Thursday, December 21, 2017

Township 7 wines continue to impress

Photo: Township 7 winemaker Mary McDermott

Back in the day, winemaking at Township 7 must have had its share of frustrations. The building simply was too small for all the work that had to be done there.

When winemaker Mary McDermott arrived in 2014, a lot of the barrels and tanks were outside, next to the tasting room. Mary came from a senior job in Ontario where she made wine with Andrew Peller’s Trius winery.

She joined Township 7 Vineyards not long after the winery came under new and somewhat reclusive ownership (but well resourced). One would assume she came after being assured that the new owners would put capital into the winery, which is just east of Penticton.

They have delivered. The cooperage now indoors, and there is a lot more of it, including several French oak foudres and a range of stainless steel fermenters to support Township 7’s growing small lot portfolio.

“Down the road, concrete is my wish list, too,” Mary says. “You can ferment in concrete and you get similar results without that oak influence. You get that same oxygen ingression. Pinot Noir is really nice in concrete.”

No doubt, Mary’s elegant winemaking is what has given the owners the confidence to expand the winery. Here are notes on current releases.

Township 7 Riesling 2016 Fool’s Gold Vineyard ($24.97 for 658 cases). This is a vineyard on Tuc-El-Nuit Road in Oliver. Mary is impressed with the fruit because the site allows the grapes to develop flavours at moderate ripeness, while preserving acidity. The dry wine has aromas of lemon and lime, good weight on the palate, and flavours of lime with a hint of petrol. 90.

Township 7 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($26.97 for 328 cases). The grapes are grown on the gravelly soils of the Blue Terrace Vineyard in Oliver, a long-time supplier to Township 7. The wine was fermented and aged in French oak barrels (15% new, 85% neutral). There is a hint of vanilla, passion fruit and gooseberry on the nose, leading to flavours of lemon and apple. The texture is rich but the bright acidity gives the wine a long, fresh finish. 91.

Township 7 Gew├╝rztraminer ($19.97 for 278 cases). This is made with Naramata Bench grapes fermented in stainless steel. It begins with aromas of lychee and rose petal spice, leading to flavours of lychee and grapefruit, with a hint of ginger on the finish. The wine is balanced to finish dry. 90.

Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay 2016 ($26.97 for 438 cases). Grapes for this wine come from the Sundial Vineyard on Black Sage Road (now owned by Phantom Creek Estates). It was fermented in French and American oak barrels (30% new). It went through partial malolactic fermentation and, while aging in barrel, saw periodic lees stirring. It begins with aromas of citrus and butterscotch, leading to marmalade flavours. 90.

Township 7 Pinot Noir 2016 ($30.97 for 548 cases). This is a ripe, full-bodied wine, with aromas and flavours of black cherry and plum, with a hint of vanilla on the finish. It has an appealing velvety texture.  The grapes are from the Sperling Vineyard in Kelowna and the Remuda Vineyard in Okanagan Falls. The latter produces richer and denser fruit and that defines the robust character of this wine. 91.

Township 7 Merlot 2015 ($22.97 for 1,068 cases). This is a blend of fruit from five vineyards; it also has eight percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a bold and ripe Merlot, reflecting the vintage. It has aromas and flavours of black cherry, black currant and plum with touches of tobacco and vanilla (the wine was aged 18 months in American and French oak). This is a very satisfying Merlot. 90.

Township 7 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($26.97 for 469 cases). There is 13.8% Merlot in this wine, which perhaps accounts for its accessible feel on the palate. Grapes for this outstanding wine come from the Blue Terrace and Sundial Vineyards. It begins with aromas of cassis and black cherry. On the palate, there are mouthfilling flavours of black currant, black cherry, plum, spice and vanilla. Aging the wine 18 months in French and American oak polished the long, ripe tannins. 93.

Township 7 Cabernet Franc 2015 ($29.97 for 328 cases). This wine, with grapes from the Rock Pocket Vineyard near Oliver, was aged 24 months in French and American oak barrels. The wine begins with the brambly aromas so classic for this varietal. There is also a note of vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of blackberry, black cherry and mocha with a touch of spice on the finish. 91.

Township 7 Reserve 7 2014 ($32.97 for 738 cases). The winery’s flagship red, this is a blend of 68% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. The majority of the fruit is from the Blue Terrace Vineyard. This wine begins with aromas of black cherry, cassis and mint. It delivers a rich medley of flavours, including black cherry, black currant, dark chocolate and cedar box. The wine has been aged 24 months in French and American oak. The tannins still have some grip. The wine should be decanted. It will also age well, peaking perhaps in 2024. 94.

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