I first met Bill Knutson, Proprietor of SpierHead Winery during the Spring VQA wine release in Vancouver. We talked about their wines and Bill promised to send me a bottle of the new wines that would soon be released. Fast forward to last week and two bottles showed up at my door. The SpierHead Pinot Noir 2010 and the SpierHead Riesling 2011. More on my tasting notes below, but first a bit of information about the winery.
About SpierHead Winery
SpierHead Winery is located along Spiers Road on the benchlands of SE Kelowna. The easiest way to get their is to go east on KLO Road then turn right on Spiers Road. They are a relatively new winery, having planted their vines in 2008, with clones imported from France. They undertake sustainable farming practices to help protect the environment and help with producing healthy fruit. SpierHead produces two white wines: a Riesling and Chardonnay, and also produce four red wines: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Vanguard – their Bordeaux-blend.
They do have a Wine Club you can join. It offers preferred access to winery-exclusive and newly released wines, all delivered, twice a year, to your doorstep. In each shipment you will receive six bottles consisting of a combination of red and white wines at 10% discount.
My Tasting Notes
This is the first vintage for SpierHead’s Pinot Noir vines, so a bit of experimentation is in order. They planted Dijon clones 115, 777, and 828, and blended the grapes for their first vintage. The current blend is 66% 115, 24% 777, and 10% 828. Each clone has it’s own characteristic. Some produce strong tannins, others are known for their fruit flavours and aromas. Blending helps bring out the best in each clone to produce an overall superior wine. Here is a bit about each of the clones SpierHead uses:
- 777 – strong and intense colours, strong aromas, round, tannic, and has aging potential
- 115 – strong colour with a purplish hue, superior bouquet, elegant rich aroma, well structured, tannic, long, suitable for keeping.
- 828 – provides colour and complexity to Pinot Noir while also adding acidity, red and blue fruits. Because of its roundness and completeness, it has been said that this clone can make an excellent stand-alone wine.
I tasted this wine and the Riesling over two days to see if there would be any significant changes in aroma or flavour.
The SpierHead Pinot Noir 2010 was hand harvested and fully berry fermented, then aged 12 months in new French oak barrels. The wine was a medium translucent garnet in colour. A very pretty youthful nose. The vanilla is really prominent, followed by red cherries and a bit of smokiness on the nose. I also picked up dried fruit, blackberries, dark chocolate, cloves and nutmeg. So lots going on. There was no change in aroma for Day 2 of the tasting. The wine is dry with medium + acidity, medium tannins and medium body. Lots of red fruits, in particular red cherry followed by raspberry and red currants. There was also some perfume, sweet spices and cedar on the tongue. And a slight herbal edge was detected on the mid-palate. It has a medium length with cherry and cedar flavours, and mouthwatering acidity on the finish. Not too bad for the first try at Pinot Noir, and hopefully it will get better with subsequent vintages. To me there was more flavour up front, and it needs to keep the flavour through the middle and end. You can drink this wine now, or perhaps give it a year in the bottle and see how it has changed. As this is the first try, SpierHead is offering this wine at a reasonable price of $17.90 a bottle.
This is the second vintage for SpierHead’s Riesling vine. It comes from their Gentlemen Farmer Vineyard at the winery site. Their SpierHead Riesling 2011 ($21.90/bottle) was aged for 7 months in stainless steel. It is a pale straw colour in the glass. When you pour the wine, you can smell the aromas without having to nose the glass. When you do, you smell a youthful wine, with citrus, mostly lime, together with stone fruit flower blossom, honey, and yeast. The yeast aroma does wear off after a few minutes of air in your glass. On the palate it is dry and has quite a round mouth feel. Medium plus body and flavour intensity. Again lots of lime together with other citrus, stone, and tropical fruit flavours. On the second day the stone fruit became more specific to peach, underlying the citrus flavours. There was also almond, some stoniness and steeliness to this wine. Long length with a mouth watering citrus and peach finish. I rate this as a very nice wine, again drink it now for it’s youthfulness, or age it 1-3 years and see how it evolves in the bottle. Will there be some petrol notes? I am not sure how fast it will evolve in the bottle as it does have a screw cap, which minimizes air contact. Overall a tasty wine.
Where Can You Buy These Wines?
At private wine shops, at VQA stores, at the winery in Kelowna and online through their website. Enjoy!