Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Okanagan Trip, Part 1, begins at Quails' Gate

After arriving at The Nest (check it out here), one of Quails' Gate's vacation properties, for our three night stay, we were almost immediately off to our dinner reservations at their multi-award winning restaurant, Old Vines.

I'm not generally one who takes pictures of his food unless it is really special...but I wish I had done that here, because the food was incredible, top to bottom, and the presentation was second to none. For example my appetizer, carrot soup, was brought to me with basically an empty soup bowl with just a few hunks of chorizo in it. At the time I thought to myself "hmm, I'm already done and don't remember eating".

Alas, the soup was in a different container, and was poured into my bowl at the table. A neat touch. Of course, if the soup wasn't any good that would have been wasted effort, but as I mentioned previously, ALL the food was amazing. I had a very special halibut dish as my main, two of my dining companions had Cornish Game Hen, and the other one had a HUGE pork chop. By the time we were done with the entrees, 3 decadent deserts and 2 bottles of wine, well let's just say we all left the restaurant more than satisfied.

We started off the night with this beautifully aged treasure:

Quails' Gate 2003 Dry Riesling Reserve ($75.00)

This might be the first wine I've had from the Okanagan from 2003, the year of the great fire. I've heard that it's possible to actually taste the fire in some of the wines, but we did not get that here. This 14-year old wine is lively and the aromas jump from the glass. The petrol notes that generally develop in aged Riesling are there but much less prevalent as you might expect. Tons of fruit left, beautiful notes of lemon and lime with impressive levels of minerality. This was very much enjoyed by all, which was really obvious to anyone who noticed how fast it disappeared! 93.

Up next, we moved to another favorite white grape:

Quails' Gate 2008 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay ($60.00)

Intense aromas of butterscotch, hazelnut, melon, peach and citrus. Complex and decadent. Aging beautifully with just the right amount of buttery flavors and a rich mouthfeel. Drinking exceptionally well now. 92.

While we were perusing the dessert menus, over came 4 glasses of this, with their compliments:

Quails' Gate 2015 Optima ($27.00 375ml)

Aromas of cinnamon poached pears, orange blossom and apricot. Beautiful fruit flavors mingle with notes of honey. My dinner companions went crazy for this. I liked it too, don't get me wrong, but I always figure when it comes to the dessert wines, go big or go home. This isn't as sweet as I like them. 89.

.....so I ordered a glass of this:

Quails' Gate 2014 Fortified Vintage Foch ($22.00 375 ml)

Foch is not always my thing. Fortified wines not always my thing. This one is my thing. Baking spices, raisins, apples, dark chocolate and cherry on the nose. Cherry really takes over on the palate, with a rich and luscious mouthfeel that feels like it never finishes and pairs beautifully with the rich desserts. 91.

Back to The Nest after dinner where we sat on the patio and enjoyed this bottle of their new flagship wine, which was left for us compliments of the winery.

Quails' Gate 2015 Pinot Noir ($25.00)

Sweet red berry aromas, baking spices and just a slight touch of earth. Pretty impressive for a brand new Pinot, and this is only going to get better and better with age. We enjoyed this a lot. 89.

So that was the end of night 1, but after a night of rest, we were up and at'em early to hit some more wineries. Given the "Quails' Gate" theme of this post, I'll skip over our morning appointments and go right to our tasting and tour that our concierge had booked for us. We were warmly greeted by Jan, who proceeded to take us on a terrific tour (my wife and I had toured here before, our guests had not) and show us the nuts and bolts of one of our favorite spots. Suddenly we were all very thirsty (amazing how that happens at wineries) and it was time to taste a bunch of their new wine.

Being members of their Barrel Club, there are no wines that we have never seen before, but many of the wines we were about to taste were new vintages, OR perhaps we had received them in recent club shipments but had not yet tasted them. In fact, of the 14 wines we were about to taste, only TWO of them had been tasted previously, one of those being the Pinot from the night before.

Let's get to it. All the prices below are regular public prices (not club member pricing) and do not include taxes.

Quails' Gate 2016 Chenin Blanc ($17.00)

We NEVER taste Chenin this young, we get this in our club shipments every year and toss it into the cellar to forget about it for a few years. This is a grape that we in Canada, IMO, don't let age enough. This one had a pleasant nose of citrus fruit and stone fruit. Citrus and orchard fruits dominate the palate, but if you pay close enough attention, you will notice a touch of fresh grass on the finish, contributed by the small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc that is mixed in. 89.

Quails' Gate 2006 Dry Riesling ($35.00)

Yup, 2006 from the cellar. This was the only other wine I had previously tasted and enjoyed, Review is here.

Quails' Gate 2015 Dry Riesling ($15.00)

See my comments about Chenin Blanc and "ditto" on Riesling.
Aroms of lemon, lime and hints of stone fruit. Minerality is developing and the acidity is intense but well-balanced. Citrus flavors dominate. 89.

Quails' Gate 2015 Chardonnay ($20.00)

Toasty oak, light buttery notes, hazelnut, pear, citrus and butterscotch. Buttery and delicious palate but not overpowering. This is a winner year in and year out. 89.

And let me just point out the prices on the last few wines. We will get into some pricier stuff in a minute, but the wines above are all of RIDICULOUSLY high quality for the money. In terms of bang for your buck, tough to do much better.

Quails' Gate 2014 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay ($35.00)

Beautiful aromas of butterscotch and hazelnut as you might expect, with nectarines, peaches and apples coming along for the ride. The palate features baked pears, a touch of peach, butterscotch and just a hint of spice on the long finish. So good now, and will only get better. 91.

Quails' Gate 2014 Rosemary's Block Chardonnay ($40.00)

Intense and complex aromas abound: hazelnut, white flowers, stone fruit, lemon, red apple and butterscotch. The flavors are just as intense and just as complex, with hints of toasty oak, hazelnut, butterscotch, vanilla and citrus. This is absolutely delicious and will probably improve for another 5-6 years. 93.

Quails' Gate 2016 Lucy's Block Rosé ($20.00)

They don't technically call this a reserve but that's basically what it is. A single-vineyard beauty featuring a 50/50 split of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Light pink in colour, with aromas of strawberry and just a touch of spice. Strawberry, cranberry and pink grapefruit flavors. This was just released and is probably just getting over bottle shock, which is really exciting, because if it's this good now, just wait a few weeks. 91.

Quails' Gate 2014 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir ($45.00)

If their Pinot Noir is the flagship wine, I'll call this one the "Flagship for Fine Wine Lovers". I don't want to overstate things and say they've hit a "Home Run" with this vintage, but it's no less than a stand-up Triple, I'll tell you that. Aromas of black cherry, baking spices, strawberry and vanilla. Elegant and full of finesse with a finish that makes you beg for more. The strawberry, cherry and spice flavors mingle together with an ease rarely found in a BC Pinot Noir this young. I have a couple of these in my cellar and it's possible they may not improve much, but that's only a testament to how good this is already. 94.

Quails' Gate 2014 Old Vines Foch Reserve ($45.00)

Aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate and earth. This is a big and bold wine, great for pairing with huge, gamey meats. Flavors of cherry, raspberry and smoked meat. 90.

Quails' Gate 2014 Merlot ($22.00)

Aromas of dark fruit, plum, vanilla and dark chocolate. Smoky, brooding flavors of dark fruits and toasty oak. 90.

Quails' Gate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($27.00)

2014 featured perfect conditions for this varietal and it shows. Black currant, blackberry, vanilla, cinnamon, mint and mocha on the nose. Black fruits dominate the palate. Beautiful long finish. This is a real winner and is so, so young. 92.

Quails' Gate 2014 The Boswell Syrah ($53.00)

Beautiful fragrant notes of violets, white pepper, blackberry and cloves. Definitely an "Old World" style Syrah, with rich, deep, brooding flavors of black fruit and well balanced acidity. Special. 93.

Quails' Gate 2014 The Connemara ($56.00)

Their new Bordeaux-style blend features 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Dark flowers, dark chocolate, black fruit, spice and strawberry on the nose. Dark fruit and dark chocolate on the palate, with a touch of spice and vanilla on the long, beautiful finish. We have a few of these in our cellar and were delighted to taste what is to come; and it was very special. 94.

That's it for the first post of this trip. I would be remiss if I didn't thank Stella, our concierge, and Jan, our tour guide, for the first-class service we received from each of them during our Quails' Gate portion of the weekend.

Next up: Tantalus, and a pretty special bottle of wine. A review for the ages. Don't miss it.

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