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Star Niagara winemaker takes over at Township 7 in B.C., plus new releases for JoieFarm, Tinhorn and Haywire

township-7-naramata-bench-1What is Niagara’s loss is B.C.’s gain with the arrival this fall of winemaker Mary McDermott to the Township 7 winery.

The former winemaker at Trius Winery at Hillebrand and Thirty Bench Winery in Niagara has joined Township 7 Vineyards and Winery, which as two locations in B.C. — on the celebrated Naramata Bench and in picturesque south Langley.

The winery has a built a reputation for its small production wines that reflect the unique elegance and character of the Naramata Bench and boldness of the south Okanagan’s Black Sage Bench.

Mary-McDermott_THUMB“We are just about quality wine and Mary (pictured left) has demonstrated her prowess in producing excellent wines from a variety of classic vinifera grapes in often very challenging growing conditions,” said Mike Raffan, general manager, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery. “She’s a rising star with impeccable credentials and extensive expertise in premium wines. She’ll be a great fit for ramping up our 7 Stars Sparkling Wine program. Her relentless focus on continuous improvement will help steer us as we evolve in the coming months, particularly with her plans to enhance our Bordeaux reds program at a world-class level.”

While in Niagara McDermott achieved national and international acclaim, garnering numerous gold medals. Most recently, her Chardonnays were honoured at the All Canadian Wine Awards 2014, Decanter World Wine Awards 2014, International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014, L.A. International Wine Competition 2014, and Chardonnay du Monde 2014.

“I’m thrilled to start working within a tight knit community and pursue my lifelong dream of crafting small production wines in the Okanagan Valley. I feel like all the stars have aligned to bring me the opportunity to work on the prestigious Naramata Bench at Township 7,” said McDermott. “It’s exciting to fully leverage everything I’ve learned in my winemaking skillset over the years and combine that with the fresh and creative approach of the west coast. I believe this can really make a positive impact at an up-and-coming winery like Township 7.”

Township7-Naramata-hiresAt Township 7, McDermott’s vision for the winery entails boosting the sparkling wine production and expanding the small lot, fine wine program with additional single vineyard designate offerings, where she will be working closely with the viticulture team on the estate vineyards and with their long time growers on the Black Sage Bench, in Okanagan Falls, and in the Similkameen Valley. In the cellar she will augment the premium oak barrel program with upgrades to large oak barrique fermenters for the 2014 harvest. With more improvements planned in the vineyard and winery on the horizon.

The wines of Township 7, plus the fall releases from JoieFram, and new releases from Tinhorn Creek and Haywire are reviewed below:

grisTownship 7 Pinot Gris 2013 ($20, 88 points) — A fairly ripe impression on the nose with notes of peach, melon and apple. Even with all that ripeness, there is a fresh feel on the palate that lifts the apple, melon and citrus flavours through a lively finish.

gewTownship 7 Gewurztraminer 2013 ($20, 89 points) — From fruit sourced on the Naramata Bench, this Gew has an inviting nose of lychee, grapefruit, exotic spice and honeysuckle. It’s nicely balanced on the palate with lychee, honey and grapefruit flavours combining with assertive acidity to deliver a friendly summer sipper.

cabTownship 7 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($27, 91 points) — Such a wonderful nose of raspberry-bramble, blackberry, summer cherries and fine integrated spices. The palate shows a succulent array of fruit on a structured frame with notes of Espresso bean and oak spices that resonate through a long finish.

resTownship 7 Reserve 7 2012 ($36, 92 points) — The 2012 vintage in the Okanagan Valley returned to the hot and dry conditions that winemakers love after a couple of cool vintages in 2010-2011. This blend of mostly Merlot with bits of Cab Sauv, Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot has a lot going for it with a lovely nose of black cherry, cassis, currants, swirling oak spices, black olives, leather, cedar and spice. It’s juicy and rich on the palate with dominant cherry fruit, some bramble, currants, anise, licorice and integrated spice notes. It’s highly structured with firm tannins and balancing acidity, so a little time in the cellar is advised.



JoieFarm_2010_Details_009This top-notch Naramata producer is changing up its release plans beginning this fall and has decided to only release its 2012 Pinot Noir, Gamay and popular PTG wines while holding back the “En Famille” Reserve wines from 2012 for an extra year to make sure they are “showing their absolute best upon release.”

JoieFarm intends to keep the stelvin lineup approachable both in style and price ($24) and intentionally use a straightforward vinification process with each wine to best showcase their varietal characteristics and vineyard sites.

“Our expectation, that making medium-bodied reds in a fruit forward style would be both pleasing to a retail customer and our restaurant clients, was correct. The affinity of both Pinot Noir and Gamay for the palate, spirit and cuisine of the Pacific Northwest and, quite frankly, for locally-driven, seasonal Canadian regional cuisines across the country, has been a happy match.

Here are the three new releases from Joie:

JoieFarm Pinot Noir 2012 ($24, 90 points) — Such an enticing nose of black cherry, rosehip, violets, toasty spices, cedar and subtle underbrush. It’s energetic and robust on the palate with cran-cherry fruits, fine tannins, spice, lifted acidity and perfectly balanced through the finish.

JoieFarm PTG 2012 ($24, 89 points) — PTG stands for Passe-Tout-Grains, a classic, but little known wine of Burgundy that combines the elegant Pinot Noir of the Cote d’Or with the rich, spicy Gamay of Beaujolais. This is drinking wine, with an attractive nose of bright red fruits, white pepper spice, underbrush and savoury notes. It’s highly quaffable on the palate with raspberry, cherry, pepper, spice and good acid lift. Delicious.

gamayJoieFarm Gamay 2012 ($24, 91 points) — A juicy and delightful rendition of this lovely grape with a nose of cherry, plum, pepper, garden herbs and loamy-earthy notes. The cherry fruit is meaty on the palate with beautifully balanced spice and acidity. One of Canada’s top expressions of this increasingly popular variety.


Tinhorn Creek

A couple of fall releases from Oliver producer Tinhorn Creek.

OS2BenchRed4Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench Red 2011 ($30, 89 points) — The 2Bench red is a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot and it spends 18 months in French oak. The Cab Franc dominates on the nose with notes of raspberry, bramble, spice oak, earth, herbs and cherries. It’s a leaner style from the cooler 2011 growing season with edgy red fruits and a balanced attack of fruit but shows elegance, finesse and poise through the finish.

OSMerlot4Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Merlot 2011 ($30, 90 points, previously reviewed) — 2011 was a cool year by Okanagan standards and as a result the wines are less concentrated and lower in alcohol. Tinhorn’s 2009 Oldfield Merlot reached 15.3% while the 2011 is pegged at 13.9%. That translates to better balance and more finesse, in my books. The nose on this classy Merlot shows succulent red berries, black currants, cassis, kirsch and sweet savoury spices. It’s a lovely drop in the mouth with red fruits, currants and anise all nicely balanced by a healthy vein of acidity and spice. Obviously, a lot of work went into the vineyard to achieve phenolic ripeness.



Haywire - 2013 RedA couple of interesting wines from Haywire to celebrate the Lunar New Year (both have been previously reviewed):

Haywire Lunar Year Red 2012 ($23, 89 points) — The Lunar New Year Red and White are special and limited edition wines from Haywire crafted to celebrate the Lunar New Year and to welcome the Year of the Sheep. The wines were made with matching Asian cuisine in mind and will be released Dec. 1 in plenty of time to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19. The red is mostly Gamay with a touch of Syrah and has a nose of plums, wild berries, savoury-spicy notes (hello, Syrah!), raspberry and white pepper. It’s delicious on the palate with mid-weight, but rich, vibrant red fruits to go with saucy savoury spices from the Syrah. Should match well with stir-fried vegetables, grilled sable fish and BBQ duck.

Haywire Lunar New Year White 2013 ($20, 88 points) — A blend of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Viognier with the Gew playing a large role on both the nose and palate. Aromas of lychee, rose petals, musk oil but also citrus, peach fuzz and exotic spices. In the mouth look for grapefruit, nutmeg, lychee and round, ripe fruits with ginger accents. Pair with fresh steamed seafood, seafood soup, fried noodles or rice.