Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lang Vineyards offers early look at 2017 wines

Photo: Lang Vineyards general manager Mike Lang

Wines from the 2017 vintage are beginning to be released by Okanagan wineries and the news is good: another excellent vintage.

Lang Vineyards, one of the original wineries to open on the Naramata Bench, brought its new releases to a recent tasting in Vancouver. That provided an early taste of the vintage from one of the most popular wine regions in B.C.

There will be another chance to taste the new Naramata Bench wines when the Naramata Bench Wineries Association hosts its annual spring tasting in Vancouver on April 13. There is a trade tasting at the Four Seasons Hotel in the afternoon. It is followed by Wine for Waves, a public fundraiser in the evening for the Vancouver Aquarium. Lang is a member of the association.

Lang Vineyards was opened in 1990 by Günter Lang, a one-time Mercedes Benz manager who had emigrated to Canada in 1979 and was charmed with the Naramata Bench.

“I looked at everything that was for sale in the Okanagan,” he once told me. “I just bought the vineyard because I fell in love with the place. It was an older vineyard on the market for two years. Nobody was interested in it at all. It was the best buy: we got two lots and a great view. I paid $129,000 at the time for nine and a half acres.”

He sold the winery in 2005 to the Holman Lang Group, stayed on for a while to help run it until disillusioned by Keith Holman’s shambolic management. The Holman Lang group was in bankruptcy by 2009. The following year, Lang Vineyards was acquired in a court-ordered sale by Yong Wang, a businessman who divides his time between Vancouver and China.

The new owner soon restored the link to the winery’s founder by hiring Günter’s nephew, Mike Lang, as general manager. Initially, the winery struggled with a turnover of winemakers. Production stabilized in recent years when Robert Thielicke, formerly a winemaker at JoieFarm Winery, took charge of winemaking at Lang Vineyards.

The 2017 vintage was the fifth vintage in a row that produced good to great grapes. The 2017 whites share the qualities of the previous year: bright acidity, intense and refreshing flavours.

Here are notes on the wines. Prices do not include taxes.

Lang Sparkling Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier 2017 ($18.99). With a lovely pink hue and a rush of bubbles, the wine offers a great show in the glass. It has aromas and flavours of strawberry and cherry. The finish is crisp. This is the third sparkling wine from Lang since 2015. 88.

Lang Bravo White 2017 ($16.49). This is a blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Schönburger and Muscat. It begins with floral and fruity aromas and delivers a mouthful of tropical flavours – lime, lychee, peach – with a hint of spice on the finish. 91.

Lang Gewürztraminer 2017 ($17.49). Rich on the palate, this wine begins with aromas of rose petals and spice and delivers flavours of lychee and orange zest. It is nicely balanced to finish drier than it really is. 91.

Lang Farm Reserve Riesling 2017 ($17.49). This arguably the flagship white wine at Lang. It is brimming with primary fruit aromas and flavours – lemon and lime with tangy acidity. The likely evolution of this wine was shown by tasting the 2016 Farm Reserve Riesling along side this wine. The extra year has given the 2016 wine more flesh and notes of petrol. Both have a long, lingering finish. 91.

Lang Viognier 2016 ($18.49). The wine is made with grapes from the Naramata Bench. It begins with tropical fruit aromas (pineapple, apricot), leading to a rich texture and flavours of apple, peach and pineapple. 91.

Lang Cabernet Franc 2016 ($21.69).  The previous vintage showed dramatic brambly aromas and flavours. This was a tank sample that promises a lot of flavour and aroma development when it has time in bottle. The wine, now full of brooding cherry flavours, is made with grapes from Oliver. 90.

Lang Syrah 2016 ($22.49). This is a tank sample. The black cherry and fig aromas and flavours show good potential when the wine has had time to develop in bottle. 90 - ?

Lang Maréchal Foch 2016 ($18.29). This is the signature red at Lang Vineyards. It is a juicy red with soft tannins and with aromas and flavours of cherry, plum and chocolate. 90.


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