Monday, July 29, 2019

Hester Creek repeats a clever blend

The winemakers at Hester Creek Estate Winery created a Pinot Gris/Viognier blend for the first time in 2017, and have now repeated the blend in 2018.

The substantial volume, 2,700 cases, indicates that this unusual blend has been successful. In 2017, the production was 1,100 cases. The wine is distributed only through the VQA shops at Save-On-Foods.

The specification sheet does not indicate the percentages of either variety in the blend. Presumably, Pinot Gris dominates and defines the appealing freshness of the wine.

In the winery, the Pinot Gris was fermented at cool temperatures for 16 days in stainless steel. The Viognier was cool-fermented for 17 days in stainless steel. The wines were blended after fermentation and bottled in January, 2019, about three months after harvest. All of these techniques added to the refreshing character of the wine.

I cannot recall any other producer blending these two varieties, if only for economic reasons. Viognier on its own can readily be sold for as much as $10 a bottle more than Pinot Gris. Hester Creek may be leaving a bit of money on the table. Note that the Viognier released on its own sells for $3 a bottle more than the blend.

Consumers should be aware that this tasty Hester Creek blend represents tremendous value.

Here are notes on the wine and on three other recent Hester Creek releases.

Hester Creek Pinot Blanc 2018 ($15.99 for 3,400 cases). Hester Creek has one of the oldest (50 years plus) and best Pinot Blanc blocks in the Okanagan. This wine begins with aromas of apples and peaches. It is fresh and crisp on the palate, with flavours of apples and nectarines. There is a spine of minerality. 91.

Hester Creek Pinot Gris Viognier 2018 ($16.99 for 2,700 cases; Save-On-Foods only). This wine begins with aromas of citrus, pear and lime. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus, pears, apples and apricots. There is a hint of residual sugar very nicely balanced with bright acidity. 92.

Hester Creek Terra Unica Viognier 2018 ($19.99 for 144 cases wine club only). This exceptional Viognier begins with floral aromas that jump from the glass. On the palate, the honeyed texture delivers of peach and apricot with a twist of lime. The bright acidity keeps the wine bright and refreshing. 94.

Hester Creek Terra Unica Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($28.99 for 250 cases; wine club only). This wine was aged 12 months in French (75%) and American oak barrels. It begins with aromas of black cherries, black currants, spice and cigar box. On the generous palate, there are flavours of black currant and black cherry mingled with vanilla. The luscious texture gives the wine a rich impact on the palate. 92.


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