Thursday, November 1, 2018

Gray Monk: steady as she goes

Photo: Gray Monk Winery 

Gray Monk Estate Winery was acquired in 2017 by Andrew Peller Ltd.

Most of the current portfolio was still made under the original owners and by winemakers Roger Wong (below left) and George Heiss Jr. (below right). The latter left soon after the Heiss family sold the winery.

One would expect changes will come under Peller. Some of the growers that had supplied Gray Monk for years now are selling their grapes to other producers, likely because Peller has a number of its own vineyards.

I don’t expect that to impact negatively on the quality of Gray Monk wines. Peller manages its vineyards well.

The Gray Monk portfolio, which is lengthy, might be pruned a bit going forward. I don’t expect Peller to be quite as emotionally invested in Siegerrebe and Rotberger as the Heiss family was.

Pinot Gris will certainly retain a major presence in the portfolio, if only because Gray Monk pioneered that varietal in the Okanagan. It is now the most widely planted white in British Columbia. Gray Monk is still a leading producer.

Gray Monk once produced just white and rosé wines. Over the last decade and especially after the winery’s south Okanagan vineyard began producing, the winery’s reds have also become impressive. Peller has access to additional red varietals to support the red portfolio.

I also expect Peller will expand Gray Monk’s excellent portfolio of sparkling wines. This has become one of the hottest categories in B.C. wine.

However, the Peller hand on this portfolio seems light, at least so far. It could be a matter of not fixing what isn’t broken.

Here are notes on some of the current releases. The reserve tier is called Odyssey.

Gray Monk Pinot Gris 2016 ($16.99). The wine presents in the glass with a light blush. It begins with aromas of peach and nectarine leading to flavours of nectarine and ripe pear. The finish is dry and lingering. 90.

Gray Monk Chardonnay Unwooded 2017 ($15.99). The wine begins with aromas of citrus and apple. On the palate, there are flavours of apple and citrus. The wine is crisp and refreshing. 90.

Gray Monk Pinot Noir 2016 ($16.99). The wine presents with a light hue, signalling this is a light Pinot Noir that benefits from being slightly chilled to bring out the charm and the cherry flavours. 88.

Gray Monk Odyssey Pinot Noir 2014 ($23.49). The wine presents with a dark hue. In the glass, aromas of cherry mingle with hints of oak. It has flavours of cherry. The texture is firm. There is a touch of oak on the finish. 90.

Gray Monk Merlot 2015 ($16.99). The wine begins with aromas of black currant, black cherry and blueberry. The flavours are packed with dark fruits mingled with a hint of vanilla and cedar. 90.

Gray Monk Cabernet Merlot 2014 ($17.39). This wine begins with aromas of cherry and cassis, echoed on the palate, along with flavours of black currant, chocolate and tobacco. 90.

Gray Monk Odyssey Merlot 2014 ($20.89). The wine begins with aromas of cassis and black cherry. The texture and the fruit flavours are concentrated, with layers of dark  fruit mingled with vanilla, blackberry, blueberry and spice. 91.

Gray Monk Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($26.09). This begins with aromas of cherry, cassis and mint. The wine is generous on the palate with flavours of black cherry, blueberry mingled with vanilla and tobacco. 92.

Gray Monk Odyssey Meritage 2014 ($30.49). This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In the glass, it opens with aromas of toasted oak mingled with dark fruit. On the palate, the flavours are rich and complex – black cherry, blackberry and cassis. On the finish, dark fruits mingle with dark chocolate and coffee. The flavours linger and linger. 93.

Gray Monk Odyssey III ($17.39 for 500 ml). This is a fine port-style fortified red with aromas and flavours of black cherry, figs and spice. The finish lingers. 91.

Gray Monk Odyssey White Brut 2015 ($23.99). This sparkling wine is a blend of Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. The wine is clean and fresh, with aromas of citrus, apple and brioche and with a fruity palate. The finish is crisp. The overall impression is elegance. 91.


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