Sunday, May 24, 2015

Arrowleaf Cellars: too good to pass over

 Photo: Arrowleaf's beautiful new wine shop

At the recent All-Canadian Wine Championships, Arrowleaf Cellars of Lake Country won four gold medals and a bronze medal.

The wines that won gold were Riesling 2014, Pinot Gris 2014, Gewürztraminer 2014 and First Crush Rosé 2014. The bronze went to the winery’s 2012 Merlot.

Given that performance, I was stunned by what a food critic had to say about Arrowleaf in a weekend column on the North Okanagan in a national newspaper.

“If you have to skip one winery, take a pass on Arrowleaf Cellars,” the critic wrote. “The new glass-and-concrete facility may be gorgeous, but the wines, in my opinion, have always had an unpleasant musty flavour.”

The judges at the All-Canadians (I was one) had a more credible opinion of the wines.

So did the judges at the Okanagan Wine Festival “Best of Varietal Wine Awards” this spring. The four Arrowleaf wines that were finalists were the Riesling 2014, First Crush White 2014, Solstice Pinot Noir 2012, and Gewurztraminer 2014. 

Arrowleaf’s 2012 Pinot Noir got a gold medal last fall at the Mondial des Pinots competition in Switzerland.

One could go on. It is hardly unusual for Arrowleaf wines to garner awards. I have tasted Arrowleaf wines since the winery’s grand opening in 2003. I have never had a musty wine. Some wines have appealed to more than others but none has been flawed. Arrowleaf Gewürztraminer is often my go-to Okanagan Gewürztraminer.

There might be a few Okanagan wineries that don’t inspire much enthusiasm in me, but Arrowleaf has never been one.

And now that the winery has opened its new wine shop, you would be making a big mistake by giving the winery a miss.

The wine shop, which encompasses a barrel room and a private tasting room, is the work of architect Robert Mackenzie, the Kelowna architect who has designed a number of iconic wineries. This is his most beautiful winery building yet.

The building, which has a patio with terrific views over vineyards toward Okanagan Lake, also includes a restaurant called The Kitchen at Arrowleaf. It had just opened after the food critic was through Lake Country and it did not get reviewed.

I’d say that Arrowleaf was lucky on that score.

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