Wednesday, April 18, 2012

JoieFarm's 2011 wines showcase a good vintage

It is spring in the Okanagan, with buds swelling on the vines. To everyone’s relief, it looks as if spring is a little earlier this year that in 2011 – more like a normal spring.

Last year, as JoieFarm Wines says in its vintage comments, “… was a cool vintage from start to finish. Spring was late arriving and it delayed bud break until May 16. … Normal summer-like temperatures were not seen until mid-July.” Fortunately, the weather improved in the latter half of the season, with a long October hang-time that saved the vintage for many.

Against that background, the quality of the 2011 white and rosé wines now being released is surprising and, almost always very good. That is certainly so for JoieFarm’s 2011 releases, among the best from that Naramata winery so far. The cool vintage blessed consumers with wines that show vibrant acidity and freshness, good flavours and delightfully moderate alcohols.

Here are my notes on JoieFarm wines, available in restaurants, private wine stores and through the winery’s website.

JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2011 ($23.90, with a production of 3,467 cases, 486 magnums and 90 double magnums). This is a five-grape blend: 38% Riesling, 33% Gewürztraminer, 14% Pinot Blanc, 11% Pinot Auxerrois and 4% Schönburger. The wine begins with aromas of herbs, spice and citrus fruit; and delivers flavours of apples, lychee and lime, with a hint of minerality. The 12.7% alcohol adds to the elegance of the wine. 91.

JoieFarm Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2011 ($22.90 for 1,219 cases). The wine begins with an alluring aroma of peach and apricot and delivers flavours of apples, pears and stone fruits. The concentration of fruit flavours gives this wine a more satisfying weight on the palate that one expects from 12.2% alcohol. The winery has made reference to Chablis on the back label. It does not echo Chablis for me but it is a delicious wine. 90.

JoieFarm Riesling 2011 ($22.90 for 780 cases). I could close my eyes while drinking this wine and be transported to the Rhine. The winery balanced the lively acidity (10.5 grams per litre) with 19.3 grams per litre of residual sugar. The result is a wine which, while technically off-dry, tastes crisp and tangy. There is a pristine focus to the fruit aromas and flavours – flavours of lime, grapefruit – with a good mineral backbone. The alcohol is 12.4%. I would bet it will age very well for several years, if you can stay away from it.

JoieFarm Muscat 2011 ($22.90 for 427 cases). The winery refers to the Moscato Canelli grape as “the pure grape” – presumably because the flavours are so clean and refreshing. There is a delicate spice in the aroma, with flavours of lime, grapefruit and tangerine. The finish is tangy. With only 11.1% alcohol, this is a very drinkable wine, whether as an aperitif or with food. 90.

JoieFarm Pinot Blanc 2011 (22.90 for 180 cases). The grapes for this wine are from two blocks that were planted in 1987. It shows in the concentration and weight of the wine. It begins with apple aromas, going on to flavours of apple and pear. The tiny bit of residual sugar, while well balanced with acidity, plumps up the fruitiness as well. 90.

JoieFarm Rosé 2011 ($20.90 for 2,026 cases, 340 magnums). I think you could credit JoieFarm for making rosé wines from the Okanagan popular. Hardly anybody was making rosé when JoieFarm opened in 2004. Now, almost everyone is and many are delicious. Certainly this one is. It is a blend of four grapes: 41% Gamay, 38% Pinot Noir, 11% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Gris. The wine, which has an appealing hue, begins with spice and cranberry aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of strawberry, cherry and cranberry. This is a crisp, dry rosé meant for food. 90.

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