to produce some of best wines from some of the best sites available.”

She joined Township 7 shortly after the winery was acquired by well-resourced new owners. New capital has meant substantial improvements both to the Naramata winery and to the Langley winery. The improvement’s enabled Mary to expand the winery’s small lot program.

The improvements included “increasing the size of our cellar to accommodate the new barrels and tanks we have purchased,” Mary writes. “In addition, we have expanded the crush pad and invested in premium equipment, which will improve our ability to treat the grapes with the care and attention required to constantly improve wine quality.”

All of this has been reflected in the rising quality of Township 7 wines during the past three vintages.

Here are notes on three current releases.

Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($17.97 for 1,368 cases). The grapes for this wine are from the Rock Pocket and Blue Terrace Vineyards near Oliver, two of the winery’s long-term growers. This is a crisp and tangy Loire-style white. It begins with aromas of lime and lychee. On the palate, herbal notes mingle with lime and gooseberry. The wine was fermented in stainless steel at relatively cool temperatures, preserving the freshness in the flavours. 90.

Township 7 7 Blanc 2016 ($17.97 for 498 cases). This slightly off-dry white is a complex blend: 62% Gewürztraminer, 22% Pinot Gris, 6% Muscat, 6% Viognier and 3% Riesling. The wine pulls the consumer in with aromas of peaches, pears, lychee and spice. On the palate, there is a fruit salad of flavours including stone fruit, melon, apple and citrus. The texture is juicy but the acidity ensures a refreshing finish. 91.


Township 7 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($39.97 for 148 cases). This rich and full-bodied wine is the first reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Township 7, but hopefully not the last. Dark in colour, this wine begins with aromas of cassis, black cherry and spice. It fills the mouth with flavours of black cherry, plum, vanilla and dark chocolate. I agree with the winery’s description that this is a “robust red with great structure and flavours.” It has 14.7% alcohol but the rich flavours and texture carry the alcohol seamlessly. The winery recommends aging this five to 15 years. Good luck – you will find it hard to keep away from this delicious wine. 93.

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