Photo: One Faith proprietor Bill Lui
When Bill Lui started One Faith Vineyards in the 2012 vintage, he set a very high bar. “First-growth wines are what all my friends are used to,” he said. “I hope I can be a first growth of the Okanagan in time.”
Even though One Faith began releasing its wine in 2014, the winery’s profile has not been very high. That is being corrected. Bill has begun participating in the Vancouver International Wine Festival. He is also going to have a table at the 2020 festival. As well, he has engaged an agent in order to get the word out.
Samples of One Faith’s current releases arrived recently. Other than the perplexing pricing strategy - $20 whites vs reds at $50 and $150 – the wines are solid. Bill has the ship pointed the right way.
Bill entered the wine business by purchasing premium grapes from the Black Sage vineyard formerly owned by Harry McWatters and now owned by Phantom Creek Winery. Anne Vawter, a distinguished consulting winemaker from Napa, made the first four vintages for One Faith. After she left, Bill turned to other consultants, including Pascal Madevon, the initial winemaker at Osoyoos Larose.
Bill also took courses in winemaking and viticulture to help manage the 10-acre vineyard that One Faith bought in 2016 on Black Sage Road where, in time, he will open a winery and tasting room.
One Faith is a significant career change for Bill. He was born in Hong Kong in 1959 and grew up in Canada. After getting a degree in environmental science from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, he returned to Asia to work in merchant banking and manufacturing. In China, he managed a company that made medical instruments. After taking it public and selling his interest, he retired to Vancouver, in part to be with his school-aged children and to look after aging parents. And, with time on his hands, he decided to become an Okanagan wine grower.
One Faith’s vineyard is planted primarily with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, along with small blocks of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Other fruit is also purchased from Black Sage growers. Bill’s target is to produce about 2,000 cases of premium wine annually.
His model is Bordeaux and its classified growth wines. The whites are made with the two major Bordeaux whites. Grand Vin, the flagship blend, is priced accordingly. In the fashion of the leading Bordeaux estates, One Faith also releases an excellent but lower-priced second label, called Certitude. Nor does the winery miss a chance to add to its portfolio when it has a few barrels of well-made wine that does not fit into its blends, such as the 2016 Malbec/Petit Verdot blend that was released last year.
Here are notes on the current releases.
One Faith Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018 ($19.99). The wine begins with aromas of lime mingled with herbs. It explodes on the palate with flavours of guava, lime and gooseberry. Herbal notes linger on the dry finish. This is an elegant fruit-driven wine, exquisitely balanced. 92.
One Faith Blanc 2018 ($21.99). This wine is 79% Sémillon, 21% Sauvignon Blanc. It was fermented and aged in French oak (30% new) but the oak is very subtle. The wine has good texture, with aromas and flavours of melon, nectarine and apple mingled with vanilla. 91
One Faith Rosé 2016 ($19.99). This wine is crisply dry and light-bodied, with aromas and flavours of strawberry. The texture is generous but the flavours have begun to fade. 88.
One Faith Rosé 2018 ($19.99). A rosé with a robust hue, this is an unusual (for a rosé) blend of Merlot, Grenache and Mourvedre. The wine begins with aromas of spicy cherries and plums that are echoed in the robust flavours. The wine is full-bodied for a dry rosé. 90.
One Faith Certitude 2016 ($49.99). This is 45% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 1% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec. The wine, which was aged 16 months in new French oak, begins with a dramatic cassis aroma that simply bounds from the glass. The palate is rich in fruit flavours – black cherry, black currant and blackberry. The tannins are long and supple. 92.
One Faith Certitude 2017 ($49.99). This wine is primarily a Cabernet Merlot blend. It was aged in French oak for 18 months. It begins with aromas of black cherry, cassis and blueberry, leading to flavours of black cherry mingled with blackberry and raspberry. There is a hint of oak and spice on the finish. The tannins are long and firm. 92.
One Faith Grand Vin 2014 ($150 for 66 cases). This wine displays the classic concentration of the legendary 2014 vintage. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. The wine was fermented and aged in new French oak barrels. Deep in colour, the wine begins with aromas of plum, fig and black cherry. The palate is dense and earthy, with flavours of black currant and fig mingled with well-integrated oak. Decanting is recommended for this wine. 93.