Friday, November 22, 2013

Naramata neighbors: Figaro and Portfolio

Photo: Laughing Stock's David Enns
By coincidence, two wines came across my desk from Naramata Bench wineries that are almost neighbours.

Laughing Stock Vineyards is right on Naramata Road while Terravista Vineyards is a few kilometres up hill. If I were throwing a dinner to show off two classy Naramata wines, I would certainly recommend Terravista’s Figaro with the fish course and Laughing Stock’s Portfolio with the meat course.

Other than being focused on quality, these two wineries have quite different approaches. Laughing Stock, which opened in 2005, has a portfolio of eight or ten wines. The flagship is Portfolio, a Bordeaux blend made every year since 2003, the winery’s inaugural vintage.

Laughing Stock is a comparatively large winery among its Naramata Bench colleagues, making perhaps 6,000 cases a year. Owners David and Cynthia Enns are not planning to grow much larger. David’s focus, as a winemaker, is to build more complexity into his wines than is there already.

To that end, he has added to his fermentation tool kit three concrete eggs and, as of this vintage, two 500-litre clay amphorae. The latter, made in Italy, are the first in any Okanagan winery. They are being used in the production of rosé and a Viognier/Marsanne/Roussanne blend.

Terravista’s Figaro is a Roussanne/Viognier/Marsanne blend. The Roussanne portion of Figaro is fermented in French oak 500 litre puncheons and the Marsanne (with a small portion of Viognier) in older French 225 litre barrels (5+ yr old). The remainder of Viognier in Figaro is fermented in stainless steel fermenters.
The wine does remain sur lie for the winter.  Bottling is not until late May.

Terravista is a 1,700-case capacity winery that was opened in 2011 by Senka and Bob Tennant. Previously, they were one of the two couples who opened Black Hills Estate Winery in 2001 and then sold it in 2007.

When the Tennants decided to return to the wine industry, it was with quite a different model that either Black Hills or Laughing Stock. Terravista makes just two white wines. Figaro is made from purchased grapes and a wine called Fandango is made from two Spanish varieties grown at Terravista РAlbari̱o and Verdejo. Fandago was released earlier this year to critical acclaim.

Together, these wineries are among the most interesting on the Naramata Bench. Here are notes on the wines.

Terravista Figaro 2012 ($23.90). The wine begins with aromas of pear and apricot, leading to flavours of apple and pineapple. The finish is dry and crisp, with a fine spine of minerality. 90.

Laughing Stock Portfolio 2011 ($42). This is a blend of 42% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine spent a total of 19 months in French oak (45% new). The accounts for the svelte and polished texture of a wine that is bright and elegant. There is an abundance of red fruit in the aroma, with flavours of black currant, cherry and chocolate. The finish is long. While this wine is already drinking well (if you decant it), it should continue to improve in bottle for at least 10 years. 92.

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