Friday, August 22, 2014

Serendipity Winery and its neighbour

Photo: Therapy Vineyards hilltop winery

Wine tourists on the way to Naramata often remark on the unusual proximity of Serendipity Winery and Therapy Vineyards.

The Therapy winery is perched on the crest of a hill while Serendipity seems to be buried into the base of the hill. It always strikes me a great location for a cable car ride.

Therapy is the older winery, opening in 2005 in what had been the original Red Rooster winery. It took Therapy about five years to outgrow that facility and build the much larger winery on the crown of the hill. Serendipity opened in 2011 and built its current cellar (right) a few years later.

Therapy, which is owned by a group of investors, celebrates psychotherapy and Sigmund Freud on the labels of many of its wines. Occasionally, the winery moves away from that, commissioning artist labels, perhaps in recognition that the Freud puns  can wear a little thin – even if the wines don’t. The winemaker, Steve Latchford, is a veteran vintner who started his career in Ontario.

Serendipity’s owner, Judy Kingston, formerly had a successful law practice in Toronto until opting for the wine grower’s life style. Many of the Serendipity labels feature an image of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree, with an apple about to hit his head. You need to read the text on the bottles to get a flavour of the stories.

Serendipity has just hired Brad Cooper, the former winemaker at Township 7. However, the wines under review here made by Richard Kanazawa (the 2013s) and by Jason Parkes (the 2010s) with input in both instances from Judy, who is a hands-on owner.

Here are notes on the wines.

Serendipity Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($N/A). This wine is crisply lean, with aromas of lemon and herbs, leading to flavours of lemon and lime and a repeat of the spicy herbs on the dry finish. 88.

Serendipity Viognier 2013 ($20). This is a stunning wine, brimming with aromas and flavours of tropical fruit. The lychee, peach and apple flavours explode on the palate and the bright acidity gives the wine a lively and fresh finish. With just 12% alcohol, this wine drinks just as well on its own as with food. 92.

Serendipity Rosé 2013 ($18). This rosé is clearly made in the style of Provence, with its pale hue and its crisply dry finish. The wine has aromas of spicy cherries. On the palate, there are flavours of raspberry, cranberry and cherry, with lingering spice notes. 88.

Serendipity Estate Merlot 2010 ($N/A). The winery must have a warm and well-managed vineyard to get a ripe wine like this – 14.6% alcohol – in a cool vintage. This wine’s aromas of vanilla, black currant and black cherries simply charge from the glass. The flavours are bold, with black currant, vanilla and dark chocolate. The texture is still firm, with an interestingly rustic earthy note on the finish. 90.

Serendipity Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($N/A). The grapes for this wine are from the Similkameen vineyard operated by a retired RCMP officer appropriately named Walt Makepeace. He and Serendipity’s Judy Kingston met in viticulture classes and she struck a deal to get his grapes until he had his own winery. The Makepeace family has just opened Hugging Tree Winery and Judy will need another good Cabernet source.

This wine begins with aromas of vanilla (from bold barrel aging), black currant and blueberry. On the palate, there are flavours of cassis mingled with cola, dark chocolate and espresso coffee. This wine should either be decanted or cellared for the three or four years in which it will continue to get better and better. 91.

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Therapy Gewürztraminer 2013 ($19.99 for 295 cases). As if Gewürztraminer is not already aromatic, winemaker Steve Latchford employed techniques to accentuate those fruity aromas. That included 18 hours of skin contact and then fermenting the juice quite cool (14 Celsius) with a yeast strain that boosts aroma. The result is a wine with spice and ginger in the aroma and the palate, along with flavours of grapefruit. The wine has good weight on the palate. The wine is balanced to finish dry and food friendly. 90.

Therapy Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($20 for 215 cases). Winemaker Steve Latchford had the vines managed in a way that was designed to produce a classically herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc. No leaf thinning was done so that the grapes were shaded. Nor was the crop thinned. The result is a wine with moderate acidity of 11.7%, with aromas of citrus and herbs and flavours of lime and lemon. The wine has a crisp, tangy finish with a spine of minerals. 88.

Therapy Dog Days of Summer Viognier 2013 ($23.99 for 77 cases). The wine, part of Therapy’s artist series, is named for a colourful label designed by Langley artist Gerald Alexander. This limited production wine is available only at Therapy’s wine shop or by the case from the winery. As soon as I read that the grapes came from Ron Fournier’s vineyard, I was eager to taste the wine, for Ron is one of top growers in the South Okanagan. This wine was barrel-fermented in French oak, spending two months on the lees and then, after racking, three more months in barrel, probably to enhance the texture. The wine begins with rich aromas of banana, honeysuckle and apricot. On the palate, there are flavours of apricot on a subtle frame of soft, but not obtrusive, oak. There is a lovely dry but creamy finish. 91.

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