Saturday, September 15, 2018

Okanagan Trip, Part Two, our journey through the Similkameen continues at Liber Farms!

So, you're tired of your job and the daily monotony, what are you going to do? Well, buy a winery, of course.

Who cares if you have no experience in it? Get your wife on board to learn how to make wine using Organic techniques, get a consultant with the credentials of Pascal Madevon (Osoyoos Larose, Culmina), and just open the damn doors and see how it goes.

Well, that's basically what happened here, and the results are remarkably positive.

Greeted warmly by the owner, Mike Dowell, in his tiny tasting room which doubles as the barrel room, we immediately had a good vibe. Sometimes, you can just tell.

Mike and Nicole Dowell, with future winemaker Connor
This is the second winery we visited in the past year or so that featured new owners who just dropped their normal lives and bought a winery for the Hell of it. The first one, Heaven's Gate in Summerland, I wish all the best for but am not totally expecting much. This one? They are going to make it, mark my words.

They named the winery Liber, after the Roman God of wine and agriculture. Don't mess with the Gods.

Liber Farms 2017 Hello Sunshine ($19.00)


Aromas of honeysuckle, pear and ginger. Lovely flavors of lychee, honey, pear and ginger on the finish. Perfect for patio sipper with good friends and sunshine, like the name implies.

Liber Farms 2016 Everyday Chardonnay ($19.00)

100% Unoaked, with notes of pear, citrus and tropical fruit. Very light notes of fruit salad and a hint of peach on the palate. This one didn't knock me over, so Mike let us try the new vintage which was not, at the time, released.
Liber Farms 2017 Eveyday Chardonnay ($19.00)

What a difference. Still unoaked but the fruit flavors come together much more impressively here. Aromas of lemon, lime, banana and almond. On the palate, tropical fruit all day long, with an impressive finish. If you like your Chardonnay fruity and unoaked (as I normally do not), you are going to go bananas for this one, pun intended.

Liber Farms 2016 Grand Reserve Chardonnay ($35.00)

Pow. That is the sound of this beauty hitting you right in the senses. Fermented and aged in new French oak and it shows here with aromas of butter, hazelnut, citrus and vanilla. The palate is rich and generous, showing flavors of citrus, toasty nuts and butterscotch. This needs to sit a while; if you have one, give it at least a year, maybe 2. You will be rewarded handsomely.
Liber Farms 2017 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon ($22.00)

This White Bordeaux-style treasure features subtle notes of grass, with intense fruit aromas including coconut, mango and stone fruit. Vanilla pops by to say 'hi' at the end. Flavors of citrus fruit, grapefruit, coconut and grassy notes. Lovely finish. Rush out to get one of these.

Liber Farms 2017 Rosé ($22.00)
90% Merlot/10% Cabernet Franc

Candied red fruit, rhubarb and strawberry on the nose. Strawberry, raspberry, cherry and watermelon Jolly Ranchers candy on the palate. Dry and refreshing.
Liber Farms 2015 Let Me Be Franc ($25.00)

The year of the forest fires and the smoke comes through here in a big way on the nose. Black fruit and forest floor joins in. Black fruit and red cherry on the palate. Medium finish.
Liber Farms 2016 Let Me Be Franc ($25.00)
Quite a bit of improvement over the above, with aromas of blackberry, cassis, black cherry and cedar. Slight herbaceous notes, with black fruit dominating the palate. This needs a bit more time to come together, but shows a TON of potential.

We actually bought one of each of the Cab Franc to have them side-by-side in a year or so. I am curious to see what happens to the '15 with a bit more age. I am fairly sure the '16 will show marked improvement.
Liber Farms 2015 Signature Red ($23.00)
60% Cabernet Franc/40% Merlot

Mushroom, forest floor, oak, smoke, cassis and raspberry on the nose. Complex flavors of earth, forest floor, black fruit, vanilla and dark chocolate.
Liber Farms 2016 Off Your Rocker Merlot ($23.00)
Young, unsophisticated and unapologetic, this features aromas of black currant, blackberry and black cherry. Blackberry and blueberry flavors. This is ready to go now and is a good value for the dollar.

Liber Farms 2016 Grand Estate Reserve Merlot ($45.00)
Black fruit jumps from the glass, makes a fist and punches you right in the nose. If you can recover (and don't have a nosebleed), you'll also get some aromas of vanilla and dark chocolate. This is a huge wine, worthy of putting into your cellar and giving some love and some time. If you absolutely HAVE to drink this now (DON'T DO THAT), decant it for several hours first, to let the flavors of black cherry, milk chocolate and Xmas cake come together for you. This is likely going to be a stunner.

There you have it, another fantastic new winery in the Similkameen. Between these guys and Vanessa Vineyards down the road, they have thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the wineries in this area to up their game or get run over. They have instantly become the 2 best wineries in the Similkameen.

Next up: The Similkameen portion of this report is over, but now we move on to Osoyoos and Oliver and I think I'll go slightly out of order and present to you my thoughts on another winery that may be new to some of you: Rust Wine Co!

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