VIWF 2017 Preview – Canadian Pinot Noir Part 2
Taste 50 B.C. & Ontario Pinot Noirs in One Room
The 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival runs from February 11-19 and offers pinotphiles a special opportunity to taste some outstanding pinot noirs from both British Columbia and Ontario. Thus far confirmed, thirty-two wineries (including four from Ontario) will be pouring fifty different pinot noirs. Many of the wines will be rare, small production, single vineyard or higher end pinot noirs that would normally be available only at the winery. Few of us have the time and resources to visit each of these wineries personally, this is a golden opportunity to taste the good stuff – all in one room.
Below is Part 2 of an area-by-area preview guide (1 more part to follow) that helps you find which Canadian wineries will be pouring pinot noir at this year’s Vancouver Wine Festival, which pinots they will be pouring and at which events. It is organized by area to help you compare regional differences. At the end of each part you will find a condensed Must Taste section highlighting the pinot noirs that should not be missed and why they are worth putting on your dance card at the Festival.
Part 1 featured pinot noirs from Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Cowichan Valley & Saanich.
Part 3 will cover wineries from Okanagan Falls, the Golden Mile, the Black Sage bench, Oliver and Osoyoos.
After the Festival, watch for Pinot Noir Highlights from the Festival, that will include individual reviews (in this blog and on nataliemaclean.com) of the stand out pinot noirs that were tasted.
Part 2: Ontario, Naramata/Penticton and Summerland
Prince Edward County Area
On the map, the Prince Edward County DVA is a ragged looking peninsula jutting into the North Eastern corner of Lake Ontario, close to Kingston and about two hours out of Toronto. The area benefits from a combination of limestone rich soils and the surround of the lake that protects its vineyards from early Autumn frosts. The forty or so wineries of Prince Edward County have a growing reputation for making fine pinot noir and chardonnay.
CLOSSON CHASE – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
The first vintage of pinot noir was in 2003 from Niagara fruit and their first estate pinot release of about one hundred cases was in 2006. Production for the 2014 CCV pinot noir they will be bringing to the Festival is now around seven hundred cases and they crop at approximately two tons to the acre.
The wine writer Tony Aspler has compared this wine to Volnay and John Szabo, an early fan, recently gave the 2014 vintage of their CCV pinot noir 90 points.
Closson Chase will be pouring their 2014 CCV (Closson Chase Vineyard) at the public and trade events. Closson Chase Winery
Beamsville Bench VQA Sub-appellation Area
The Beamsville Bench VQA sub-appellation entangles itself with the North side of a very short portion of the Niagara Escarpment, East of Beamsville. The escarpment which rises approximately 200 metres, is, rich in Dolomitic limestone and its slopes have proved to be a hospitable place for pinot noir and other varieties.
HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 2 Pinot Noirs
Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery is dedicated making wines solely from vineyards situated within the Beamsville Bench VQA sub- appellation. Their total acreage is approximately a hundred acres They have been in the Canadian Wine Awards’ top ten every year since the winery opened in 2007 with the first pinot noir vintage being in 2005. Their Estate pinot noir is a one hundred percent organically certified estate Pinot Noir from their Locust Lane, Felseck and Rosomel Vineyards.
They will be pouring the 2013 Estate Pinot Noir at the main public and trade events and at the Celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday event. The 2013 Locust Lane Pinot Noir will be at the Poised for Pinot Seminar. They will also be pouring the 2011 Estate Pinot Noir at the Heartache and Backache seminar. Hidden Bench Estate Winery
Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Sub-appellation Area
The Lincoln Lakeshore VQA sub-appellation is also centred on Beamsville, adjacent to the Beamsville Bench
DOMAINE QUEYLUS – Pouring 3 Pinot Noirs
Domaine Queylus is situated in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation in Beamsville. Their vineyards consist of 40 acres spread over three appellations: Lincoln Lakeshore, Beamsville; Twenty Mile Bench, Jordan; and Vinemount Ridge. Thomas Bachelder left Le Clos Jordanne to become the winemaker and manager of Domaine Queylus.
Their first pinot noir release was in 2010 yet their Pinot Noir Tradition, 2011 won the Lieutenant Governor Award in 2014. They were one of only ten winners from a selection of three hundred wines. The wine writer Tony Aspler gave their Grande Réserve’ 2011 a score of 94 points.
Domaine Queylus has brought all three tiers of their pinot noir to the Vancouver Wine Festival. They will be pouring their 2014 Pinot Noir Tradition, 2013 Pinot Noir Reserve and 2013 Pinot Noir Grande Reserve at the main public and trade events. Domaine Queylus
Niagara Peninsula Area
INNISKILLIN NIAGARA ESTATE – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
Inniskillin is one of the very few Canadian wineries with vineyards in both British Columbia and Ontario and happily, those attending the Festival will have the opportunity to taste pinot noirs from both areas. Inniskillin has been making wine in Canada for over thirty-five years and they have a wide ranging and diverse portfolio. Their 2012 Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir won a silver medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
Inniskillin will be pouring their 2014 Niagara Peninsula Montague single vineyard pinot noir and their 2015 Okanagan Valley pinot noir at the main public and trade tastings. Inniskillin Wines
Naramata/Penticton – Okanagan Valley
FOXTROT VINEYARDS – Pouring 3 Pinot Noirs
In 2002 the Foxtrot Vineyard was purchased by Gustav Allender from Carol and Don Munro (growers who planted it in 1994 and 1995 all to clone 115) as the foundation for his new winery – Foxtrot Vineyards. Before this time grapes from this vineyard found their way into pinot noirs from other wineries, most notably the Kettle Valley Foxtrot Vineyard bottling (Click for review of Kettle Valley wines circa 2000). Their first vintage was 2004. Recently purchased adjacent land (5 acres) has also been planted to the 115 clone from Foxtrot Vineyard cuttings. In some years they have released a separate Henricsson Vineyard bottling and in one year a Reserve wine in addition to the Foxtrot Vineyard wine.
Foxtrot pinot noirs are very highly regarded because the quality of the wines speak for themselves. They manage the difficult trick for pinot noir of increasing body and intensity without sacrificing suppleness, nuance and complexity. The dean of Canadian wine writers John Schreiner regularly scores Foxtrot pinot noirs in the 90 to 95 range and rightly so.
Foxtrot will be pouring their 2014 Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the 2013 The Waltz Pinot Noir. The Waltz Pinot Noir is new – a blend from the Henricsson (75%), Fox (20%), and Raisin D’Etre (5%) Vineyards all located on the Naramata Bench. The trade tasting will also include their new 2014 Reimer Vineyard Pinot Noir. So if you are in the trade and as geeky about pinot noirs as I am, you can even compare Foxtrot`s 2014 Reimer to the 2015 Meyer Family Reimer Vineyard bottling as both wines appear to contain grapes sourced from the same grower. Foxtrot Vineyards
HILLSIDE WINERY – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
Though much better known for their Bordeux Varietal reds and their whites (including a Muscat Ottonel), Hillside Winery makes an excellent pinot noir as well that won a Bronze Medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships. Hillside has an interesting tradition regarding their pinot noir. Individuals sampling from the barrel for their upcoming pinot noir vintage can enter a “back label contest“ by submitting their poetry or prose – winner has their entry on the back label. My favourite is from 2012 and reads in part “…shy, smart, spent some time in France. …seeks refined palate for short- or long term relationship. – Kerrie Penney
(Click for review 2010 inaugural vintage).
Hillside will be pouring their newly released 2013 pinot noir made from all Naramata fruit at both the public and trade tastings. Hillside Winery
HOWLING BLUFF ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 3 Pinot Noirs
Luke Smith the founder of Howling Bluff is all in on pinot noir, or at least pretty close. He initially planted a number of Bordeaux varieties both red and white but as time went on, it became clear that for his particular vineyard, it was the pinot noir that had the charm. Since then he has ripped out some of his earlier plantings and replaced them with pinot noir. Luke has determinedly sought to produce world class pinot noir and has seen remarkable progress towards that goal, winning a B.C. Lieutenant Governor`s Award as well as a silver medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards for his pinot noir.
In my experience his Summa Quies estate vineyard pinot noir always shows a distinctive minerality that makes it stand out favourably. (Click for Review of 2008)
Howling Bluff will for the first time, be pouring two individual block wines from the 2013 vintage. The Summa Quies Block consists of 667 and 777 clones cropped to about 2000 kilos per acre and has figured into medal winning wines from six different vintages running from 2006 to 2012. The second pinot will be the new Century Block from an estate terroir distinct from the Summa Quies (again from 667 and 777 clones). Like the Summa Quies, the Century Block (named to recognize the 100 different species of apple trees planted nearby in the early 80’s.) has contributed to virtually every award winning pinot noir. They will also be pouring their 2011Reserve pinot noir. All wines will be at the main public and trade tastings. Howling Bluff Estate Winery
LA FRENZ WINERY – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
La Frenz Winery is known for having consistency vintage after vintage as well as quality across the range of their wines. They produce two pinot noirs, Desperation Hill and a Reserve that is a block selection from the Desperation Hill vineyard. The Reserve is composed of 828 (37%), 667 (32%), 115 (21%) and 91 (10%). Their pinot noirs have won numerous gold medals at such competitions as the All Canadians, Wine Align National Wine Awards, the Northwest Wine Summit and Intervin. They combine good fruit concentration with suppleness and balance to produce very appealing pinot noir.
(Click for Review: 2011 Review : 2012 Review). La Frenz Winery
La Frenz will be pouring their 2014 Reserve pinot noir at both the public and trade tastings.
LAKE BREEZE VINEYARD – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
MORAINE ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
Moraine made their first vintage of pinot noir in 2012 and their winemaker is New Zealand-trained winemaker Jacqueline Kemp. The grapes are sourced from Sophia’s. vineyard. It has won double gold at the International Pinot Noir Challenge twice, most recently in 2015.
They will be pouring their pinot noir at the main public and trade events. Moraine Estate Winery
RED ROOSTER – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
Red Rooster will be pouring their 2014 Reserve pinot noir at the main public tasting room events.
TIGHTROPE – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
Graham and Lyndsay O’Rourke are a formidable (if very modest) viticultural & winemaking team. Though the first vintage was 2012, their pinot noir is one of the most distinctive and interesting in B.C.. Their 2014 vintage won Silver medals at the 2016 Wine Align National Wine Awards as well as the 2016 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.
I found the 2014 version to have an extra spark in it’s acidity that marries uniquely with the classic cool climate red fruit notes of cranberry, pomegranate and fresh cherry. I couldn’t help but think of the true Sonoma Coast pinot noirs I admire such as Flowers. (Click for Review: 2011 Review) Tightrope
Tightrope will be pouring their 2015 Pinot Noir at the trade tastings and public tastings as well as the Festival Toast and Celebrating Canada’s 150th events.
Summerland – Okanagan Valley
8TH GENERATION VINEYARD – Pouring 1 Pinot Noir
The acclaim that 8th Generation Vineyard has received over the years for its white wines, principally their rieslings may begin to explain why their silky, elegantly balanced pinot noir is so often overlooked and under appreciated. Another husband and wife team, Bernd Schales is an 8th generation winemaker and Stefanie Schales is a 10th generation winegrower, have quickly established a reputation for quality and consistency at 8th Generation. Their 2014 pinot noir won Silver at the All Canadian Wine Championship 2016 and Silver at the North West Wine Summit 2016. (Click for Review: 2008 Review)
8th Generation will be pouring their pre-release 2015 pinot noir to the public and trade tastings. 8th Generation Vineyard
HAYWIRE – Pouring 2 Pinot Noirs
Innovation is the norm at Okanagan Crush Pad, the winery responsible for the Haywire label who produce natural wines using organically farmed grapes in state-of-the-art concrete tanks, or other containers using native yeast and minimal additives. Their first pinot noir vintage was in 2011.
One of the wineries main points of departure from typical pinot noir winemaking is in the choice of container they utilize to vinify and/or age the wine. Their Haywire pinot noir is first aged in neutral French oak barrels and then transferred to their leading-edge egg shaped concrete containers for further aging for 12 months.
They push the envelope further, with their Free Form series. The Free Form 2014 pinot noir is made from clone 667 and fermented using native yeast in an 800-litre clay amphorae where it aged on skins for eight months. It was pressed and left to rest for an additional two months and bottled unfiltered in August 2015.
Just when you thought you had tasted it all…
Haywire will be pouring their 2013 Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir in the tasting room for both the public a trade tasting events and they will also be pouring it at the “Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary”. The natural Pinot Noir, 2015 Haywire Free Form Red will be at the “Heartbreak and Backache” event. Lastly, they will also be pouring their 100% Pinot Noir grape 2015 Narrative Ancient Method sparkling at the BC Pioneer & New Kids session. Haywire Winery
Must Taste Pinot Noirs: Ontario, Naramata/Penticton and Summerland
There will be hundreds of wines competing for your attention in the tasting room but if you are looking to taste some world class Canadian pinot noirs, here is the short list of pinot noirs that should not be missed and why.
Ontario – All of them – Prince Edward County, Beamsville Bench, Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula and all from excellent producers. Your chance to find out what Ontario pinot noir is all about. Why leave any out?
Foxtrot Vineyards – Pre-eminent pinot noir specialists
Howling Bluff – Unique terroir, & an owner trying to make the best pinot noir in the world
Tightrope – Beautifully crafted, cool climate, acrobatic pinot noir
8th Generation – Deep experience in the vineyard and the winery produce a well rounded combination of old world and new world influences, supple and classy.
Haywire – Pinot noir raised in wood, concrete, clay amphora? – if you haven’t tasted it, you can’t have an opinion.
Part 3 will cover wineries from Okanagan Falls, the Golden Mile, the Black Sage bench, Oliver and Osoyoos