Photo: Kettle Valley's Tim Watts (r) and Bob Ferguson
The house style at Kettle Valley Winery has always been distinctive. Bob Ferguson and Tim Watts, the winemaker owners, make wines that are full of flavour and long-lived.
It flows from the way they grow their grapes, usually with low tonnages that concentrate flavours and textures. Then when they bring the fruit in, they set out to capture all the flavour that nature gave them.
One example is the winery’s gloriously eccentric Pinot Gris. By coincidence, nearby Nichol Vineyard is the only other Okanagan winery that handles Pinot Gris quite like this.
Pinot Gris is a white wine grape that, at maturity, develops a pink hue to the skins. Most wineries chose to crush the grapes and press them quickly so as not to extract colour. A lot of excellent Pinot Gris wines are made this way.
, the grapes are
crushed and then left to soak for two days on the skins before being pressed.
That extracts a lot of colour. Crucially, it also extracts a lot of aroma and
flavour. The result is a bold Pinot Gris that pairs admirably with food. Kettle
The winery has just released that wine, along with two of its Pinot Noirs.
The reserve Pinot Noir, with grapes from four vineyards in the central Okanagan, is the classic bold and ripe
style. The more floral Hayman John’s Block Pinot Noir, which is made from a
single vineyard and a single clone. Kettle Valley
“The Hayman Pinot Noir is Clone 13, commonly referred to as the “
clone, due to its popularity in in the mid-1980s,”
Bob explained in an email. “It is a thick skinned, late ripening
clone. Due to its tendency to late ripening, it is not so popular any more
and much of the original plantings in Washington State have been pulled out and
re-planted with either clone 72 (French clone 667) which is somewhat similar,
or to clone 105 which is earlier ripening and thinner
Clearly, Bob and Tim have learned to work with the clone, preferred to have older vines than to replant and wait for years for the concentration of flavour that older vines give.
I could not decide which of these Pinot Noirs I liked better because I enjoyed both. Here are my notes.