Friday, July 8, 2016

Seven Directions 2015 Rose wines

Photo: Seven Directions winemaker Daniel Bontorin

It would be hard to find an Okanagan winemaker more passionate for rosé than Daniel Bontorin, a consulting winemaker whose clients include Volcanic Hills Estate Winery. His own label, Seven Directions, produces only rosé.

Daniel’s rosé-making pedigree goes back to the 2005 vintage when he made Vaïla, the outstanding rosé still produced at Le Vieux Pin. That wine, along with rosé from JoieFarm Winery, probably started the renewed interest in a wine style made now by the majority of wineries.

Vaïla is a Pinot Noir rosé. Daniel made three vintages at Le Vieux Pin before moving on to consulting. Subsequent winemakers at LVP have continued to make it in the same vibrant and juicy style of the original.

Daniel made the first Gamay Noir rosé for Volcanic Hills in the 2010 vintage. The wine promptly won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence. Daniel continues to produce the Gamay rosé for his client. The varietal choice is determined by what is available at Volcanic Hills.

For his own rosé, Daniel likes Pinot Noir. His flagship rosé is made from the organic Pinot Noir grown by Kalala Vineyard. “The 2007 Vaïla was from the Kalala Vineyard, so I knew the quality of the fruit,” he says.

In his notes on the current release, the winery writes: “Sourced from a single vineyard, the grapes for this 2014 Pinot Noir rosé were organically farmed in the cool climate Kalala vineyard of West Kelowna. The soil for these 20-year-old self-rooted vines consists of mostly sandy loam, alluvial deposits and small pebbles intermixed with fine clay granules and volcanic matter from a 70-million-year-old dormant volcano. [The vines are] naturally yielding a mere 2.15 tons per acre …”

The two additional rosés from 2015 are made with Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, from two different vineyards.

One is from the renowned Canyonview vineyard in Summerland. The vineyard is owned by Krimo Souilah, an Algerian-born former winemaker in California. He discovered the property beside Trout Creek while selling barrels to B.C. wineries here. Plans to develop his own winery did not materialize but he has sold the grapes to a number of producers (Okanagan Crush Pad won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award with a Pinot Noir from this vineyard.)

This vineyard, which is not organic but is farmed sustainably, has 11-year-old vines (a German clone and several French clones) growing on soil that is decomposed granite, sand and gravel. The production in 2015 was four tons an acre.

The other is made with grapes from the Fruitvale Ridge Vineyard on Osoyoos. These are from seven-year-old vines on rocky soil. Production in 2015 was 2.12 tons an acre.

The inspiration for the Seven Directions rosé comes from France. “I have been drinking some French rosé wines the past couple of years,” Daniel says. “I like the texture and the feel.”

Here are notes on the wines. The prices do not include tax.

Seven Directions Fruitvale Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Franc Rosé 2015 ($14.69 for 260 cases).  This wine is a surprise on the palate. The delicate rose petal hue leads one to expect a very light wine. On the contrary, there is good weight. It begins with delicate strawberry and cranberry aromas, leading to flavours of wild strawberry with a hint of peach. The finish is dry – just like a Provence rosé. 90.

Seven Directions Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2015 ($21.65). The wine presents with a deep salmon pink hue. It has aromas of strawberries and savoury flavours of strawberry and cherry. The finish is crisply dry. 91.

Seven Directions Kalala Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2015 ($24.29 for 105 cases). This wine, which is vibrant in appearance, has had four months in French oak to build texture and complexity. It begins with aromas of strawberries mingled with spicy notes from the oak. On the palate, there are layers of strawberry and cherry flavours. The finish, which lingers, is dry. 91.

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