Writer and wine columnist John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific author of books on wine.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Nostalgia: a new twist on Oliver Twist
Photo: Gina Fernandes Harfman
In a long overdue move, Gina Fernandes Harfman has changed the name of Oliver Twist Winery to Nostalgia Winery. Visitors will finally stop asking if the winery has any connection to Charles Dickens or his heirs.
The eccentric name (the winery is near Oliver) was conceived by Denice and Bruce Hagerman who converted an orchard on Black Sage Road to vineyard in 2006 and opened the winery the following year. Gina, whose father has a vineyard in Osoyoos, began working at Oliver Twist in 2009. Three years later, she bought the winery from the Hagermans.
“I kept the Oliver Twist name out of respect for Bruce and Denise,” Gina says now. “I was 31, 32 when they offered the winery to me. I didn’t know what I was doing. They helped me so much.”
After Gina created a successful line of wines in 2013 under the Nostalgia label, the name change became obvious. And it fits her interest in nostalgic objects: she owns a 1961 Chevrolet Belair.
“Everything we were doing at the winery was pushing in the direction of Nostalgia,” Gina says. “Nostalgia is easy to explain. We listen to the old music; we have all the old cars. And me being fourth generation in Osoyoos, there is nostalgia there, too.”
The early Nostalgia wines often had cheeky labels featuring pin-up girls. For the current relaunch, the pin-ups have been downplayed in favour of labels that are less provocative.
The winery’s primary source of fruit is still the vineyard planted by the Hagermans, with some updating by Gina. The 14 ½-acre vineyard grows Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay and Kerner, along with Merlot and Syrah. Gina has added Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. She also buys fruit from other growers.
“My dad grows Petit Verdot as well,” Gina says. “His vineyard is right on the border in Osoyoos.”
Nostalgia’s consulting winemaker is Okanagan veteran Christine Leroux, who has worked with the winery since it first opened. Assistant winemaker Brendan Miu joined the winery last year.
The best-selling white wine in the portfolio is Kerner. This is a white, a cross of Trollinger and Riesling, that was developed in the 1960s at the Weinsberg Institute in Württemberg and named for a 19th Century German poet, Justinus Kerner. He was so honoured because he was a leading citizen of Weinsberg, where he is also remembered with a statue.
Gray Monk was the first Okanagan winery to plant the varietal in its new vineyard in 1975. After Gray Monk made award-winning wines, Kerner was planted in a small number of other vineyards.
It is likely that the Hagermans planted it because their immediate neighbour to the south, David Wagner, was a Kerner enthusiast. David had come across Kerner as an amateur winemaker in the Fraser Valley (his club was purchasing the grapes from the interior). When David established Carriage House Winery, he devoted a quarter of his eight-acre vineyard to Kerner. The winery has since closed and David has moved on, but Gina continues to champion the grape as “sunshine in the glass.”
Here are notes on the wines.
Nostalgia Pinot Gris 2020 ($21.99 for 235 cases). Gina calls this aromatic and fruity wine “the Okanagan in a glass.” It has aromas and flavours of peaches and pears with a bright, refreshing finish. 90.
Nostalgia Viognier 2020 ($24.99 for 153 cases). “It is a little more exotic, a little more full-bodied,” Gina says of this varietal. “It sometimes steals the show from Pinot Gris.” This has aromas and flavours of apricot. The backbone of minerality and tannin defines the structure and frames the long, fresh finish. 91.
Nostalgia Chardonnay 2020 ($24.99 for 63 cases). The volume of this wine is so small because Gina replaced part of her Chardonnay block with Cabernet Franc. This is a crisp, fruit-forward wine with flavours of apple and pear mingled subtly with oak. 90.
Nostalgia Pin Up Series Boogie Woogie White 2020 ($19.99 for 263 cases). This is 50/50 blend of Viognier and Chardonnay. A slight hint of residual sugar in this approachable white supports notes of citrus and stone fruit. 89.
Nostalgia Kerner 2020 ($21.99 for 631 cases). This wine has 8.9 grams is residual sugar, one reason why it is Nostalgia’s best seller. There are aromas and flavours of pear and tangerine mingled with spice. 90.
Nostalgia Rosé 2020 ($23.99 for 344 cases). Made by the saignée method, this is a blend of 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 23% Syrah, 17% Malbec and 13% Cabernet Franc. Refreshing and juicy, this dry rosé has aromas and flavours of strawberry and watermelon. 90.
Nostalgia Chantilly Lace NV ($24.99 for 425 cases). Made by the frizzante sparkling wine method, this is 81% Kerner and 19% Chardonnay. At 34.7 grams of residual sugar, this the winery’s sweetest white. It is so well-balanced, however, that it is fresh. The flavours are dominated by Kerner’s medley of tropical fruit. 90.
Nostalgia Merlot 2018 ($32.99 for 174 cases). This wine was aged for 15 months in French and American oak. It begins with hold aromas of black cherry and baking spice. The flavours are bold, with black cherry and plum mingled with vanilla and mocha. 90.
Nostalgia Family Collection Meritage 2018 ($37.99 for 196 cases). This is a blend of 51% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot. Rich in texture and bold in flavour, this wine begins with aromas of black cherry and cassis. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry, black currant, dark chocolate and tobacco. 92.
Nostalgia Family Collection Syrah 2018 ($39.99 for 76 cases). This is available only to wine club members. The Syrah grapes were co-fermented with Viognier. The wine was aged in French oak (32% new). This is a savoury wine with signature black pepper in the aroma and one the finish, framing the complex red and dark fruits. 92.