Sunday, August 12, 2018

Okanagan Trip, Part XIII, up the hill to Road XIII, and no, I totally did not plan that......

Right off the bat, a hearty "Congratulations" to the team at Road 13 for recently being named as Canada's #1 winery at the Wine Align National Wine Awards. Quite an accomplishment.

Now, on to our experience: We had been here only once before, if memory serves, and I can barely remember it, which generally means everything was fine. Nothing too outstanding, nothing too awful, middle of the "Road", pun intended.

What a different a couple of years can make.

As we saddled up to the tasting bar, we are greeted warmly by Joe Luckhurst, General Manager and son of the proprietors. Joe was warm and engaging, and eager to show us the entire portfolio. I know that sometimes taking notes on my iPad can give away the fact that we are serious about wine, and it does tend to lead to us being able to taste some special stuff that not everyone else gets to taste. I don't remember whether or not I told Joe that I write this blog; I don't always mention it unless I'm asked about it. In this case, I can't even remember how many of the wines below Joe had to run to his office to retrieve -  at least three - and we were thrilled to be given the opportunity to taste so much wine. Let's get to it!

Road 13 2017 Chip Off the Old Block Chenin Blanc ($17.39)
Might as well start off the tasting with a winner. Beautiful aromas of citrus and tropical fruit lead to mouth watering flavors of pineapple, white peach, honey and lychee. We bought a few of these and made a special trip back here when we were in the area in June to get a few more. Chenin Blanc is one of those grapes that we tend to drink too early in BC, and I have put 3 bottles of this away for future aging. I suspect it will get even better.

Road 13 2015 Stemwinder ($15.65)
48% Chardonnay 39% Viognier 9% Marsanne 4% Roussanne

Here's a blend you don't see every day, but if you are looking for a nice well-priced white to pair with a creamy dish, this is your man. Aromas of buttered toast, stone fruit and a hint of banana. Intense flavors of apple, pear and stone fruit.

Road 13 2016 VRM ($25.22)

 36.6% Roussanne, 35.7% Marsannne, 27.7% Viognier

 These guys don't do anything the "normal" way; who in BC makes a VRM blend where the Viognier isn't the star? Aromas of white flowers, pear and red apple give way to flavors of mandarin orange, marzipan, banana and green apple. Rich, full mouthfeel. Very tasty.

Road 13 2017 Honest John's Rosé ($15.65)
70.5% Merlot, 19% Gamay Noir, 4.9% Viognier, 4.1% Syrah, 1% Pinot Noir, 0.5% Cabernet Franc

The nose is dominated by cranberry, with strawberry and raspberry lingering in the background. The red berries continue onto the palate, joined by some black plum. Slightly off-dry and decadent. Nice value.

Road 13 2016 Honest John's Red ($17.39)

43% Merlot, 26% Gamay, 18% Pinot Noir, 10% Syrah, 2% Viognier, 1% Cab Franc

Entry level red-blend delivers more excellent value. Mushroom, blackberry and black cherry on the nose. Palate features raspberry jam, black fruit, clove and vanilla. Finishes well and could be a "go-to" wine with friends on the patio and BBQ red meat.

Road 13 2016 Seventy-Four K ($21.74)
64% Merlot , 16% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 3% Viognier, 2% Gamay Noir

Aromas of black fruit, blueberry and dark chocolate. Dark and brooding, with flavors of raspberry, black cherry, vanilla and mocha. Will improve with a couple years of careful cellaring.

It is about this time in our little story where Joe started excusing himself and slipping to his office to bring back stuff that wasn't out for regular tasting, and man did he ever come back with some beauties.

Road 13 2013 Fifth Element ($42.61)
45% Merlot 18% Syrah 19% Cab Sauv 13% Cab Franc 5% Petit Verdot

 I gave this "91+" because it is going to improve a TON in 4-5 years, but I'm honestly just not sure exactly how great it will be. Aromas of black licorice, pomegranate, blackberry and blueberry. Black fruit dominates the palate, with baking spices, vanilla and black pepper coming through as it opens. This is a huge wine, with strong tannins and vibrant acidity. If you absolutely have to drink this now, decant it for at least 2 hours and pair it with a big fat juicy steak.

Road 13 2014 Jackpot Petit Verdot ($65.22)
Who knew Petit Verdot could be this good? Intoxicating aromas of violets, black fruit, spice, lavender and graphite. Rich, decadent flavors of black fruit, tobacco, cedar and spice. This needs another 5 years to come together completely, but if you can't wait, decant it and enjoy it now. It is a scene-stealer.

We loved this so much that Joe headed back to his office one more time to retrieve one of the last few bottles of this so we could taste the difference in two vintages:

Road 13 2011 Jackpot Petit Verdot ($65.22)

Perfectly fine but compared to the above, it almost seems like an abomination. 2011 was a challenging year in this region and it shows here, with aromas of dried raisins, fig and black licorice. The palate is earthy, with mushrooms, cigar box and licorice coming through. There doesn't seem to be a ton of fruit left at this point.

One more special treat to taste:

Road 13 2012 Jackpot Chardonnay ($60.00)

Citrus aromas greet your nose right off the bat, particularly lime, but they are shortly replaced by intoxicating buttered popcorn and almond notes. Absolutely hitting it's peak right now, we left with a few of these and tried to get more during our June trip, to no avail. Perfectly balanced with flavors of pear, Meyer lemon and butterscotch. What a treat.
Road 13 2016 Roussanne ($25.22)

We didn't get to taste this Club Member exclusive but Joe let us buy a few of them anyway and I'm glad we did. Aromas of orange marmalade, pineapple, honey and pear. Tropical fruit flavors abound, and as it opens up it also reveals orange zest, apricot and some red apple. We took this to a restaurant for lunch the other day and it paired beautifully with my shrimp pizza with a white sauce. Delicious.

The four of us left here with about 3 cases of wine in total....not too shabby given that we weren't expecting to be knocked over. One of the great pleasures of this business is re-visiting a winery after 2-3 years and being completely blown away by the increase in quality and tasting experience. This has shot up to the top of our list of "must visit" wineries every time we pass through the Osoyoos/Oliver area!

Next up, I'm going to go out of order a bit to show the difference that a tasting experience can make: From a fantastic experience here, to a much less-than-stellar experience at our next winery: Bordertown!

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