Friday, May 13, 2016

Sea Star continues to impress with its 2015s

Photo: Sea Star owner David Goudge

Sea Star Vineyards & Winery on Pender Island debuted two years with startlingly good wines. The third vintage – 2015 – continues to be consistent, with the release of fresh and tangy wines that must be the envy of peers. 
Applause goes to owner David Goudge and his winemaker, Ian Baker. David, who has lived on Pender Island for nearly a decade years, purchased the former Morning Bay four and a half years ago after it had closed. 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 the property by investing 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.

Ian 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 Sea Star’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.

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 once told me. “They represent summer in the ocean, that’s what I thought.”

Here are notes on the wines.

Sea Star Stella Maris 2015 ($24 for 402 cases). This is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pin9t Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönburger. The wine begins with a dramatic aroma of spice, rose petals and lime. It is crisp and vibrant on the palate with flavours of lychee, pear and citrus, and has a lively and lingering finish. 91.

Sea Star Ortega 2015 ($20 for 522 cases). Dry and savoury, this wine begins with aromas of herbs, grapefruit and melon. On the palate, there are flavours of lime, honeydew melon, green apple and grapefruit. This is a pristine and focussed white with a zesty finish. 91.

Sea Star Siegerrebe 2015 ($20 for 523 cases). This early-ripening German white is almost always the most aromatic grape in the vineyard – so much so that variety is notorious for attracting wasps. Well, the wasps know a good drop of juice. Aromas of herbs, spice and lemon leap from the glass. On the palate, there is remarkably intensity of flavour – herbs, gooseberry and citrus. The wine is crisp with a dry finish. This varietal can come across as grapey in the hands of a lesser winemaker. Not this one: this is clean and refreshingly balance. 92.

Sea Star Salish Sea 2015 ($22 for 711 cases). This is an aromatic blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe. It begins with aromas of lemon and lime leading to flavours of tropical fruits with light hints of herbs and spice on the finish. The wine again is refreshingly crisp. 91.

Sea Star Blanc de Noir 2015 ($24 for 724 cases). Very pretty in the glass, this rosé begins with clean fruity aromas of strawberry and raspberry. These are echoed on the palate along with flavours of crabapple, cranberry and rhubarb. The finish is crisply dry. 89.

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