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Great Wines at a Great Event

Great Wines at a Great Event

“Great Wines at a Great Event” a report by Brent Gushowaty on his experience at the BC Pinot Noir Celebration and Salmon Bake hosted at Meyer Family Vineyards on September 1st.

Great Wines at a Great Event

“The first B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration was held September 1st at the Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls and it was a resounding, sold-out success with 160 people in attendance.  Participating wineries included those from the Okanagan, Similkameen and Cowichan Valleys.

Participating Wineries

Averill Creek Winery – Cowichan Valley
Black Cloud – Okanagan Valley
Blue Mountain Vineyards – Okanagan Falls
Carson – Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley
Cedar Creek Estate Winery – Southeast Kelowna
Eau Vivre Winery – Similkameen Valley
Howling Bluff Estate Wines  – Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley
Lake Breeze Vineyards – Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley
Liquidity – Okanagan Falls
Meyer Family Vineyards – Okanagan Falls
Quail’s Gate – West Kelowna
Seven Directions – Okanagan Valley
Tantalus Vineyards – Southeast Kelowna

A Multi-Part Event

The event was in three parts, running from 3-9 p.m.

On arrival we received a lovely glass of pinot noir rosé from Seven Directions Wine, a relatively new winery that specializes in rosé wine.

Part 1 – Sit-Down Comparative Pinot Noir Tasting

Then it was on to the pinot noirs.  First was a sit down, multi-flight tasting under a string of white marquee tents, set up on the grounds of Meyer Family Vineyards.  The three flights consisted of five wines, with each flight comprised of four different B.C. pinot noirs and one non – B.C. pinot noir for the sake of interest and comparison.   This portion was lead by a panel of speakers that included Rhys Pender, Master of Wine, John Schreiner, author & columnist and Kurtis Kolt, independent wine consultant.  As we tasted our way through the flights, the winemakers or owners from each BC winery introduced their wine and gave additional information or took questions from the crowd. Along the way, the panel covered a wide range of topics specific to the growing and vinification of pinot noir in B.C..

 Part 2 – Appetizers and more Pinot Noir

In the second part there was even more BC pinot noir along with some excellent appetizers by Joy Road Catering. The wineries poured the same wines we had in the flight tastings plus in many cases, other of their pinot noir offerings.

Part of the project is to create and publish a list of all B.C. pinot noir bottlings present and past.  That effort has already started but as has often happened already, I  discover there are small bottlings, new bottlings and wineries you never knew made pinot noir at all!

New to me at this tasting were: the Quail’s Gate Stewart Family Reserve Dijon Clone (just released), Lake Breeze XV 2010 (fifteenth anniversary, all estate fruit), and the Carson pinot noir (made by Chris Carson, Meyer Family Vineyards winemaker and one of the originators of this event).

Part 3 – Dinner with the Winemakers

The third part of the event was a sit down salmon bake dinner again under the marquee tents and the wine and conversation flowed.

It was my good luck to sit next to two pinot noir winemakers Daniel Bontorin (winemaker at Le Vieux Pin for many years , now helming his own firm Wine Country Consulting) and Tyler Harlton from Tyler Harlton Wines.  Both are passionate winemakers and the conversation was a torrent of information for me on their approach to winemaking, winemaking techniques, vineyard management, B.C. pinot noir styles and much, much more.   The Vieux Pin pinot noirs were an especially interesting topic for me because the vineyards that produced them including three single vineyard designations that were made by Daniel, have apparently now been ripped up and planted with other varieties.  They were some of the first single vineyard designated B.C. pinot noirs and produced from very Southern B.C. vineyards. Happily, the wines have not yet entirely vanished (I have one of each in the cellar) and the panel will be trying them at an upcoming tasting.

Congratulations all around to the organizers for a job well done.  I am already looking forward to next year’s celebration.

 Tasting Notes On The Wines

Here are my notes on the three flights tasted in the first part of the celebration.  Due to a small transportation glitch, I arrived an hour late to the flights tasting, missing the first flight altogether.  However, the volunteers who were pouring quickly brought me up to speed and in short order I had fresh pours of the first two flights in front of me.  I therefore had to taste pinot noirs on fast forward so my notes are admittedly a bit short and hasty in some case but first impressions can sometimes be the most accurate.  I have also done my best to indicate availability where possible.

It is important to note that the non-BC pinot noirs were not “straw men” i.e. easy to knock down, but solid examples of quality wine from three of the top growing areas for pinot noir and B.C. more than held its own.

 Flight 1

Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Le Greves 2009 – $45-$55
Silky, medium weight, very long aftertaste.

Blue Mountain Reserve 2010 $25.00 – sold out
Beetroot, pomegranate, New world focused fruit, great balance, complexity and clarity.

Liquidity 2011 – $25.00 available from the winery
Strawberry, beetroot, pomegranate, bit low acid, wood runs somewhat parallel to the fruit, should fold in given some time.

Quail’s Gate 2008 Stewart Family Reserve Dijon Clone – $65.00 available from the winery only
Pine, plum, blueberry, gorgeous nose, reminiscent of mid-weight top village Burgundy, lovely fruit, touch of vanilla.  Showing well and for me the most impressive wine of the tasting.

Lake Breeze XV 2010 – $50.00 available from the winery
All mid-palate at this point, formative, easy sipping.

Flight 2

St. Innocent Cuvee Villages 2011 Oregon – $25-$30
Strawberry nose, transparent and focused, pomegranate, soft rounded fruit but a little hollow in the mid-palate.

Black Cloud Altostratus 2010 – $35.00 available from the winery & select private stores
bit hot, noticeable separate wood notes but fairly closed, wood tannins a  touch sour

Cedar Creek 2010 Platinum “Home Block” – $39.95 available from the winery some VQA stores
Plum, cherry, strawberry, soft and round. all mid-palate but long and with lots of concentrated berryish fruit.  Classy, with power and tastes like there will be much more complexity to come as it develops over the years.

Eau Vivre 2010 – $19.00 available from the winery and VQA stores
Vanilla, strawberry, bit bricky on the rim for a 2010, “savoury caramel” barrel effect, medium length.

Meyer Family Vineyards McLean Creek Vineyard – $40.00 available from the winery and select VQA stores
Cut grass, green pepper on the nose , very elegant berry fruit and very fine texture, the hallmark of the Meyer single vineyards wines.

Flight 3

Giesen 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand – $20-$25
Bricky rim, silky caramel and green pepper, some minerality

Averill Creek 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve – $60.00 available from the winery
Black fruit flavour, big pinot flavour, yet not like California or bigger Burgundies, Seems to be it’s own thing, should develop much more over the next 5+ years. Showed a flash of a thrilling balance amongst its flavour elements

Tantalus 2011 – pre-release $30.00
Nose seemed more Rhone like, simple and formative at this point.

Carson 2011 Naramata Vineyards – $34.90 only available by emailing
Cherries, lovely nose, quite long, just a lovely glass of pinot.

Howling Bluff  Summa Quies Reserve 2011  – $35.00 available from the winery, VQA stores & private stores
Pomegranate, beetroot on the nose, still a bit closed and short at this point.”

Article by Brent Gushowaty,, September 23rd, 2013