Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sea Star’s second release

 Photo: Sea Star's David Goudge

Sea Star Vineyards &; Winery on Pender Island debuted last year with startlingly good wines.

It turns out that Sea Star is not a one-shot wonder. The recently released wines from the 2014 are every bit as good, it not better.

Credit goes to owner David Goudge and his winemaker, Ian Baker. David, who has lived on Pender Island for about seven years, purchased the predecessor winery, Morning Bay  in 2011. The original winery, an attractive building set amidst the forest, was still there. So was the seven-acre vineyard that had been planted in 2002.

David resuscitated there property by invested in new equipment, a climate controlled barrel cellar and an updated wine shop.  To manage the vineyard and make the wines, he hired Ian Baker, who had formerly done the same duties at Mistaken Identity Vineyards on Salt Spring Island.

It is apparent they are a good team.

David was born in Ottawa in 1959 and grew up in a home where his parents shared wine at the dinner table. I am a fan of wine,” he says. “I have never tried to learn how to make it myself. I just leave that to the experts. But I am passionate about wine.”

He came to Vancouver to study architecture at the University of British Columbia. Then he went briefly into the restaurant business before establishing himself as a Vancouver real estate agent.

Ian (left)  is a one time Department of Fisheries employee and the former operator of a landscape business in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. More to the point, he was a long-time amateur winemaker with, as one of his former partners said, “a box of medals.”  He came to Sea Star in 2013 after about four years with Mistaken Identity.

The Pender Island grapes in the winery’s whites are from the 5,000 vines at Sea Star’s vineyard and the 7,000 vines at the 5.5-acre vineyard at Clam Bay Farm on North Pender Island. Encore, the 2013 Bordeaux blend, is made with red varieties purchased from Okanagan growers because those varieties would never ripen on Pender Island.

A portion of Sea Star’s vineyard actually is right on the ocean. In part, that was an inspiration of this winery’s elegant labels. Each crisply white label is adorned with a sea star. “For me, the image of a sea star is reminiscent of beach combing in the summer; or you might be out kayaking on a calm day and you can see them up on the rocks,” David says. “They represent summer in the ocean, that’s what I thought.”

Here are notes on the wines:

Sea Star Stella Maris 2014 ($19.15 for 338 cases). This is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönburger.  The wine is aromatic, with herbal spice and aromas of pear and apricot. All of that is reflected on the palate. The wine dances lightly across the palate and finishes with persistent fruity flavours. 90.

Sea Star Siegerrebe 2014 ($15.75 for 325 cases). This won gold at the recent Northwest Wine Summit. Aromas of honey, rose petals and grapefruit jump from the glass. The sweet fruit on the nose leads one to expect an off-dry wine. Big surprise: it is balanced toward dryness, with flavours of grapefruit. There is a hint of spice on the finish. The wine is so exquisitely balanced that the inherent grapey flavours of this variety are kept well in check. Siegerrebe can be cloying when sweet. Not this one; this is clean and refreshing. 92.

 Sea Star Ortega 2014 ($15.75 for 520 cases).  A silver medalist at the Northwest Wine Summit, this wine begins with lovely tropical fruit aromas, including guava, grapefruit, and lime mingled with delicate spice. On the palate, it is a bowl of tropical fruit flavours along with crisp apple notes. The acidity is fresh; the wine is once again exquisitely balanced, with a refreshing and long-lasting finish. 92.

 Sea Star Salish Sea 2014 ($15.75 for 515 cases). This is a blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe. It begins with a glorious aroma of tropical fruits and flowers, continuing on to flavours of lime and grapefruit mingled with herb and spice. Once again, the wine is very well balance to give the perception of a dry finish, with lingering fruit. Another refreshing white. 91.

Sea Star Blanc de Noir 2014 ($17.47 for 520 cases). This wine won a gold medal and was judged the best rosé at the recent Northwest Wine Summit. The Pinot Noir grapes for this rosé are from the Clam Bay vineyard. The wine presents with a delicate pink hue and with appealing aromas of strawberry and rhubarb. That fruit is echoed on the palate, where the wine is crisp and refreshing. The texture is luscious even though the wine is balanced toward dryness. 92. 

Sea Star Encore 2013 ($21.75 for 470 cases).  This is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been aged months in new and used French oak. The wine is still bright and youthful; I decanted the wine as recommended by the winery. It begins with aromas of red currants and noticeable oak. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant, prune, chocolate and liquorice. Because the oak has not finished marrying with the fruit, this wine will benefit from another year of bottle aging before being opened. And the winemaker knows that. The wine has been released now because of consumer demand. 88-90.

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