Sunday 5 September 2010

Recent Acquisitions - Part I

With the beginning of a new month comes a new wine budget, and I recently picked up several wines from my wish-list during tastings at Village Wines Kitsilano and Taylorwood Wines. I’ll discuss the newer releases first, with a list of the older vintages I found to flesh out the cellar to come soon.

The Newbies

See Ya Later Ranch Rover 2008: Last year’s iteration of Rover won a Gold Medal at the 2009 Canadian Wine Awards and very high praise from critic Anthony Gismondi, so I have high hopes for this new release. Rover is See Ya Later’s take on Shiraz, but produced in a style common to similar Australian wines - co-fermented with a touch of Viognier to lift the aromatics. Rover is a complex and powerful wine thanks in no small part to the 15 months spent in oak. I had the chance to try it during Village Wines Kitsilano’s Saturday tasting and was very excited to buy a bottle: the tannins were still quite prevalent, but the flavours and aromas were very appealing. I’m looking forward to holding this wine for at least a couple years (See Ya Later suggest serving it until 2015) to see how those flavours develop; although it is under screw-cap I still expect some beneficial mellowing of the tannins.

Dunham & Froese Amicitia Red 2008: A relatively youthful winery, Dunham & Froese released their first wines only a couple years ago, from the 2005 vintage. In 2008 they were named Best New Winery at the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival. Best of all, Dunham & Froese focuses on using fully organic and biodynamic practices in their vineyards, a courageous choice in their industry. Their premiere blends – white and red – receive the name Amicitia, which is Latin for “friendship”. First released in 2006, the Amicitia Red Blend is a Meritage-style blend that also includes Syrah along with the usual varietals. As a result, the wine was judged in the “Red Blend” category at the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival this year (not the “Red Meritage Blend” category). Regardless, it was a high-scoring finalist, ending up just behind the winner, Twisted Tree’s 2nd Crossing 2007 Long Creek Red. I’ll be holding this potential gem in the 2008 collection until late 2013 and we’ll see how it has matured by then.

Church & State Coyote Bowl Merlot 2007: I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Church & State; they produce some of the best wines in BC, but engage in a some confusing labelling and release practices that have frustrated me many times. In this case, Church & State released two different 2007 Merlots, one is a single-vineyard release from their Coyote Bowl property, and another has no vineyard designation. I now have both wines, as both have received prestigious awards from different sources, I think...Having two same-tier Merlots from the same year is confusing enough, but what makes it worse is that only one of them has a vineyard designation: one can never be sure if reviewers/media are referring to the “regular” Merlot, or are simply omitting the vineyard designation from the Coyote Bowl Merlot. If memory serves me correctly, Church & State have done this before with their Syrah, which lead to similar confusion last year. Fortunately I believe Church & State is moving to single-vineyard designation for all their red wines, and perhaps even their whites, which should help boost the love side of that love-hate relationship in the future!

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