Writer and wine columnist John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific author of books on wine.
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Mt Boucherie's Summit with its modest friends
Photo: Winemaker Jeff Hundertmark
Jeff Hundertmark, the winemaker at Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, is fortunate to have access to grapes from 200 acres of vineyards in both the Okanagan and Similkameen.
Not many winemakers have such options. Jeff certainly makes the most of the opportunity, whether it is to make single appellation wines or blends from several appellations. The reserve Syrah, reviewed here, combines fruit from both the Similkameen and the south Okanagan.
The winery also gives Jeff and his cellar crew opportunities to innovate with grapes from the estate vineyards as well as from purchased fruit, for wines released under the “Modest” label. Except for the prices, there is nothing modest about these wines.
The current releases under the Modest label even includes an orange wine, made by fermenting Pinot Gris on the skins to total dryness. This was, by far, the most difficult wine to rate. Even though this is a very well-made wine, the style always divides the room. You should not try drinking orange wines alone if it is the only bottle you have. It takes three or four consumers and a good charcuterie platter to get the best from orange wines.
The Modest wines all come with slightly cheeky labels. La graves robber, for example, is inspired by the Graves region in Bordeaux renowned for dry white blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. “We robbed this style and made it our own here in B.C.,” the winery explains.
Now that travel restrictions have eased in British Columbia, one can schedule a visit to the new Mt. Boucherie tasting room in West Kelowna.
“In 2020, following 20 years of running from a modest tasting room, the winery opened the doors to a brand-new luxurious wine experience centre,” Mt. Boucherie says on its website. “The 15,000 square-foot building features a dining lounge, tasting room and multiple private event facilities with some of the best views in the valley.”
Here are notes of some of the wines that can be sampled or purchased there.
Mt. Boucherie Pinot Gris 2020 ($21.99). This wine, which was fermented cool in stainless steel, begins with aromas of pear and peach. The palate is fleshy with flavours of peach and citrus. 90.
Mt. Boucherie Rosé 2020 ($22.99). This is a field blend of Zweigelt, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir from the estate in West Kelowna. The skins were cold-soaked for 18 hours and the wine fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeast. The rose petal hue is appealing. The wine has aromas of strawberry and watermelon. There is a hint of spice on the palate from the Gewürztraminer along with flavours of orange and strawberry. The wine is dry with a persistent finish. 90.
Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir 2019 ($24.99). The grapes for this wine are from Mt. Boucherie’s Lazy River Vineyard near Cawston in the Similkameen Valley. It is a medium-bodied wine with aromas of cloves, black cherry and cigar box which are echoed in the flavours. The wine was aged in French oak (20% new). The finish lingers. The firm texture suggests the wine should be aged a few years. 90.
Mt. Boucherie Merlot 2018 ($24.99). This wine was aged six months in French and American oak (25% new). This wine includes fruit from both the south Okanagan and the Similkameen where the winery has vineyards. This delicious wine begins with aromas of black cherry, blackberry and vanilla. The palate delivers spicy flavours of dark red fruit including black currant and cherry. The tannins are long and supple. 91.
Mt. Boucherie Reserve Syrah 2018 ($44.99). This is a bold red, with fruit both from the Similkameen Valley and from Osoyoos. The wine was aged in French and American oak (25% new). It begins with aromas of dark cherry, plum, chocolate and black pepper. On the palate, there are meaty flavours of fig and black cherry mingled with black pepper. 92.
Mt. Boucherie Summit 2018 ($64.99). The specifications for this magnificent wine are not yet on the winery’s website. The previous vintage was Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Malbec, aged a total of 24 months in French oak. The wine begins with aromas of black cherry and blueberry mingled with cassis. Fine, polished tannins give this wine elegance and length. It has sweet flavours of dark fruits that persist on the long finish. This wine is worth every penny of the price. 95.
Modest la graves robber 2020 ($26.99). This is 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon aged in neutral oak puncheons. It begins with aromas of herbs and lime. The flavours show notes of lime and green apple. The finish is dry and refreshing. 90.
Modest the elder vicar 2019 ($21.99). This is a co-fermented blend of Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling, with skin contact during fermentation. The wine has a rich and spicy aroma and lively spicy fruit on the palate – guava, apricot. The fruit is so intense that the finish recalls a late-harvest wine. 90.
Modest no. 4 orange 2020 ($26.99). This is a skin-fermented Pinot Gris, with a golden pink hue. The aroma is complex, with hints of herbs and orange peel. The palate delivers intensely dry flavours of tea. 88.
Modest the eye of the partridge 2020 ($24.99). This rose is made with Pinot Noir. The lovely hue referenced in the name comes from an eight-hour cold soak on the skins. The wine has aromas of strawberry and watermelon, echoed refreshingly in the juicy flavours. The finish is dry. 91.
Modest by jove 2019($29.99). This is a Sangiovese from Black Sage Road, with five percent of Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the blend. It begins with aromas of spice and cherry. The palate is intriguing – hints of smoked meat mingle with the cherry. 91.
Modest little green red 2018 ($N/A). This is Petit Verdot from Osoyoos – classically dark in colour with smoky dark fruit aromas. The wine is bold on the palate, with flavours of black currant and fig mingled with spicy and earthy tones. 91.