Sunday, November 6, 2011

Painted Rock releases a quintette of fine wines

Photo: John Skinner

John Skinner retired from the brokerage business more than a year ago to dedicate himself entirely to running his Painted Rock Estate Winery near Okanagan Falls.

Considering the turmoil in the markets this year, you have to admire John for his timing.

I am betting he might be taking some heat from clients if he were still managing portfolios. But I doubt has is getting much, if any, from the Painted Rock customers because the winery is delivering the results than wine lovers want.

At the recent Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards, Painted Rock won three gold medals, four silver and six bronze. That ranked the winery first among the British Columbia competitors and third among Canadian competitors. That is a pretty convincing performance.

This fall’s wine release includes four from the 2009 vintage, a year that produced a lot of good wines in the Okanagan, and 2010 Chardonnay. The 2010 vintage was a bit challenging for reds but it was one of the best white wine vintages in a decade.

Here are my notes.

Painted Rock Chardonnay 2010 ($30). Here is a Chardonnay that re-defines finesse. It begins with dramatic tropical aromas of citrus, spice and a hint of barrel (this is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay). On the palate, the flavours are lively, with notes of grapefruit and mandarin orange, with almost imperceptible oak. It has just the right note of acidity to give the wine a bright, vibrant finish. 92.

Painted Rock Merlot 2009 ($40). This wine begins with aromas of blackberry, cassis and new oak, continuing to flavours of black currants, raspberries and pomegranate. The texture is concentrated and firm (even after decanting), suggesting the wine has the power and the structure to cellar for another seven or eight years. 91.

Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($40). Dense and concentrated, this is a very well-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. It begins with attractive aromas of ripe berry fruit and cassis, On the palate, there are flavours of black currant, blackberry and plum, with a finish of sage, spice, cedar, even hints of tobacco. The ripe but firm tannins suggest a wine capable of aging at least 10 years. 92.

Painted Rock Syrah 2009 ($40). Here is a big brooding Rhone-style Syrah, beginning with aromas of plum, ripe fig and oak (the wine was aged in new oak, 70% French, 30% American). On the palate, there are meaty and earthy flavours of fig, tobacco, pepper. 91.

Painted Rock Red Icon 2009 ($55). Here is a big, unfiltered red already throwing a bit of sediment. That’s no big deal because you will be decanting this wine anyway, if only to let it open and show its complex aromas and flavours. It begins with aromas of spice, blackberry, black currant and dark cherry. I decanted this wine and tasted it over two days. As it opens up, it shows a rich texture with flavours of berries, plums, dark chocolate and vanilla. This is a wine with both power and elegance. 93-95

It is a blend of Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (29%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Petit Verdot (15%) and Syrah (1%). This is the third vintage of Red Icon and the first with no Malbec in the blend. The blend is done under the eye of Alain Sutre, a wine guru from Bordeaux. He knows what he is doing.

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