Monthly Archives: April 2013

Stag’s Hollow Syrah 2010

Stag's Hollow Syrah 2010

 British Columbia, $28

I just finished a piece on the Okanagan for our friends at Seattle Magazine and I loved the opportunity to wax about a region that most Washington State folk would be blown away by (their wine regions, while great for grapes, won’t win any beauty contests anytime soon). As part of the exercise, I had to choose five bottles worth bringing back, and for Syrah I chose one from the excellent Nichol Vineyard. But this week, the winemakers from Okanagan Falls were in town and I had occasion to re-try Stag’s Hollow’s version, and damned if I’m not second-guessing myself.

It’s classic Rhone-style with some (8.5%) Viognier thrown in, and it’s just exquisite. One the attributes of Syrah that most people find a head-scratcher is when tasters says it evokes cooked sausages—what they hell does that mean? Well, one sip of this wine will demonstrate like no amount of words can this meaty, juicy attribute. At a later date, I’ll talk about some of the great things owner Larry Gerelus and winemaker Dwight Sick are doing with Tempranillo, but for now, track down this Syrah.

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Joie Farm

Joie Farm

It was a big week for Naramata’s Joie Farm. They blew out the door at the Northwest Wine competition (for all the results see here), scooping a Double Gold (whatever the heck that means), 3 Golds, 5 Silver and 4 Bronzes. Seriously, that’s bit much—if proprietors Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble weren’t such good eggs, other vintners might get a little jealous. Their 2012 release is now widely available and they ship at no charge to all the major centres in Canada. And not to get too gushy, but it’s tough to choose just one the whites—the entire line-up is dynamite. But if pressed, I’m going for the Pinot Blanc, for a few reasons. Firstly, almost everyone else in the Okanagan (save for Blue Mountain) treats the grape like some sort of red-headed step-child choosing to lavish the love on the often-mediocre Pinot Gris. Secondly, they go full Alsace on this wine—they keep the alcohol low (12.5%), but still get a blast of fresh peach, pear and the bite of quince and a lush mouth feel that one doesn’t normally get with this grape. Thirdly, they price it on par with the Un-Oaked Chardonnay and Riesling—at Joie they actually do love all their babies equally.

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Moon Curser Malbec 2010

Moon Curser Malbec 2010
British Columbia, $13

There’s some sort of ridiculous “World” or “National” Insert Name of Product You Wish to Peddle Day for every day of the year. Tomorrow it’s World Malbec Day, no doubt dreamed up by a cabal of South American vintners who aren’t satisfied that their enjoyable inexpensive wine has not yet total market domination. And while I’m not playing along, it did get me thinking about the conundrum that is Malbec and the seeming increase in acreage for the grape in the Okanagan. I’m far from convinced that selling $25-45 Malbecs is a sound business plan when Argentina can go toe to toe at under $20, but there are a few vintners that are interested in trying to extract a little more character and a lot more body from the grape than we’re used to.

At the top of this list is Osoyoos’ Moon Curser, who seem to love rehabilitation projects—they make a massive Petit Verdot and use large proportion of Tannat in their Dead of Night blend. Their Malbec is $30 and tough to find (it’s sold out at the winery) but if you track a bottle down, you’ll be rewarded with a wine that bears little resemblance to Finca Los Primos or any other sub-$15 Argentine import. It’s dark, heavy and needs a few years or at least some decanting and an hour or two of air to settle down. When it does, it shows some nice complexity with plum, spice and dark cherry—all in all a good way to spend World Malbec Day.

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Lobetia Organic Tempranillo 2011

Lobetia Organic Tempranillo 2011

Spain, $13

I don’t trust anyone who loves everything they come in contact with, and when it comes to wine, I’m doubly suspicious. There is a lot of terrible wine out there and while I appreciate it’s the reviewer’s job to help you find good bottles, once in a while I think we need to steer you away from some that aren’t up to snuff. I wanted to love this bottle of wine. It’s organic (the winery is now fully biodynamic), it has an attractive label (and yes, that matters to me), it’s Spanish (they need our help these days and my liver is eager to pitch in). But most of all, it’s all those things at $13; no small feat and a very workable price point for an everyday bottle. The wine’s nose is muted, but that wasn’t a huge concern for a tempranillo, which can sometime be coy on the nose or musty, but things took a wrong turn in the mouth. The fruit—mostly dried cherries—was likewise muted, but there was an astringency that was distracting. I love acid in my wines (it was why I was why I chose an old world bottle to begin with) but not meanness.

The funny thing is, after I wrote this I waited a day, tried the wine again and damned if it hadn’t come around. The astringency softened, the fruit opened up (the nose was still meh) and it turned out to be not bad—not my fave, but actually a pretty decent food wine. There are plenty of big muscular expensive wines that needs a little open time to play nice, but not that many $13 screwcap ones.

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Mt. Boucherie Blaufrankisch Summit Reserve 2009

summit reserve blaufrankisch 2009

BC, $25

Stroll into the BC section of your local wine store, and you’d be forgiven if you thought that Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Gris were the founding grapes of our wine region. The truth is that we started out with a lot of odd hybrid and oddball grapes—Marechal Foch stills pops up now and then, as does Ehrenfelser on the white sid but you also had Dunkelfelder and Rotberger. Which brings us to Blaufrankisch: If I’ve had one Blaufrankisch, I’ve had…one Bluafrankisch. Well, more if you include all the Washington State Lemberger (which is the same grape, but not exactly a best-seller either) but the truth is, we’re entering into serious niche territory here and that’s awesome.

It’s a deep dark colour (the grape is used in a quasi-legendary Hungarian wine called Bull’s Blood) and has some spice on the nose, but it’s on the palate—more loaded with blueberry than any wine in recent memory—that you see how it got its name (the “blau” being “blue” for our German pals). It has a light feel in the mouth (its thinness offset by what I assume is some pretty solid oak aging) and some serious tannin. Above all, though, it’s unique, unlike the oceans of bland Cab or Merlot, which means you’ll have a definite opinion on this wine. I really liked it, tickled by its history and bold taste, but my wife remained solidly on the fence. I can assure you you’ll remember it long after other wines have come and gone—and if that’s not worth $25, I don’t know what is.

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