Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Township 7's Mary McDermott's 2016s

 Photo: Winemaker Mary McDermott

By now, I have come to look forward to tasting the art of Mary McDermott, the winemaker at Township 7 Vineyards & Winery since 2014.

The wines never disappoint. That should not be surprising, considering her background. Her interest in wine began when she worked as a sommelier at Monk McQueen’s Fresh Seafood & Oyster Bar in Vancouver. That led her back to Ontario, her native province, to earn a winemaking and viticulture degree at Brock University.

After graduation, she started as a cellarhand at Stratus Vineyards and moved on to become assistant cellarmaster at Cave Spring Cellars. Then, in 2010, she became winemaker at Trius Winery at Hillebrand as well as Thirty Bench Winery. Both are premium wine producers operated by Andrew Peller Ltd.

She was recruited by Township 7 after new owners acquired the winery in 2014. The new owners have invested significantly, giving her better equipment, more barrels and more space in which to work.

With just a small estate vineyard, Township 7 relies on contract growers for most of its grapes. The winery has had long-term relations with several of the vineyards and, as production grew, has forged relations with new ones as well. I have the sense, when I taste the wine, that Mary spends a lot of time with the growers.

The recent releases, all from the superb 2016 vintage, taste like very well grown wines. Here are my notes. The prices do not include tax.

Township 7 Chardonnay 2016 ($19.97 for 648 cases). Half of this wine was fermented in American oak barrels; the other half in stainless steel. The oak treatment brings a subtle note of vanilla to aromas of apples and pineapples. On the palate, there are flavours of peach and citrus, with subtle oak. The finish is dry, with notes of spice. 90.

Township 7 Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 ($17.97 for 298 cases). Fermented in stainless steel, this wine delivers pure and focussed fruit aromas and flavours: apple and citrus with a refreshingly crisp finish. 91.

Township 7 Pinot Gris 2016 ($17.97 for 318 cases).  This wine was made primarily with grapes from the legendary Sperling Vineyard in East Kelowna. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel for five weeks at 12◦C, preserving the pristine fruit aromas and flavours. The wine begins with aromas of apple and pear. On the palate, there are flavours of apple, white peach and citrus. 91.

Township 7 Muscat 2016 ($17.97 for 228 cases). The grapes for this wine were also fermented in stainless steel for three weeks at 12◦C, again preserving the exquisite fruit of this variety. The wine begins with a delicate aroma of rose petals and spice, leading to flavours of orange peel and ginger. The finish is dry. With an alcohol of just 12.8%, this elegant wine is light and refreshing on the finish. 91.

Township 7 Viognier 2016 Romar Vineyard ($22.97 for 568 cases; available only at the wineries). This wine was fermented in stainless steel; one barrel – about 25 cases – was barrel-fermented and added to the blend to enhance the richness. The wine begins with aromas of guava and ripe peach. On the palate, there are rich flavours of apricots and peaches. There is a honeyed note to the fruit but the wine has a lingering, dry finish. 91.

Township 7 Rosé 2016 ($17.97 for 498 cases). The wine is 65% Merlot, 19% Pinot Gris and 19% Malbec. Pale salmon pink, the wine has cherry and strawberry aromas, leading for flavours of strawberry and rhubarb. The wine has good weight and finishes with refreshing crispness. 90.


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