Photo: Maverick Estate Winery's tasting room
The white stucco exterior and the tin roof are especially evocative of
Cape wineries with which the winery
owners and their families are familiar. Schalk de Witt is a doctor from South Africa who has been practising in Alberta and British
Columbia for many years. Winemaker Bertus Albertyn is
a 1978 graduate of who came to
the Okanagan in 2009, after marrying Schalk’s daughter, who is also a doctor. Stellenbosch
It proved to be a very convenient marriage (as opposed to marriage of convenience) for Schalk. He owns two parcels of vineyard land in the south Okanagan, one purchased in 2006 and the other, now occupied by the winery, in 2009. Having an experienced winemaker in the family allows him to unlock the potential of that vineyard real estate.
Bertus (left) spent four years as the winemaker at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery before leaving in mid-2013 to focus on Maverick. Concurrent with that career, he and Schalk converted the 2009 purchase – a former organic farm – into a 7 ½-acre vineyard planted to Pinot Noir,
Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Planting is scheduled for the nearby second property, 15 acres in size, in
“The vineyard is doing really well,” says Bertus, who was able to produce 2,800 cases in the 2013 vintage with purchased fruit as well as with grapes from Maverick’s planting.
While Bertus and Schalk converted former farm buildings in a winemaking facility, they decided to build totally new wine shop. Visually, the 1,500-square foot building announces that Maverick is a must-visit winery.
The wine shop is perched on the west side of Highway 97, midway between Oliver and Osoyoos. The wine shop’s expansive windows look out on vineyards and farm.
The wine shop opened with three very interesting white wines, with a red blend and a port-style wine scheduled for release later in the year.
Here are notes on the wines.
Maverick Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($19 for 500 cases). The winemaking here involves great attention to detail, beginning with picking the grapes by hand into 30 pound trays; cooling them to 5-8 Celsius before pressing whole bunches; and then leaving the juice in contact with the skins for eight hours. The free run juice is fermented cool in stainless steel to preserve vibrant fruit flavours and aromas. The press wine, about 25% of the volume, is fermented in used French oak barrels and left on lees for three months before being blended with the free run portion. And did I mention it? Bertus sometimes ferments with natural yeast!
The style of this wine recalls good Sancerre. The wine begins with aromas of herbs and lime, leading to flavours of lime and grapefruit. The wine’s bright acidity gives it a tangy and refreshing finish. 91.
Maverick Pinot Gris 2013 ($19 for 270 cases). The winemaking techniques again are detail-driven, including hand picking, whole bunch pressing and gentle pressing. A quarter of the wine was fermented, with natural yeast, in old French oak. When fermentation is complete, the wine is racked and blended and then aged on the fine lees for three months to enhance its texture and eight on the palate. There is also 10% Gewürztraminer in the blend.
The wine begins with aromas of grapefruit and pear, leading to flavours of pear and apple. The winery describes the style as “unadorned” with mineral notes on the finish. This is such a complex wine that I would recommend decanting to fully liberate the fruit flavours. 90.
Maverick Origin 2013 ($16 for 170 cases). The winemaking techniques are quite similar to those used to make the Sauvignon Blanc. This is 60% Gewürztraminer, 40% Sauvignon Blanc. A quarter of the blend was aged in used French oak barrels to enhance the texture. This is the winery’s third vintage of wine, which is packed with tropical fruit aromas and flavours. The wine has a luscious honeyed texture, with citrus and melon flavours and a crisp, spicy finish. 90.