Photo: JoieFarm's Heidi Noble
As the white and rosé wines from the 2016 vintage show up at tastings, it confirms that 2016 in the Okanagan is an interesting vintage.
JoieFarm proprietor Heidi Noble offers a detailed commentary in her notes on the four 2016s she has just released.
“In a word, 2016 was a totally unprecedented growing season,” she writes. “The winter was extremely moderate with budbreak occurring April 13 – the earliest budbreak on record in the Okanagan – which set the tone for the season. Flowering was early. Spring was hot, and record breaking temperatures in the mid-thirties extended growing degree days (even in March) and produced a full vineyard canopy by mid-May.”
Viticulturally, Heidi found this alarming. “We left all the shoots to create a heavier crop to retard the potential for early sugar ripeness. Once the fruit was set, we left more than usual to ripen.”
Then there was rain in June and July and those huge canopies had to be opened up to combat mildew. But the cooler temperatures in these months slowed the premature ripening.
“August saw a temperature spike before returning to cooler temperatures in September,” Heidi writes. “Veraison was early and uneven across the varietals.”
JoieFarm picked its first grapes (for sparkling wine) on August 22. Everything was picked by October 12 and fermentation was complete by the end of that month.
“Despite an early start, we saw low pH and lower brix than in previous vintages, demonstrating that 2016 will express a cooler vintage profile,” Heidi writes. “Overall, expect more freshness, minerality, and better balance than in the warmer three preceding vintages.”
Visitors to Naramata Bench this year will be able to taste JoieFarm’s 2016s in the new tasting room that has replaced the original farm house. The picnic area and the wood-fired pizza oven, which were added a few years ago, remain. For a winery that operated tastings by appointment only, the expanded welcome to the public is as refreshing as the wines.
Here are notes.
JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2016 ($23.90 for 6,341 cases, 212 kegs). As always, this wine is a complex blend. In 2016, it is 38% Gewürztraminer, 37% Riesling, 11% Pinot Blanc, 8% Pinot Auxerrois and 5% Muscat. This aromatic white begins with notes of spice, guava and ripe peach on the nose. The rich medley of tropical fruit on the palate includes ripe mango and lychee with pink grapefruit, punctuated with spice on the finish. The finish is crisply dry. 91.
JoieFarm Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2016 ($22.90 for 536 cases). Like the Chablis wines that always inspire the style of this wine, The JoieFarm Un-Oaked Chardonnay’s bright acidity define its freshness and crispness. It begins with aromas of citrus and pineapple, leading to flavours of apple and lemon. 91.
JoieFarm Muscat 2016 ($22.90 for 443 cases). Ten years ago, JoieFarm planted a small block of Moscato Giallo, or Yellow Muscat. Not enough, judging from the small volume of production. This dry, perfumed wine with a moderate alcohol exceptional as an aperitif and surprising versatile at a meal. (I can recommend it even with a grilled cheese sandwich!) The wine begins with aromas of rose petals and white peach, leading to flavours of lemon, lime and classic Muscat grapiness. 91.
JoieFarm Rosé 2016 ($20.90 for 3,169 cases). The blend is 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Gamay. The wine presents a lovely jewel-like ruby in the glass to make a great first impression. The aromas of strawberry, cherry and pink grapefruit are echoed in the flavours. The mid-palate is juicy and full but the finish is crispy dry. 91.