Writer and wine columnist John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific author of books on wine.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Township 7's quartet for spring
Photo: Winemaker Mary McDermott
Now celebrating its 21th anniversary, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery’s time in the industry has spanned the (so far) golden age of British Columbia wine.
When the original Township 7 winery opened in Langley in 2001, the VQA program was two or three years old in British Columbia; and there were perhaps 50 wineries.
Today, there are 350 wineries with so many under development that 400 is possible. The VQA program now is mature while a series of new sub-appellations are drilling down to an understanding of terroir wines barely contemplated 20 years ago.
Township 7 consists of two of those wineries. The initial winery in Langley is now dedicated to the production of sparkling wines. The much larger winery at the start of the Naramata Bench makes a full range of table wines.
There have been three sets of owners at Township 7 and each has been better resourced. Businessman Ge Song, who acquired the winery in 2014, has made major investments to expand the Okanagan winery and upgrade the equipment. In 2018, he allowed the winery to purchase the 12-acre Blue Terrace Vineyard near Oliver, securing total control over a vineyard from which Township 7 has been buying fruit almost from the beginning. The winery also sources fruit for other excellent growers in the South Okanagan, as well as from the winery’s Naramata home vineyard.
The current owner also has supported the winery in critical personnel decisions. Mary McDermott, a superb winemaker, was recruited from Andrew Peller Ltd. in Ontario in 2014. She has had a major impact on the quality of wines. And it was her idea to devote the Langley vineyard to sparkling wines.
A few years ago, Township 7 added bench strength by hiring Ryan McKibbon as assistant winemaker and vineyard manager. He is a graduate of Niagara College’s Winery and Viticulture program. His expertise includes organic and biodynamic grape growing.
He did a vineyard internship focussed on organic and biodynamic viticulture at Felton Road Wines in New Zealand. He has worked with other organic/biodynamic producers including Hidden Bench Winery on Ontario, Crystallum Wines in South Africa and Phantom Creek in the Okanagan.
Judging from the four wines released this spring. Township 7 is going from strength to strength. Here are notes on the wines.
Township 7 Provenance Series 7 Blanc 2019 ($20.97 for 825 cases). This is a blend of 60% Gewürztraminer, 15% Viognier, 12% Pinot Gris, 11% Riesling and 2% Muscat. It goes without saying that this is a complex and delicious dry white wine. It begins with floral aromas mingled with notes of pear and spice. The richly textured palate has flavours of peach, pear and citrus. 91.
Township 7 Benchmark Series Viognier 2019 ($27.97 for 648 cases). The fruit, sourced from two warm sites at Osoyoos and Oliver, was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and seven oak barrels (one new). The wine begins with aromas of apricot, grapefruit and vanilla, leading to flavours of apricot and passionfruit. Bright acidity gives the wine a refreshing and lively finish. 91.
Township 7 Provenance Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($29.97 for 998 cases). This wine includes two per cent Merlot. The fruit has a 14-day maceration and then, after fermenting, was aged 18 months in barrels (predominantly American). It begins with aromas of black cherry, blueberry, mocha and cassis, all of which is echoed on the palate. The long ripe tannins give the wine a satisfying finish. 91.
Township 7 Benchmark Series Reserve 7 2018 ($38.97 for 766 cases). The blend is 50.5% Merlot. 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17.5% Cabernet Franc. Here is a stunner! It begins with aromas of black cherry, black currant and spice, leading to rich and powerful flavours of plum, black currant and vanilla. 94.