This is a sound cool climate merlot from Poplar Grove in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia in Canada. Perhaps most interesting is the cross country comparison to Australian merlot, which has suffered with perceptions. I’ve written on this at some length previously (see my post here). This BC merlot’s expression is immediately more like the Bordeaux version of the grape: medium bodied, fresh in style and balanced. Climate, intent or food for thought? (Region: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Rating: Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? Yes, for current drinking, Drink: now, Tasted: Jan, 2017)
I’ve written previously about this producer from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia in Canada, and 2013 vintage is another good release. Although a merlot dominant blend, it’s very much a cru bourgeois in style, or closer to home, it reminds of a Yarra Valley cabernet blend from a very good producer. The 2013 blend is 82% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 2.5% malbec, 1% petit verdot and 0.5% cabernet franc. In the glass, the wine has aromas and flavours of blackcurrants and presents with fresh acidity and a lovely medium bodied balance. Lovely drinking. (Region: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Rating: Good to Very Good, Drink: now to 2025, Tasted: Jan, 2017)
I quite liked the 2013 Mission Hill reserve cabernet sauvignon. A touch more than the 2011 (see my review here) but both are still very pleasant. The 2013 has a classic medium bodied cabernet expression perhaps without showing any “above and beyond” characters through the palate. Tobacco, cedar, leather and dried herbs round things up. Correct and well made.
Here’s one the last Okanagan Valley reviews. It’s from Stag’s Hollow and is a Bordeaux blend, this time 49% merlot, 37.5% cabernet franc and the remainder made up of cabernet sauvignon, malbec and petit verdot. A right bank style really. It’s a lovely wine too. Cloves, herbs and bouquet garnis frame the aromatics. The palate is medium bodied and balanced. At around the C$20 mark, it’s frankly quite interesting.
Forgive my continuing North American theme (I promise I will attend to the growing mountain of new arrivals from Australia very soon!), but I just can’t help wanting to write up wines that I really enjoyed. Here we venture quite a bit north from the Napa Valley to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. I’ve previously reviewed the 2011 of this wine (see here) rating it highly, and the 2012 tasted here is good too. This is a very balanced wine and principally an exercise in cloves and blackcurrants. It very much reminds of a cru bourgeois in another example of the Okanagan region’s capabilities.
There are worse places in the world than British Columbia in Canada. Must so many places that are so far away be quite so compelling? Although my reason for being in BC was not wine related, I could not help but to explore the local wine offerings and the locals seemed excited about them too, which to be honest didn’t hurt. I wonder if we are more blasé or Eurocentric in our paradigms? The wines from the Okanagan Valley were impressive, particularly I thought the Bordeaux blends. Typing an entry into “wine-searcher” yields however a nil return here in Australia, so this will I expect remain something of an impractical interest. Fortunately, it will not be alone.
You don’t see too many blends of merlot and cabernet franc in Australia. This one’s also from the new world, but from a place you might not have heard of – the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia in Canada. I expect it can’t be found in Australia, but since I am not actually selling anything here(!) I thought why not post it. It’s a blend of 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc and proves both surprisingly Bordeaux like (for a Bordeaux fan) and very drinkable. It has very typical cedar, tobacco and blackcurrant aromas and a lovely balance on the palate.
A search for “Okanagan” in wine-searcher for wines sold in Australia promptly yields a nil return. This I suspect may serve as an indicative proxy of our local knowledge, and certainly prior to the last couple of years, my own state of knowledge of this warm region in Canada. Having just returned from British Columbia where I had the fortune of being trapped in scenery such as below and so did not venture several mountain ranges beyond to the Okanagan, I was nonetheless able to undertake a random walk of sorts through some local wines sometimes capturing, but always hinting at, the essence of holidays.
But first some vinous background. The Okanagan Valley is an inland wine region situated in Canada between 49 and 50 degrees of latitude, to the east of British Columbia, and north of the Washington State border alongside Lake Okanagan and neighbouring lakes. The Cascade and Coast mountains create a rain shadow, and leave this region with rainfall of only between 250mm to 400mm per year – practically desert like conditions. The climate in winter is bitterly cold, with temperatures that can risk damage to vines. In summer though the region enjoys 1,423 sunshine hours during the growing season, compared with 1,315 sunshine hours in Burgundy.
The results in the glass of my tiny survey were almost universally good, providing assurance that Canada can indeed produce excellent red wine. There seems no particularly rational reason these wines should not have a wider market.
NK’Mip Cellars Talon Cabernet Syrah 2012 A traditional, or dare I say Australian, blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah sees a very good wine in the glass here. Its (Canadian) aboriginal ownership and operation explain the name. The wine has aromatics of rich plums and blackcurrant and capsicum in the background. These characters continue to the palate, as well as an attractive grapey texture and towards long length.
Rating: Very Good, Abv: 14%, Price: C$23, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://www.nkmipcellars.com, Tasted: 2015 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2010 Osoyoos Larose is the collaboration of the Group Taillan of Bordeaux (owner of Chateau Gruaud Larose) and Constellation Brands in Canada (formerly Vincor Canada – Canada’s largest producer), the former reportedly now having bought out the latter. This is a serious Bordeaux blend of 67% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 6% petit verdot, 4% cabernet franc and 3% malbec, retailing for a serious price of C$60. This wine revealed itself reluctantly in the glass, initially with some animal and herbal notes, the latter suggesting not fully ripe fruit. However, the palate is very balanced and restrained, and elegant in style with lovely fine grained tannins. It continued to improve in the glass, and the last glass was certainly the best. How to rate it? It is undeniably a good wine, so I will give it the benefit of the doubt.
Kettle Valley Winery Old Main Red 2010 This wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot and malbec. So another Bordeaux blend. I loved the rustic characters of this wine, reminding almost of a Wendouree in style. It has aromatics of leather, licorice, soy, plum and iodine. The palate has long length and a textural mouthfeel, with plum fruits and blackcurrant providing the power. This is an excellent wine.
OKV Okanagan Vineyards Vineyard Select Red 2012 This wine resembles a simple Vin de Pays d’Oc. There’s a spike of cherry liqueur on the nose, while the palate is balanced enough with hints of oak. Overall, well made, if a bit rough. An extra C$10 is money well spent.
I really quite enjoyed Mission Hill’s 5 Vineyards cabernet merlot written up here, so I had some expectations with this wine. They weren’t quite met. Aromatics of shoe polish, capsicum, bay leaf and black olive, were met on the palate with medium length and fine grained tannins. Mostly bay leaf and red plum flavours featured. A good wine, but it’s a leafier expression of cabernet sauvignon that doesn’t suit me entirely.
This is the second last of my Okanagan Valley wine reviews I suspect for a while. This riesling from Gehringer Brothers is perfectly pleasant without hitting any particular heights. It has aromatics of lemon and lime, which carry through to the balanced and dry to off-dry palate (it is frankly dry in impression) and is rounded by some medium length.