VIWF 2017 Preview – Canadian Pinot Noir Part 3
Tasting 50 Quality Canadian 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 3 of an area-by-area preview guide 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 2 Featured pinot noir from Ontario, Naramata/Penticton and Summerland.
Part 3 Immediately below covers 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 3: Okanagan Falls, the Golden Mile, Black Sage bench, Oliver and Osoyoos
Okanagan Falls Area – Okanagan Valley
With Okanagan Falls at its heart, the Okanagan Falls vineyards stretch Northwards along the East Bench of Skaha Lake and across the water to Kaleden and then South over the rolling hills above Vaseux Lake. Okanagan Falls is one of the key sources of quality pinot noir wine in the Okanagan Valley. Three quarters of the wineries in this area produce pinot noir. The area has a fascinating range of individual pinot noir styles united by their overall excellence.
STAG’S HOLLOW WINERY & VINEYARD – Pouring 1 pinot noir
This winery is known in part for their successful experimentations with grape varietals including Dolcetto, Tempranillo, Albariño and Marsanne. These ventures are rather recent but they have been making pinot noir for a long time. Stag’s Hollow released their first pinot noir in 1995 making them one of the oldest pinot noir producers in the Okanagan.
The winery does things a little differently with its two pinot noirs. Instead of releasing two wines, their white label estate and their reserve version called Renaissance, they release only one wine, the choice depending on the quality of that vintage. Their 2014 Renaissance Pinot noir won a Silver medal at the 2016 All Canadian wine championships.
Their pinot noir comes from a 2 acre plot in the remarkable bowl shaped hollow its name refers to. The clones in the current wines are 115 and 667 and Ritter 93. However, the winery has acquired a new vineyard nearby called Shuttleworth Creek that is planted to clones Pommard, 114, 115, 667, 777, 828. Recently tasted barrel samples promise even greater things to come. (Click for Review: 2006 Vintage : 2010 Vintage)
Stag’s Hollow will be pouring their 2014 Renaissance Pinot Noir at the trade and public events. Stag’s Hollow Winery
LIQUIDITY WINES – Pouring 2 pinot noirs
Liquidity had a small inaugural release of 2009 Pinot Noir (60 cases), produced under license at Pentage Winery, along with slightly larger quantities in 2010 & 2011. Their first larger production vintage was in 2012, produced in their then-newly-completed production facility on site. The winery and its winemaker Alison Moyes are certainly pinot noir focused. Their 2014 Pinot Noir Estate was awarded a Silver medal at the prestigious Mondial des Pinots international competition in Switzerland in the Autumn of 2016. Liquidity currently produce three different pinot noirs, an Estate (910 cases), a Reserve (102 cases), and their Pinot Noir Equity (91 cases). (Click for Review: 2011 Vintage )
They will be pouring their 2014 Estate pinot noir at the public and trade tastings along with the Principals Welcome Lunch, Festival Toast, & Celebrating Canada’s 150th. Their 2014 (sold out) Reserve will be at the trade tastings only. Liquidity Wines
MEYER FAMILY VINEYARDS – Pouring 2 pinot noirs
Meyer’s supple, elegant, focused fruit pinot noirs have gone a long way in helping establish B.C’s growing reputation for world class pinot noirs. Their first pinot noir was in 2008 (180 cases) and they now have five in their lineup, an entry level Okanagan Valley, two single vineyard wines, a home vineyard block designation and a barrel select Micro Cuvée pinot noir made primarily from Pommard clone 91.
Before joining Meyer, their Canadian winemaker Chris Carson spent eight years in New Zealand, with such prestigious wineries as Akaura, Gibbston Highgate Estate, Hinton Estate Vineyard, Te Kairanga, and Rippon Vineyard and Winery. He also spent time with Domaine Fernandand Laurent Pillot, in Chassagne Montrachet, Burgundy and with California pinot noir pioneer Josh Jenson at the Calera Wine Company.
Committed exporters, they sell online to U.S. customers at www.winebcusa.com and their pinot noir is on restaurant wine lists in London, England. (Click for Review: 2011 Vintage)
Meyer will be pouring both of their single vineyard pinots, the 2015 McLean Creek Vineyard and 2015 Reimer Vineyard at the public and trade tastings. They will also be pouring our 2011 and 2013 McLeean Creek Pinot at a Meyer/Hawksworth dinner on the Wednesday of Festival week. Meyer Family Vineyards
NOBLE RIDGE ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 1 pinot noir
Jim and Leslie D’Andrea founded the winery in 2001 beginning with 3.5 acre of vines to which they have added another 18 acres. Their first pinot noir vintage was 2003.
Noble Ridge wines are bolder in structure than many B.C. pinot noirs and are an example of the wide diversity of styles that pinot noir is capable of even in terroirs of close proximity such as the Okanagan Falls area. Noble Ridge credits this in part to being one of the few vineyards to utilize the Geneva Double Curtain trellis system for pinot noir and have found that this system yields fruit with intricate depth, complexity and colour. The winery suggests their pinot will depending on the vintage, age well in some cases for eight years or more. Use of new oak in the ageing process is also part of their regime. The King’s Ransom pinot noir sees 16 months in French oak, 50% of which is new.
There are two pinots in their lineup, their Reserve and the premium King’s Ransom pinot noir. Noble Ridge will be pouring their 2014 Reserve pinot noir at both the public and trade tastings. Noble Ridge Estate Winery
Black Sage Bench – Okanagan Valley
CHURCH & STATE WINES – Pouring 2 pinot noirs
Church & State is unusual in that it has wineries and vineyards in both the Okanagan Valley and on Vancouver Island. They are widely known both for their high end, award winning Bordeaux variety wines and their Lost Inhibitions line that feature funny and irreverent labels on bottles containing a simpler red or white (but still award winning) table wine.
They are less well known for their pinot noirs but they deserve a lot more attention. Virtually all their wines are now estate but for a number of years they made a delicious pinot noir with grapes from an outside source. They currently have two estate pinot noirs in their lineup, one from the Okanagan and one from Vancouver Island and you will be able to taste both at the Festival. (Click for Review: 2009 Vintage )
Their 2015 Victoria Estate Pinot Noir and their inaugural 2014 vintage Signature Series Pinot Noir from their Okanagan vineyards will both be poured at their booth for the public and trade tasting sessions. The Victoria Estate Pinot noir will also be poured at the BC Regional Booth at the main tasting sessions. Church & State Wines
INNISKILLIN OKANAGAN WINERY – 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 Niagara Peninsula Montague single vineyard pinot noir and their Okanagan Valley pinot noir at the main public and trade tastings. Inniskillin Okanagan
Golden Mile Sub-Region – Okanagan Valley
The Golden Mile Bench is located in the Okanagan Valley on the western slope, south of Oliver and across from the Black Sage Bench. Created in 2015, it is the first sub-region, known officially as sub-geographical indications (sub-GI) to be created in B.C. .
GEHRINGER BROTHERS ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 2 pinot noirs
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery are one of the oldest pinot noir producers in British Columbia, having released their first vintage of this variety in 1990. In their thirty years of winemaking, Gehringer Brothers wines have so far won 64 platinum medals in wine competitions. Their two pinot noirs come from their estate vineyards in the Golden Mile and are very modestly priced for the quality they consistently deliver. This is a great opportunity to taste pinot noir from the Golden Mile terroir. (Click for Review: 2009 Vintage )
Gehringer Brothers Winery will be pouring their 2015 Private Reserve Pinot Noir and 2015 Optimum Pinot Noir (barrel select) at the public and trade tastings. Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery
TINHORN CREEK VINEYARDS – Pouring 1 pinot noir
Tinhorn Creek have also been making pinot noir in the Golden Mile for a long time. Their inaugural pinot noir vintage was in 1994. They own approximately one hundred and fifty acres on both sides of the Okanagan Valley just South of Oliver. They make two pinot noirs, an entry level estate bottling and their premium Oldfield Series wine, produced from twenty-three year old vines. (Click for Review: 2009 Vintage )
The head winemaker and CEO of Tinhorn Creek is Sandra Oldfield. She was recently named as a Top 100 award winner in the Sun Life Financial Trailblazers & Trendsetters category of the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) 2016 Canada’s Most Powerful Women. Sandra was one of the leading advocates for the establishment of the Golden Mile sub-region.
Tinhorn Creek will be pouring their Oldfield Series pinot noir at the public and trade tastings. Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
MAVERICK ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 1 pinot noir
Bertus Albertyn is the winemaker and viticulturist at Maverick. Bertus holds a B.Sc. degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and has been involved with winemaking for large and small wineries around the world before settling in the Okanagan. For a time he was the winemaker at Burrowing Owl. Maverick’s well received first pinot noir was released in 2013. John Schreiner has rated the 2014 vintage at 91 points.
Maverick will be pouring its 2014 pinot noir at the public tasting room as well as the main trade tastings. Maveick Estate Winery
Osoyoos – Okanagan Valley
NK’MIP CELLARS – Pouring 1 pinot noir
Osoyoos is the Southernmost wine producing area in the Okanagan, bordering as it does on the United States. Nk`Mip is the only Osoyoos winery currently making pinot noir. Other Osoyoos wineries have found the growing conditions there too warm for the this delicate grape.
Randy Picton has been with Nk`Mip Cellars as its winemaker since the day it opened in 2002 and crafts both its Winemakers pinot noir and the higher tiered Qwam Qwmt pinot noir from estate fruit. Qwam Qwmt (pronounced kw-em kw-empt) in the Okanagan language spoken by the Osoyoos Indian Band translates to ‘achieving excellence’. The clutch of national and international medals both wines have won, demonstrates he has found the secret in making Osoyoos pinot noir.
Nk`Mip will be pouring their 2015 Qwam Qwmt pinot noir at the public and trade tastings as well as The Wine Economy in Canada seminar. Nk’Mip Cellars
Lillooet Area – Emerging Regions
FORT BERENS ESTATE WINERY – Pouring 1 pinot noir
Heleen Pannekoek and Rolf de Bruin went boldly where few had grown wine grapes before. Excellent pinot noir is grown in a very wide range of locations in B.C., many outside of any of the current five Designated Viticultural Areas. They are generally grouped under the term Emerging Regions.
One of these is Lillooet, located 325 kilometers north of Vancouver and 140 kilometers east of Whistler. It would be natural to assume that a winery located that far off the beaten wine path might need to rely on outsourced grapes. Not so. Fort Berens planted 4 acres of Pinot Noir in 2009. The first estate vintage of the Pinot Noir was the 2011 released in 2013. Each and every vintage of Pinot Noir since then has been 100% estate grown. Their pinot noir has won medals at provincial, national and international competitions.
Fort Berens will be pouring their 2014 pinot noir at the public and trade events. Fort Berens Estate Winery
Creston Area – Emerging Regions
BAILLIE GROHMAN WINERY – Pouring 1 pinot noir
Baillie Grohman will be pouring their 2013 pinot noir Reserve at the public and trade events.
Kamloops Area – Emerging Regions
HARPER’S TRAIL WINERY – Pouring 1 pinot noir wine
Harper’s Trail will be pouring their 2013 pinot noir Reserve at the public and trade events.
Must Taste Pinot Noirs: Okanagan Falls, the Golden Mile, the Black Sage bench, Oliver and Osoyoos
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.
The diversity of terroirs in the 17 wines from the areas in Part 3 combined with the fact that they from are all from excellent producers means you really should try them all. It’s a rare opportunity to taste and compare quality wines from B.C.’s diverse pinot noir producing regions.