In the interest of full disclosure, Quails' Gate is my favorite BC winery, hands down.....so I go to today's tasting expecting nothing less than their usual excellence. I wouldn't say I love ALL their wines, as they have a diverse portfolio, but generally if it says "Quails' Gate", it has a pretty good chance with me.
I have tasted all these wines before but not these particular vintages, in most cases. I had actually tasted the 2012 Chenin Blanc when it was first released and at that time it seemed to be suffering from a bit of bottle shock.
Their Chenin Blanc has been interesting to me; my wife and I both LOVED their 2010, and both HATED the 2011. Amazing what a difference one year can make. I had a bottle of their 2006 shipped to me from their library at Xmas and it was sublime, so I'm certainly willing to give the 2012 the benefit of the doubt.
As excellent as most of their offerings are, this winery is all about Pinot Noir. I've tried their Pinot Noir from every year from 2005-present and it's uniformly excellent. Let's see if this year's is any different?
So let's get to my reviews:
2012 Chenin Blanc
Strong hints of lemon and melon on the nose, with notes of citrus on the palate. Dry, crisp and fresh. winery suggests this would be a perfect match for oysters; I don't eat oysters so I'll take their word for that. I will be sure to try this with a much better seafood at some point. This wine will reward those of you willing to put it away for some careful cellaring for 3-5 years. At $18.99, it's a reasonably priced option if you have the desire to buy a case and put half of it away for a while.
Rating: 6.5/10 (probably will go up a half point or a full point after some aging).
2012 Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris
Funny story; Chasselas was the first grape they ever planted, and it was planted by mistake. They were trying to plant a grape for eating, not for wine. Turned into a pretty good mistake, as this has turned into a best seller for the winery.
Notes of pear courtesy of the Pinot Gris enhance the natural flavors of the Chasselas. A perfect patio sipper, slightly off dry and well balanced. No need to put this one away; at $18.99, buy it now and enjoy. Should also pair well with lighter seafood dishes.
Firstly, I don't generally like Rose as I've mentioned in this blog before. This one is SO different from the norm.
Notes of green tomato and rhubarb dominate the nose; and the tomato doesn't end there, as it also comes through on the palate. A crisp and dry finish ensures it should pair well with salads or tomato pasta dishes. I'm going to pick one of these up to try it out on my next pasta night. At $15.99, an excellent value.
2011 Pinot Noir
Intense and fruity, this version of their regular Pinot Noir doesn't disappoint. From new vines and aged 8 months in barrels, this wine is perfectly good to drink now but if you can put it away for another 2-3 years you will not be disappointed. Subtle hints of spice mix with the fruits on the palate. At $24.95 this is my "go to" red wine, and if you like Pinot Noir, it should probably be yours, too.
Rating: 8/10 (almost certainly to go to 8.5 after aging)
2011 Stewart's Family Reserve Pinot Noir
OK now let's get to their flagship product. Grapes from old vines, aged 18 months in brand new barrels, this is the cream of the crop from Quails' Gate (although I'd argue that their SFR Chardonnay, which we didn't taste today, is pretty damn good too).
The wineries notes say it is "made to be elegant with grace and finesse, this wine is made for wine lovers who desire a sophisticated style of Pinot Noir". I couldn't have said it better myself.
This is a fabulous bottle of wine, ready right now, but if you have the patience to put it away until 2017, 2018, maybe even 2019, you will be very, very well rewarded.
I currently have five of these in my cellar (but today was my first chance to actually taste it), marked to open sometime over the next 4-6 years. Very much looking forward to that :-)
Not a budget wine, at $45, but you will not be disappointed.
Rating: 8.5/10 (almost certainly to be a 9 after aging).
2010 Old Vines Foch
I'll repeat what I said about the Rose; Foch is not my thing. I've tried past vintages of QG Foch and they were OK; this one was a little better, though, and if I was going to go into a store and look for Foch, this would be the one.
Not what I'd consider a "sipping" wine; it's bold, jammy and earthy, and would go best with food. Would probably pair fabulously with very strong foods; braised lamb, or something involving a blue or other stinky cheese. Ready to drink now, but could be cellared for 4-5 years. $24.99.
All in all, a terrific day of tasting from one of BC's original wineries. I cannot recommend their wines enough, and also highly suggest you have lunch or dinner at their Old Vines restaurant next time you are up in their neck of the woods.