Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Fort Berens releases debut Grüner Veltliner

Photo: Rolf de Bruin
The spring wine release from Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet includes the winery’s first Grüner Veltliner. The major white varietal in Austria, Grüner Veltliner was first planted in the Okanagan about a decade ago by Culmina Estate Winery. That brilliant wine has inspired a number of other producers to plant it, including Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery and Peak Winery.
The co-founder of Fort Berens, Rolf de Bruin, first planted a trial block of Grüner Veltliner in 2011. He committed fully to the varietal by planting an acre in 2019 in the winery’s new Red Rock Vineyard. The entire 18-acre Red Rock Vineyard has been planted over two years, beginning in 2018, to double the size of Fort Berens estate vineyards at Lillooet. In addition to Grüner Veltliner, Red Rock also grows six acres of Merlot, five acres of Cabernet Franc, 3 ½ acres of Riesling, and two acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit in the winery’s 2020 Grüner Veltliner was purchased from the Okanagan in 2020. “While these grapes are not from our property,” Rolf explains, “we wanted to experiment with this varietal as we look ahead to producing our first estate vintage of Grüner Veltliner in 2021 or 2022.”
Here are notes on that wine and on the other releases.
Fort Berens Dry Riesling 2020 ($21.99 for 332 cases). This wine is made with 82% estate fruit and 18% fruit from The Rise Vineyard near Vernon. The wine begins with aromas of citrus. On the palate, the citrus flavours mingle with mineral notes. The finish is crisp and dry. This is a wine which will benefit from another year in the bottle. 91.
Fort Berens Riesling 2020 ($19.99 for 1,430 cases). The wine begins with aromas of lemon and green apple, echoed on the palate. The residual sugar in this wine, 9.3 grams a litre, is exquisitely balanced with lively acidity, giving the fruit a lively lift on the palate. The refreshing finish persists. 91.
Fort Berens Pinot Gris 2020 ($19.99 for 1,126 cases). Grapes for this wine were sourced from the estate vineyard, from a small vineyard near Lytton and from a vineyard in West Kelowna. Whole clusters were pressed with only free-run juice used. Fermentation was cool, in stainless steel. The wine has aromas of tropical fruits (kiwi, lime), with mouth-filling flavours of lime, grapefruit and pear. The finish is crisp and refreshing. 91.
Fort Berens Grüner Veltliner 2020 ($21.99 for 340 cases). This is the winery’s first release of a wine made with Grüner Veltliner, a leading Austrian white varietal. Fort Berens has an acre in a new vineyard near the winery. This wine, however, is made with grapes the winery purchased from an Okanagan vineyard just to get an early start on making the wine. The aroma delivers an intriguing tropical medley leading to flavours of apple and stone fruit. 90.
Fort Berens Rosé 2020 ($19.99 for 1,179 cases). This wine is made with 80% Pinot Noir grapes, 16% Cabernet Franc and 4% Merlot. The crushed grapes soaked on the skins for 48 hours. The result: a rosé that is beautiful in the glass and packed with aromas and flavours of watermelon, raspberry and strawberry. The finish is dry and refreshing. 92.

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