B.C. wine

By Rick VanSickle

Anthony von Mandl, owner of the stunning Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna, has added to his impressive wine properties in B.C. with the purchase of Road 13 Vineyards from the Luckhurst family.

Von Mandl’s stable of wineries — including CedarCreek, Checkmate and Martins Lane — are not connected through Mission Hill and they “operate with independent winemaking, hospitality and vineyards,” explained Mission Hill GM Darryl Brooker.

“We have been talking with the Luckhurst family for about six months and they were very interested in handing over the business but wanted it to be to another family and preferably a Canadian and B.C. family, so the perfect fit for the von Mandl family,” he told Wines In Niagara.

Okanagan wine

Mick and Pam Luckhurst

The growth for the von Mandl family in the Okanagan has been relatively fast considering in 2012 it was just Mission Hill and considerable vineyard land. Checkmate was added in 2012, primarily based on an “amazing” vineyard and an opportunity to focus on ultra premium Chardonnay and Merlot.

CedarCreek was similar to Road 13 in terms of a transition from one family to the next.

“The Fitzpatrick family and Anthony had been friends and colleagues for a very long time and they were looking for someone to build up on their legacy,” said Brooker. “It was a good fit for Anthony and a brand he respected for a very long time.”

Martins Lane was added starting with the 2014 vintage and this was a way for von Mandl to focus on two varieties only, Pinot noir and Riesling.

Canada wine

“All of the properties, just like our vineyard growth, is about telling the story of the Okanagan Valley not just in Canada but also on the world stage,” said Brooker. “He (von Mandl) has been very careful that each addition is complementary and tells the unique story of the Okanagan Valley.”

Road 13 winemaker Jeff Del Nin, previously at Church and State and Burrowing Owl, will be staying on as the winemaker and Joe Luckhurst (son of owners Mick and Pam) will be staying on as the general manager, a role he has had for five years.

Brooker said that it will be “business as usual” with the sale and all the staff will be kept on at the winery.

“They are a great winery and it makes sense to let them continue to do their thing.”

Brooker said no other acquisitions are currently planned by the von Mandl family. “Our goal is to focus on the wineries we have and continue building the Okanagan Valley story.  Amazing wines are being produced and we want the world to know that.”

Wines in Niagara recently tasted a few new releases from Road 13. Here’s what we liked:

Road 13 Blend Creek Viognier 2017 ($18, 90 points) — A bright and lively nose of juicy apricot, Mandarin orange, pear, mango and toasted vanilla spice notes. It’s spicy and textured on the palate with ripe tropical fruits of the exotic kind that’s all kept lively and vibrant by racy acidity. Pair with oysters, prawn cocktail or spicy mango scallops.

Road 13 Seventy-Four K 2017 ($26, 91 points) — Lots going on here in this multi-grape red blend consisting of varying degrees of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Teroldego, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Grenach and Mourvedre. The nose is a riot of meaty dark fruits, oak spice, smoked meat, subtle apricot and violets, raspberry bramble and black cherry notes. It’s a substantive red wine, with alcohol listed at 14.5 abv, and super-ripe cassis, black currants, anise and cherry accents to go with licorice, thick spices notes, firm tannic structure and length through the finish. Pair with garlic prime rib or beef tenderloin.

Road 13 Jackpot Syrah 2016 ($44, 93 points) — Among the best Syrahs I’ve had from Canada this year; it just has everything going for it. The nose shows wonderful white pepper and earth with jammy black currants, cassis, blueberries, rich raspberries and cherries with layers of oak spice. It’s bold and sassy on the palate with enough ripe fruit to balance out the nearly 15% alcohol. It has such a rich broth of red/dark fruits, black peppercorns, earth and spice on a silky smooth frame through a long, vibrant finish. Beautiful wine that will pair well with cured meats, grilled red meats, lamb, venison and other wild game.

Winemaker Ross Wise moves to Black Hills

Black Hills Estate Winery announced last week that it has hired Ross Wise as it its new head winemaker.

“Wise brings with him a breadth of expertise to the role of head winemaker at Black Hills Estate Winery,” said a news release from Black Hills.

Originally from New Zealand, Wise holds a Bachelor of Viticulture and an Advanced Diploma in Wine Science from Charles Sturt University in Australia. He has worked with producers in New Zealand and Ontario before the cool climate wine industry in British Columbia drew his attention.

After 16 years of winemaking, viticulture and consulting experience, Wise and his family settled in Oliver. Prior to Black Hills, Wise was the head winemaker and general manager at Phantom Creek Estate. Wise holds a WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits and is pursuing his Master of Wine.

“We are thrilled to have Ross join us at Black Hills,” said Glenn Fawcett, chief wine evangelist. “We conducted a wide-ranging international search for our new winemaker that resulted in several outstanding candidates, and Ross stood out for us. His passion for the craft and our Black Sage Road terroir, combined with his extensive experience, academic credentials, and endearing personality, made his selection a natural for us.”

Wise is keen to assume the new role. “I’m really looking forward to joining the Black Hills team in January,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to be part of the next chapter of one of the Okanagan’s most recognized and respected wineries. The ability to focus on making premium red wines such as Nota Bene is a big draw for me.”

Haywire makes decanter’s
Most Exciting Wines of 2018 list

Okanagan Crush Pad’s Haywire Free Form White 2016 made Decanter magazine’s Most Exciting Wines of 2018 list, placing in the top 10, with a score of 94 points.

In the January 2019 issue, Decanter’s experts from around the world named the top 50 bottles under £60 ($100) that impressed them most this year, with Oz Clarke calling the Haywire an “astonishing Canadian Sauvignon Blanc.”

“We are so proud of our team, in particular the work of our chief winemaker Matt Dumayne, and growers Terry Waters and Cathy Banks,” said winery owner Christine Coletta. “Our mission is to have Okanagan wines stand proudly next to a global selection of respected brands. This recognition shows us we are well on our way to demonstrating that our region can compete on the world stage.”

The focus at Okanagan Crush Pad is on authenticity and quality. Free Form wines are made using organic grapes, native yeast, extended skin contact, are free of commercial additives, have little to no sulfites added, and are unfiltered.

“We found the best way to achieve authenticity of place is to not manipulate or add anything to wine, including oak influence,” said Dumayne. “While you need to give up some modern conveniences, with a highly-skilled team with global viticulture and winemaking experience, you can get it right.”

Here’s my previous publsihed review of the Free White:

Haywire Free Form White 2016 ($35, 92 points) — This wine was made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown on Waters & Banks Vineyard. It was fermented using native yeast in stainless steel tanks where it aged on the skins for nine months. It was pressed and left to rest for an additional two months before bottling in August 2017. There is nothing added, nothing taken away in this natural wine and was finished unfiltered. The nose is all about the fresh grapefruit, herbs, new-cut hay, citrus rind and lemon on the nose. Such gorgeous texture on the palate, and completely dry, with expressive grapefruit, lemon tart, interesting savoury herbs and grass, with waves of freshening citrus acidity. A thought-provoking and interesting white wine.

A couple of exciting
wines from Noble Ridge

Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery is located in Okanagan Falls, the second sub geographic indicator decided in B.C. The winery is named for the noble varieties of grapes grown and the ridge that divides the land on which they thrive.

Jim and Leslie D’Andrea began their winery in 2001. When they purchased the property it had only 3.5 acre of vines. Since then they have planted an additional 20 acres and have grown their dream into an award winning winery.

This is Wines In Niagara’s first time tasting the wines from this winery. Talk about a great first impression! Wow.

Noble Ridge “The One” Brut Sparkling Wine 2015 ($40, Okanagan Falls, 92 points) — A traditional method sparkling made with 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from estate fruit. The fruit was whole cluster pressed and sat on its lees for 28 months before disgorging. It has a toasty nose of lemon, grapefruit, biscuit and underlying lime zest with a vigorous mousse in the glass. There shows lovely freshness and saline purity on the palate with razor sharp citrus fruit, green apple, finesse and verve with a toasty but crisp finish. Gorgeous bubbles here.

Noble Ridge King’s Ransom Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($110, Okanagan Valley, 93 points) — Winemaker Benoit Gauthier had this to say about this debut Cabernet Sauvignon: “From a winemaker’s perspective, this is a dream wine. Everything from grape growing to bottling was ideal: Early bud break, one of the warmest summers in decades and perfect canopy management led to the best balance of flavours, phenolic ripeness, sugar and acid in the grapes that I have ever encountered in the Valley. From there, small-lot fermentations, followed by aging in carefully selected barrels, allowed for the creation of this spectacular wine. Grapes were de-stemmed and crushed then cold soaked for three days. The wine spent 24 months in French and American barrels, 75% French, 25% American with 80% of the oak new. All lots were kept separate until bottling, then blended. It has a gorgeous nose of ripe, succulent blackberries, black currants, plums, cassis, forest floor, caramel, spice and underlying red berries. It is rich and bold on the palate with savoury dark fruits, loam/earth, firm yet elegant tannic structure, nicely balanced already, with cigar box cedar, layers of barrel spices, length on the finish and bright acidity to keep it vibrant to the last sip. Heck of a wine that will cellar well for 10+ years.

A trio from Hester Creek

Hester Creek Character Red 2017 ($21, Golden Mile Bench, 89 points) — This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc is aged for 8 months in half American and half French oak barrels. It has a meaty, robust nose of currants, anise, rich spices, leather and white pepper notes. The range of dark fruits and spices on the palate are held together by firm tannins and balanced nicely by vibrant acidity. Good value red from Hester.

Hester Creek Block 2 Reverse Merlot 2016 ($29, Golden Mile Bench, 92 points) — The fruit for this wine come from vines planted in the early 1970s. The wine was aged in a combination of American and French oak barrels. It is a beautiful Merlot that shows restraint and elegance on the nose with notes of black cherries, plums, currants, anise, herbs, spice and cocoa. It’s quite smooth and rich on the palate with thick cherry fruit, currants, black licorice and layered with elegant spice and length through the finish.

Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 2017 ($19 for 200 mL, 89 points) — Picked in mid-December from estates vines planted 50 years ago. A nose reminiscent of a summer meadow in full bloom with added apricot fruits, canned pear, peach and wild honey notes. It’s sweet on the palate, but not cloying, with a nice balance of apricot, nectarine, peach and pear that lingers on the finish. A drier rendition of icewine that would work well with fresh fruit desserts or poached pear with stilton.