Monday, April 18, 2011

Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country is the South Okanagan's new branding

Photo: Adega on 45th Winery

The South Okanagan Winery Association used last weekend’s Banée celebration to reveal that it is rebranding as Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country, with the slogan “Uncork the Sun.”

The objective is raising the profile of this exciting wine region. It extends from the U.S. border to McIntyre Bluff, north of Oliver. The membership includes all by five of the 26 wineries current operating in the area.

The group has a lot of news to communicate these days. Some examples:

* New wineries, two of which are close to the big Jackson-Triggs winery. Hidden Chapel Winery and River Stone Estate Winery are days away from opening their tasting rooms. Adega on 45th Winery (not yet a member) expects to open its tasting room by summer. Intersection Winery (also not yet a member) looks like it might have wine available by the fall.

Hidden Chapel, beside the highway north of Oliver, is operated by Lanny Kinrade with his wife, Deborah Wilde, and his brother Terry. The winery itself is based on a 3 ½ acre vineyard planted exclusively with Cabernet Sauvignon. From this and from purchased fruit, the winery is launching primarily with big reds.

Photo: Lorraine and Ted Kane

River Stone is located beside Tuc-Ul-Nuit Road northeast of Oliver. The business card identifies Ted Kane as the owner and Lorraine, his wife and a busy doctor, as a consumer. The winery is launching with three solid wines: a Pinot Gris, a Malbec rosé and a Cabernet Franc.

Adega on 45th, still under construction, is a handsome winery with a bell tower, set in a vineyard not far from Nk’Mip Winery at Osoyoos. The owners are Fred Farinha and his brother-in-law, Alex Nunes. They are long-time tree fruit growers who replaced their trees several years ago with about 30 acres of grapes. They bring a Portuguese heritage and love of wine to this project.

Photo: Fred Farinha (left) and Alex Nunes

Intersection Winery is the new name that Bruce Schmidt has given to his Parallel 49 Vineyards, which is at Highway 97 and #8 Road south of Oliver.

* Two wineries have changed names this spring. Golden Beaver Winery has become Castoro de Oro Winery (castor is Latin for beaver). The object is to get around the reluctance of sommeliers to put the Golden Beaver label on wine lists.

Twisted Tree Winery has become Moon Curser Vineyards in a rebranding managed by Bernie Hadley-Beauregard (of Blasted Church and Dirty Laundry fame). Chris and Beata Tolley, the winery’s owners, wanted to eliminate the lingering confusion between their winery name and Oliver Twist Winery or Tangled Vines Winery. As always, Bernie has designed provocative labels.

* Two wineries are opening restaurants. Tinhorn Creek Estate Winery’s new Miradoro Restaurant (above), opened in partnership with Manuel Ferreira of Vancouver’s Le Gavroche, is getting rave reviews for both its food and the views from this elegant building high above the valley.

In a few weeks, Hester Creek will open its Terrafina Restaurant in the building that formerly served as its tasting room. The guiding culinary mind here is Jeremy Luypen, the executive chef for the highly-rated Passa Tempo Restaurant in Osoyoos.

Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country’s Banée was the eighth in what is primarily an industry celebration to mark the start of a new season. The idea comes from an old French tradition where winery owners came together after pruning was done to unwind over dinner with their best wines. The Oliver Osoyoos Banée’s timing allowed most wineries rolled out the new whites from 2010 and reds from the two previous years.

The 2010 vintage was a challenging one, with a late spring, a cool summer, a rainy September and then a long, dry autumn. The white wines from that vintage are proving to be packed with flavour, finishing crisply with vibrant but balanced acidity. The two previous years had their issues as well but, for the most part, the reds are very good.

Here are some random notes on excellent wines I tasted during Banée.

Burrowing Owl 2008 Meritage. This is an elegant blend of Bordeaux varietals with classic aromas and flavours of black currants, blackberries and cedar and with long ripe tannins. 91.

Cassini Cellars 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. This is a crisp varietal reminiscent of Sancerre, with herbal aromas and citrus flavours. 88.

Castoro do Oro Heart of Gold 2010. This is a creative blend of Viognier, Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc, with flavours of melons and apricots and with a crisp finish. 88.

Church & State Tre Bella 2010. This is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. The wine begins with herbal and floral aromas. On the palate, there is a touch of honey along with citrus. The texture is rich and satisfying and the finish is dry and lingering. 90.

Desert Hills 2010 Gewürztraminer. This white absolutely slaps you in the face with its vivid spicy aromas and mouth-filling flavours of grapefruit and lime. This delicious wine has a long, dry, spicy finish. 90.

Dunham & Froese Amicitia White 2009. This is an elegant and complex blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Viognier. Rich and full on the palate, it has tropical fruit aromas and flavours of melon and guava. 90.

Gehringer Brothers 2010 Pinot Gris Private Reserve. This delicious wine is juicy on the palate with flavours of citrus and pear. The finish is refreshingly crisp. 90. With this vintage, Gehringer Brothers has switched top screw caps and has launched a new label that is crisp, clean and classy. Jackson-Triggs, take note.

Hester Creek 2009 Character Red. This wine, along with Character White, is a new blend. This is Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It has satisfying flavours of chocolate, tobacco, cherry and plum. The ripe tannins mean the wine is already approachable but also that it can be cellared a few years. 90.

Hidden Chapel Winery Trilogy 2009. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Merlot (35%) and Cabernet Franc (10%). There are flavours of plum, black currants and cherry; and the texture shows excellent concentration and length. 90.

Inniskillin Okanagan Discovery Series 2008 Sangiovese. Here is a concentrated Tuscan red with earthy flavours of plum and red berries. 90.

Jackson-Triggs 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Black Series. The name here refers to a series of astonishingly bland new labels that Jackson-Triggs is rolling out. The wines are way better than the labels. This is zesty and refreshing with grapefruit and lime aromas and flavours and vibrant acidity. 88.

Moon Curser Vineyards 2009 Border Vines. This is the new name for what the winery used to call Six Vines – because it includes all six Bordeaux varietals. It is a bold red, beginning with aromas of blueberries and cassis and with generous fruity flavours. The finish has a hint of spice and pepper. 92.

Nk’Mip Cellars 2010 Riesling. This was a tank sample of a wine due to be released in the fall. By then its attractive lime flavours will be accompanied by a good varietal aroma and perhaps even a touch of petrol. The finish is crisply dry. 90.

Oliver Twist 2010 Oliver’s Choice. This is a tasty Kerner, with a touch of residual sweetness to lift the grapefruit, lime and peach flavours. The balance is so exquisite that the long finish seems dry. 89.

Quinta Ferreira Viognier 2009. This is a restrained white, with notes of pineapple and apricot and with a rich palate. 89.

River Stone 2010 Malbec Rosé. Here is a remarkable rosé, intense in colour and aroma, with flavours of strawberry and red plum. 90.

Road 13 Chenin Blanc 2010. Winemaker J-M Bouchard calls this wine the “star” of Road 13’s wines from that vintage. It is indeed terrific, with lime and apple flavours and with a good backbone of minerals and acidity. 91.

Silver Sage 2010 Gewürztraminer. This wine begins with a delicate rose petal aroma. It is delicately light on the palate, tasting of candy and spice. 88.

Stoneboat Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris. Here is a fruit bomb beginning with an aromatic nose and showing layers of pear and citrus and peach. The finish is refreshing and crisp. 91.

Tinhorn Creek 2010 Pinot Gris. This winery has an excellent track record with Pinot Gris and this wine – aromas of citrus and pineapple and flavours of citrus and pears – does not disappoint. 90.

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