article by Carole Beaton
Learning by drinking BC wine
It is Anarchist Mountain that created Mayhem. If you know that the definition of anarchy is “a society without governing bodies”, it seems appropriate that wine derived from grapes grown on said mountain would be named in reference to chaos or rowdy disorder. Further, if the company was created by siblings who shared at least one bottle of wine while discussing the idea for this company, well, you can see why and how Mayhem ensued!
Terry Meyer Stone Ajay Chavan
Terry Meyer Stone had decided to semi-retire and create a bit of wine from their home’s vineyard on Anarchist Mountain, near Osoyoos. Her brother, JAK Meyer of Meyer Family Vineyard, got Terry to sell her Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes to him, and then set up a new wine label using other varietals. With Meyer’s focus on those two varietals, it made sense to be supportive and create wines based on other grapes that Meyer wasn’t using, and so the Mayhem portfolio began to blossom.
At present, there are nine wines currently being poured and Mayhem makes a total of about 3,500 cases. Their vineyards range throughout the Okanagan, from Naramata and Summerland, down to Anarchist Mountain, and the wines are very approachable in price. Mayhem’s first vintage was in 2017, and Ajay Chavan is now the winemaker, bringing lots of experience from his stints in Austria, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and another winery in BC.
Mayhem’s tasting hut is adjacent to Meyer Family’s space, and has a lively, fun atmosphere with the comfortable lounge furniture and tents on the patio in front. When you reserve on line for your party of four, there is a $10.00 per person charge, waived with wine purchase – easy to do! They do have some indoor space if the weather requires, but if you are lucky you will be able to enjoy the outside, as we did when we visited.
We had the knowledgeable Zola Doré as our guide through the Mayhem, although Terry popped by, then the dogs wandered over, and we kept getting distracted from the wine. Good thing we had a half-hour (and a bit) slot!
We started with the 2018 Pinot Gris. It is an easy sipping wine that is fresh and flavourful: orchard fruit. Sadly, we didn’t savour our pour as it went down too quickly!
Next up was the Pinot Blanc. Zola told us that this grape has not been widely planted in BC and although used in blending, only a few wineries are starting to present it as a stand-alone varietal. My friend and I agreed that this was a very tasty wine. You can access the spec sheet on line and learn about its production and accolades, but at $15.65 why not just try it for yourself? I do not think you will be disappointed.
The rosé. My friend had received some of this as a gift and it was the reason she insisted we stop by. It is 100% Merlot grapes and just yummy. Terry told us that this wine had been very much “hands on” as this vineyard is on their home property where she and her husband Andrew carefully tend every vine. Zola suggested that we try and age it – like that would happen – as it could have some interesting complexities over time. Lots of flavour and zest in this wine.
Sauvignon Blanc is well established in New Zealand, so having a winemaker raised on the islands means he knows what to do with this grape. Ajay has said that he likes to make wine that opens up as it is poured, and this can be tasted even in the white wines. There is citrus fruit, and stone fruit, and earthiness, and creaminess and spice!
The Mayhem Gewürztraminer is a classic Gew, for me, in nose and taste. It has the lychee nut/sweet rose smell, with some tropical fruit. Crisp and refreshing.
Riesling is rarely my favourite wine at a tasting, as I usually find it a bit sweet when just sipping without food. However, my friend and I agreed that this would be delicious with spicy foods and enjoyed figuring out which fruits we could taste in the glass.
Mayhem currently offers two reds, a Merlot Cabernet Franc, and a Cabernet Franc, and I enjoyed them both as they are big, “beefy” wines. We actually got to taste a 2017 Merlot Cab Franc and the 2018 and it is always interesting to see what a slight change in percentages, as well as another year in bottle, can do. The 2017 had 74% Merlot, 26% Cab Franc, whereas the newer blend is 84% Merlot, 16% Cab Franc. Unfined, unfiltered, and having spent time in French oak and stainless steel, there is lots of flavour in this blend, and it supports Ajay’s belief about opening up as it is poured.
The 2018 Cabernet Franc really must be decanted. Flavourful now, I think that if I put the bottle at the bottom of my rack, or hide it away for a bit, it will be even more delicious as there is so much to taste just now. Mayhem in the mouth?
Finally, Zola convinced us to try their fortified wine. I like port style wines but … a fortified Gewürztraminer? Okay, there is definitely sugar in this wine, on first sip, but then the flavours start to come through – ginger, some tropical fruit - and then the 18% alcohol warms my toes. It doesn’t have the raisin flavour that many fortified wines offer, so it would offer something different as an after dinner sipper.
Although Mayhem is just over two years old, it has lots going for it. The knowledge and enthusiasm of the team, from vineyard through cellar to tasting lounge, all support bringing their delectable wine to the consumer, made even easier with their very flexible Club Mayhem. After all, if “every life well-lived should have a little Mayhem” this team is working to ensure this is exactly what happens.
Mayhem Wines 4287 McLean Creek Rd, Okanagan Falls,
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