Friday, March 11, 2016

Stone'd Wines from Stoneboat

Photo: Stoneboat's Lanny Martiniuk

Two new labels from Oliver’s Stoneboat Vineyards brought to mind a rosé that New Zealand’s Kim Crawford Wines produces.

The wine Pansy! Rosé. The back story is that the wine was initially targeted to the gay community.  

The tale was recounted a few years ago by a wine writer in the Marlborough Express newspaper:     

Pansy! Rose has quite a story behind its creation. It was initially created as a wine for the gay community by Kim and Erica Crawford.
One evening a gay friend with an alter ego, drag show hostess Onya Knees, asked why no-one made wine that specifically targeted gays. A few weeks later Kim rang Erica to say he had come up with "something for the boys" blended from Hawke's Bay merlot, malbec and cabernet franc. A few days later the name "Pansy" came to Erica and a new wine was born.
When the wine was first launched in 2005, the parties were in gay bars with all the glitz, glamour, feathers and theatricals that go with such events.
Initially the wine's marketing targeted the gay community and it embraced the wine.
It was launched in New Zealand and Australia - the Sydney gay wine market was estimated to be worth $4.5 million a month, which is a huge amount of money.
The gay market is seen as being quite brand loyal and spend a lot of money on entertaining, so the wine was a bold and brilliant idea. The early Pansy! Rose vintage had 4 grams of residual sugar so it was bone dry. Kim then decided the sweetness needed to be increased for summer drinking and the following vintage weighed in at 12 grams and tasted rather sweet.
Since those heady early days the wine has settled a little. Emphasis on the gay target market has disappeared (in all but name) and the wine boasts attractive Kim Crawford Reserve labelling.
The amount of residual sugar in the wine has decreased to a more pleasing 7.9 grams and the wine's composition is now 63 per cent merlot and 37 per cent malbec. The re-launch is timely, with rose wines gaining in popularity and quality.

This wine meets its aims perfectly - it's all about easy drinking and summer sipping. Lively and luscious, it really is lots of fun and while it may not be a serious wine drinker's rose, it still managed to nail a gold at the NZ International Wine Show in 2013. Not bad for a wine conceived over a few drinks and a random observation.

That story immediately came to mind when two new wines were released last month by Stoneboat: Stone’d Red and Stone’d White.

Clever Lanny Martiniuk, I thought. He and his family at Stoneboat have come up with the perfect for the stoners of British Columbia, the pot hotbed of Canada.

Then I read the winery’s notes: “Our Stoneboat vineyard has stubbornly rocky terrain. By necessity, we enlist the help of ‘Stoners’ to help clear the rockery. It’s a tough job and by the end of the day one is, well, ‘stone’d’.”

Well, that is Lanny’s story and I suppose he will stick to it. But I think there is a better than even chance these wines will be popular with the owners and patrons of Vancouver’s pot dispensaries. And then, like Pansy!, they will appeal to a wider audience, both on price and quality, even if the weird labels don’t have quite the elegance of Kim Crawford.

Here are my notes on the wines.

Stone’d White 2014 ($19). This tasted a lot like Stoneboat Chorus, one of my favourite blends from the Okanagan. That is no accident: its varietal composition is similar. This wine is a blend of 25% Pinot Blanc, 23% Müller-Thurgau, 22% Schönburger, 20% Kerner, 7% Pinot Gris and 3% Viognier. The wine begins with an appealing aroma of spice and tropical fruits, leading to flavours of melon, apple and Asian pear. There is an herbal touch on the crisp, refreshing finish. 90.

Stone’d Red 2013 ($19). This is 58% Pinotage, 42% Pinot Noir, with 13 months in French and American oak barrels (10% of them new). The aroma is a medley of vanilla and black cherry with a smoky note. On the palate, it delivers flavours of black cherry, plum and strawberry with a note of spice. The texture is big and juicy. This is an eminently quaffable wine. 90.

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