NewsNiagara Wine ReviewsTop Stories

B.C. Wine Report: Township 7 increases vineyard holdings, reviews for Tinhorn, Hester Creek, Township 7 plus winemaker Dwight Sick makes a move

B.C. wine

By Rick VanSickle

Township 7 has acquired the Blue Terrace Vineyard in Oliver, a gorgeous piece of property located on the north end of the renowned Black Sage Bench.

Note: Also in this B.C. wine report, we have reviews for newly released Tinhorn Creek and Hester Creek wines plus innovative winemaker Dwight Sick, formerly from Stag’s Hollow, is moving to Moraine Winery.

The Blue Terrace Vineyard (top photo) had been a centrepiece of the winery’s premium wine program since its founding almost two decades ago. The property’s distinct gravel soils and wind-swept ridge provide a unique kind of terroir that produces the stellar grapes necessary for fine wine.

The purchase brings the winery’s total estate vineyard holdings to 24 acres, including their Naramata Bench and south Langley vineyards. In addition, Township 7 works with nine longtime, small, family growers throughout the south Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.

Okanaga wine

Ideally situated for growing premium vinifera grapes, Blue Terrace’s stony soils retain heat throughout the cool September and October evenings allowing the fruit to thoroughly and consistently ripen, as well as provide a distinct minerality to the grapes. A consistently windy site atop the bench also enables the winery to sustainably manage the property.

The breezes afford less disease pressure on the vines and thus decreases the need for spraying. The property’s 12 acres were planted in 2000 with Cabernet Sauvignon French clone 169, which typically produces a big and bold Cabernet with intense complexity; Merlot clone 181 from Bordeaux’s Pomerol region; and Sauvignon Blanc clone 297 also from France.

Canada wine

Township 7 GM Mike Raffan said: “We purchased Blue Terrace for a number of reasons, however the primary one is to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of our fruit supply in the future, as well as our desire to control our grape sources in a very competitive market.”

Township 7 winemaker Mary McDermott (above) noted: “The grapes from Blue Terrace truly show their special sense of location from the warm, gravel strewn, and sandy earth of this unique property.”

Three Township 7 wines from
(mostly) Blue Terrace Vineyard

Township 7 Reserve 7 2015 ($34, 92 points) — This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is mostly sourced from the Blue Terrace Vineyard. It’s bottled unfiltered and shows a dark purple in the glass with a hedonistic nose of perfumed blackberries, earth, tobacco, currants, raspberries and elegant oak spice notes. It has structure and poise on the palate with expressive notes of cherries, currants, anise, spice, toasted vanilla and plush tannins through a long finish. Can cellar 7+ years.

Township 7 Merlot 2016 ($25, 89 points) — This Merlot is primarily sourced from the Blue Terrace Vineyard. It has a nose of concentrated plums, black cherries, cigar box cedar and smoke with toasted vanilla and oak accents. It’s rich and savoury on the palate with plenty of red fruits, black loam, anise and spice with good structure, firm tannins and good acidity through the finish.

Township 7 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Blue Terrace Vineyard 2017 ($27, 90 points) — The fruit for this single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is barrel fermented and aged for seven months. It shows profound grapefruit, gooseberry, citrus and barrel spice notes on top of flinty minerality. It’s juicy on the palate and loaded with gooseberries, grapefruit, herbs and spice with a clean, tingling fresh finish. Very nice.

Other Township 7 wines

Township 7 Pinot Gris 2017 ($19, 88 points) — Expressive and pure notes of granny Smith apple, pear and citrus on the nose. It’s fresh and clean on the palate with apples, lime, pear, subtle minerality and mouth-watering acidity.

Township 7 Seven Stars 2015 ($30, 91 points) — This traditionally made blanc de blancs has a beautiful nose of lemon, biscuit, green apple, white flowers and grapefruit while showing a vigorous bead in the glass. It’s peppy on the palate with rich, bready notes to go with citrus, apple and cream that lead to a clean and refreshing finish.

Township 7 7 Blanc 2017 ($19, 87 points) — A lot of things going on here in this multi-grape blend. It’s loaded with lime, grapefruit, lychee, peach and exotic spices on the nose. It’s semi-sweet on the palate with honey-kissed tropical fruits, citrus and ginger notes. A nice porch sipper.

Township 7 Rosé 2017 ($19, 89 points) — This lovely blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc has a nose of strawberries and cream, rhubarb, raspberries and subtle herbs. It’s crisp and expressive on the palate with a basket of red berries all lifted by mouth-watering acidity.

Tinhorn Creek wines

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Chardonnay 2016 ($35, 92 points) — From the estate’s vineyards on the Golden Mile Bench, the nose begins with elegant spice notes on top of pear, minerals, salinity, citrus and this gorgeous vanilla/cinnamon toast note on the back end. It shows lovely pear/apple/quince flavours on the the palate with citrus and spice accents that are nicely integrated and woven into the foundation of this terroir-driven and finessed Chardonnay.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc 2015 ($32, 90 points) – The nose opens with ripe black cherry followed by spice and dried herb notes with some licorice and vanilla lurking beneath. On the palate, juicy red currant, black cherry and dried fruits lead the way with lingering dark chocolate adding depth. It’s a rich, ripe expression of Cab Franc framed nicely with already well-integrated tannins. Should really start to show it’s stuff in 3-5 years. (Review by Michael Lowe)

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir 2016 ($24, 90 points) – Aromas of dark cherries, oak, damp earth, dried flowers and a touch of clove spice combine in this enticing Pinot. The palate shows bright cherry flavours at first, melding with spices and dried cranberry/raisiny notes through mid-palate and on the long finish. Tannins are still chewy but balance the whole beautifully. (Review by Michael Lowe)

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Rosé 2017 ($22, 90 points) — As you would expect from this Cabernet Franc loving winery, its rosé would be entirely made from that grape. This is serious stuff with the fruit pressed after 24 hours on the skins. It has lovely aromas of strawberries, cherries and a subtle blueberry/dark fruit undertones. It’s creamy but fresh on the palate with bright red berries, touch of sweetness and range of dried sage and herbs.

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2017 ($19, 88 points) — This is how I like my Gris … nothing fancy just let the bright apple, white peach and citrus notes do all the talking. This is a crisp, clean and flavourful PG with oceans of sun-kissed orchard fruits and zesty acidity on the finish.

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2017 ($18, 89 points) — An understated style for this showy varietal that displays notes of lychee, ginger, white flowers, grapefruit and pear. The palate reveals wild honey to go with pink grapefruit, tropical fruits, lychee, ginger and exotic spices. Nicely done Gew.

Hester Creek wines

Hester Creek Garland 2015 ($60, 93 points) — This is a commemorative bottling that celebrates the estate’s historic vineyard planted 50 years ago in 1968. This inaugural vintage features old vine Cabernet Franc Block 3, old vine Merlot Bock 2 along with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbac. It’s a stunner of a wine with a dreamy nose of beautifully integrated blackberry, cherry, currants, anise, graphite, saddle leather, cedar and layer after layer of fine oak spice. It’s soft, rich and elegant on the palate, giving it a regal feel with a warm broth of pure pleasure including plums, blackberries, licorice and red berries all supported by elegant oak spices and firm acidity. Built to cellar 10+ years.

Hester Creek Block 3 Reserve Cabernet Franc 2015 ($29, 91 points) — Made from 50-year-old CF vines grown at the estate with a big, bold nose of plums, black cherries, raspberry bramble with a bevy of rich baking spices and pepper notes. It’s beautiful on the palate with rich and thick red and dark fruits, spice, savoury herbs and plush tannins that are evident but not overpowering. Can cellar 6+ years.

Hester Creek Character White 2017 ($18, 88 points) — This easy-to-like blend of Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer has a summery nose of orchard fruits with citrus accents. There’s a touch of honey on the palate but rich in tropical fruits, citrus and zesty lime on the finish.

Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbiano 2017 ($24, 91 points) — The only Trebbiano grown in the Okanagan Valley and the vines in the estate’s Golden Mile Bench vineyard are 50 years old, so, quite a privilege to taste this wine. It bursts with tropical island fruits — pineapple, papaya and guava — with peach and citrus accents. It’s crisp and inviting on the palate with range of tropical fruits and high-energy acidity that keeps it popping through the finish.

Winemaker Sick moves to Moraine Winery

Former Stag’s Hollow winemaker Dwight Sick (above), an innovative and exploratory master winemaker, has taken a job at Moraine Winery on the Naramata Bench.

Moraine owners Oleg and Svetlana Aristarkhov announced Sick as their new winemaker and director of vineyard/winery operations on Monday.

Sick was the winemaker at the award winning Stag’s Hollow Winery for 10 years and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the operations of Moraine. His style of winemaking is well suited to the Okanagan winery and the fruit grown in the estate vineyards on the Naramata Bench.

The winery is currently completing a major reconstruction including an expanded winery production area, barrel cellar, tasting room and guest experience centre.

“I’m very excited to be stepping into this role at Moraine Winery,” said Sick. “While I’ve only just had time to inspect the vineyards, taste through the wines and view the construction of the new winery facilities, I couldn’t be happier with the situation. There is a strong team at work and they are doing great things at Moraine Winery. My hopes are to add to these successes and to help take the brand to a new level.”

About Moraine Winery

Moraine Winery is located on the famed Naramata benchlands of the Okanagan Valley along an exposed face of clay, which overlooks Okanagan Lake. This exceptional landscape contributes to the creation of fresh, elegant, fruit-driven wines of distinction.

The winery’s estate Anastasia and Sophia Vineyards, respectively named for the Aristarkhov daughters, provide exceptional grapes.

The state of the art winery looks out to the lake over the seven acre Anastasia estate vineyard planted with Merlot, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Gamay Noir and Riesling. The smaller and younger 3.5-acre Sophia Vineyard is located closer to Penticton and is planted with Pinot Noir.