Friday, June 22, 2012

Young and Wyse whites for 2012

Winemaker and proprietor Steve Wyse

The wines from the Okanagan’s 2011 vintage almost invariably have lower alcohols that any vintage since 1999.

The difference between that year and 2011 is the wines from the latter vintage have more flavour, if only because grape growing and winemaking is so much more accomplished.

The 2011 vintage had a late start and was cool in spring and early summer. Beginning in August, however, warm growing temperatures set in and continued through to mid-October, including unusually warm nights in September.

The vines responded. The grapes ripened well, developing flavour during the long autumn without piling on the sugars. Many wines have less than 13% alcohol.

The two new white releases from Young & Wyse Collection in Osoyoos are notable examples of the vintage: neither has alcohol higher than 11.5%.

Young & Wyse was opened in 2009 by Michelle Young and Steve Wyse. He is a member of the family that owns Burrowing Owl Vineyards. He started his career in wine there, working with the crew that built the winery and then moving into the cellar. There, he mentored with Bill Dyer, the winery’s first winemaker, and then succeeded him for several vintages.

Subsequently, Steve and Michelle decided to strike out on their own, developing this boutique winery a short distance from the U.S. border crossing in Osoyoos.

The winery made its initial reputation with its red wines. Recently, I took a bottle of the Young & Wyse Syrah 2009 to Russia, intending to open it at dinner one evening on the river cruise ship if I found myself sharing a table with other wine lovers. Ironically, the Australian couple that made up the most congenial foursome on several occasions did not drink.

So the wine made it all the way from St. Petersburg to Moscow unopened. In Moscow, we finally got to share it with our son, who is living there. Thanks to the internet, he remains current on British Columbia news. However, there probably are no Okanagan wines anywhere in Moscow, except perhaps at the Canadian embassy - and that would surprise me, given the role of vodka for entertaining.

I can report that the Young & Wyse Syrah travelled well. It was full-bodied and delicious, a nice change of pace from the (very adequate) Spanish wines served on the ship.

Moscow supermarkets have big wine selections from around the world, except the Okanagan. Entry level wines in those markets seem to start at about $20 a bottle. The Young & Wyse Syrah retailed here for $27.90 and would probably have been closer to $50 in a Moscow store. That is irrelevant speculation: the wine is sold out and would never have been shipped to Moscow anyway.

Given my recent satisfactory encounter with Young & Wyse, I was pleased to have a look at the winery’s latest releases, two whites that reflect the 2011 vintage.

Young & Wyse Pinot Gris 2011 ($19.90 for 575 cases). The wines has a very moderate alcohol of 11% and the bracing, tangy acidity typical of the vintage.  This also gives lightness to the body of the wine. There are aromas of citrus, cantaloupe and herbs, with flavours of lime, grapefruit and green apple. 88.

Young & Wyse Amber 2011 ($19.90 for 1,175 cases). The wine is named for Steve and Michelle’s daughter, Amber. The alcohol is 11.3% and the wine again leans toward lightness and delicacy. It is 43% Viognier, 37% Pinot Gris and 20% Gewürztraminer. The wine begins with aromas of herbs and rose petals. On the palate, it has refreshing flavours of lime and nectarine, with racy acidity and with minerality in the texture. 88.

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