Not sure what to expect from a 9 year old riesling made from Morning Bay Winery located on Pender Island, with grapes coming from Orofino Vineyards in the Similkameen. While visiting the winery last summer, they had a few 2003 and 2004 Rieslings in their library section that couldn’t have been any worse than what we tasted in the tasting room so I grabbed one of each. The 2004 also showed well, but the grapes came from Nk’Mip Vineyards that year.
I poured this wine blind to a bunch of wine geek friends and it was unanimous that this was an older germanic riesling. Great petrol and mineral with still a glimmer of life left in the citrus core. What impressed everyone was the long complex finish. Layers of fruit with touches of oxidization and diesel all working wonderfully together, overall this is yet another great example that we drink our wines way too young!!
The Township 7 Syrah 2009 is showing some impressive complexity. This wine is all about the fruit and tertiary flavours from spending 22 months in French and American oak and now starting to settle into the bottle. A great expression of BC Sryah, lots of red and plum fruits layered with spice and earthy flavours. Well made and young and at the price of $25, tuck a few of these away and you will be see even more complexity in the years to come.
Try pairing this wine with a slow roasted leg of lamb and all the trimmings or this summer I will also be having this wine with some homemade porchetta and chimichurri sauce.
In the last year, Pinot Blanc has consistently been impressing me with its clean lines and focused attention. You might be thinking WTF are “clean lines”? When the flavours in a wine are clearly identifiable and there are no parts that smell or taste muddled, then I describe them as having good clarity, or clean lines! The same thing can happen with food, if you consider a consommé that just bursts with a single flavour or two, great wines should have that focus and ability to layer those flavours so each sniff or taste presents something slightly different and identifiable.
Lack of oak is another reason I think Pinot Blanc is consistently garnering more accolades. Most winemakers are keeping its process simple and cold. By processing and fermenting this grape cold and slow you are able to retain many of its pure fruit flavours. If you must play with oak, the wines I appreciate are the ones that use it sparingly and with caution. They are using barrels that have had white wine in them for a 2-3 years and only using the barrel for a few months, perhaps with lees, to coax out some texture and weight to the mid palate to balance the natural bright acidity.
Nk’Mip’s Pinot Blanc has been solid for years but the 2010 has an incredible balance of flavours, weight, acidity, and length. The perfect summer sipper that plays well with lighter seafood dishes, salads, and milder cheeses. This wine can easily get beat up with big flavours, spices and sugars. There were only about 100 cases left at the winery but have a look around, you should still find it on retail shelves till early summer.
A great Cabernet Franc from Burrowing Owl that still shows lots of life. Enjoyed this at the winery restaurant with an incredible duck confit. Took about an hour for the alcohol to blow off but some wonderful bottle age just starting to come into play. Should continue to age nicely for the next 5-6 years.
Minerality in wine is not easy to define. Some experts argue minerality expresses a sense of place, others struggle with the definition of minerality and whether one can actually taste it or is it simply a lack of fruit flavours.
If we look to examples like Chablis in Burgundy with its chalky limestone, or the reds of Pauillac with its gravel from the Médoc, or the slate you find from the Mosel region in Germany, they all offer a unique flavour that defines a sense a place. When you have tasted enough wines from around the world, you recognize subtle details that define the essence of a region that speaks to your gut when your tasting blind. Old world wines tend to show minerality better than new world wines and many believe it has to do with the reserved expression of fruit and the lack of prevalent oak.
The reason i’m babbling about minerality is the wines from Nichol Vineyards tend to show this character of restrained fruit and sense of minerality. The 2011 Pinot Gris is a great example for those of you not sure about this term. The fruit is not as ripe and intense as previous vintages and the extended cold soaking they normally do provides a slight increase in tannins that are felt throughout the palate. This combination, along with the lack of oak, allows for better expression of minerality to be tasted.
I really like this expression and as it settles into the bottle (just recently bottled) we will see even better definition of fruit and rounder texture as the natural acidity drops slightly. This is a serious wine that isn’t afraid to show its little imperfections and that makes it honest and that earns my respect.