B.C. wine

By Rick VanSickle

It has been a long, slow and calculated journey for the Golden Mile winery Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, but after 23 years of farming and winemaking in the southern Okanagan Valley, they finally have their flagship wine.

The Creek 2014, a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, was unveiled in August.

Aptly named after the iconic waterway that has shaped the surrounding landscape, the new flagship wine is a celebration of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards’ longstanding pursuit of both excellence and innovation in winemaking, the winery says.

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“We have been working toward this wine since my husband Kenn and I first landed in Oliver in 1994,” says Sandra Oldfield, founder and CEO of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. “Inspired by our desire to honour the region where the grapes come from, and to create the best possible wine in our cellar, The Creek reflects a spirit of innovation both in how we farm our land and how we treat our wines. We will continue to push forward and evolve with creativity and dedication because that is what our customers have come to expect from us.”

Fermented using wild and selected yeasts, the wine is aged for 24 months in 40% French new and Hungarian oak barrels.

“The planning for this release really began in 2014, spearheaded by our winemaker Andrew Windsor and viticulturist, Andrew Moon”, says Oldfield. “This flagship wine is the result of a focused and passionate collaboration, made possible by our people, land and grapes here at Tinhorn Creek.”

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Each estate grown, handcrafted vintage will bring forth a structured, intense and powerful blend, reflective of Tinhorn Creek’s ongoing commitment to its stunning terroir and quality vineyard practices, according to the Oldfield.

2014 The Creek wine retails for $55 for 750 mL and $120 for magnum bottles, both of which are available in limited quantities from Tinhorn Creek’s tasting room, wine club, online store, as well as their onsite restaurant, Miradoro. The Creek was released to the public this month and is will be available in liquor stores and in select restaurants in B.C. and Alberta.

Located on the Golden Mile Bench, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards overlooks the southern Okanagan Valley and a historical mining site – the winery’s namesake. The friends that partnered to form Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in 1993 committed to be stewards of their land, and this mission propels everything the winery does; past, present and future. The Creek honours this promise.

Best B.C. wine

With the sale announced Monday of Tinhorn Creek, along with Black Hills Winery and Gray Monk, to Ontario-based Andrew Peller Ltd. it is hard to imagine this classy winery without Oldfield, above, at the helm.

Note: Read details of the big sale here and read B.C.’s most respected wine journalist John Schreiner’s take on the sale here.

Oldfield has not only been the driving force in making Tinhorn the incredible success it is, but she has also helped elevate the B.C. wine industry to where it is today. Oldfield believes in terroir-driven VQA wines that are uniquely Okanagan and fought tirelessly for the establishment of the first Okanagan Valley sub-appellation of the Golden Mile Bench.

She was also a major force in the “Free the Grapes” movement established to encourage provincial governments to allow the free flow of Canadian wines across domestic borders. Another project she championed is truth in labelling, the issue of big Canadian wine companies who blend international grapes into Canadian grapes and trading off deceptive labelling. The so-called International Canadian Blended (ICB) wines appear to the consumer to be Canadian wines when they are, in fact, made with foreign grapes (can be 100% foreign in B.C. and small amounts of Canadian grapes in Ontario) and passed off as Canadian wines with slick language on the label.

On a personal note, Oldfield is a wine writer’s dream — a go-to personality for everything you need. Accessible, friendly, brutally honest about the industry and outspoken about issues that concern the wine industry.

Oldfield cares deeply about the B.C. and Canadian wine industries and has made it her mission to do everything she can do to take it to next level.

I do not know what Oldfield plans on doing next, but I do know this: She’s a rock star, and, as we all know … there’s always an encore.

This was Oldfield’s statement after the sale was announced:

“It has been the honour of my life to have helped build Tinhorn Creek, to make great wines with an attention to sustainability and most importantly, to run our business with empathy toward our employees, our customers and our community.” said Sandra Oldfield, CEO, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.

“Andrew Peller will continue the long-term development and growth in the Okanagan that we started.”

“Same great wines, same great people, same great events and concerts; AND most importantly, you guys; our same great customers and club members who make up the Tinhorn Creek family we love so much; these things won’t change.

“We look forward to welcoming you here at the winery next time you visit!”

In this B.C. wine report, Wines In Niagara offers reviews from Tinhorn Creek, including the debut Creek, Culmina Family Estate Winery, JoieFarm, Castoro de Oro Estate Winery, Township 7 Wine and news about a B.C. winery becoming the official wine of the Calgary Flames.

Wines notes written by Rick VanSickle and Michael Lowe (ML).

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

Tinhorn Creek The Creek 2014 ($55, 92 points) — After 23 years of crafting wines from the estate’s Diamondback Vineyard on Black Sage Bench and Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench, Tinhorn finally has its flagship red wine: The Creek. And it was well worth waiting for. It’s a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot that was pressed and racked to 40% new French and Hungarian oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and ageing. The wines were racked to tank for blending in spring 2016, and then returned to barrel for a further eight months, for a total of 24 months of barrel ageing. It’s about sheer elegance on the nose, a sum of its parts, showing blackberries, cherries, black licorice, graphite, cassis and toasted oak spice and vanilla. It shows its teeth on the palate with a firm foundation of ripe tannins and generous fruit, spice, campfire smoke and earth. It is but a baby at this point and needs time to all calm down to fully appreciate the beauty. Wait for it, it is the new flagship wine, afterall.

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2016 ($19, 89 points) — The nose on this lovely mineral-laden Chardonnay shows tropical fruits, citrus, white peach and lightly toasted oak spices. It has bright acidity on the palate to perk up the citrus and orchard fruits and keep the spice notes in perfect balance. Zippy/zesty finish keeps it fresh from start to finish.

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir 2014 ($22, 90 points) – Fermented in two separate batches — one in open fermenters with 30% whole cluster and natural yeast, the other destemmed and fermented in closed tanks with selected yeast. The nose of dried herbs, black cherry, earthy underbrush and spice notes lead to a palate of layered, intense fruit. Nicely extracted flavours of ripe black cherry, a touch of black tea, clove-spiciness and delicate vanilla work together to belie the 14% alcohol content. An elegant and complex expression of pinot. (ML)

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2015 ($22, 91 points) – From a hot vintage in B.C., this purple-hued beauty shows aromas of dark and red berries,cherries with some cedar and green peppercorn. A lively, expressive palate features
plenty of black berry fruit with a smoky edge and a bit of cocoa on the long finish. It’s youthful and fresh but delivers a healthy dose of weight and power, suggesting excellent cellar potential. (ML)

Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2015 ($22, 88 points) — The nose shows cocoa, cherry, cassis and a balanced approach to barrel oak spices. On the palate, the cassis, plum and cherry notes work in tandem with the sweet spices, dark chocolate and ripe tannins. Quite smooth on the finish aided by fine, ripe tannins.

Castoro de Oro Estate Winery

Castoro de Oro Canada 150 Chardonnay Unoaked 2015 ($23, coming to Vintages in Ontario, 89 points) — What a nice unoaked Chard from the Okanagan’s Golden Mile Bench and a rare treat to be offered this in Ontario. The nose is an expressive mix of pear, peach and tropical fruits with just a hint of freshening citrus. It’s clean, fresh and generous on the palate with pure orchard fruit flavours and a zesty citrus finish.

Castoro de Oro White Rhapsody 2015 ($21, 91 points) — This off-dry white Bordeaux-style blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc shows a lot of guts on the nose with a range of apple, tropical fruits, herbs and exotic spice. It’s rich and medium-bodied on the palate with generous orchardfruits, citrus, apricot and wild honey. A different take on a classic blend.

Castoro de Oro Crimson Rhapsody 2014 ($32, 91 points) — A blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon with a balanced nose of black currants, blackberries, plums and rich barrel oak spices and Espresso bean. Turns more meaty/savoury, smoky, peppery and brambly on the palate with the Syrah making itself known here. The dark fruits, barrel spices, and medium tannin structure are all propped up by decent acidity. A nice drop.

Culmina Family Estate Winery

Culmina N° 003 En Coteaux Riesling 2016 ($35, 93 points) — From the estate’s Stan’s Bench on the Golden Mile Bench in the Okanagan comes this tantalizing Riesling. This is all about opulence and style with an intense and generous nose of peach, pear, Mandarin orange, apricot and earthy minerality. It’s texturally beautiful and layered with orchard fruits and mineral accents on the palate and laced with pure honeycomb that finds a nice balance with the natural acidity. Medium-sweet Riesling with style and sophistication.

Culmina Hypothesis 2013 ($42, 92 points) — From the estate’s Arise Bench, this blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is matured for 16 months in 100% French oak, 60% of which is new. It has a nose of dark cherry, black currants, blackberries, savoury oak spices, violets and elegant oak notes. It is a big wine that maintains a sense of elegance on the palate with ripe dark fruits, judicious oak spices, balancing acidity, graphite and the stuffing to cellar for 6+ years. A wonderful collectors’ wine that give pleasure for many years to come.

JoieFarm

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Gewurztraminer 2015 ($29, 92 points) — A highly personable Gew with an inviting nose of lychee, grapefruit, cloves, ginger, ripe pear and apple notes. It has an unctuous and fleshy feel on the palate with a rich profile of grapefruit, baked brown sugar, ginger and a range of exotic fruits. Not perfectly dry, but nicely balanced.

JoieFarm En Famille Riesling 2015 ($28, 90 points) — A minerally-driven Riesling with sharp lemon, lime, grapefruit and subtle peach and ginger notes. Simply delicious on the palate with juicy citrus, loaded with ginger spice and the sweetness that’s somewhat balanced by decent acidity.

JoieFarm Gamay 2015 ($26, 93 points) — This is shockingly delicious, the best Gamay I have tasted this year from anywhere. It’s a serious version of this versatile grape, yet seems so effortless to drink. It shows beautiful brambly and savoury red fruits, plums, herbs and underlying, but not intrusive, oak spice notes on the nose. It explodes on the palate in a riot of red and dark fruits, layer upon layer of fleshy fruit, with complementing spice, bramble and herbs. It’s a Gamay that offers some structure, fine tannins and weight but implores you to enjoy it to the very end. This just works.

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 ($40, 92 points) — An enticing nose of wild raspberry, violets, cherries and elegant oak spice notes. It’s like silk on the palate with ripe red fruits that build in intensity through the core with added cedar, leather and smooth, ripe tannins. Well balanced wine right now, but expect this to age and improve for 4+ years.

JoieFarm PTG 2015 ($26, 88 points) — This Okanagan version of the Burgundian “passé-tout-grains” is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay and has a smoky/meaty nose of dark cherries, cassis, plums and peppery/spicy notes. It has a range of red and dark fruits on the palate, savoury spices, light tannins and bright acidity to keep it perfectly fresh.

JoieFarm Pinot Noir 2015 ($26, 88 points) — A friendly drinking Pinot with a nose of raspberry, cherry, violets and integrated savoury spice notes. The palate shows dark cherries, a touch of cassis, tar, barrel spice notes, medium tannins and a silky smooth feel through the finish.

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Chardonnay 2015 ($29, 91 points) — The fruit does all the talking on the nose with late summer apple, peach, Meyer lemon and tantalizing spice notes that all together represents a fresh and pure Chardonnay. It has lovely mouth feel with flavours of baked apple, peach and oak spices all nicely balanced by freshening acidity. Lovely wine.

Township 7 Wine

Township 7 Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 ($18, 88 points) — A vibrant nose of crisp green apple, citrus and a hint of wild honey. It’s juicy on the palate with pure orchard fruits and a clean and fresh profile that finishes perfectly dry.

Township 7 Rock Pocket Vineyard Muscat 2016 ($18, 90 points) — In the classic Alsatian syle, this spicy, floral wine is aromatic with orange blossom, pear and ginger notes. The palate exhibits lively stone fruit, orange zest and ginger with notable minerality and vibrant acidity. Here’s a wine to pair with spicy Thai or other Asian dishes. (ML)

Township 7 Chardonnay 2016 ($20, 89 points) — Deeper and richer than the unoaked version with aromas of spiced apple, grilled pineapple and poached pear. It’s round on the palate with apple, peach, pear, spice and blast of citrus on the finish to keep it fresh and vibrant.

Township 7 Pinot Gris 2016 ($18, 88 points) — A bright nose of juicy peach, summer apples and melon. It’s fresh and perky on the palate with peaches and apples and a touch of honey and citrus on the finish.

Township 7 Romar Vineyard Viognier 2016 ($23, 90 points) — This Viognier, sourced from sunny Osoyoos, is back after a hiatus of several years. Such a beautiful expression of this Rhone varietal with a nose of apricots, peaches, honeysuckle, Mandarin orange and ginger. It has lovely texture on the palate and clean, fresh impression to go with full-on tropical fruits, peach and a smidge of ginger. Well done!

Township 7 Reserve 7 2014 ($33, 92 points) — Aged in a combination of French and American oak for 24 months, this big red meritage delivers on all fronts. It’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. You can expect aromas of rich, black cherry/ blackberry, cigar box, eucalyptus, smoked meat, and vanilla. These notes explode on the palate — concentrated, and supplemented by dried plum and licorice notes. Drinking well now will but will improve over the next 2-5 years. (ML)

TIME winery ices wine deal with Flames

The Okanagan’s TIME Winery announced this week that it has partnered with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and South by Southwest Wine Imports of Calgary. This partnership combines an offering of exclusive Okanagan wine to Flames fans while supporting the Flames Foundation. Penticton’s TIME Winery will be the official wine supplier of the Calgary Flames and the Flames wine will also be sold at local retailers in Calgary.

TIME Winery’s co-branded It’s Go TIME Calgary Flames Pinot Gris and It’s Go TIME Calgary Flames Cabernet Merlot ($20) will be the wines of choice at licenced venues across the Scotiabank Saddledome, the home of the Calgary Flames.

Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, director of sales and marketing for TIME Winery, said this is a perfect partnership for hockey fans on both sides of the provincial border.

“Penticton is the summer home of the Flames and their fans, with some team members having summer homes here. They come to relax, enjoy outdoor activities, take in our dining scene and of course, explore Okanagan wine country.”

Gord Norrie, VP Sports Property Sales and Marketing for the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation said, the Calgary Flames have chosen to partner with TIME Winery considering the history of the McWatters family as pioneers in the British Columbia wine industry and pedigree of their wine making ability and brand building prowess.

TIME Winery, along with ENCORE Vineyards Ltd’s sister labels, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection, were introduced to Alberta this spring via South by Southwest Wine Imports, an industry and community leader with sponsorship involvement with many other charities in its community.