Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Oliver Twist celebrates Nostalgia




Photo: Oliver Twist's Gina Harfman

Gina Harfman, who purchased Oliver Twist in 2012 from founders Bruce and Denice Hagerman, decided to keep the winery name while creating a second label – Nostalgia – to put her own stamp on the business. The Nostalgia wines all have labels featuring pin-up girls created by San Diego designer Ralph Birch. “We have a lot of old things in here,” Gina explains. “We go for the 1950s/1960s theme. The baby boomers really like it.”

There are four wines in the Nostalgia series at this time: Boogie Woogie White, Pink Cadillac, Rockabilly Red and a fortified cherry/Merlot blend called Cherry Baby. Coming shortly is a Kerner-based sparkling wine with the fetching name, Chantilly Lace.

Clearly, Gina is having fun.

She grew up around wine. Her maternal grandfather, Joe Fernandes, left Madeira in the 1960s to establish an orchard in Osoyoos. Her father, Fred, has six hectares (15 acres) of vineyard in Osoyoos. That sparked Gina’s winemaking career, starting with the assistant winemaker course at Okanagan College in 2009 and a crush and a half at Cassini Cellars (until she went on maternity leave). She helped Denice and consultant Christine Leroux with the 2011 crush at Oliver Twist. “We were bottling one day,” Gina remembers. “Bruce and Denice said, ‘Why don’t you buy the winery?’”

The offer was in character for the Hagermans who had made a lifetime habit of moving to fresh adventures. “I like to do different things,” Bruce said once. “I asked an old lady about the things she did in her life, and what it was she regretted. She said, ‘Sonny, it is not the things I did in my life that I regret, it is the things I didn’t do.’”

Denice continues to help Gina, now a single mother of two with a passion for winemaking. She has an extensive portfolio of small lot wines, offered exclusively to members of the wine club that Oliver Twist established in 2013. The five wines in the Nostalgia series, along with the Kerner and Pinot Gris from Oliver Twist’s seven-hectare (17-acre) vineyard constitute the winery’s major volume.

Here are notes on the current releases.

Oliver Twist Boogie Woogie White 2017 ($20). This is blend of Chardonnay and Viognier, made in a big, juicy style, with flavours of peach and pear. 90.

Oliver Twist  Pink Cadillac 2017 ($21.90). This is a Syrah-based rosé with touches of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The colour is vibrant. It has aromas and flavours of cherry, with a juicy texture. 89.

Oliver Twist Rockabilly Red 2016 ($27.90 for 486 cases). This is 41% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah, 7% Malbec and 6% Cabernet Franc. One of the winery’s best sellers, it has aromas and flavours of black cherry and plum with notes of licorice and chocolate on the finish. 90.

Oliver Twist Kerner 2017 ($20). This is the signature white variety at Oliver Twist – one of the few wineries even making this German white. This is a richly flavoured white, with a basket of flavours including peach, pear, apple, apricot, honey and spice. The finish is off-dry. 91.

Oliver Twist Petit Verdot 2014 ($50 for 23 cases).  This is a bold, dark and ageworthy wine, with flavours of plum and fig around a spine of minerality. It finishes with spicy dark berry flavours. 92.

Oliver Twist Malbec 2013 ($44.90 for 32 cases). This wine begins with the alluring perfume of the varietal, leading to flavours of cherry and mulberry. Long ripe tannins define the structure. 92.

Oliver Twist Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($44.90 for 50 cases). The concentrated wine, with aromas and flavours of black currant, leather and tobacco, is still developing to a peak in 2020. 92.

Oliver Twist Merlot 2013 ($26.90). This is 90% Merlot, with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Malbec added for complexity. The texture still is firm; the wine should be decanted to that the berry aromas and flavours have a chance to emerge. 90.

Oliver Twist Bordeaux Blend 2013 ($32.90 for 10 barrels). The blend is 52% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, finished with Malbec and Petit Verdot. It is a concentrated red with aromas of black currant and black cherry that lead to flavours of dark fruit mingled with dark chocolate and dark coffee. It is a mystery how she got this label through the VQA panel. 92.

Oliver Twist Syrah 2014 ($27.90). This is a bold, masculine interpretation of the variety, with black pepper aromas and with flavours of fig, prune and deli meats. The texture is dense and the colour is dark. 92.

Oliver Twist Late Harvest Kerner 2016 ($22). The residual sugar plumps up the aromas and flavours of honey and tropical fruits. 90.

Oliver Twist Cherry Baby NV ($45 for 500 ml). This fortified wine is 60% cherries, 40$ Merlot. Flavours of cherry and cherry pits dominate the profile, with a dollop of sweet fruit on the palate but with a comparatively dry finish. 88.

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