John Schreiner

By John Schreiner
reprinted with permission

John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific writer of books on wine. Since his first book in 1984, The World of Canadian Wine, he has written 15, including multiple editions of The Wineries of British Columba, British Columbia Wine Country and John Schreiner's Okanagan Wine Tour Guide. John has always been supporter of our website.


Black Hills Estate Winery has disclosed that it will definitely launch a second label next June.

The new label will be called Cellarhand. There is no information yet on the wines but there will certainly be a red wine.

The role of Cellarhand is to be a home for the wines that are left over when Nota Bene and other blends have been assembled.

This is standard practice among wineries with icon wines. When the winemaker signs off on what he considers is the very best blend for the icon wine, there will always be a few barrels of this or that left over. These are not necessarily lesser quality wines. In fact, they are often quite good wines. It is just that adding them all to the icon blend will change it from what the winemaker considers the optimal blend.

Some wineries sell the extra wine in bulk to other wineries. But it is more profitable to bottle it and sell it as a second label.

The consumer, however, gets a bargain. For example, the second wine at Osoyoos Larose sells for $25 a bottle, almost half the price of Le Grand Vin. One would expect Cellarhand wines will also be lower priced that the Black Hills wines.

The current range of Black Hills wines includes the winery's first Syrah and its second Viognier. I have reviewed several of these before from a tasting this spring at the winery. However, I include notes on all the wines. Nota Bene is technically sold out at the winery but there are bottles available in private and VQA wine stores.

 

Wine reviews


Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2009 ($18.99 for a production of 8,878 cases). This is a big, ripe red with more than enough fruit and richness to absorb the 14.8% alcohol without a trace of hotness. It begins with aromas of currants, blackberries and sage. The palate has layers of fruit flavours – blackberry, black cherry, plums – with a touch of sweet tobacco on the finish. The wine manages to be accessible as well as complex. While it is drinking well now, it will cellar nicely for three or four years. 90.

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2009 ($19.99 for a production of 5,172 cases). On occasion, Sandra has remarked that this is her favourite red. The winery's Cabernet Francs have been consistently tasty (with the exception of the 1999, a really tough vintage for everyone). This is a big ripe 14.8% alcohol red, with brambly aromas and flavours. The winery's own notes speak of “forest floor” characteristics. I grew up on the Prairies where there were no forests. I find raspberries and red currants and an appealing vibrancy. 89.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench Red 2008 ($34.99 for a production of 731 cases. The second vintage of Tinhorn Creek's new Bordeaux red, this is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, each of which was fermented separately and blended later. The wine had 18 months in new French oak and was aged in bottle another 18 months before release. This is a rich and concentrated red, with 15% alcohol that, once again, is not obtrusive. It begins with aromas of mint, black currants and black berries and has flavours of plum, cherry and cassis. Prairie people will also recognize a robust hint of chokecherry. 91.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Merlot 2008 ($27.99 for a production of 1,200 cases). This is a blend of 87% Merlot enhanced with 11% Cabernet Franc and 2% Syrah. The wine also had 18 months in French oak (a mix of new and old) and about 15 months in bottle before release. Rich and with 15% alcohol, this is a sturdy wine, as I discovered by chance. I began making notes prior to a bit of travelling and then a head cold. A partial bottle went into the refrigerator. To my delight, it was still delicious week later. The wine begins with a dramatic aroma of herbs, plums and currants and delivers juicy flavours of plum, currants, black cherry, blueberry, chocolate, leather. There is even a hint of pepper on the finish. 92.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Syrah 2008 ($34.99 for a production of 528 cases). The winery has only begun making Syrah in recent years, with very good results. This dark-hued wine (alcohol is 14.1%) begins with the classic aroma of pepper and red fruit. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry and fig, with leather, black liquorice and pepper on the finish. Think of the elegance and minerality of a Rhone Syrah. 92.

Alderlea Vineyards rarely opens its tasting room. However, Roger and Nancy Dosman opened the doors to the benefit of the Cowichan Valley festival wine tourists. The releases included Alderlea Pinot Gris 2010 ($21), a lovely wine with notes of grapefruit and peaches and with a bright and crisp finish (89).

Alderlea Pinot Noir Reserve 2007 ($35) has the fullness of a maturing wine on the palate, with flavours of cherry and spice (90)

Alderlea Clarinet ($26) is the winery's first-rate Maréchal Foch, a big, juicy red with flavours of cherry and plum, and with the touch of smokiness on the nose and finish that this variety sometimes gives (89).

Averill Creek's Andy Johnston also used the occasion of the Cowichan Valley Festival to release new vintages, beginning with the Averill Creek Pinot Gris 2009 . The wine, which is barrel fermented, begins with spicy aromas and offers a rich palate packed with fruit flavours – pear, peach and apricot. The winery has released 1,200 cases at $20 a bottle (90 points).

Averill Creek Foch Cabernet Reserve 2009 ($39.99) is a dark, swaggering blend of 65% Maréchal Foch and 35% Cabernet Foch (the latter, like Cabernet Libre, is a Blattner hybrid). The wine has ripe flavours of figs and black cherries, with a rustic undertone of olives and even earth. It is rich and round on the palate and altogether satisfying (90).

Averill Creek Pinot Noir 2009 ($26 for 1,300 cases). This variety is the flagship at Averill Creek and this wine is from a good recent island vintage. The wine has vibrant fruit, with notes of strawberry and cherry and with the classic Pinot Noir texture (89).

Averill Creek Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 ($60 for 200 cases). This wine was made from grapes that were allowed to hang on the vines an extra two weeks because the fermenter was already full. It was a really fortunate accident. This dark wine begins with an appealing aroma of spice and cherry. On the palate, it is rich in texture, with flavours of black cherry and mocha and with spice on the long finish (92).

Alderlea Vineyards rarely opens its tasting room. However, Roger and Nancy Dosman opened the doors to the benefit of festival wine tourists. The releases included Alderlea Pinot Gris 2010 ($21), a lovely wine with notes of grapefruit and peaches and with a bright and crisp finish (89).

Alderlea Pinot Noir Reserve 2007 ($35) has the fullness of a maturing wine on the palate, with flavours of cherry and spice (90)

Alderlea Clarinet ($26) is the winery's first-rate Maréchal Foch, a big, juicy red with flavours of cherry and plum, and with the touch of smokiness on the nose and finish that this variety sometimes gives (89).

 

Kalala Pinot Gris 2009 ($17.95). This is a soft, fruit wine with aromas and flavours of cantaloupe and apples and with an herbal, spicy note on the finish. 87


JoieFarm Reserve Chardonnay 2009 ($29.90 for a production of 502 cases). This wine presents a creamy richness to the palate, reflecting both the warm vintage and the pains taken with the grapes in the winery, beginning with pressing whole clusters and berries. The wine was fermented in French barrels and puncheons (12% new, 36% one year old, 52% neutral). A quarter of the wine was fermented with natural yeast. All the wine went through malolactic fermentation and then was aged nine months in oak. The lees were stirred regularly, promoting the rich texture on the palate.

JoieFarm PTG 2009 ($25.90 for a production of 900 cases). This is a blend of 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Gamay. It is worth noting that 10% of 2010 Gamay was blended into this to brighten the fruit flavours. PTG stands for “Passetoutgrain” – the term used in Burgundy for red wines made by blending these two grapes. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and then aged in a combination of French barrels and puncheons (13% of the oak was new).


Please see Robert's Selections

Previous articles:

Banee Celebrations Lieutenant Governor's Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines
40 Knots Winery
Quails Gate
Fairview Cellars
Crushpad
Prospect Winery
Ruby Blues
South Okanagan Wineries
Vancouver Island Wineries

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