BC Rosé all day! All year! Part 3, the final installment….

Pretty sure I have now tasted all the BC Rosé that I am going to taste this year, so here are the last few that I have not yet posted. This posting features the one I was most disappointed with, as well as my favorite BC Rosé of the year.

Let’s start with a few others.

Now, to the one that was a big disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still perfectly quaffable…. but it came with such anticipation. This winery has been making great rosé from Pinot Noir for 3 or 4 years. I knew that their new winemaker had made a change, and switched it to a more Provence-style rosé made from Rhône varietals, and I was excited to try it, because I love that style of rosé, and this winemaker knows his stuff. This is from Ross Wise MW, one of only 7 Masters of Wine in Canada. Hopefully it all comes together next year.

Last, and certainly not least, the best rosé in BC this year, IMO:

That’s it for now! Next up, still have a lot of random stuff to report on, plus a great birthday dinner we hosted, and the last entry of the Okanagan trip at brand new Black Swift Vineyards!

Okanagan wine trip continues @tantaluswine!

Up and at ’em for an early morning appointment at Tantalus! We have been here several times, and we usually find ourselves thinking the same things: Good Riesling, VERY good Old Vines Riesling, OK Chardonnay, good Pinot Noir, and PERFECT (or close) Icewines. Let’s see if this visit would bring the same conclusions.

First up, the worst news possible….for now, at least, they have discontinued making Icewine. Devastating news. Of all the wines I have ever reviewed for this blog, only two have ever received a perfect 100-point score, and their 2015 Riesling Icewine was one such wine.

Let’s see how the new stuff stacks up!

So, a bit of a flip this time; we thought this was their best Chardonnay ever, and the Pinot Noir didn’t measure up to past vintages. The Rieslings held up as expected. Make no mistake, this is a house of Riesling and nothing is ever likely to change that.

SAFETY SCORE: 8.5

You have to go into the winery to check in, and then to buy your wine at the end. The tasting area is outside and is social distanced. At the time we visited, they were also taking walk-ins, and some of the tastings were set up inside. Shortly after our visit, I read on Instagram that they were discontinuing walk-ins.

Up next: The Okanagan Trip wraps up with one epic tasting at the New House the Hatch Built (TM), Black Swift Vineyards!

I also have tons of random stuff to report on….also, will finally delivery the long-awaited third (and final) installment of my 2019 BC Rosé report…..and also, we had a small gathering here last weekend to celebrate our friend’s birthday, and some pretty awesome wine was consumed. Stay tuned!

Okanagan trip gets taken up a notch or three, our first visit to Martin’s Lane!

The newest jewel in the Von Mandl crown is quite something to see. The construction of the winery is finished, but there is so much construction still going on around it that it’s difficult to believe it when you see it for yourself. We have trouble finding the front entrance in fact, and are relieved to see our guide come outside and flag us down so we can start our tour and tasting!

And, what a guide we have…..the winemaker himself, Shane Munn, is taking us on a little tour of the winery. We actually have TWO HOURS booked for this experience and are very much looking forward to it.

Shane takes us on a thorough tour of the winery, the sorting areas, production facility…it’s really quite spectacular. They have clearly spared no expense, and it shows in the quality of the wine.

Along the way, Shane presents us with a little “welcome wine”. Lots of wineries do this, but it’s not usually THIS good.

After the tour, we head inside where we are pleased to find a selection of their wines, ready for us to taste. As with their Von Mandl-partner, winery Checkmate, they focus on just two varietals. Whereas Checkmate does just Merlot and Chardonnay, Martin’s Lane produces just Riesling and Pinot Noir.

During the tour I had asked Shane if he ever planned to do an ice wine. Well, they had already done one, and he was happy to let us taste that as well. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about ice wine, and this one is right up there with the best ever.

What a fantastic experience, and Shane was a terrific guide through our tour and tasting. We look forward to our next visit.

SAFETY SCORE: 9

About half of the tour was outside, the rest of the tour and the tasting were inside, but there were literally just the three of us in the building, we didn’t come across another soul. Shane was seated across the huge table during the tasting, nothing to be concerned about there in terms of ‘social distancing’.

Up next: That’s it for the wine this day. We had a wonderful dinner at Home Block at CedarCreek after the Martin’s Lane tasting (right next door) and then headed back to our room to relax and rest up for the next day of tastings, beginning at Tantalus!

Okanagan trip continues just up the hillside…..@hillsidewines!

It has been 3-4 years since we’ve been here, and we are excited to be visiting again. Not that we didn’t enjoy our last visit, it was…..fine. We enjoyed a couple of the wines (IIRC, the Rosé and Cabernet Franc), the rest were OK, and the service and atmosphere was perfectly pleasant. What it lacked, I guess, was “IT”. Whatever that is, there was nothing that excited us enough to get us to rush back.

So what changed? Well, from all accounts, the wine has improved. That’s a pretty important point. Also, we get to see our good friend Shelann, who is taking us through our tasting today.

We have known Shelann for many years, she was the Wine Club concierge at Tinhorn Creek for years, and she always took fantastic care of us when we visited there. She moved to Hillside a couple of years ago and has been trying to get us up there ever since. We finally made it!

We are greeted with a huge sign saying “welcome Dean and Tracey!” and our table is set up and ready to go outside. Shelann knows that even though we are friends, I am going to be brutally honest when reviewing the wines….which really makes me hope that they are good! Let’s find out!

Lovely! No doubt the wine has improved since our last visit and we enjoyed just about everything. We’ll give that Gamay another try on our next visit and see if it was just a vintage problem.

SAFETY SCORE: 10

We were outdoors 100% of the time, nobody near us. Shelann was masked until we told her that she could take it off, as we weren’t afraid of picking a virus up from her as she was 10 feet away at all times and we were outside.

Next up: This is all we had time for in Naramata this trip, and we are off to check into our hotel and then have what we expect to be a very special evening. First up, a tour and tasting at Martin’s Lane!

Okanagan wine trip report continues, as we move towards Kelowna, a stop in Naramata at Little Engine!

After checking out of our suite, we are on our way up to Naramata for the first half of the day, before heading to our hotel in West Kelowna to finish up our trip. First up, an 11 AM bell call at Little Engine!

We have been here several times and their wine is always of outstanding quality. Generally, they have three tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum. There are some other wines that don’t necessarily fit directly into any of those categories as well.

Another winery with a beautiful view, but what are those dark things in the sky? CLOUDS?! Disapproved.

It sprinkles a tiny bit of rain on us, and we aren’t covered on these seats so eventually we move a few feet to a covered area and a huge table.

Terrific wine across the board, as usual. Just imagine how amazing the Platinum level wines are!

Safety score: 10

100% outside, no other guests anywhere near us, no unmasked staff members getting too close. Can’t ask for much more.

Next up: We visit an old friend at Hillside! Stay tuned!

The dark side of BC wine. When plagiarism sullies a new brand.

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Painted Rock’s branding. The logo is understated, elegant, and sophisticated. I like it quite a bit. But even if it doesn’t “wow” you, I bet you would recognize it.

And along comes a new winery…..with a seemingly unlimited budget for building a spectacular, state-of-the-art new facility in Oliver. Years in the planning and building.

And, instead of finding their own branding, they use the same California-based design company. This design company makes this new company sign a waiver stating that if Painted Rock sues them, the design company is held harmless. This is the new winery’s logo and bottle (name of winery blacked out).

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This new company knows, probably, that lawsuits are expensive, and they also probably have enough money backing them to drag it out in court for many years, making it even more costly for Painted Rock to protect their brand.

Just to be clear, nobody at Painted Rock asked me to make this post.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But as long as they use this as their branding, I will not be visiting this winery, will not be reviewing their wines. They are dead to me.

This is appalling.

 

Next up: Back to the Okanagan trip report, as we start our next day at Little Engine!

Day 3 of the Okanagan wine trip wraps up at one of the great wineries in the Okanagan, with one of the best views of the Okanagan, @PaintedRockWine .

Another winery where we had already pre-paid for our experience. As club members, our tasting was complimentary, but we pre-ordered sandwiches and charcuterie for lunch, to enjoy in their beautiful grounds. I’m not sure who enjoyed their time on the grounds more…..us, or the dog. She just loves to accompany us anywhere, and we were successful at ensuring that all the wineries we were visiting today were dog friendly.

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Zoey, AKA “Zo-Zo”, “Dog”, or “Pork Chop”. She spends a tremendous amount of time laying like this. I don’t know how that can be comfortable.

An “all-red” tasting today. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Painted Rock 2015 MerlotPainted Rock 2016 MerlotPainted Rock 2016 Syrah

Painted Rock 2017 SyrahPainted Rock 2016 Red Icon

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The author’s lovely wife, charcuterie, a bottle of their Rosé, and a not-too-shabby view.

Oh, and not related to this trip, consider it a bonus review of a wine we enjoyed back home recently:

Painted Rock 2015 Malbec

The sandwiches were fantastic, the charcuterie was fantastic (half of which went back to the resort with us to enjoy later this evening), the wine was fantastic, the service was fantastic. This was a wonderful day, and it’s tough to imagine finishing our wine tasting anywhere better than this, enjoying a lovely picnic lunch with my incredible wife, accompanied by our crazy dog, overlooking the vineyards and lake. Even in horrific 2020, it’s nice to be able to exhale and just enjoy the great things in life once in a while.

SAFETY SCORE: 10

Although the tasting portion of the day took place inside, the staff members are behind plexiglass. If you’ve ever been to this winery, you know that even inside feels like outside, thanks to the huge glass door that opens, leading you to feel like you are out amongst the vines, even from the tasting room.

Next up: As we transition from Osoyoos to Kelowna, we start tomorrow morning in Naramata, with a tasting at another winery that always delivers, Little Engine!

 

 

Okanagan Trip continues @Road13Vineyards and let me tell you about an upcoming BC wine star…..

Shelby. Remember that name.

In late 2018, a lot of BC wine enthusiasts were shocked when it was announced that the Luckhurst family, owners of Road 13, had sold the winery to the Von Mandl group. It remains to be seen what that will mean for the quality of the wine going forward, but this is the same group that acquired Cedarcreek a few years ago and have not caused any dip in quality there; they have since opened up Checkmate and Martin’s Lane, two premium wine brands… so the future seems bright.

I was a little sad to hear that Joe Luckhurst, the son of founders Mick and Pam Luckhurst,  had recently left the winery. He had stayed on in a consulting role after the sale, but has now moved on to other ventures. During our last visit here, it was Joe that took us through our tasting, and as we got to talking about wine and he realized that we were serious about it, he kept disappearing for a few minutes, only to return with another “special” bottle to taste, directly from his office or the cellar. It was a fantastic experience and I wish him the best with whatever new direction he takes.

We are greeted warmly and taken on a little tour of the vineyards and given a bit of a history of the winery (most of which we already knew, but they wouldn’t know that). After the tour, we are taken to the VIP area (we are not even club members) to taste their wines. We are outside, under a canopy to keep the temperatures cool. Our wines are brought to us in glass vials, so we can control who gets how much of each wine (as my wife is driving today, she tastes less than I do). It’s a COVID-related change, of course, but I kinda like it and hope it stays. There is not a single other group out here tasting today. We had pre-booked and pre-paid for this tasting ($25 each, IIRC).

This is where Shelby comes into our little drama. Bubbly, friendly and knowledgable, she has all the tools to make it in this business. IIRC she is 21 years old, maybe 22. Oh, and she has no prior wine training, and started here on July 1st.

JULY 1st. Today as we are tasting, it’s July 15th.

She has been in the business for all of 2 weeks, literally, and already knows more about her product than half of the employees you will find at your average tasting room. And it’s not just “she learned the script” knowledge, at all. I generally ask a ton of questions at these tastings, and no winery script covers the type of questions I am asking (and it’s VERY easy to tell when someone just knows the script).  She answers all of them, as if she’s been doing this since birth. Very impressive.

During our tasting, their new winemaker, Barclay Robinson, ventures outside to say “hello” and see how we are enjoying our tasting. We mention to him the incredible amount of knowledge that Shelby has given her lack of experience or time in the industry. He smiles, nods, and says, “Yep. She’s a sponge”.

That girl is someone to watch. If she decides she wants to continue her career in the wine industry, wineries should be beating down her door to hire her. Road 13 is incredibly lucky to have her now.

Now, let’s talk about some wine!

First, I’m going to start with a couple wines that will soon disappear from the Road 13 portfolio, as they are still owned by the Luckhursts and were not part of the sale.

Road 13 2017 Blind Creek ChardonnayRoad 13 2016 Blind Creek Petit Verdot

I am sure these wines will continue to be available somewhere, but I would imagine this will be the last time we will see them here.

Road 13 Chip off the Old Block Chenin BlancRoad 13 2019 RoséRoad 13 2018 ViognierRoad 13 2018 RieslingRoad 13 2016 StemwinderRoad 13 2017 Jackpot 5th ElementRoad 13 2017 Syrah

A fantastic tasting, lovely venue, fabulous service. Highly recommended. If I needed to join more wine clubs (spoiler alert: I do not), this is one that would be at the top of the list.

SAFETY SCORE: 10

Absolutely nothing to be afraid of here. Our entire time was spent outside, and no employees even got close to us. I did go inside the castle to order wine and arrange shipping but the employee was a good 8 feet away at all times and the castle is huge. I used the washroom before we left, and it was pristine.

Up next: A trip up to Penticton for a tasting and picnic in the stunning grounds of Painted Rock!

 

As we meander through the Okanagan, it’s time for an early morning visit to @rustwinery!

“Early morning” in the realm of wine tasting, that is. Right at opening, 11 AM.

This was technically another drop-in visit, as they aren’t taking appointments. Having said that, they knew exactly when we were coming, they had an area ready for us, so that’s about as close to an appointment as you can get I suppose.

We are seated in a beautiful semi-private area on the patio, under a gazebo. No other guests anywhere near us (although it doesn’t take long for there to be 3-4 other groups of people tasting outside as well).

And the view doesn’t suck, either.

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To the wine!

Rust Wine Co 2019 GewürztraminerRust Wine Co 2019 RoséRust Wine Co 2019 GamayRust Wine Co 2018 Cabernet FrancRust Wine Co 2017 Golden Mile Bench SyrahRust Wine Co 2014 Cabernet Merlot

Always good wine, good people, it’s always fun to visit.

Safety score: 9.5

Tough to feel unsafe sitting by yourself in the outdoors, with no staff member coming within 10 feet. The only thing keeping this from a 10 is that I had to go into the tasting room to buy and arrange shipping for my wine. Not a huge deal, but if there was going to be any kind of problem here, this is where it would have been.

Next up: Another winery that is quickly becoming a favorite, a little jaunt to the castle and a tasting at Road 13!

 

Okanagan trip moves along with another fantastic tasting @LaStellaWinery

As I mentioned in the Le Vieux Pin report, our concierge, Alex, takes fantastic care of us. This was no exception, as he set up a private tasting with Wade at their sister winery, La Stella.

Their winemaker, Severine, is really quite remarkable. She makes a bunch of terrific wines in a very French-style….then goes down the road and makes a bunch of terrific wines in an Italian-style. That’s not easy, folks. She has a great team around her, for sure.

Wade had arranged for us to have a tasting up in a private room in a tower; a room where no other humans would have been all day, ensuring our total safety. Just one issue: it’s not air conditioned, and it was freaking hot that day….so we decided it was better to sit on their large patio to have our tasting. There were no other groups scheduled for a while, so we’d have the entire patio to ourselves for most of our time there anyway.

To the wine!

La Stella 2019 Vivace

La Stella 2017 Fortissimo

La Stella 2016 Espressivo

La Stella 2016 Maestoso

La Stella 2019 Moscato d'Osoyoos

Those are some excellent wines, and man, if you have the cellar and the patience, a couple of them are going to be SPEC. TAC. U. LAR.

And if wine tasting isn’t enough for you, they have more. If you ask really nicely, I bet they would let you taste their other products.

We have bought the “intensive” Olive Oil many times, and this trip was no exception. We also liked the other one, and bought that too. And that was the best White Balsamic vinegar I have ever had, so I guess we might as well purchase it all!

Safety rating: 10

Nothing to worry about here. We had the patio mostly to ourselves. When other guests arrived, they were seated about 20 feet away. Wade poured our wines at the other end of their large picnic tables and never got close to us. Couldn’t have felt safer.

This was the end of our first full day of tasting, so back to the room to make dinner and relax. We thought about going to the pool but since it was full of children, we decided to hang out on the patio and enjoy our evening.

Next up: An early morning date with another one we try to never miss: Rust Wine Co.!