Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blue Mountain hosts 2016 open house

Photo: Blue Mountain bubbles for winter

For the first 20 of its 25 years, Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars was a winery open by appointment only.

The subsequent sea change in the winery’s approach to the public is remarkable. A case in point is the winery’s open house during the weekend of November 19 and 20. Between 10 am and 4 pm, the winery is open for tastings, with a special sparkling wine tour in the afternoon.

As well, there will be food available along with wines by the glass and, in the afternoon, live music. And there will be a fire pit to keep the guests warm.

It sounds like a lot of fun. Tip: you do need to make a reservation by November 16th, but that is only so the winery knows how much food to have on hand.

If that is not enough to inspire a drive to the Okanagan in winter, the winery’s latest sparkling wine should seal the deal.

Blue Mountain has produced an excellent sparkling wine every year since the winery was founded in 1991. For many of those years, the production volume was too limited (or sold too quickly) to allow the winery to hold back a portion each vintage for extended aging on the lees.

In recent years, the winery has been able to do that. The result is a series of R. D. (for recently disgorged) sparkling wines that stand side by side with Champagne.

Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut, the winery’s bread and butter sparkling wine, spends two years on the lees before being disgorged, bottled and released. Wines made in this style are typically crisp and fresh. At $24 a bottle, this wine represents outstanding value for its quality.

The R.D wines necessarily are more expensive, reflecting the additional years these wines are aged. But compared with the price of Champagne, they are bargains.

Here are notes on Blue Mountain’s recently released sparkling wines.

Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut ($24). This is 60% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay and 4% Pinot Gris. Each variety is fermented separately and then blended before secondary fermentation in bottle. It spends 24 months in that bottle before being disgorged. The wine, which is finished dry, presents fresh flavours of apple and citrus with a slight hint of toast. The active bubbles create a creamy palate but the finish is crisp. 91.

Blue Mountain Brut Ros̩ 2012 R.D. ($33). This is 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay. The wine was disgorged after aging 36 months on the lees in bottle. The wine has 10 grams per litre of dosage Рnot enough to move it away from the dry or brut style, but enough to flesh out the fruit. The wine has a delicate strawberry aroma mingled with bready notes. On the palate, the pristine flavours suggest delicate cherry with a hint of citrus. The pink hue of the wine and the active mousse make this a very celebratory wine. 92.

Blue Mountain Blanc de Blanc 2009 R.D. ($40). This is 100% Chardonnay that spent 5 ½ years on the lees in the bottle in which secondary fermentation occurred. Consequently, the bready or yeasty aromas are more pronounced in the aroma. There is a hint of tangy lemon on the palate. The active mousse creates a creamy texture but the finish is crisply dry. 92.

Blue Mountain Reserve Brut 2008 R.D. ($40). This is 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. After secondary fermentation, the wine remained on the lees in the bottle for 6 ½ years before being disgorged. The aromas and flavours are remarkably fresh, with toasty notes and hints of citrus and with a lively mousse. This is a wine of considerable elegance. 93.

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