Summerhill offers up to 4 wines to taste for a small fee. As usual, Tracey and I started to order 4 different wines each in order to double the amount of wine we got to taste. Not particularly inventive of us.
Very early into our tasting, however, our host Harry (our new winery BFF) somehow decided that we knew our wine, and that we would benefit from a more involved tasting, and from that point forward, all bets were off.
I can't say what it was that made him open up almost their entire portfolio to us; perhaps my book and note-taking gave me an air of wine competence that I don't really possess.....but either way, we weren't going to complain.
We tasted NINETEEN wines. That is not a typo. NINETEEN. This included the Tiferet, which was got to be the only Kosher wine in the Okanagan. Kosher wine! What does that mean? Hell if I know, I don't have any Jewish friends. On a side note, is it odd that I'm in my mid-forties and don't know a single Jewish person? I mean, it seems odd to me....of course, I'm not in show business.
My understanding is that to be classified as Kosher, the winemaker couldn't see the grapes or the wine....all he could do was to advise the Rabbis on what to do. Let me tell you, those Rabbis know what they are doing, I'm just sayin'.....but more on that later.
Summerhill prides themselves on providing organic wines, for those of you who are interested in that. Honestly, it means little to me.
Here we go:
Summerhill Cipes Brut NV ($26.95)
Apple, pair and grapefruit on the nose. Creamy notes of apples and toast on the palate. This wins awards every year, but it is just so crazy dry that it just isn't in my wheelhouse. 84.
Summerhill 2008 Blanc de Noirs ($34.90)
100% Pinot Noir...red grapes in a white sparkling wine.
Hints of cranberries and strawberries on the nose and palate. Still very, very dry. Very long finish. 86.
Summerhill 1998 Cipes Ariel ($88.00)
So yeah, now we are talking. It can't be that I like this way more because the price more than doubled. Damn my caviar palate.
Notes of apple, pears, flint and just a touch of butter. It's still dry, but the mouth-feel is so different; softer, creamier, and delicious. I tasted this for the first time at the Vancouver International Wine Festival in 2014, and I believe it has improved even since that time. 93.
Summerhill 2013 Chardonnay ($29.90)
Light and fruity, more citrus than butter but just a slight note of oak. Probably a favorite of those of you who prefer fruit over oak in your Chardonnay. 86.
Summerhill 2014 Alive Organic White ($19.95)
Roses, peaches and lemons on the nose and palate. Lovely and versitile; try it with anything that goes with white wine. Slightly off-dry. 87.
Summerhill 2013 Ehrenfelser ($19.95)
This is the Ehrenfelser that got me into this varietal and is still my all-time favorite. Apple, orange blossom, honeysuckle on the nose. Pineapple, peach and other tropical fruits on the palate. Simply lovely. 89.
Summerhill 2013 Organic Riesling ($22.95)
Granny smith apple dominates the nose and palate. Hints of minerality. Dry and well-balanced. 87.
Summerhill 2013 Organic Gewurztraminer ($19.95)
Lychee, stone fruit and grapefruit on the nose. This wine features orange blossoms on the oily palate. Lots of complexity. 88.
Summerhill Jazz Blush NV ($24.95)
Yes, it comes in a trumpet. If you have a music lover on your wine buying list, tough to argue with this. Notes of strawberry, cherry and cranberry. Very dry. 85.
As much as we have enjoyed out tasting to this point, we were about to kick it up a notch or two. Or twelve.
Summerhill 2011 Pinot Noir ($26.95)
Forest floor, cherry and plum on the nose. Joined on the palate by some strawberry and cinnamon. 87.
Summerhill 2010 Syrah ($28.95)
Hints of blueberries, white pepper and leather on the nose. Pepper and red currants on the palate. Finishes well. Nice now but will increase with more bottle time. 86-88.
Summerhill 2011 Spadefoot Toad Syrah ($49.90)
Single-vineyard Syrah from Oliver. Hints of white pepper and cherry on the nose. The palate features flavors of black pepper, dark fruit and earth. Terrific now and the sky's the limit with some careful aging. 91-93.
A quick note on our last visit here. A lady excitedly rushes up to the tasting bar during our tasting, almost paint-brushing me out of the way, to order a case of their Baco Noir. I had never heard of this varietal, but I had to try it, right?
I have described it as the WORST WINE EVER. It was like licking an ashtray without the protein. Awful. It has been a few years, and our tasted have changed....how would this one work out?
Summerhill 2012 Baco Noir ($24.95)
Bold and smooth with notes of tobacco, and dark fruit on the nose. Chocolate and a bit of vanilla on the palate. Not something I need to pack the car with, but far from the "worst wine ever". 86.
That's not enough for you? OK let's kick it up another ten notches, into some really special stuff.
Summerhill 2010 Grasslands Organic Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Robert Bateman Artist's Series ($88.00)
70% Cab Sauv and 30% Syrah.
From their website:
The art for this label is Long-Billed Curlew (2013) by Robert Bateman. This endangered species is in decline across North America. Largest of all sandpipers and with a bill that is 19 cm long, the Curlew is migratory and nests in the open dry grasslands typical of the ecosystems in which our vineyards are located.
Undoubtedly the label is gorgeous, but would the wine stand up? Hints of cherry and spice greet your nose. Silky smooth and full-bodied, with just a slight note of spice on the long finish. Absolutely fabulous now (but decant it first!!), but if you have the patience to carefully cellar it for a few years, you will be in for quite a treat, methinks. 91-94.
Summerhill 2010 Grasslands Organic Cabernet Franc Robert Bateman Artist's Series ($68.00)
Only 200 cases of this lovely Cabernet Franc produced. Black cherry, vanilla and a touch of spice on the nose and palate. Another big red that can only improve with aging. 88-91.
Drumroll please.........and while you wait for the drumroll to finish, enjoy this hilariously appropriate clip from YouTube:
"Now it's nearly 10:30
Time for bed
'Daily Show' reruns dancing in their heads
Maybe next year they'll learn how to hold their booze,
It's Christmas time for the Jews"
HAHAHAHAHAH. Oh c'mon, that's comedy gold. If any of you think that's offensive, keep in mind that was a clip from Saturday Night Live written by a bunch of Jews, so it's clearly not meant to offend anyone. It's just damn funny.
Summerhill 2012 Tiferet ($100)
$100 for a wine made by Rabbi Shmuly Hecht and Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum. I'm not making that up. Sounds great if you need a wine for Passover, but what about those of us who don't need it?
It's fabulous. The website advertises a nose of "baby's breath" and a palate of "mother's milk". Well I'm going to assume that neither of those are actually in here, the notes of vanilla, black cherry and mint come together to create something pretty damn special, no matter what your religion ( or lack thereof). It's a mitzvah. 92.
Yeah I know that "mitzvah" doesn't really fit there, but if you've seen "A Mighty Wind", you probably laughed. If not, and you are Jewish, I apologize.
What a fabulous exper.....what's that? We aren't done? THEY HAVE ICEWINE TOO????? Oy vey.
Summerhill 2013 Pinot Gris Icewine ($88.00)
Pears, butterscotch and honey mingle amongst your nose and palate. The honey crawls across your tongue like the girl you met last night trying to crawl out of your bedroom before doing the walk of shame. 93.
Summerhill 2011 Merlot Icewine ($188.00)
Strawberries, cherries and raisins entice your nose and tongue. A touch of plum and spice finish up. Very lovely and if you are into icewine, you need to taste this one. Having said that, at this price, I'd prefer it be incredible rather than just really good. 90.
What a fabulous tasting. If the worst thing I can say about 19 wines is that their 90-point icewine is a bit overpriced, I'd say you have a pretty damn good winery. The wine is so good, it's meshugah. We walked out having spent over $230, and with only three bottles of wine. Oy vey. OK I said that already. Enough with the Jewish jokes, I get it.
Next up, another excellent winery, who focuses on a couple cooler-climate grapes (Riesling and Pinot Noir), Tantalus. Spoiler alert: The highest grade I gave to any wine this trip was from Tantalus. Stay tuned and see what it is!