Photo: Wine grower Bill Eggert of Fairview Cellars
When there are 50 wineries in a room and
just three hours for tasting, it makes for hard choices.
In fact, Liberty Wines, the sponsor of Taste BC,
made choosing even tougher by allowing several craft brewers, three spirit
producers and two cideries in the room as well.
My last stop of the evening was at the
table of the Howe Sound Brewing Company, which was showing four terrific beers
(Total Eclipse of the Hop IPA, Super
Jupiter IPA, Pothole Filler Imperial Stout and Wee Beastie Oak-Aged Scotch
Ale). These are all seasonal beers in 750 ml bottles, priced between $7 and $10
a bottle, and worth it.
I did not linger at the other beer tables
is sponsoring a craft beer tasting on March 20. Put it on your calendar and
watch for more details.
One of the first tables I hit was that of
Fairview Cellars because owner Bill Eggert is always entertaining and always
has good wine, including a couple under the table. This year, those wines
included a Pinot Noir under his new Eagle Bluff Estates Label and a 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon. The latter is no longer available but it has matured to
such a lovely wine that it makes the case for ordering his 2009 Cabernet
Sauvignon ($40), if it were not already sold out. Wait for the 2010.
Here are notes on Bill’s wines.
Bluff Estates Crooked Post Pinot Noir 2011 ($25).
This wine is made from the first harvest from young vines, which explains that
the wine has the colour of a rosé. When you take a sip, the wine pulls the
usual Pinot Noir stunt of having a lot more substance than the colour suggests.
With aromas and flavours of strawberry and with a silky texture, this is
Fairview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
2011 ($19.90). The wine has aromas of herbs and
sage, leading to flavours of sage and grapefruit and grapefruit rind. The
finish is bone dry. 88.
Fairview Cellars Cabernet Franc
2011 ($N.A.). This is a classic expression of the
variety, with brambly ar0mas and with blackberry flavours. The spicy finish is
one reason why Bill recommends pairing this wine with Greek food, tandoori
chicken or satay pork. 90.
Fairview Cellars Two Hoots 2010 ($24.90). Named for vineyard owls, this is a blend of Cabernet
Sauvignon and Merlot (the Fairview vineyard grows
varietals). The wine shows a touch of mint and eucalyptus on the nose, going on
to cassis and cherry flavours and a spicy finish. 90.
Fairview Cellars Madcap Red 2009 ($26.90) and Fairview
Cellars The Bear 2009 (34.90) are also sold out. Lucky were those who got a
few cases. Bordeaux
blends from this outstanding
vintage, these are 91 and 92 point wines respectively. And lucky for those who
stopped at the Fairview Cellars table.
Here are notes on wines from other wineries
that are still available.
Creek Pinot Gris 2009 ($15.99 for 800 cases). The
vibrant acidity of the Vancouver Island
terroir is keeping this wine appealingly crisp and fresh while the time in the
bottle has enhanced its complexity. The aromas and flavours of pear and
grapefruit are delicious. 90.
Creek Somenos Rosé 2011 ($17 for 400 cases). While
the 2011 vintage on the island was tough for maturing red varieties, Averill
Creek managed to make an excellent rosé with some of its Pinot Noir. The wine
is fresh and tangy with flavours of strawberry and cranberry. 88.
Creek Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 ($60 for 250 cases).
This won a gold medal in the recent Canadian Wine Awards. The quality justifies
the price. The wine, which was aged 15 months in French oak, begins with those
complex aroma notes – tea, spice, cherry – that sometimes are called barnyard,
a positive descriptor with Pinot Noir. On the palate, there are flavours of
cherry and raspberry, with a spicy (cloves, nutmeg) finish. The texture is
Brothers The Cowboy White 2011 ($22.90). This is
83% Chardonnay, 17% Sémillon, one of several wines from the winery being
developed by winemaker Michael Bartier and his brother, Don. The wines are made
and sold through Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, where Michael is also the chief
winemaker. This is a crisp white, with flavours of apple and melon and with a
lingering spicy note on the finish. 89.
Brothers The Cowboy Red 2011 ($22.90). This is an
unconventional blend: 40% each of Gamay Noir and Merlot, with 30% Pinot Noir.
The Merlot brings substance to the
texture and a hint of blueberry. Its partners add cherry flavours and soft,
approachable tannins. 89.
Brothers Chardonnay 2011 ($22.90). An unoaked
Chardonnay, this crisp and zesty wine has appealing flavours of lime and
Brothers The Goal 2010 ($29.90). This is a blend of
40% Merlot, and 30% each of Cabernet Franc and Syrah. The wine delivers
satisfying gobs of fruit aromas and flavours, including plums, black currants,
black cherry and a hint of pepper. 90.
Misconduct Misfit 2009 ($18).
Misconduct Wine Co. operates from a wine shop on Upper Bench Road in Penticton. The winery has created a 1920s
personality for its wine names, labels and website, although the wines manage
to have a contemporary appeal. This white is 39% Pinot Gris, 38% Chardonnay and
23% Viognier – “three ritzy gals dancing their way to Tin Pan Alley,” as the
website has it. This win has abundant melon and tropical fruit flavours, with a
crisp and dry finish. 88.
Massacre Rosé 2010 ($20). Juice from seven red
varieties is combined in this terrific rosé. The back story involves the St.
Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago
in 1929 when gunmen associated with Al Capone shot seven rivals. The story may
not be appealing but the wine is, with aromas of strawberry and raspberry,
flavours of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry and a texture that is juicy.
The Big Take 2009 ($26). This is 45% Merlot, 30%
Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc, aged 12 months in French and
American oak. It begins with black currant and vanilla aromas and delivers
flavours of currants, blackberries and chocolate. 89.
Pinot Noir 2009 ($30). Big and full-bodied, this
wine begins with aromas of black cherry mingling with forest floor notes. On
the generous palate, there are flavours of black cherry with a touch of coffee.
Riesling 2011 ($21.90 for 185 cases). This wine
begins with a touch of petrol and citrus in the aroma, leading for refreshing
flavours of lime, with minerals in the backbone. However, the texture is juicy,
with the residual sugar nicely balanced with racy acidity so that the finish
seems dry. 89.
Chardonnay 2011 ($21.90). An appealing,
fruit-forward Chardonnay, this begins with citrus aromas, leading to flavours
of lime, guava, melon and peach, with cloves on the lingering finish. 90.
SpierHead Pinot Noir 2011 ($19.90). The
previous vintage was judged the best Pinot Noir in the Canadian Wine Awards
last year. This one proves that the wine was not a one-shot wonder. This is an
elegant, delicate wine, with appealing flavours of raspberry and cherry and
with a silky texture. 90.
View Winery Riesling 2011 ($17.90 for 379 cases). Here
is another Riesling in which the residual sugar is balanced well with the
acidity to gave the wine a juicy, savoury impression on the palate. It begins
with aromas of citrus and has flavours of lime and green apples. 89.
View Winery Red Shoe White 2011 ($15.90 for 389
cases). This is 82% Gewürztraminer, 18% Riesling, with enough residual sugar
to give it an off-dry finish. There are
aromas and flavours of apricot, melon and baked apple. 88.
View Winery Pinotage Reserve 2009 ($22.90 for 56
cases). One of only three producers of Pinotage in the Okanagan, The View does
a solid job with this South African varietal. This wine is full-bodied and
rich, with flavours of black cherries, prunes, chocolate and spice. 90.