Monday, September 24, 2018

The View champions Pinotage

Photo: The View proprietor Jennifer Molgat

Jennifer Molgat feared that municipal inspectors would block her application for a tasting room license in 2008 for her View Winery & Vineyard in Kelowna. They might not like the look of the old packing house, circa 1922, which houses the winery and a sister producer, Wards Cider. 

This is the oldest winery building in the Okanagan. But no objections were raised and she now has a charming heritage wine shop in a structurally sound building.

The property, in the family for five generations, was an historic apple grower in East Kelowna. Chris Turton, Jennifer’s father, began replacing some apple trees with vines in 1994.

At the same time, he began producing a bulk cider for Alberta’s Big Rock Brewery. For a number of years, he arranged to have the cider made at the Calona Winery until that winery’s other activities squeezed him out and forced him to license the packing house for cider. He got Jennifer, a former teacher, to help arrange the license.

Because there also are 50 acres of grapes on a hillside behind the packing house, Jennifer and her husband, Kent, decided to launch a winery. Supported by the cash flow from the cider, The View can employ two professional winemakers to make 10,000 cases of wine annually. Cider is the engine driving the business here, with about a million litres of cider produced annually.

When the winery was launched, The View’s first winemaker, a German, was offended at having to ferment apples and returned to Germany. Subsequent winemakers have embraced both apples and grapes to develop an impressive portfolio of wine and cider.

The vineyard grows primarily aromatic whites (Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Ehrenfelser). Recently, Pinot Noir, a premium wine grape, has replaced a disease-prone white called Optima.

The vineyard’s flagship red is Pinotage, a South African red grown by just two other Okanagan producers. The View’s eight-acre block is the largest Pinotage planting in the valley.

Because few consumers knew Pinotage, Jennifer for several vintages just put a proprietary name on the labels. The excellent rosé was released as Distraction Rosé. A few years ago, her winemakers – who were already making a red and a rosé from the varietal – made a white Pinotage as well. The wine was a hit in the tasting room. Since then, The View has waved the flag for all of its Pinotage wines.

The Distraction name is now attached to Distraction Frizzante, which has 60% Pinotage in the blend. It is one of several sparkling wines in The View portfolio, which also includes Bling, said to be Canada’s first sparkling wine in a can.

Here are notes on current releases.

The View Single Vineyard Riesling 2017 ($17.95 for 175 cases). Think Mosel: alcohol is a moderate 10.6%. The generous residual sugar of 18.4 grams is balanced with 10.8 grams of acidity. The wine has aromas and flavours of lemon around a spice of minerality. The texture is full but the finish is refreshingly tangy. This wine will age very well. 90.

The View Single Vineyard Ehrenfelser 2017 ($20.95 for 125 cases). This wine begins with floral aromas. The flavours explode on the palate: nectarine, apple and pear with a tangy hint of kiwi on the finish. A touch of residual sugar lifts the texture and the aroma but the finish is dry. 91.

The View Single Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2017 ($19.95 for 300 cases). The wine begins with delicate aromas of rose petals, spice and grapefruit rind. On the palate, there are richly appealing flavours of lychee and grapefruit. The wine is balanced to finish dry. 90.

The View Revolution Gewürztraminer 2017 ($19.95 for 150 cases). This is a dry, barrel-fermented Gewürztraminer. The wine begins with aromas of grapefruit. On the palate, the flavours are rich, with flavours of lychee, vanilla and ginger. The finish is dry. This is a complex wine and quite an interesting change of pace from mainstream Okanagan Gewürztraminers. 91.

The View Single Vineyard Pinot Gris 2017 ($19.95 for 100 cases). This wine begins with aromas of citrus and pear. On the palate, it has flavours of pear, apple, melon and spice. The finish is crisp. 91.

The View Silver Lining Estate White 2017 ($16.95 for 1,500 cases). This is a blend of 55% Gewürztraminer, 25% Ehrenfelser, 17% Riesling and 3% Pinot Gris. The wine (judged best white blend at this spring’s Okanagan wine competition) begins with inviting fruit aromas – peach, guava, and pear. That leads to an absolute fruit bowl of flavours with a spicy finish. 91.

The View Silver Lining Estate Rosé 2017 ($19.95 for 825 cases). This is a blend of 42% Pinotage, 32% Gewürztraminer, 16% Riesling, 5% Ehrenfelser, 3% Baco Noir and 2% Pinot Noir. It presents with an appealing rose petal pink hue and aromas of strawberry and watermelon. On the palate, the flavours are bold – cherry, strawberry – with a juicy texture and a lingering finish. 90.

The View Single Vineyard Pinotage Rosé 2017 ($20.95 for 240 cases). The wine, judged best rosé at the spring competition, presents with a delicate rose hue in the glass. It begins with aromas of wild strawberry and watermelon; these are echoed on the palate, along with flavours of pink grapefruit. The wine has just a slight backbone of tannin that compliments the dry finish. 92.

The View Distraction Frizzante 2017 ($19.95 for 280 cases). This is a blend 0f 60% Pinotage, 20% Pinot Noir, 15% Riesling and 5% Ehrenfelser. The speciation sheet is silent on the matter but this likely is a carbonated bubbly, a perfectly fine technique for a refreshing fun wine. It id fresh and fruity, with notes of strawberry. 90.

The View Pearls Traditional Brut 2016 ($34.69 for 275 cases). This bottle-fermented sparkling wine is 93% Riesling and 7% white Pinotage. It has aromas of citrus mingled with toasty lees. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus and apple. The wine is bone dry. 90.

The View Pinotage Reserve 2015 ($25.95 for 647 cases). The grapes for this wine had 72 hours of skin contact. Close to 20% of the juice was bled off to give the finished wine more concentration. This is a generous wine, beginning with aromas of black cherry, blackberry jam and toasted oak. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry and blueberry. 90.

Wards Cherry Apple Cider ($11.95 for six pack). This is a blend of cider apples and Montmorency Cherry juice fermented with Champagne yeast. The cider begins with an appealing rosé hue. The aromas and flavours of apple and cherry mingle in a refreshing off-dry cider. 89.

Wards Ginger Apple Cider ($11.95 for six pack). This is made with a blend of cider and dessert apples along with natural ginger. It is fermented with Champagne yeast. The subtle aroma and flavour of ginger is a perfect complement to the fresh apple. The finish is crisp and refreshing. 90.

Wards Pickers Hut Premium Cider ($6.95 for 650 ml). This beverage is made with a blend of cider and dessert apples, fermented with Champagne yeast. It is aromatic and off-dry, beginning with aromas of apple and pear which are echoed in the flavour. It is balanced to finish crisply. 90.

Wards Sangria Cider ($8.95 for 650 ml). The winery calls this a “unique mash-up unlike anything you’ve tried before.” It is a rosé-hued cider made with cider apples and grapes (Pinotage and Gewürztraminer), fermented with Champagne yeast. The cider has persistent bubbles. The aromas and flavours mingle berry and apple. It is a refreshing off-dry cider looking for a hot summer afternoon. 87.

Wards Frostbite Cider ($8.95 for 650 ml). Made with cider apples and hops, this is the first hopped cider from Wards. The plan had been to make this with a late harvest apple. However, an early frost nipped the apples, likely accounting for the golden hue and rich texture. The cider is dry, nicely punctuated with the hops flavour on the finish. 90.


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