Sunday, September 27, 2015

Okanagan Trip Part 27, and it's a private tasting at Culmina

As far as I know, this is the only Napa-style private tasting that you can book in the Okanagan. For only $10/person, you get the place to yourself and you get to taste most of their portfolio. It's a limited portfolio at this point, as they are focused on quality over quantity.

You get more than just a wine tasting though, as your guide will go in depth into all aspects of the winemaking process. We even got a tour of the barrel room which is always fascinating.

Culmina 2014 Unicus ($25.00)

The first Gruner Veltiner in the Okanagan and it's simply terrific. Aromas of peach, lemon and minerality. Peach dominates the palate with just a touch of white pepper and herbs. I even think I sense a tad of tangerine in there as it finishes. The worst thing about this wine is it always sells out early and when I have some I can't keep from drinking it all. 91.

Culmina 2014 Decora ($20.00)

An intensely focused Riesling with aromas of citrus and slate. The palate features hints of peach, green apple and nectarine, with impressive minerality. Very dry and very good. 89.

Culmina 2014 Saignée ($22.00)

(62% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon)

This absolutely bone-dry Rosé features herbaceous and minty notes on the nose. The palate might notice some strawberry and touches of grapefruit. So dry it's not a patio-sipping rosé but would go beautifully with a nice charcuterie plate. 87.

Culmina 2012 Hypothesis ($38.00)

Merlot (57%), Cabernet Sauvignon (24%), and Cabernet Franc (19%)

This big Bordeaux-style red features intense aromas of dark fruits with just a touch of spice. Flavors of chocolate, cocoa, plum and vanilla mingle together beautifully. Tannins are still strong; this is a young wine that will much improve with some proper cellaring, but oh, what potential. 91-94.

This was all we had the opportunity to taste at the winery, but at a future tasting back home we got a chance to taste their 2nd red blend:

Culmina 2013 R&D ($22.00)

This Merlot-dominate blend features aromas of cedar and cherries. Full-bodied and juicy with flavors of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of vanilla. Very approachable now. 89.

There you have it, another terrific experience and one we won't miss on any Okanagan trips!

The Okanagan tour finally winds down with just two more reports: next up, a tasting at Tinhorn Creek!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Okanagan Trip Part 26 at Road Half-of-that

Our first visit to Road 13 winery!

Road 13 2013 Honest John's White ($17.00)

Tropical fruits and melon dominate the nose and palate. A tiny bit of grapefruit. Well balanced acidity and just slightly off-dry. 88.

Road 13 2014 Old Vines Chenin Blanc ($27.00)

Rich, complex and intense. Flavors of lime and honey with a touch of slate. Finishes long and beautiful. This is really super. 90.

Road 13 2013 Roussanne ($24.00)

I believe this is the first single-varietal Roussanne I've ever tasted. Aromas and flavors of lime and honey blossom. Finishes long with a hint of apricot liqueur. 88.

Road 13 2012 VRM ($29.00)

60% Viognier, 30% Marsanne, 10% Roussanne

Aromas of peach, pear and a touch of orange peel. Touch of vanilla mingles with minerality and a long beautiful finish. 89.

Road 13 2013 Syrah Malbec ($32.00)

Cherry, vanilla, blueberry and a touch of spice on the nose. Rich, round and juicy palate, dominated by blueberry. Winner of a Platinum award at the 2015 National Wine Awards. 88.

Road 13 2013 GSM ($35.00)

Intense aromas of cherry, almonds and orange blossom. A touch of spice finishes flavors of plum and blackberry. Slightly off-dry. Another Platinum award winner. 87.

Road 13 2011 Jackpot Syrah ($40.00)

Aromas of black cherry, a touch of tobacco and some pepper. Rich flavors of blueberry, blackberry and vanilla. Lovely. 90.

Road 13 2012 Syrah Mouvedre ($35.00)

Aromas of cola and cherry (or, I suppose, cherry cola) mingle with blackberry. Intense flavors of blueberry, blackberry and a touch of spice on the long finish. 89.

We had an excellent tasting experience on our first visit. Not a bad wine in the bunch and a few of them truly exceptional. Interestingly, the two Platinum Award winners were my least favorite! Just goes to show what any wine lover already knows, taste is very subjective.

The tasting room was nice and the customer service was excellent. We are looking forward to returning on our next Okanagan trip!

Next up: A very special private tasting experience at Culmina!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Okanagan Wine Trip Blog hits a quarter century at Burrowing Owl!

A quarter century? Seems like that's how long it has taken me to write it.

Burrowing Owl, one of the more highly rated BC wineries, and one that, up until this trip, I always thought was a tad overrated. Not that I have disliked their wine in the past, but nothing has bowled me over and it seemed like their exclusivity didn't necessarily match the quality of the wine. Let's see if my opinion changed on this trip.

They charge a non-refundable tasting fee which sometimes irks me a bit, but given that the fees go directly to the conservation of actual Burrowing Owls, I fully support it.

They have a very large, beautiful tasting room and wine shop.

Burrowing Owl 2014 Pinot Gris ($20.00)

An expressive nose of white flowers, pear and cantaloupe. The palate is rich with some minerality and hints of cantaloupe and plum. Lovely. 89.

Burrowing Owl 2013 Chardonnay ($25.00)

Aromas of pineapple, banana, nectarine and coconut. The palate is fruity and light, very subtle notes of oak integrated with some honeydew melon and citrus. 87.

Burrowing Owl 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($25.00)

Subtle grassy notes that this varietal often brings, mingling with some lemon on the nose. Green apple, peach and passionfruit take over on the palate. 88.

Burrowing Owl 2013 Pinot Noir ($30.00)

Personally I think this is their best Pinot Noir. Strong aromas of raspberry, cold cuts, oak and violets. The palate is bright and juicy, with graphite notes mingling in with the fruit. Strawberries and cedar, dark berries and vanilla. Just fantastic. 92.

Burrowing Owl 2011 Merlot ($30.00)\

Intoxicating aromas of black cherry, cola and vanilla. Hints of cocoa, blueberry and blackberry on the palate. Finishes long and chalky. Very good already and will only improve with some time in your cellar. 88-90.

Burrowing Owl 2012 Petit Verdot ($30.00)

Light aromas of dark berries and a bit of spice highlight the nose on their initial release of this single varietal. Hints of blackberry and licorice and some earthy notes on the palate. Tannins are strong and will soften with some gentle aging. Very intriguing debut. 87.

Burrowing Owl 2013 Syrah ($33.00)

Black pepper, violets, black plums and a hint of tobacco on the powerful nose. Blackberry, strawberry, cocoa, vanilla and a touch of spice on the palate. Another one that is terrific now and will improve with some careful cellaring. 91.

Burrowing Owl 2012 Cabernet Franc ($33.00)

Aromas of blueberry, rapsberry and vanilla waft over your nose. Just a touch of tobacco on the palate mixed in with red currants, blueberries and licorice. 88.

Burrowing Owl 2012 Athene ($38.00)

53% Syrah, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Black cherry and earthy notes on the nose. Complex flavors of blackberry, blueberry, bittersweet chocolate, earth and black cherry. Long and lovely finish. 89.

Burrowing Owl 2011 Meritage ($45.00)

33% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot.

Lots of complex aromas here. Cassis, plum, blackberry and just a touch of black olive greets the nose. Some herbal and floral notes join in as well. The palate is rich, complex and juicy. Chocolate, smoke, cocoa, raspberry, cigar box and vanilla. Structured, acidic and young, this one needs to lay down for up to a decade to really reach the heights it can. 89-92.

It's safe to say that this tasting has raised my expectations of Burrowing Owl quite a bit. This was really a terrific experience and the wine was of universally high quality.

Next up: our first visit to Road 13 !

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Okanagan wine trip part 24, now it's time for a little piece of France at Le Vieux Pin!

This will be a shorter blog post than most of them on this trip as we didn't get to taste a lot that was new; as members of their Wine Society, we get all their delicious wine delivered to our front door so I have previously reported on just about everything we tasted.....but not quite EVERYTHING.

After Alex, our superb wine club concierge took us on a fantastic tour of the vines and the winery, we settled in to taste a couple of wines that we had not previously enjoyed:

Le Vieux Pin 2013 Ava ($34.90)

Their flagship white blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Hints of peaches, grapefruit and apricot on the nose and palate. Juicy and delicious and will improve with a little more aging time. 90.

Le Vieux Pin 2012 Retouche ($69.90)

Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend. VERY limited and VERY delicious. Firm structure and sharp tannins suggest that this bad boy needs quite a bit of time in the cellar to mature and reach it's full potential. Black cherries, black pepper and black currants dominate the nose and continue through to the palate. Finishes long and shows a ton of promise. 91-94.

As a bonus, after we returned home from our trip we happened into a liquor store and came across a few bottles of this:

Le Vieux Pin 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($30.00)

What an amazing find! Sauvignon Blanc is not one of the white grapes known for aging, and these are probably reaching the end of their life. We opened one up the day we bought these and it was terrific. Lots of fruit left to mingle with the grassy notes along with the grapefruit and guava on the nose. The palate delivers a hint of white pepper and herbaceous notes. Really terrific and a pleasure to find something that had already been aged for us. 91.

As always, a terrific visit to one of our very favorite spots in the Okanagan. Love this winery!

Next up: Down the road to one of the more well-known, yet exclusive, wineries in the Okanagan, Burrowing Owl!

Okanagan Wine Tour Part 23, a piece of Portugal with Quinta Ferreira!

Our second visit to this lovely tasting room which features several
friendly winery dogs and some amazing art. Oh and the wine is pretty darn tasty too.

Quinta Ferreira 2012 Viognier ($19.90)

Strong aromas of peach and pineapple greet your nose. Very dry and balanced palate which finishes with some citrus and coconut. A top notch Viognier. 88.

Quinta Ferreira 2012 Oaked Chardonnay ($19.90)

Barrel fermented, aged in French and American oak and put through 65% maloactic fermentation results in a creamy and buttery Chardonnay. Aromas of apple and butterscotch give way to flavors of pear and butterscotch. An absolute steal at this price point. 90.

Quinta Ferreira 2013 Rose ($18.90)

Aromas and flavors of strawberry and just a touch of spice on the palate. Just released when we tasted it and was probably still suffering from a bit of bottle shock. 86.

Quinta Ferreira 2011 Mistura Tinto ($19.90)

Black cherry and dark chocolate on the nose. The black cherry continues onto the palate where it's joined by some blackberry, vanilla and a hint of pepper. 87.

Quinta Ferreira 2010 Syrah ($29.90)

Violets, black pepper and blackberry on the nose. Blackberries come through on the palate. Some mocha and vanilla as well. 88.

Quinta Ferreira 2010 Merlot ($24.90)

Lovely, expressive nose of black cherry, vanilla and cloves. Juicy palate featuring some plums, blackberries and cocoa. Finishes long and lovely. 90.

Quinta Ferreira 2010 Cabernet Franc ($29.90)

Nose of black cherry and blackberry. The palate is dominated by vanilla and chocolate, with a touch of hard candy on the lovely finish. 88.

Quinta Ferreira 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.90)

Dark berries, mint, chocolate and exotic spices on the nose. The berries really shine through on the palate, with some black cherry and raspberry as well. Tannins are smooth and finish is long. Lovely now and would improve with a few more years of careful cellaring. 90.

Quinta Ferreira 2009 Alagria ($29.90)

Bordeaux blend featuring a little bit of Zinfandel just for good measure. Black cherry, raspberry and vanilla on the nose. Dark fruits and coffee on the palate. Just a touch of berry jam you'd expect from Zinfandel. Finishes long and lovely. 89.

Quinta Ferreira 2009 Obra-Prima ($34.90)

A big and bold red Meritage with a nose of black pepper, black cherry and bell pepper. Some vanilla and black cherry on the palate. Finishes forever and would only improve with a little more aging time. 90-92.

Quinta Ferreira 2009 Porta d'Ouro ($25.00)

Dark cherry, cinnamon and cherries on the nose and palate. Very thick and viscous port-style wine. 86.

A lot of great wine as usual from one of the true "sleeper" wineries in the Okanagan. They also feature "Reserve" versions of several of their red wines and we left the winery with a bottle of 2008 Obra Prima Reserve (which we have enjoyed previously) and a Chardonnay. Excellent!

Next up: We are up early for a fabulous tour and tasting at one of our favorites, Le Vieux Pin!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Okanagan Trip Part 22! Another new winery, and they are real Mavericks.....

....OK I'm sorry but Sarah Palin has almost ruined the term "maverick" for me,

Hey, look, we can see Russia from the winery!!

We were warmly greeted in a smallish but nice tasting room. They had been open nearly a year when we visited a couple months ago. They got real, real lucky during the terrible wildfires that got within meters of the winery very recently, from what I hear. A different outcome would have been a real disaster as the wines were damn good!

Maverick Estate Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($19.00)

Light aromas of lemongrass and citrus give way to powerful fruit flavors. Citrus and grapefruit with a touch of herbs. Balanced acidity. Lovely. 88.

Maverick Estate Winery 2014 Origin ($17.00)

Beautiful nose of lemongrass and apple with floral and mineral notes. Tropical fruit on the palate with abundant minerality. 87.

Maverick Estate Winery 2014 Pinot Gris ($19.00)

Aromas of red apple, tropical fruit and lime. Some apricot mingles with minerality on the palate. Acidity is well balanced. Lovely now but a touch of time in the cellar would pay off nicely. 88.

Maverick Estate Winery 2013 Chardonnay ($26.50)

Creamy, full, rich and elegant. Light notes of butter, orange blossoms, and apricot. Light minerality and citrus on the palate. Finishes long and very intense. 86.

Maverick Estate Winery 2013 Pinot Noir ($29.00)

Beautiful, fragrant nose of tobacco, earth, and cedar. Flavors are powerful with some spice and toffee notes along with plum and dark berries. Silky, smooth mouthfeel. Absolutely terrific. 90.

Maverick Estate Winery 2012 Sofia ($30.00)

Full disclosure: I am not particularly fond of port-style wines. When I'm feeling like an after-dinner wine, I'll stick with my icewines, thanks.

And then I tasted this one. This is not your grandpa's port. Made with Syrah, the aromas of ripe fruit, chocolate and white pepper almost overwhelm the senses. Licorice and plum flavors delight the palate. It takes all night to finish. This                            is a very, very special port-style wine. And yes, we bought a                              bottle (my first ever port-style wine purchase). 89.

In addition to Sofia we left with a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc (can't actually remember why we didn't take one of the terrific Pinots as well...perhaps it was just a matter of the car already being full). A new winery to watch, for sure!

Next up: Well, tomorrow we head to Disneyland!! Five days at the Happiest Place on Earth as we take part in their 60th Anniversary celebrations. I suspect there may be some great food and wine consumed to report on when we return.

Next up on the Okanagan trip report (still SIX more wineries to go!), we take a little piece of Portugal as we visit Quinta Ferreira!