Thursday, September 18, 2014

Noble Ridge and friends: tasting Okanagan Falls wines

Photo: Noble Ridge vineyards in the autumn

The Okanagan Falls region has come into its in recent years for wine touring.

The area got a major lift a few years when the wineries formed an association and when Blue Mountain, the area’s anchor tenant, began opening its tasting room regularly.

I have wandered the region again during the spring and summer and visited most of the wineries. One exception has been Wild Goose Vineyards because I could never work my schedule to east at the new bistro there. I will: I hear nothing but rave reviews for the food. It goes without saying that the wines are outstanding. No winery has won more Lieutenant Governor’s Awards of Excellence. Another exception was Blue Mountain Vineyards, only because I have blogged on their wines separately.

Here are notes on some of the other wines I have tasted.

Blasted Church Unorthodox Chardonnay 2013 ($18.50 for 584 cases). This is an utterly delicious unoaked Chardonnay that includes some of the spicy Chardonnay Musqué clone in the blend.  It begins with aromas of peach and citrus. The wine gives the impression of rich palate weight because it brimming with fruit (peaches, apples, lime). The finish is tangy and quite refreshing. 91.

Blasted Church Pinot Gris 2013 ($20.50 for 2,500 cases). The wine was released in May and only 700 cases remain. It is no wonder it sells so quickly. The wine begins with appealing aromas of peach, apricot and pear. The flavours are packed with stone fruit and pear, with a touch of anise on the finish. The texture is generous and the finish is refreshing. 91.

Blasted Church Mixed Blessings 2013 ($18.50 for 605 cases). This delicious wine also is close to being sold out. It is a blend of Viognier (60%), Chardonnay Musqué (18%), Ehrenfelser (10%), Sauvignon Blanc (8%) and Pinot Gris (4%). Both the Viognier and the Chardonnay spent 24 hours on the skins for additional flavour. Dare I repeat myself: brimming with fruit! This is a wine that begins with aromas apples, pears and citrus, leading to generous flavours of melon, apple and apricot. The finish is long. 91.

Blasted Church Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($19.50 for 343 cases). This lean wine begins with aromas of herbs and tea. On the palate, there are flavours of lime, herbs and minerals, wrapped up with a crisp, dry finish. 88.

Blasted Church Big Bang Theory 2013 ($19.50 for 3,300 cases). This is an  easy-drinking red with aromas and juicy flavours of spicy black cherry. The blend is Merlot (48%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Syrah (13%), Pinot Noir (10%), Lemberger (8%), Malbec (3%), Cabernet Franc (1%). 87.

Blasted Church Merlot 2012 ($26.50 for 714 cases). This wine invites the consumer with aromas of cassis, blackberry and vanilla. The long, ripe tannins give the wine a full texture, with juicy flavours of black currant, cherry and plum. This is a delicious, drink-now red. 90.

Blasted Church Syrah 2012 ($26.50 for 1,584 cases). The blend is 95% Syrah, tweaked with 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Viognier and 1% Merlot. The ripe tannins have given this wine a supple and juicy texture. It has aromas of red fruit and vanilla (from 15 months in barrel) with a hint of pepper. The flavours include black cherry and plum wrapped up with the classic notes of black pepper. 90.

Liquidity Bubbly NV ($23.90 for 71 cases). This is the winery’s first sparkling wine. Crisp and refreshing with flavours of apple and grapefruit, it is a 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir cuvée. The finish is dry. 90.

Liquidity Riesling 2013 ($23.90 for 97 cases). This is a finely balanced wine, with lemon and lime aromas and flavours. The hint of residual sweetness is offset with bright acidity, giving the wine a dry finish. 90.

Liquidity Pinot Gris 2013 ($19.90 for 417 cases). The grapes are from own-rooted vines planted in 1996. That maturity shows in the good backbone of minerality in this dry wine. It has refreshing aromas and flavours of citrus and pears. 90.

Liquidity Viognier 2013 ($23.90 for 465 cases). An exceptionally complex Viognier, this wine was begun by giving skin contact to some of the grapes. Winemaker Matt Holmes then used wild yeast (for the most part). Then he aged the wine four months in older oak barrels. The wine is generous in the mouth, with aromas and flavours of apricot and fresh apple. The bright acidity gives the wine a refreshing lift on the finish. 92.

Liquidity White Blend 2013 ($19.90 for 394 cases). The winery describes this wine as a summer sipper. It is a little more complex than that. The blend is 64% Chardonnay, 25% Viognier and 11% Pinot Gris. The aromas are floral and tropical, leading to flavours of apple and pineapple. A touch of residual sugar balanced with good acidity broadens the texture. 90

Liquidity Chardonnay 2012 ($23.90 for 330 cases.) The winery is fortunate to have 20-year-old Chardonnay in its vineyard. The wine was barrel-fermented with wild yeast and aged in barrels and on the lees for 10 months. The wine is full on the palate, with butterscotch, hazelnut and citrus aromas and with tangerine flavours. 89.

Liquidity Rosé 2013 ($20.90 for 90 cases). This wine is made from the Dornfelder grape, a German varietal planted in the Okanagan for its ability to add colour to red wines. The winemaker fermented this in older French barrels with wild yeast. It is a vibrantly-hued rosé, with aromas and flavours of strawberry and cranberry. 90.

Liquidity Pinot Noir 2012 ($24.90 for 405 cases). The winery also has mature Pinot Noir vines, and five clones. Once again, the winemaker fermented the majority of this wine with wild yeast, giving the wine about 20 days of skin contact. The colour is dark. There are aromas and flavours of spice and cherry, with savoury notes of mushroom and earth. 89.

Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block 2013 ($24 for 113 cases). This elegant wine is from grapes on the winery’s Naramata Bench vineyard. It begins with aromas of toasty oak and citrus, leading to citrus and ripe apple flavours. While generous on the palate, the wine has a crisp finish. 91.

Meyer Family Vineyards Rosé 2013 ($20 for 150 cases). Made with Merlot, this exuberant rosé delivers a blast of cherry and strawberry flavours with a crisp and dry finish. 90.

Meyer Family Vineyards Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir 2012  ($25 for 1,600 cases). This is the entry-level Pinot Noir from a winery that has made Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) its speciality. This is a concentrated wine with juicy flavours of raspberry and strawberry, and a silky but full texture. 89.

Meyer Family Vineyards Reimer Pinot Noir 2012 ($40 for 318 cases). Made with grapes from a Kelowna area vineyard, this is a Pinot Noir with both intensity and length. It has a good dark colour, with aromas and flavours of cherry and spice. 90.

Meyer Family Vineyards McLean Creek Pinot Noir 2012 ($40 for 360 cases). This is a seductively pretty wine, with delicate notes of cherry and strawberry on the nose and palate. The texture is ever so silky and the wine is ever so elegant. 91.

Noble Ridge Mingle 2013 ($17.99 for 487 cases). This is a blend of 40% Chardonnay,  38% Gewurztraminer, 18% Pinot Grigio and 4% Pinot Noir. A double gold winner at the All Canadian Wine Championships this spring, this is a zesty and delicious wine. It is packed with flavours of spicy citrus, peach and apple. It has good volume on the palate, along with a refreshing and dry finish. 90.

Noble Ridge Pinot Grigio 2013 ($18.90 for 405 cases).  This wine has two gold medals and a silver in competition, so far. The wine begins with appealing aromas of peaches and pears, with a touch of orange. The wine has a generous texture, with citrus and pear flavours. The finish is refreshing, with just enough acidity to give the wine a crisp tang. 90.

Noble Ridge Reserve Chardonnay 2011 ($23.90 for 426 cases). Best of class in the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, this Chardonnay begins with aromas of buttery tangerine, pear and vanilla. On the palate, the crisp, bright apple and pear flavours are framed subtly with oak. The wine was cold-fermented in stainless steel and then aged 14 months in French and American oak, a quarter of it new. 90.

See Ya Later Ranch Jimmy My Pal 2012 ($16.90). Jimmy My Pal was one of about a dozen dogs owned by one of the former owners of the property. Some of the proceeds of this wine are donated now to the SPCA. The wine is a blend of 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Gris. The wine is crisp and fresh, with aromas and flavours of citrus and apples. 88.

See Ya Later Ranch Gewürztraminer 2013 ($Sold out). Without a doubt, this winery has one of finest Gewürztraminer blocks in the Okanagan. This wine begins with herbal and spicy aromas and goes on to spicy grapefruit flavours. The finish is dry. 90.

See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir 2011 ($20). This is a pretty wine, with a fine colour and aromas of strawberry and cherry. The texture is silky, perhaps the result of 18 months in French oak. 89.

Stag’s Hollow Tragically Vidal 2013 ($19 for 400 cases). This fruity white is always the crowd pleaser in this winery’s wine shop. The winery once grafted Chardonnay onto the Vidal roots and subsequently reversed the grafts to satisfy the demand for Vidal. People like it because the aromas and flavours of tropical fruit and lime explode from the glass. 89.

Stag’s Hollow Renaissance Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($25 for 81 cases). This wine was barrel-fermented in new French oak; just half went through malolactic fermentation. As a result, the wine has bright fruit flavours of grapefruit and gooseberry, with herbal and lime aromas. 91.

Stag’s Hollow Riesling 2013 ($20 for 380 cases). Some of the grapes were touched with botrytis. As a result, there is an appealing note of honey in the aroma, along with lime and peach. Those fruit flavours carry through to the palate and the wine ends with a vibrant, tangy finish. 89.

Stag’s Hollow Syrah Grenache Rosé 2013 ($22 for 168 cases). The wine is 85% Syrah, 15% Grenache and 100% delicious. The hue is dark; the aromas are bold, with lots of strawberry and plum which carry through to the full palate. The finish is dry. 90.

Stag’s Hollow Grenache 2012 ($30 for 170 cases). The varietal is rare in the Okanagan because the vines do not handle winters well. This is a delicious wine, with aromas and flavours of spiced plums, currants and even strawberry. 92.

Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo 2012 ($30 for 305 cases). This varietal is one of the major reds in Spain. Stag’s Hollow winemaker Dwight Sick followed the Rioja tradition of using American oak when he aged the wine in barrel for 15 months. The wine has slightly toasty aroma mingled with dark fruit notes. It has flavours of blackberry and pomegranate. 90. 

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