Thursday, December 18, 2014

Daydreamer Wines releases Shiraz and Chardonnay

 Photo: Winemaker Marcus Ansems

It was hardly a surprise that the latest releases from Daydreamer Wines in the Naramata Bench are very well made. Marcus Ansems, the winemaker, has a very long and solid track record.

Daydreamer started marketing its wines earlier this year. While the distribution channels still are limited, the wines are sold on the Daydreamer website, by the case or by the half dozen.

My reviews follow. First, here is the winery profile from my recently published John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.

Two of the signature wines from Daydreamer are Syrahs, a variety that practically runs in the veins of winemaker Marcus Ansems, the owner of this winery with his wife, Rachel. His family in Australia once owned a share of Mount Langi Ghiran, the legendary Shiraz producer in the state of Victoria, and his uncle, Trevor Mast, was a winemaker there.

“One of my favourite wines in the world was made at my family winery,” Marcus says. “It is just unique to that site … an atypical Shiraz. That wine was what inspired me to want to get involved with the industry.” Born in  1974, he graduated in enology in 1996 from Adelaide University. He went abroad to gain experience, first with Simonsig in South Africa and then in Tuscany and the Rhône. He picked up his career in Australia briefly before a Canadian wine entrepreneur, Peter Jensen, recruited him in 1999 to run wineries in Ontario and Nova Scotia. In Niagara, before he returned to Australia in 2002 as a consulting winemaker, he met Rachel, an accountant with a talent in design and photography.

They moved to British Columbia in 2004 where Marcus became the winemaker first for Blasted Church Vineyards and, a year later, for Therapy Vineyards. Since late 2008, he has been the buyer for Hemispheres Wine Guild, a Canadian club for wine collectors.

Daydreamer is the culmination of a family winery dream that Rachel and Marcus share. The winery’s Merlot-based blend is named Amelia, for their daughter. Daydreamer launched with about 1,000 cases including Chardonnay and the two Syrahs, one co-fermented with Viognier. “I like cool climate Syrah,” Marcus says. The wines come in two tiers, with the popular-priced wines are under the Daydreamer label. For premium wines, he has revived the Marcus Ansems label that he first created while he was at Therapy. 

They intend to remain a boutique winery, producing perhaps 2,000 cases a year. To keep the costs in check, they lease a quarter of a five-hectare (12-acre) and they lease space in a new custom crush winery. “I have worked for other people and I have had other partners and lots of shareholders,” Marcus says. “This is just my wife and I. We can do as little or as much as we want. It is a dream.”

Here are notes on the wines. Marcus Ansems is the winery’s premium tier.

Daydreamer Chardonnay 2013 ($24). This wine was fermented and matured for nine months in French oak barriques, without malolactic fermentation. As a result, the citrus (grapefruit) fruit flavour is crisply focussed and refreshing and the oak is subtle. 90.

Marcus Ansems Chardonnay 2013 ($30). This wine was fermented in barrel and aged for 12 months in French oak. The oak is so well integrated as to be hardly evident but for a note of toast and butterscotch in the aroma. The wine keeps the flavours of tangerine and grapefruit on centre stage. Again, the winemaker did not permit malolactic fermentation. As a result, the acidity is bright and the wine is refreshing. 91

Daydreamer Jasper 2013 ($25). This is 83% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, fermented in small (900 kg) batches, and aged for 12 months in French oak. There is a touch of mint, spice and red fruit on the nose. The texture is firm; the wine delivers flavours of black currants and spice with a hint of pepper on the finish. 89.

Daydreamer Amelia 2013 ($26). This is 90% Shiraz, 10% Viognier and the grapes were co-fermented in small batches. The wine has matured nine months in French oak. The wine begins with earthy, gamey aromas of deli meats and pepper. The wine should be decanted to allow its texture to flesh out. There are flavours of blackberry, raspberry and Christmas spices with dark chocolate and espresso on the finish. 90.

Marcus Ansems Shiraz 2013 ($35). This has matured 12 months in oak – 70% French, 30% American. The wine begins with aromas of black cherry and pepper. It delivers generous flavours of black cherry, spicy fruit cake, with black pepper, chocolate and black cherry on the finish. There is a lot of Australian personality in this full-bodied wine. 91.

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