Tuesday, October 17, 2017

JoieFarm mastered the 2015 vintagew

Photo: JoieFarm's Heidi Noble

Several years ago, Naramata’s JoieFarm Winery adopted the term “En Famille” to designate its reserve wines.

The phrases recognize that good growers – and JoieFarm has a number under contract – are part of the wine growing family and should get recognition.

Heidi Noble, the owner and winemaker at JoieFarm, explains this in a note about the current releases. “The reserve program at Joie allows us to explore the history of the aromatic Germanic varietals of BC as individual, single estate vineyard expressions of these grapes,” she writes. She is also exploring ‘the potential of Burgundian varietals to excel in the cool-climate, lake-moderate desert of the Okanagan Valley.”

The reserve wines are, of necessity, carefully crafted small lot wines. Perhaps the best place to taste these wines is in JoieFarm’s new tasting room, which opened this spring.

“Over the past two years,” Heidi writes, “we have seen a dramatic increase in our Reserve “En Famille” wines. The tasting room gives us the opportunity to tell people about the growers, the vineyards and the special techniques with which these wines are made.”

The current releases are all from the 2015 vintage. Heidi writes that “2015 was hot and the earliest vintage on record in the Okanagan Valley. Considered a ‘winemaker’s vintage’, many critical choices were required along with the resolve and focus of our cellar team.”

The very early budbreak followed by weeks of hot, dry weather led to heavy crops that ripened early. At JoieFarm (and at other producers), extra crop was left on the vines to slow down the pace of ripening. At harvest, JoieFarm’s team did multiple picks, ‘making sure we were picking for acidity at lower brix while leaving enough hanging for more phenolic development and flavour.” That, Heidi adds, is “hard to achieve in an early vintage.”
She continued: “This created more ferments to manage and blend, but allowed us to make naturally balanced wines in both alcohol and natural acidity, which is the hallmark of JoieFarm’s winemaking. We earned our stripes in 2015.”

Here are notes on the wines.

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Gewürztraminer 2015 ($28.90 for 441 cases). The model for this wine was an Alsace Grand Cru; and the wine is very well executed. It begins with intense aromas of lychee and spice, leading equally intense flavours of lychee and quince set against an unctuous texture. The wine is exquisitely balanced with 10 grams of residual sugar against 5.4 grams of acid. The 13.5% alcohol enhances the richness of the wine. 92.

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Chardonnay 2015 ($29.90 for 229 cases). The winery describes this as a careful barrel selection “from our most prized blocks at our Joie-run vineyard sites on the Skaha Bluff and the Naramata Bench. The wine was fermented in French oak primarily with indigenous yeast. The wine begins with aromas of citrus that  lead to a concentrated medley of fruit flavours - melon, white peach, citrus - around a spine of minerality. With imperceptible oak, this fruit forward Chardonnay is crisp and the finish lingers. 93.

JoieFarm En Famille Riesling 2015 ($27.90 for 430 cases). The style for this tangy and complex wine is the German Spätlese style. The trick is to use grapes from old vines (average age of 34 months) and to finish the wine with racy acidity (7.9 grams) balanced with good natural sugar (20 grams). That gives wonderful tension on the palate. The intense aromas and flavours of lime and lemon jump onto the palate and linger on the long finish. 92.

JoieFarm  Gamay 2015 ($25.90 for  324 cases).  The wine begins with aromas of cherry mingled with toasty notes (the wine was aged 10 months on the fine lees in French oak). On the palate, the savoury cherry flavours are both rich and juicy, with a long finish. 90.

JoieFarm  PTG 2015 ($25.90 for 752 cases). This is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Gamay. The full-bodied wine was aged 10 months in a variety of French oak vessels (10% new). The wine begins with aromas of cherry, plum and toasted oak which are echoed on the palate. There is a note of spice on the lingering finish. 91.

JoieFarm Pinot Noir 2015 ($25.90 for 914 cases). This is a blend of three clones from three different vineyards. That is not for volume but for complexity, which also applies to how the wine is made. It is aged 10 months in a mix of large casks, puncheons and barriques. “This mix is intentionally larger format to provide a larger wine to wood ratio as not to overwhelm the delicate fruit profile of this Pinot Noir,” the winery notes explain. It begins with aromas of raspberry and cherry. Those aromas are echoed on the palate, mingled with spice and toasted oak. The wine is full-bodied. 91.

JoieFarm En Famille Pinot Noir 2015 ($39.90 for 437 cases). The wine blends nine clones from two vineyards. The wine was aged eight months in medium toast French oak barrels (20% new, 30% second fill, 50% neutral). Dark in colour and concentrated in texture, this is a powerful, almost brooding, Pinot Noir that will age well. Aromas of plum and cherry mingle with so-called forest floor spice. On the palate, the raspberry and cherry flavours are intense, giving way to notes of chocolate on the lingering finish. 93.

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