Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sea Star processes its first Saturna Island grapes

Photo: Sea Star's David Goudge

The 2017 releases from Sea Star Vineyards and Winery show a significant increase in the volume of rosé, some 337 cases more than in 2016.

That is the first tangible benefit from last year’s decision by Sea Star owner David Goudge to acquire Saturna Island Vineyards.

Sea Star is on Pender Island. It was the closest, and most logical, winery to take over Saturna where, in spite of a 38-acre vineyard, no wine had been made for a number of years.

The Saturna Island winery was conceived by Vancouver securities lawyer Larry Page. The vineyard was planted between 1995 and 2000. The winery itself struggled, in part because Saturna Island is not readily accessible to wine tourists and in part because a succession of winemakers led to an unfocussed portfolio.

No wines have been bottled there since the 2012 vintage. Since the last winemaker there was injured on the job, the vineyard has fallen into disarray. The unpruned vines are so tangled that a tractor could not be driven between most rows. The vineyard and winery, once advertised for $15 million, were finally available at a fraction of the price.

Sea Star opened in 2014, two years after David purchased the assets of Morning Bay Vineyard & Estate Winery, which was also struggling at the time. The turnaround by David and his winemaker, Ian Baker, was so successful that Sea Star soon was scrambling to find enough grapes to meet the demand for its wine. The Saturna Island vineyard will resolve that problem, at least in time.

“We were able to harvest nine tons of perfectly healthy Pinot Noir last October from a large portion of the vines on Saturna,” David says. “That was remarkable, considering they were completely neglected for over four years. There was blackberry to contend with and thistle - but remarkably no disease issues. It bodes very well for the terroir being well suited to growing grapes.”

Renovating the vineyard began in January with aggressive pruning. “There will be virtually no grapes this year, but next year we should begin to reap the rewards from proper vine management,” David says. “Priority has gone into the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris blocks.”

Here are notes on the current releases.

Sea Star Salish Sea 2017 ($23 for 600 cases). This is a blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe. There is a lightly spicy aroma leading to a medley of fruit flavours, including grapefruit and cantaloupe. 90.

Sea Star Ortega 2017 ($22 for 533 cases). The wine begins with aromas of guava and melon, leading to flavours of cantaloupe, apple and grapefruit with refreshing acidity on the tangy, lingering finish. 91

Sea Star Pinot Gris 2017 ($23 for 189 cases). The wine begins with aromas of pear, pink grapefruit, with a note of herbs and spice. On the palate, there are flavours of  melon and pear mingled with a hint of lemon. The texture is full while the finish is crisp and dry. 90.

Sea Star Siegerrebe 2017 ($22 for 289 cases). This aromatic wine begins with aromas of lemon, lime and spiced rose petal, which are echoed on the palate along with flavours of lychee. The finish, which lingers, is refreshing and balanced to dryness. 90.

Sea Star Stella Maris 2017 ($24 for 431 cases). This is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönburger. This is a complex wine, with layers of aroma and flavours. It begins with aromas of citrus, fresh apple and spice and it delivers flavours of apple, peach, pink grapefruit and melon. 92.

Sea Star Blanc de Noir 2017 ($24 for 1,156 cases). This is made with grapes from both the Clam Bay Vineyard on Pender Island (a neighbour to the Sea Star vineyard) and the recently acquired Saturna Island Vineyard. The delicate pink hue mirrors the trend to light-coloured rosés that is in fashion. It has the silky texture of Pinot Noir with good weight on the palate. It has aromas and flavours of strawberry and a dry finish. 91.


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