Sunday 21 May 2017

New Adventures: Lariana Cellars

The boutique Osoyoos winery of Dan & Carol Scott launched in 2013 with a portfolio of one wine (a “stunningly good” Viognier praised by John Schreiner). After sufficient aging, a red blend from the inaugural 2012 vintage was eventually released, and last year an exciting varietal Carménère (from 2013) came along as well. Having followed Lariana’s progress thanks to John’s updates I was particularly excited to taste the newest releases this spring at a BC Wine Appreciation Society “Tweetup” in February - where the 2014 Carménère was my pick of the night and has been on my mind every since.

Lariana's "tasting room" decor is spartan and charming - perfect!

After a few mis-starts, I was finally able to visit the petite operation recently, finding myself literally steps from the U.S. Border in the Scott’s unassuming winery building. While a formal tasting room is absent, the tidy winery serves the purpose just fine, and Dan was present to show off his current bottles and a little sample of what’s to come. The tropical and delicately creamy Viognier 2016 has clearly benefited from five months on fine lees in a concrete egg, while retaining bright, clean citrus. The 2012 “Twelve” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and 1% Carménère is still available, and a taste offered toasty, structured stewed raspberry. The follow-up “Thirteen” ditches Merlot for Cabernet, Syrah, and 12% Carménère to yield a complex nose of leather, vanilla, black cherry, and chocolate before the fine and approachable tannins unwrap impressive purity of fruit. On the way from 2015 will be a small lot of varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, and another vintage of Carménère just being bottled - an exciting barrel sample was deliciously fresh and juicy.

Lariana Cellars 2014 Carménère

Collectible: 2014 Carménère. Varietal Carménère is extremely rare in BC - I know of only three - but it’s worth noting this wine has been shepherded by consulting winemaker Senka Tennant, who founded Black Hills and introduced BC’s first Carménère there years ago. Last year’s inaugural vintage struck John Schreiner as a “swaggering example” worthy of 92-points, and the newest showed me bewitching purple-fruited perfume and a well balanced, textured, and fruit-forward palate. The Carménère is a valued contributor to the flagship red blend, which I hope will not lead to its undoing as a single varietal. After 120 cases were released from the 2013 vintage, even less was made in 2014 (96 cases), and I’m told the crop was down in 2015! Winery Direct $45

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