Thursday, August 3, 2017

Laughing Stock releases contrast two vintages

 Photo: David Enns in the Laughing Stock cellar

The latest releases from Laughing Stock Vineyards show off the Okanagan’s two most recent vintages. The contrast between them was dramatic.

The 2016 vintage started with the earliest budbreak in the Okanagan’s history. The vines had a three-week head start and might have produced a huge crop, had the weather not moderated in summer. In the end, the season was long.

“Overall [we had] an exceptional harvest with a very long growing season, meaning more time on the vines for the grapes to develop complex flavours,” the winery notes.

The 2015 vintage was the hottest on record in the Okanagan (at least so far). “Hot vintages don’t necessarily guarantee a stellar vintage as vines can shut down once temperatures go beyond 35◦C,” the winery comments. “And typical of hot recent summers, forest fires abounded, creating other issues such as valley smoke which clouded the sunshine for a few weeks and slowed ripening. Overall, harvest dates were two to three weeks early with fabulously ripe fruit.”

The vintages show in these wines. The two white wines exhibit the balance and crisp acidity that marks so many of the excellent 2016 whites. The three reds from 2015 all echo that “fabulously ripe fruit” that the winery writes about. That means bold, lush wines flirting with high alcohol levels.

To the credit of David and Cynthia Enns, the owners of Laughing Stock, they handled the challenge of 2015 well.

Here are notes on the wines.

Laughing Stock Pinot Gris 2016 ($19.99 for 1,500 cases). The wine has aromas of  pear and peach, leading to flavours of apple, peach and pear around a backbone of crisp minerals and acidity. The finish is dry. 90.

Laughing Stock Viognier 2016 ($22.99 for 625 cases). The wine begins with powerful aromas of apricots and peaches. On the palate, the rich texture is remarkable, delivering flavours that echo the aromas. There is a hint of honey and vanilla on the nose that repeats on the sybaritic finish. 92.

Laughing Stock Pinot Noir 2015 ($32.99 for 300 cases). This wine, which was aged 14 months in French oak barrels, is available only to members of Laughing Stock’s wine club. Members will get a bold and robust Pinot Noir with aromas and flavours of cherry and plum and with a savoury, spicy finish. A fellow taster commented that “you can taste the sun.” There is indeed a touch of warmth from the 14.5% alcohol; the wine reflects the vintage. 90.

Laughing Stock Syrah 2015 ($35.99 for 948 cases). There is three percent Viognier here, co-fermented with one lot of Syrah in stainless steel. A second lot was fermented in an open-top French oak puncheon and a third lot in a larger French oak tank. The latter lot was 80% whole berry and 20% whole cluster. This detail indicates the length David Enns goes to for complexity. With 14.9% alcohol reflecting a hot vintage, this is a muscular Syrah with aromas of blueberry jam and black cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry and figs with a note of black pepper. The texture is lush and the finish has an earthy, savoury note. 90.

Laughing Stock Blind Trust Red 2015 ($28.99 for 1,932 cases). Spoiler alert: if you peel away the capsule, you will find this is a blend 44% Merlot, 34% Malbec, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine was aged 15 months in French oak barrels (25% new). This big, mouth-filling red is a fine alternative for those who do not have access to Portfolio, Laughing Stocks icon blend. The wine begins with aromas of black cherry and black currant. The rich and ripe palate delivered flavours of black cherry, figs, chocolate and vanilla. 92.


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