It’s not surprising that Canadian wine icon Harry McWatters and his daughter Christa-Lee McWatters Bond would team up to create another new winery in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. This is old hat for this dynamic father-daughter duo.
I first heard about the new Evolve Cellars, located in the north end of Summerland, over dinner at Christa and husband Cameron Bond’s popular restaurant The Local Lounge and Grill. At the time, there were no wines to show, but as explained to me, the portfolio draws heavily on the 60-acre Sundial Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver.
Evolve is the final (?) piece in a trio of wineries, which include Time Estate Winery and McWatters Collection, owned by McWatters under the umbrella company Encore Vineyards.
The idea behind Evolve is to provide “fruit-forward, crisp, approachable, well-balanced and affordable wines that can be enjoyed by anyone and at every occasion.”
The wines start at $15 and there is nothing over $20.
A familiar face from Ontario, Lawrence Buhler, joined the team as director of winemaking for Evolve (and Time and McWatters) last August.
He is a graduate of Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute in Niagara and was the winemaker at Peller Estates before moving to Lake Erie North Shore to make the wines at Colio Estate, a large Ontario winery producing upwards of 500,000 cases a year.
A move back to the Okanagan brought him into the fold at the Encore group of wines.
I recently tasted through a few of the Evolve wines as well as a couple of new releases from Time. Here’s what I can recommend.
Evolve Pinot Blanc 2014 ($15, 88 points) — A bold expression on the nose with peach, green apple, melon and a squirt of tangerine. It’s ripe and juicy on the palate but made in a dry style with a lovely mélange of peach, tropical fruit and melon flavours.
Evolve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($16, 88 points) — An intriguing nose of citrus, tropical fruits and pear. It’s fleshy and fruit-laden on the palate with a range of lime, melon, nectarine and pear through a vibrant, fresh and clean finish.
Evolve Cabernet Merlot 2014 ($19, 90 points) — A rich and spicy nose of black cherry, currants, cedar and plums. There’s a lot of wine here for the price on the palate with a rich broth of thick and juicy red fruits, cassis, barrel spices and soft, supple tannins.
Time Estate Winery
Time Meritage White 2014 ($25, 91 points) — This is a blend of 68% Sauvignon Blanc and 32% Semillon. It is poised and polished on the nose with gooseberry, pear, soft spice and touches of tangerine and citrus. It has lovely texture on the palate and subtle elegant spice notes to go with juicy pear and a mix of exotic tropical fruits and citrus through a vibrant finish.
Time Cabernet Franc 2014 ($20, 89 points) — A robust nose of savoury black cherry, anise, pepper and barrel spices. A firm bed of tannins on the palate is melded to plums, red fruits, currants, licorice, herbs and spice. Could age in the cellar for up to five years.