Friday, May 5, 2023

Sandhill releases its 2022 rosés

Sandhill winemaker Sydney Valentino
In April, Sandhill Wines promoted Sydney Valentino to lead winemaker at the Kelowna winery, just in time to launch the 2022 rosé wines. Sandhill, known for single vineyard wines, began making rosé as early as the 2011 vintage, which was about when Sydney began working in what was then the Calona Winery wine shop. About 10 years ago, Howard Soon, the legendary and now retired Sandhill winemaker, moved her into the winery and enabled her to take on ever greater responsibility until she took over the Sandhill portfolio.
Here is the winery’s announcement which includes Sydney’s biography. “With a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, her WSET level 3 and Winery Assistant Certificate from Okanagan College, Valentino brings over 10 years of experience to her new position. She worked closely with previous Sandhill winemakers Sandy Leier and Howard Soon. Both award-winning winemakers were mentors to Valentino, aiding in her career growth and instilling Sandhill’s winemaking philosophy of producing truly distinct, terroir-driven wines. “Over the past decade Valentino has held numerous roles on the winemaking team with Andrew Peller Ltd. She started in the tasting room of Calona Winery and later moved on to her role as the non-VQA winemaker, where she oversaw winemaking operations for brands such as Copper Moon and Peller Family Vineyards. From there Valentino led the winemaking team for Wayne Gretzky Okanagan before settling into her current position. “Originally hailing from Winnipeg, Valentino grew up in Kelowna where she currently resides with her family, making the most of the Okanagan lifestyle in her free time. She is a lover of cooking, reading and soaking up the Okanagan weather with her two kids. Valentino will play a pivotal role in the launch of upcoming new releases at Sandhill, including the 2022 Rosé and will continue to honour Sandhill’s terroir-driven legacy.”
Sandhill has emerged as one of the leading rosé producers in the Okanagan. While the production in 2011 was a mere 396 cases, consumer demand for rosé has enabled Sandhill to increase output steadily. The winery made just over 7,000 cases of Sandhill Rosé in 2021 and has now released 8,100 cases from the 2022 vintage. In 2022, for the third vintage in a row, Sandhill has also released 175 cases of Small Lot Sangiovese rosé. The quantity is necessarily small because the Sangiovese block in the Sandhill Estate Vineyard is just 3.69 acres in size and most of the fruit is used to make a red table wine. The two rosé wines are quite different in style. The Sangiovese is a cerebral expression of the terroir of the vineyard, in the tradition of Sandhill. The larger volume rosé, which is made with grapes from Okanagan and Similkameen vineyards, is an exuberant celebration of fruit aromas and flavours. “It needs to be easy-drinking and enjoyable,” Sydney explains.
Here are notes on the wines.
Sandhill Sangiovese Small Lots Rosé 2022 ($30 for 175 cases). The grapes were gently handled: pressed in a basket press with minimal skin contact to achieve a delicate copper hue in the wine. The wine was fermented cool in stainless steel and then went into neutral oak barrels, aging three months on lees. The object was to augment the structure of the wine. The wine begins with a delicate bouquet of cherry and raspberry. There is good weight on the palate, with flavours of red berries mingled with citrus and pear. The wine is dry. This is quite a sophisticated rosé, well-suited to accompany a wide range of foods. 92.
Sandhill Rosé 2022 ($22 for 8,100 cases). The unconventional blend in this wine is 43.7% Merlot, 29% Gamay, 14% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot and 3.3% Viognier (which was co-fermented with the Syrah). The grapes had minimal skin contact, but enough to give the wine a visually appealing coral hue. The aromas of strawberry, watermelon and rhubarb explode from the glass. On the palate, there are also flavours of watermelon, pink grapefruit and pomegranate. A very slight hint of residual sugar gives this wine a juicy texture; but the balancing acidity supports a refreshing finish that lingers. The wine is quite simply delicious. 92.

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