Sunday, December 3, 2017

Lariana in top five at BC Iconic Reds tasting

Photo: Lariana's Carol and Dan Scott

Fourteen, a red blend from Lariana Cellars, ranked third out of 20 in the recent BC Iconic Reds tasting.

That result should serve to lift the modest profile of the smallest winery in Osoyoos, although a review of some of the restaurants with Lariana on their lists suggests the wines are being discovered by good sommeliers.

Lariana Cellars was established in 2012 by Dan and Carol Scott, long-time operators of a recreational vehicle park on the west shore of Osoyoos Lake, just north of the border. The vineyard is a former orchard at the top of their property, tucked just behind the U.S. customs and immigration buildings at the border.

The winery has a small but focussed portfolio. The one white is a Viognier, fermented and aged in concrete eggs. There is wide agreement that this is one of the five best Viogniers in the Okanagan, and perhaps the best.

The current reds are limited to a Carménère (sold out) and the winery’s flagship blend, named for the year of the vintage. The first was Twelve, the second was Thirteen and the third, which was just released this fall, is Fourteen. The Fifteen will be released some time next year while the Sixteen and the Seventeen are still in barrel. Annual production is around 500 cases.

The blend is always anchored by Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety that produces excellent grapes in several Osoyoos vineyards, including Lariana’s. Twelve was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Carménère. Thirteen omitted the Merlot while Fourteen was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménère, but no Syrah.  The unreleased Fifteen is Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carménère, but no Merlot.  
The Scotts have neither Merlot or Syrah in their five-acre vineyard, so blending decisions are influenced by the quality and availability of purchased grapes.

Not yet released – probably next fall – is Lariana’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery’s first single variety from that grape. Only 100 cases were bottled. The quality is exceptional. I would suggest reserving some if this is a variety you collect.

The Scotts recount the Lariana history with some brief notes on the winery website:

Welcome to Lariana Cellars, a boutique-style winery featuring small lot, handcrafted wines from Osoyoos, BC. Our story began decades ago with 10 acres of property on Osoyoos Lake, located at the southern most tip of the Okanagan Valley. Originally known as Shady Lagoon Campsite, the lakeside remains an RV Park while the upper portion has changed from orchard to vineyard.

It wasn’t until 2007 that the promise of a shiny new tractor inspired us to replace our fruit trees with grapevines. The vineyard was planted under the advice and direction of one of the Okanagan’s most respected pioneers in grape growing.

The countless hours we invest and the careful growing practices we employ result in premium grapes that are a true reflection of our unique microclimate. Hot, dry days and cool, crisp nights set the ideal stage for producing deep, flavourful varieties such as Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère. In 2012, after three years of selling our crop to local wineries, we decided to take the plunge and Lariana Cellars was born.

 At Lariana, we’ve been exploring the art of viticulture since our teens. From the days of working at Shannon-Pacific vineyard on Black Sage Road in Oliver, to hauling grapes down to the coast to be crushed under the feet of friends, to our beginnings of making Okanagan wine with friends for many years, to our early dabbling in creative at-home experimentation, wine has always been our calling.

Founding family members, Larry and Anna, were a huge influence on our decision to follow our passion. [They were Carol’s parents and also shareholders in Shannon-Pacific.] Their unwavering foresight and zest for adventure inspired us to name our winery for them, keeping our motivation to have fun creating serious wine constantly on the tips of our tongues.

Our garage-style winery is located alongside our five- acre vineyard and we are very much involved in every aspect of the winemaking process. With the help of a professional wine maker, we love combining classic vinification practices with innovative new methods to produce wines that are sure to leave you wanting more.

The professional winemaker is Senka Tennant, a legend in the Okanagan. She was the winemaker and one of four original owners of Black Hills winery, where she created the red blend called Nota Bene. Today, she and husband Bob operate Terravista Vineyards, a Naramata boutique specializing in white wines from Spanish grape varieties.

Here are notes of current releases from Lariana.

Lariana Viognier 2016 ($25 for 325 cases). The wine has aromas of stone fruit, with flavours of apricot and peach. It is perhaps not as lush as previous vintages but bright acidity of the 2016 vintage gives the wine an appealing freshness. 92.

Lariana Fourteen 2014 ($45 for 450 cases). The blend is 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot and 11% Carménère. Firm and age-worthy, the wine begins with aromas of black cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant, black cherry, leather and tobacco. 93.

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