Sunday, July 1, 2012

Noble Ridge releases The One

Photo: Jim and Leslie D'Andrea; photo by Paul D'Andrea

Jim and Leslie D’Andrea bought vineyard property near Okanagan Falls in 2001. From the beginning, the planting decisions included varieties dedicated for sparkling wine.

Their winery, Noble Ridge Vineyards & Winery, now has released its initial sparkling cuvée – “The One.”

As they explain on the back label: “Champagne has always been part of our lives. Whether celebrating the holidays, a birthday, anniversary or just the end of a long week, Champagne seemed to enhance any occasion.”

As we know, Champagne can be expensive, even for this power couple. Jim is a senior lawyer in Calgary with one of Canada’s biggest law firms and Leslie has had a career in heath care management.

I am sure that economics was not the reason that Noble Ridge’s winemaker, Phil Soo, crafted a sparkling wine for his employers. However, The One is cheaper than most Champagne, but every bit as good.

It is the star of the winery’s new releases. Here are my notes.

Noble Ridge 2011 Mingle ($17.90). The winery’s aptly-named white blend, Mingle is crisp and fresh, beginning with herbal and citrus aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus, ripe apples and herbs. The instinct for summer drinking is to chill this wine – but don’t overdo it, or you will miss the juicy, fleshy mid-palate texture. The varietals in the blend, not given on the label, are 44% Pinot Gris, 40% Chardonnay and 16% Gewürztraminer. 90.

Noble Ridge 2010 Pinot Grigio ($18.90). This wine begins with an appealing aromas of tangerines and honey, leading to honeyed citrus flavours and then to flavours of pears and peaches. There is good weight on the palate, with just a touch of warmth from the 13.8% alcohol. 89.

If I may grumble, this should be renamed Pinot Gris. Wines as ripe as this, and with this much ripeness, are hardly the classic Pinot Grigio style from Northern Italy, which generally is lighter and lower in alcohol. (Nor is this the only Okanagan Pinot Grigio that should be rechristened.)

Noble Ridge 2010 Chardonnay ($23.90). Here is a wine that does not apologize (nor should it) for being rich, buttery and boldly oaked. Both the aroma and palate deliver oak, butterscotch and tangerine, with a splendid core of citrus flavours. 88.

Noble Ridge 2009 Pinot Noir ($24.90). With 15% alcohol, this is a Pinot Noir that wants to be a Zinfandel. Spectacularly ripe and full-bodied, this begins with aromas of black cherries. On the palate, there are flavours of plums, black cherries and mocha. The fruit is so rich and concentrated that you don’t get any heat from the alcohol. The singular style sets this wine apart from the valley’s Pinot Noirs. That said, it is absolutely delicious, and big enough to go with your barbecues this summer. 90.

Noble Ridge 2009 Meritage Reserve ($29.90). At 14.7% alcohol, this is another example of the ripe and generous reds which the 2009 vintage delivered. The wine begins with aromas of vanilla, plum and black currants. On the palate, there are juicy black currant and plum flavours, with a generous texture and a long finish. 91.

Noble Ridge 2009 “The One” ($39.90). Made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this wine has a slight bronze tint, adding to its eye appeal in the Champagne flute, along with the vigorous bubbles. The aroma shows the classic toasty bouquet of a wine aged on the yeast lees before being disgorged. The flavours include hints of minerals and citrus. The initial impact on the palate is creamy but that gives way to a crisply dry finish. This wine, which has already won silver at a major American competition, has all the elegance one desires in fine sparkling wine. 92.

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