Photo: JoieFarm's Heidi Noble (courtesy of the winery)
Heidi Noble, the winemaker and owner of JoieFarm, exults that the 2017 vintage was a return to normal for the Okanagan. That allowed her to make wines that are universally aromatic and refreshed with crisp, lively acidity.
“After a string of four hot and early vintages,” she writes, “the 2017 vintage was far more typical: beginning with a cool spring, moving on to a hot summer and ending with a long, cool harvest period, allowing for extended hangtime for ripening.”
She continues: “The result is a ‘cooler’ profile; exemplified by an intense core of ripe of ripe fruit electrified by juicy acidity. These wines are a classic example of our ‘cool climate, lake-moderated desert’ terroir.”
In the last year, Heidi also learned a few new tricks as a winemaker after attending a technical conference on cool climate Chardonnay in Niagara last summer.
“I chose to hyper-oxidize all my press pan juice, in particular our Chardonnay, to great effect,” she writes.
Hyper-ox is a Burgundian technique of “pre-oxidizing” grape juice prior to fermenting it. “The process is meant to fix volatile flavour and colour compounds so they cannot further oxidize and change as the wine ages,” Heidi explains. “This must treatment allows finished wine to achieve an intense colour, express itself and open up much earlier.
“Further to this, hyper-ox allows winemakers to refrain from adding sulphur to unfermented must,” she adds. “I use an extremely low sulphur regime in the winery as it is; with hyper-ox, I only make two small additions – once after the second post-ferment racking and a small top-up before bottling.”
She credits these techniques in part for the fact that the 2017 wines are intensely aromatic and full of flavour on release. She believes the wines will develop more intensity in bottle over the next few months.
Here are notes on the wines.
JoieFarm Pinot Blanc 2017 ($24.90 for 376 cases). This could easily be labelled “old vine.” The grapes are from vines planted in 1978 at the St. Hubertus Vineyard in East Kelowna. This wine has a moderate alcohol of 11.6%. It begins with an aroma of freshly sliced apples. On the palate, the flavours of apple mingle with a backbone of minerals and a bright, refreshing acidity. The finish is dry. 91.
JoieFarm Unoaked Chardonnay 2017 ($24.90 for 655 cases and 46 kegs). JoieFarm leases and farms the two vineyards – one south of Penticton and one on the Naramata Bench – that grow this Chardonnay. The wine begins with aromas of fresh pineapple and lemon. On the palate, there are flavours of ripe apple with a robust backbone of minerals, alcohol and lively acidity. 90.
JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2017 ($25.90 for 5,779 cases plus 102 kegs). As the production volume indicates, this is one of the winery’s most popular wines. It is a blend of 49% Gewürztraminer, 32% Riesling, 9% Pinot Auxerrois, 6% Pinot Blanc and 4% Muscat. The wine has tropical aromas of spice and guava which are echoed on the rich and juicy palate, along with flavours of lychee and grapefruit. The finish is crisp. 92.
JoieFarm “En Famille” Reserve Muscat 2017 ($27.90 for 401 cases). This wine was elevated to reserve status because the vines are now 10 years old and are producing more intensely-flavoured fruit. The wine begins with a dramatic aroma of spice, citrus and peach, leading to intense flavours of lime and lemon, punctuated with the classic grapey flavours of the varietal on the finish. The wine finishes dry. The moderate 11.4% alcohol keeps the wine light and refreshing. 91.
JoieFarm “En Famille” Reserve Gewürztraminer 2015 ($N/A). The wine begins with an appealing light gold hue in the glass, followed by rich aromas and flavours of lychee and grapefruit. The wine is full on the palate with a dry finish that just won’t quit. This is very much in the style of a top Alsace Gewürztraminer from the likes of Trimbach or Hugel. 93.
JoieFarm Rosé 2017 ($23.90 for 3,573 cases). This is 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay. The wine presents in the glass with a dark colour resulting from soaking the juice on the skins for two days. The wine has aromas and flavours of cherries and cranberries, with bright acidity to give it a lively finish. There is just 1.1 grams of residual sugar. The winery acknowledges that this is “the driest Rosé we have ever made and the perception of sweetness comes from the ripe, full-flavoured fruit.” Frankly, the wine would have benefited from a bit more natural sugar. 88.