Sunday, October 15, 2017

Okanagan trip reports becomes legal (in Alberta anyway), report 18 at Beaumont Family Estate Winery!

Our first visit to this little boutique winery that has something I haven't seen at any other wineries: Musical instruments. Yes, just sitting there, for you to play if you have the desire and ability.

Oh, and they also sell some of the best jam I've ever had.

They had several different flavors, and I could've bought them all, but we stuck to these two. Delicious. Put those bad boys on some crackers and let your taste buds thank you.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2015 Pinot Gris ($19.90)

Intense aromas of lemongrass, with passion fruit and lemon-lime lurking in the background. Definitely a food wine, with flavors of citrus dominating the tart palate. 88.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2014 Gewurztraminer ($17.90)

Aromas of sweet white flowers, lychee and tropical fruit. The aromas follow through to the palate, followed by a spicy finish. 89.

This was so tasty we bought two and enjoyed one the same night in our hotel room with some Thai food. Unfortunately the second one, which we opened up at Thanksgiving last weekend, was bad and went down the sink.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2015 Trio ($19.90)

50% Pinot Blanc, 25% Pinot Gris, 25% Gewurztraminer

Like fruit salad in a bottle. Guava, mango and stone fruit aromas give way to tropical fruit, pineapple, mango and peach flavors. Great patio sipper. 88.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé ($18.90)

Strawberry dominates the nose, with a touch of cranberry and pomegranate poking up at the end. The palate is round and juicy, with watermelon candy, cherry, cranberry and wild strawberry. A hint of spice on the finish. If you are a bigger fan of watermelon and cranberry than I am, you are likely to love this. 87.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2014 Gamay Noir ($22.90)

Intense blackberry and black pepper on the nose. Red berries, oak and black pepper on the palate. Gamay is never my very favorite varietal but this is perfectly tasty. 88.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2014 Pinot Noir ($26.00)

Juicy red cherry and black cherry mingle on the nose. Red cherry, cassis, cedar and violet flavors. Light-bodied. 88.

Beaumont Family Estate Winery 2013 Pinot Noir Icewine ($30/200 ml or $50/375 ml)

You don't see Pinot Noir icewine everyday! Blackberry, red cherry, cassis and a hint of spice on the nose. Sweet red cherry and vanilla on the palate. Tasty. 92.

Not a bad wine in the bunch and lots of potential for growth here. We will definitely visit again!

That is IT for this Okanagan trip report, but we've come and gone on ANOTHER Okanagan trip, albeit a short one, and I will start reporting on that soon. First, however, a lot of other great wine has been enjoyed in the meantime, and I'll do a big catch-up entry or two on some random stuff.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling, Keep those Wagons Rolling, and keep the Wine a-Pourin'.....Rollingdale!!!!

The 17th entry in this Okanagan trip is the penultimate one, as we re-visit a winery we thought was just OK last time. Things have changed very much.

First, they have added some extra tasting bars in the tasting room (which doubles as their barrel room), alleviating the previous problem of feeling cramped while tasting. Secondly, the wines have improved quite a bit, and they had a lot more to taste.

Prices are pre-tax.

Rollingdale 2016 Estate Organic Pinot Blanc ($24.26)

Aromas of pear and tropical fruit, leading to pleasing flavors of citrus and pear. One of my favorite of this varietal. Very nice. 90.

Rollingdale 2016 Estate Organic Pinot Gris ($21.65)

Orchard fruit mingles with strong aromas of anise and pear. Pear flavors are dominating, in your face. Not for the faint of heart, but very tasty especially if you enjoy pear. 89.

Rollingdale 2015 Pinot Gris ($15.56)

10% Semillon

With 22g of residual sugar, this is sweeter than the above but certainly not "sweet". Pear and honeysuckle aromas. Pear, peach cobbler and toffee on the palate, which actually finishes a touch tart. 86. 

Rollingdale 2014 Paint the Town ($17.30)

A bizarre blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Marechal Foch, with strong violet notes on the nose, followed closely by raspberry and cherry. Tannins are soft and supple and this is ready to go, take these blackberry flavors, give it a chill, pair with some light pasta and go. 87.

Rollingdale 2014 8 Barrels Merlot ($39.91)

Aged 26 months in new French Oak barriques, this is so-named because it was their favorite 8 barrels. Violets, cigar box, forest floor and smoke on the nose. Earthy, chewy, funky with forest floor and a dark chocolate finish. Very tasty. 90.

Rollingdale 2015 Organic Estate Merlot ($44.99)

Complex nose that brings you vanilla, violets, blueberry, blackberry and cherry. Berries are dominate on the palate, but look hard enough and you'll get some dark chocolate and vanilla on the finish. Tannins are firm and this one needs some more time to grow, but it's going to be delicious. 91-93.

Rollingdale 2015 Organic Estate Marechal Foch ($24.26)

Really intense floral notes leap from the glass, closely followed by intense notes of blueberry. It runs a bit hot at 14.5% alcohol but tannins are almost non-existent, so if this is your thing, pair it with a big, rich pasta or even something spicy. 86.

Rollingdale 2016 Fort ($52.09)

Big, bold Port-style wine made from Marechal Foch. The nose starts off almost strictly alcohol, but that dissipates quickly. The rich alcohol continues on the palate but let it sit for a second and some tasty flavors of black cherry and toffee show up. Perfect for a nice by the fire. 89.

Rollingdale 2013 Merlot Icewine ($43.39)

The nose is almost as strong as the above, featuring decadent aromas of raisin, strawberry, toffee and caramel. Toffee, plum and caramel flavors. Probably my all-time favorite Merlot icewine. Delicious. 94.

Rollingdale 2013 Organic Pinot Gris Icewine ($43.39)

Red apple, pineapple, honeysuckle and lemon-lime on the nose. Creamy flavors of honey, pineapple and butterscotch. Very nice. 93.

Rollingdale 2013 Organic Chardonnay Icewine ($60.78)

Aromas of pineapple and honey, flavors of grapefruit, honey and lemon meringue pie. Creamy and beautiful. 93.

Excellent experience here, and we will definitely return!

Next up: The final report of this Okanagan trip, our first visit to another fairly new winery, Beaumont Family Winery!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Okanagan Trip Report turns Sweet 16 at Indigenous World Winery!!

Our first visit here, and we immediately noticed how much care had been given to make the front of the tasting room interesting and inviting.

They also feature a nice little bistro that we probably would have eaten in had we not already had lunch. Our tasting room guide was a lady I recognized, as she also has worked at Cedarcreek, where we have been many times. Oh, and their winemaker is Jason Parkes, who also makes the wine for The Hatch, among others.

Let's get to the wine!

Indigenous World 2016 Ehrenfelser ($17.99)

Lightly aromatic nose of tropical fruit and apple. Slightly off-dry, with flavors of papaya, apple, banana and honeysuckle. 88.

Indigenous World 2016 Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin White ($14.99)

50% Gewurztraminer, 30% Ehrenfelser, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Muscat

Grapefruit and citrus on the nose. Flavors of elderflower, ripe stone fruit and lychee. A nice bargain and perfect patio sipper. 88.

Indigenous World 2016 Estate Muscat ($19.99)

Citrus and tropical fruit dominate the nose. Flavors of tropical fruit, particularly banana, with a touch of spice on the finish. 86.

Indigenous World 2016 Viognier ($21.99)

Made with fruit sourced from the Simalkameen Valley, the nose is highly aromatic with stone fruit and a touch of citrus fruit. Citrus, pear and peach on the palate. Acidity is high, definitely a food wine. Try it with shellfish. 86.

Indigenous World 2015 Chardonnay ($29.99)

Aged 10 months in it's lees in 40% new French oak and 60% 2nd fill American oak. Meant to be big and buttery in the Napa style, having gone through maloactic fermentation, the nose was a bit weak with aromas of hazelnut and just a slight inkling of butterscotch. The palate was similar, with tropical fruit and a touch of vanilla on the palate. Finishes very short. Perhaps it just needs further aging, but it was a tad underwhelming. 86.

That was it for the whites, and they had just recently sold out of the previous vintage of all their reds. They were tasting a few new reds, but warned us against bottle shock as they had only been in the bottles for THREE WEEKS!

Indigenous World 2015 Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin Red ($21.99)

79% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc

Aromas of mocha, vanilla and forest floor. Chocolate and vanilla flavors with some nice earthy qualities. Didn't seem to be suffering from bottle shock, feels like a good everyday red. In fact, we picked one up. 88.

They also poured us a Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that both seemed to be badly suffering from bottle shock. The Cab Sauv was intriguing enough that we bought one and put it into our cellar. We didn't like the Cab Franc at all, but it deserves another taste next time.

As we waiting in line at the cashier to pay for our wine, we noticed there were three people in line in front of us and ALL OF THEM were buying their rosé, which we didn't get to taste. They all RAVED about it, so we figured we'd pick one up and we opened it up at a pool party during the summer.

Indigenous World 2016 Red Fox Rosé ($16.99)

This must be the only winery that calls a rosé their "signature wine". Made from 100% Pinot Noir, it features aromas of jasmine, strawberry, rose water and oranges. A touch of vanilla and a touch of spice joins in with a bunch of red fruit on the palate. The other guests were right, this was quite tasty. 88.

Tons of promise here, and I will report on the Cab Sauv when we open it in 2-3 years. With an excellent winemaker, I would suspect their wines will just get better and better.

Next up: To a winery we had visited just once before and were not that impressed with at the time. Things change, though, and (spoiler alert), this next blog post will illustrate why it's important to give everyone a second chance! It's up the street to Rollingdale Winery!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Okanagan Trip, Part Fifteen, at a winery featuring space, employees and bears, oh my!!!

Our first visit to Grizzli. If you've even been there, you've probably marveled at a couple of things. First, the enormity of it....not just the tasting room, but the parking lot. Whoever built this place thinks a lot of their wine, or at the very least, they think they'll be able to sell a lot of it.

Who built it? Well, the owners are currently being tried on smuggling charges in China.

Let's ignore whether the charges of under-valuing some imported icewine warrants criminal charges at's China. Guilty or not, you are guilty in China. This couple is going to need some serious help to ever get back to Canada. I wish them luck.

So, what does that mean for the winery? Too soon to tell, although the owner is also listed as the winemaker on the website; if that's accurate, they're going to need to find a replacement winemaker, and soon.

It's not too soon, however, to get a sense that this place was constructed for the wealthy Asian client. The wines are fairly pricey (wait until you see the price of some of the icewines), the tasting room is the size of a football field, there are more employees than customers, and at least 3 of the employees we encountered (including our tasting guide) were clearly natural Chinese speakers. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

Does the wine stand up to the scrutiny? Let's see.

Grizzli 2015 Muscat ($24.95)

Intense sweet floral aromas. Only 8.3% alcohol. Flavors of elderflower, mandarin, lime and pear. 87.

Grizzli 2014 Merlot ($36.95)

Intriguing aromas of black plum and powdered cocoa. Chocolate and vanilla dominate the palate. Finishes long. 90.

Grizzli 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.95)

Chocolate, baking spice, cedar and caramel notes on the nose. Black cherry joins in on the palate, framing chocolate and nutmeg flavors. 89.

Grizzli 2014 Meritage ($45.95)

Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot

Aromas of cherry, red licorice and leather. Red cherries abound on the palate, with a hint of baking spice, vanilla and mint on the finish. 88.

Grizzli 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Icewine ($42 (200 ml) $78 (375ml))

Apple and apricot on the nose, flavors of apple and citrus with a very long finish. Very tasty. 94.

Grizzli 2013 Gewurztraminer Icewine ($68.00 375ml)

Beautiful aromas of lychee, pineapple and ginger. Pineapple flavors please the tongue, joined by honeysuckle and ginger. Lovely finish. 94.

Grizzli 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine ($92 375 ml)

Strawberry, toffee and raisin on the nose. Raspberry, golden raisin, and strawberry on the palate. The finish lingers. 92.

Grizzli 2013 Merlot Icewine ($115 375ml)

Sweet floral aromas, both white flowers and red roses. Raisins join in at the end. Strawberry and toffee flavors dominate. 92.

Not a bad wine in the bunch and the icewines were terrific, if perhaps a bit pricey for the average consumer. But as we discussed earlier, they aren't really marketed to the average consumer.

Next up: We make our first visit to Indigenous World Winery!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Okanagan Tour, Part Fourteen, and it's Return To Crazytown at the Hatch!

I think this is the third visit to the Hatch in 2017; and because they have such a broad portfolio, we are going to be tasting a bunch of stuff we hadn't previously tried.

Grayson, the Ringmaster of CrazyTown, was off on the day of our visit, leaving us with a very nice older lady, Cathy to take care of us. OMG I can't believe I just called her "older"...she's, maybe, in her 40's....but for the Hatch, she might as well be Methuselah. Most of the people here aren't old enough to drive yet (or maybe that's just the insane level of immaturity here? Whatever it is, it certainly works!!!).

To the wines we go!!!

Black Swift Vineyards 2014 Oak Street Chardonnay ($39.99)

Aged 14 months in new French puncheons. Aromas of orange rind, hazelnut, honeysuckle and vanilla. Tons of fruit on the palate, both tropical and stone, with an intense backbone of minerality. Just the slightest hint of butter on the finish. 90.

Black Swift Vineyards 2015 Pinecrest Vineyard Chardonnay ($49.99)

Aged 18 months in new French puncheons, from a site that no longer has vines so this will be the last vintage of this one. Too bad, it's a beauty. Minerals abound on the nose, with hints of hazelnut and toasty oak. The palate is rich and creamy and decadent, with layers of caramel and butterscotch. Delicious. 92.

The Hatch 2016 Dynasty White ($31.77)

A unique blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Muscat. The Chardonnay and Semillon were fermented in old oak, the wine was aged 9 more months in stainless steel barrels on their lees. The aromas are dominated by white flowers and tropical fruit. Round and juicy, yet light, flavors of red apple. 88.

The Hatch 2016 Rhymes with Door Hinge ($25.99)

I'll admit, I hated last year's Orange wine. Hated hated hated hated hated it. What a difference a year makes. Kerner, Schoenberger and Chardonnay were co-fermented and left on their skins for 6 weeks in old puncheons. Floral aromas mingle with apricot and mandarin orange. It's a little like eating a bone dry mandarin orange fruit cup. What an improvement over last year. 88.

The Hatch 2015 Dynasty Red ($39.99)

50/50 Syrah and Malbec. Eighteen months in all new French oak. Intoxicating notes of blueberry jam, white pepper, cold cuts and black olives. Complex and delicious, flavors of blackberry, white pepper, blueberry and allspice. Tannins are already soft and supple. So good. 93.

Well that was all the new stuff for today, but here is a report on one we bought on our last trip and enjoyed a month or so ago:

Crown + Thieves 2015 Chardonnay ($34.99)

Described as "intense, textured and fully oaked", and it was also described to me as a "fat, slutty monster". I think I would have loved it more if it was even fatter, and even sluttier. Aromas of white flowers, minerality and a hint of oak. Acid and minerality are high and intense, and the butter shows up at the end. Not your typical BC Chardonnay, and whether or not that is a good thing depends on your perspective. 89.

Up next: our first visit to a huge, and I mean huge, new player in the BC wine game: Grizzli!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Okanagan Trip hits Lucky 13 under a hill of sand.....

Sandhill wine case you didn't get it from the title, this is our first visit to Sandhill Winery. We hadn't intended to go here, but we had a bit of time after our last tasting so our driver suggested we check it out.

Conviction 2015 Sovereign Opal ($13.00)

The only winery that makes this varietal, as far as I know, this used to be Calona Vineyards, which was BC's very first winery. Light notes of peach on the nose and orchard fruit, apple and a touch of spice on the palate. For $13, it's pretty respectable. 86.

Sandhill 2015 Syrah ($22.00)

Aromas of black and blue berries, violets and white pepper. Blackberry, mocha, black pepper and a touch of wild blueberry on the palate. 88.

Sandhill 2014 Small Lots Barbera ($35.00)

Aged 20 months in American and French oak barrels. Arresting aromas of black fruit, leather, dark plum and grilled peppers. Blackberry, black pepper  and black plum on the palate. 89.

Sandhill 2014 Small Lots Two ($40.00)

53% Cabernet Sauvignon/37% Merlot/10% Cabernet Franc

Aged 20 months in new and old American and French oak. Aromas of green pepper, blackberry, cigar box and mint. The palate is juicy with ripe black fruit, baking spice and black tea flavors. Very dry. 90.

Sandhill 2015 Riesling Icewine ($40.00 for 375ml)

Such pretty aromas of pineapple, lemon curd and honey. Orchard fruits, pineapple, and honey on the palate. So sweet, and so delicious. 93.

Sandhill 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine ($90.00 for 375ml)

Aromas of strawberry, raspberry and black plum. The palate is viscous, almost reminiscent of Port, with flavors of blackberry jam, raspberry and strawberry. 90.

That was all the had for us to taste this time, and we left with a bottle of the Two. Probably should have bought a Barbera too, it's nice to get to experience grapes that are rare in BC.

Next up: That was it for this day of tasting, but in the morning we get up and headed right back to CrazyTown....AKA, THE HATCH!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Okanagan Trip, Part 12, a review I don't want to write about an unforgettable tasting

Blind Tiger opened in 2015. Their tasting room is tiny (quaint even?), and the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful. Their labels are inventive and quite cool, to be honest.

They have a lovely little food truck sitting adjacent to the tasting room, and a lovely little seating area for customers to enjoy a pizza and a glass of wine if they so desire. At first glance, this looks like a nice place, and I expected to enjoy my experience.

As we approach, we notice a sign near the seating area that reads "Please don't feed our dogs, something is making them sick, we are trying to figure out what it is".

Poor dogs. I hope that gets settled.

So, why do I not want to write this blog post? Because it is never my intention to crap all over someone's hard work. Normally if I visit a winery and don't like anything at all (which virtually never happens), I'll just ignore it and never bother to write about it.

But these wines were so incredibly universally undrinkable....that I feel it necessary to share this experience with my readers. I'd love to hear from anyone who has been here and enjoyed the wine.

My distaste for these wines was shared among my other 3 companions, and not a single one of the wines we tasted was consumed; after the first couple sips, they were all poured into the bucket. That is the first time I have ever done that.

So here we go.

Blind Tiger 2015 Pinot Gris ($19.95)

This smelled like sesame seeds and tasted like grain alcohol. You can't make that up. 67.

Blind Tiger 2015 Gewurztraminer ($21.95)

Aromas of lychee and rose water. Mango and lychee on the palate, which was particularly oily. 78.

Blind Tiger 2014 Riesling ($19.95)

Aromas of pineapple, green apple and a touch of diesel. The palate was light, even weak, and the petrol flavors overwhelmed any fruit. 79.

Blind Tiger 2015 Chardonnay ($25.95)

Butterscotch and hazelnut on the nose, with hints of tropical fruit and toasted cereal on the palate. The best of the whites by a country mile. 84.

Blind Tiger 2015 Pinot Noir ($25.95)

Aromas of sour cherry and raspberry. Very light on the nose, and the palate, with some red cherry and strawberry flavors. 82.

Blind Tiger 2012 Speakeasy Red ($36.95)

30% Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot each, 10% Syrah

Blackberry, cherry and black olive on the nose. Black fruit and a touch of black pepper. Finishes long. By FAR the best wine of the day, but it seems to be a $20 wine in a $37 bottle. 85.

Given the quality of the wines and the sign regarding dogs getting mysteriously sick, I have to question the terroir. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to make that claim, but this was a tasting experience that none of us will ever forget, although I'm sure we would all really, really like to.

Next up: On our way back to the hotel, our driver takes us to one last stop for the day, Sandhill.