2012 is proving to be a break-out year across all grape varieties in all regions of Canada. The red blends, the bigger, richer reds, are nothing short of spectacular from the Okanagan Valley to the key regions in Ontario.
No less spectacular have been the Rieslings from 2012, despite the heat, and the Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Gamays. It’s a wonderful time to be a Canadian wine consumer.
I’ve been tasting quite a few Bordeaux-varietal wines (primarily blends with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot) lately, due in part to an assignment I am working on to be published soon in Quench Magazine, and I wanted to share some of the reviews.
In this report, I look at a few stellar examples of red blends from the Okanagan Valley that are already released or will be soon. Further down in the post there are some inventive wines from the progressive Haywire group in Summerland, B.C. that I tried recently and can highly recommend.
I will have some more key red blended wines from Ontario posted later in the week.
One Faith Vineyard Grand Vin 2012, Okanagan ($165 per bottle, minimum three bottle purchase, 93 points) — The newest wine from the Okanagan Valley strives to be a ‘First Growth’ and certainly makes a bold statement in its debut. This Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc blend shows concentrated currants, ripe black cherry, cassis, gorgeous oak spices and a floral note on the nose. It is the structure, the texture, the finesse on the palate that sets it apart from others, along with the concentration of fruit and spice through a long and polished finish. Cellar 10 or more years. Note: I will have more on this wine and the concept of “First Growth” in an upcoming issue of Quench magazine.
Culmina Hypothesis 2012, Okanagan ($44, 93 points) — This is only the second vintage of this top red blend from Donald Triggs’ Okanagan project that combines Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. And what a beauty! Dark and rich in the glass with opulent aromas of black currants, concentrated blackberries, red plums, an array of oak-enriched spices and a touch of eucalypt. It’s big and powerful on the palate and highlights persistent dark fruits, plush tannins, and spices all delivered on a long, lush finish. Such depth of flavour yet finessed and polished.
Inniskillin Dark Horse Vineyard Meritage 2012, Okanagan ($35, 91 points) — A blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, the nose shows red plums, cherries, earth, cocoa and spice. It’s an elegant wine on the palate with red fruits, mature plums, sage note and ripe, plush tannins through the long finish.
Jackson-Triggs Sunrock Vineyard Meritage 2011, Okanagan ($35, 91 points) — Sunrock Vineyard is located on the Osoyoos Lake Bench and is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. There is fairly good concentration from this cooler vintage with a nose of black cherry, blackberries, black currants, cloves, mocha and oak spice with subtle notes of thyme and sage. All that rich cherry and currant fruit is melded to interesting spice, tar, anise and rounded tannins through a long finish.
Haywire Free Form 2012 ($30, 92 points) — This blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc was made with no commercial yeasts, enzymes or sulphur added, in other words, natural and unfiltered. The wine was pressed after full malolactic fermentation and eight months of skin contact. Such a thought-provoking and multi-dimensional wine, with a nose of flinty minerality, lemon, grapefruit, tropical fruits and a complex array of citrus peel, mango and melon. It has lovely texture on the palate, with some weight, and bursts with flavours of citrus, mango, lanolin and flint that gain in intensity in through the finish. A pure geek wine that will generate a lot of discussion.
Haywire Canyonview Vineyard “Raised in Concrete” Pinot Noir 2012 ($40, 92 points) — Aged in old oak barriques then moved into egg-shaped concrete tanks for further aging. Lovely colour and a nose of penetrating cherry, raspberry and bramble with clove and spice accents. It’s pure on the palate with gorgeous texture and flavours of cran-cherry, cassis, and savoury-spicy notes. A beautiful Pinot Noir.
Haywire Canyonview Vineyard “Raised in Concrete” Chardonnay 2013 ($23, 91 points) — Sensational nose of citrus, cream, sage, peach pit and swirling minerality. It has a silky texture on the palate, a common theme with these concrete-aged wines, with a melange of citrus, cream and bready-yeasty notes that melt in the mouth. Hate to compare, but Chablis comes to mind.
Haywire Narrative White 2013 ($17, 87 points) — A blend of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc with aromas of melon, tropical fruits, apple, lychee, rose petals and spice. It’s round and juicy in the mouth with a spicy bite on the finish.
Haywire Narrative Red 2013 ($18, 88 points) — A blend of Black Sage Syrah and Secrest Mountain Gamay Noir with a nose of raspberry-cherry and a riot of wild berries. The raspberry fruit on the palate is joined by savoury herbs, tar, pepper in a smooth and juicy delivery. Good quaffing red.