Writer and wine columnist John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific author of books on wine.
Friday, July 23, 2021
Foxtrot extends portfolio with foxly
Photo: Foxtrot owners Douglas Barzelay and Nathan Todd
Foxtrot Vineyards, the legendary Naramata Bench producer of Pinot Noir, now has a second label: foxly wines.
“There is a little mischievous fox on our label, the less serious counterpart to the bear,” Foxtrot co-owner Nathan Todd says, referring to the dancing bear on Foxtrot’s labels.
“It is the little brother; it is always misbehaving; not following the rules the way that Foxtrot is … the rules the way we set them out,” Nathan says. “Foxtrot is sort of classical and foxly is kind of rock and roll.”
Nathan and partner Douglas Barzelay, a New York collector of fine Burgundies, bought Foxtrot in 2018 from the founder, Torsten Allander. The new owners have set out to extend the portfolio with value-priced wines, but in a way that protects the premium image of the Foxtrot brand.
“Foxtrot is not going to make any compromises with its direction, which is to make single vineyard wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” Nathan says. “We’re a Burgundy house in that regard.”
He continues: “When we want to expand and do more, and access a different market, there are not too many options. I wanted to do a Pinot Gris. Foxtrot should not be doing a Pinot Gris. That’s not what it is born to do. So we came up with a second label. You’re are going to get something that is of the same artisanal calibre but with more of a wink and a nod. We know this is different.”
A foxly rosé was released last year. The currant releases include a Pinot Gris, another rosé, a Pinot Noir and two wines that were in barrel when Nathan and his partner took over.
“We included a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir that we thought was very good but not quite making grade for Foxtrot,” Nathan says. “The wines needed to be drunk. They are just not $50 and $70 bottles of wines. It would have been disingenuous to label them as Foxtrot, in my opinion. They have a home in foxly.”
There is no recent vintage of Chardonnay in the foxly range. “I cannot find many Chardonnay sources, and I would like to,” Nathan says. “For now, we still have just got estate-grown Foxtrot Chardonnay. Before my time at Foxtrot, the winery had grapes from the Coolshanagh Vineyard, which now has its own label. The winery also had grapes from the Four Shadows vineyard, which is now making its own wine. Every time you find a good vineyard, somebody gets the idea they should start to open their own winery.”
Nathan and Douglas have re-connected with the Henricsson Vineyard, nearby on Naramata Road, from which Foxtrot had been buying Pinot Noir several years ago for a single vineyard Pinot Noir.
That relationship was interrupted when Peter Henricsson began making wine for his own label. In 2019, he decided to reduce the volume for his label. Foxtrot bought the equivalent of 70 cases of wine, still in barrel, and are finishing it to re-instate a Henricsson wine under the Foxtrot brand. Nathan also bought grapes from Henricsson in 2020 and intends to do the same this vintage.
Here are notes on the wines.
foxly Pinot Gris 2020 ($20.99). Fermented in stainless steel, the wine begins with fresh aromas of citrus mingled with peach and apple. On the palate, the wine delivers a refreshing fruit bowl of peaches and apples with a touch of lemon and spice on the lingering finish. 91.
foxly Chardonnay 2016 ($28.99 for 162 cases). This wine was aged 11 months on the lees in French oak (30% new) and then another two years in bottle. The result is a lean wine with buttery notes on the aroma and palate. There are flavours of citrus and apple. 88.
foxly Rosé 2020 ($22.99). Fashionably pale, the wine floral aromas lead to flavours of wild strawberry and watermelon. It is refreshingly crisp and dry. 90.
foxly Pinot Noir 2018 ($22.99 for 250 cases). Grapes from both the Okanagan and the Similkameen were purchased for this wine. This is a pleasant, light-bodied Pinot Noir that could be called “guzzable.” The wine has aromas and flavours of cherry and strawberry, mingled with clove and nutmeg spices. The amiable personality benefits with a little chilling. 88.
foxly Pinot Noir Reserve 2016 ($28.99 for 250 cases). This wine was made with fruit from the estate vineyard at Foxtrot Vineyards. The wine was aged 18 months in French oak (30% new). It begins with aromas of cherry and cedar, leading to flavours of cherry and mocha mingled with earthy forest floor tones. 87.
Foxtrot The Waltz Pinot Noir 2018 ($47). The Waltz is a blend of Pinot Noir from the Naramata Bench, Summerland and the Similkameen. The wine was aged 14 months in French oak barrels (30% new) on the lees, with the original vineyard blocks kept separate until blending just before bottling. This is an elegant and pretty wine, with aromas and flavours of raspberry and cherry mingled with spice and mocha. The silky texture gives the wine a luxurious texture. 91.