Saturday, June 14, 2014

Road 13's new wines and new faces

Photo: Road 13's new general manager, Joe Luckhurst

New faces are now representing Road 13 Vineyards at public functions: Joe Luckhurst, who was named general manager in January, and his wife, Laura.

Joe is the son of Mick and Pam Luckhurst who have been in the wine business since late 2003 when they bought what was then called Golden Mile Cellars.

Mick, who is 64 and still farming the vineyards, and Pam have decided to shift some of the load to the next generation after a turbocharged decade driving production from 1,000 cases to well over 20,000 cases.

Their hard-charging habit came from previous business careers that included a running a building supply in Vancouver Island to a building development firm in Edmonton. The couple semi-retired to Osoyoos in 2003. After a summer of taking visitors on Okanagan winery tours, they decided to buy a winery of their own.

Golden Mile Cellars was then five years old. Peter Serwo, one of the founders, was 71. He and his wife, Helga, had expected that one of their children would take over. When that did not happen, they decided to sell the winery. The Luckhursts operated the winery under that name for four or five years before rebranding (very successfully) as Road 13.

It seems that succession planning has worked better for the Luckhursts, with one of their two sons joining them in the business.

Joe and Laura – her whimsical title is director of first impressions – have recently been introducing Road 13’s current releases to the trade. Here are my notes on the wines.

Road 13 Stemwinder 2012 ($17.99). This is a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne with Chardonnay. In recent vintages, the Stemwinder formula has been changed twice. With this blend, Joe Luckhurst maintains: “I think we hit the nail on the head.” Consumers will agree. This is a wine with guava, peach and apricot flavours that coat the palate with lush tropical fruit. The wine is well-balanced to finish dry. 90.

Road 13 Viognier 2013 ($21.99). The grapes for this wine were handled gently with the use of a basket press. That shows in the fresh and delicate aromas and flavours of peach, apricot and apple. 90.

Road 13 Merlot 2012 ($24.99 for 374 cases). Here is a big, ripe red with alcohol of 14.9% but with such rich fruit and texture that the alcohol is not obtrusive. There are aromas of black currant, black cherry and vanilla. There is a lovely core of cassis, plum and mulberry flavours on the generous palate. The finish lingers. 91.

Road 13 Syrah Malbec 2012 ($25 for 362 cases). This is 66% Syrah and that varietal brings pepper and spice to the aroma and to the gamey flavours. There are also blackberry and cassis flavours. (The winery’s website gives the price to be $32 while the brochure at the tasting reads $25.) 91.

Road 13 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($27.99 for 30 cases). The varietal characters of Cabernet jump out of the glass – mint and black currant in both the aroma and the flavour. This is a wine that really should be aged three or four more years, allowing bottle development to convert the youthful green notes to mature flavours. 89-91.

Road 13 Fifth Element 2011 ($49.99). There are now six varieties – five Bordeaux reds and a Syrah – in Road 13’s flagship wine. The wine begins with aromas of black olives, blackberry and blueberry. Ripe and rich on the palate and benefitting from 16 months in French oak, the wine has savoury flavours of dark plum, black currant and blackberries. 92.

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