Everyone probably knows what is Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay wine if it is mentioned. But there are many grape varieties that maybe not that well known, outside of the wine geeks like me. Time for that to change. Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery, located in West Kelowna, near Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, has been producing wines from well-known as well as not very well-known grape varieties for several years. Whenever I visit the Kelowna area, I do try to visit Mt. Boucherie and see what are their latest releases. I recently received a shipment of their wines to review, and I think they represent grapes that you should be trying.
Grapes from B to Z
Semillon – Have you ever drank a bottle of white French Bordeaux? If you have, it is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Semillon is grown around the world, outside of France, with South Africa and Australia being two prime locations for finding this grape. In Australia, look for Semillon from the Hunter’s Valley. The Semillon grape to me shows two faces. When it is young, you get herbal and citrus character, which makes it wonderful with seafood. But this grape also has aging capabilities. 10 years or longer aging is not unheard of. An aged Semillon can take on a oaky character with the citrus flavours toned down, which is quite interesting. This grape also can be harvested late to produce a sweet wine. Have you ever heard of Sauternes? If not, it is a very sought after wine from Bordeaux that you should try. It does not get as sweet and syrupy as an ice wine can. It is lighter on the palate and makes a great pairing for desserts, berries (try raspberries) and cheese.
Gamay Noir – is best known for it’s home place, Beaujolais, and in the Loire Valley of France. Beaujolais Nouveau, the craze at one time, is made from Gamay Noir. Wines from Gamay Noir, tend to have higher acidity, lower tannins and are quite fruity (primarily red fruits like strawberries, raspberries and red cherries). This makes them easy to enjoy on their own, slightly chilled, and even make a reasonable pairing with seafood. If you are a tannin challenged wine drinker, give Gamay Noir a try.
Blaufränkisch – is a red grape that originates somewhere in the Austria – Hungary region. It currently is a very popular red grape grown in eastern Austria. It has also taken home in Washington state, where it is called Lemberger. Wines from this grape have higher acidity, spiciness, and flavours of blackberries and red cherries. I have read that some of these wines can age very well, but I have yet to have a change to try an aged one.
Zinfandel – of all the grapes listed here, this is the one you may be the most familiar. It is quite prominent in the United States. In the past it was best known for producing a white Zinfandel, which was really a sweet rosé wine, made from the red Zinfandel grape. There are much more serious Zinfandels produced in California, with probably the best known winery being Ravenswood. It is related genetically to the Primitivo grape from Italy, which I recommend you try. The Zinfandel grapes are fairly easy to ripen and reach high sugar levels, which can produce wines with very high alcohol content. Many Zinfandel’s have jammy ripe berry flavours, and spiciness.
Zweigelt – is a red wine grape variety developed in 1922, in Austria, by Fritz Zweigelt who crossed Blaufränkisch with St. Laurent. It is the most widely grown red grape in Austria. It is a high yielding grape that can survive in cooler climates, which we qualify in BC. It has soft tannins, pleasant acidity, and flavours of cherry, raspberry, and cassis fruit flavours. You may also get some pepper or sweet spices.
Mt. Boucherie Semillon 2011 (~$15.50)
This wine straight from the bottle has aromas of herbaceous, cut grass, citrus, lime ,and jalapeno pepper, which after a bit of air leads to stone fruits, in particular pears and peaches. The nose is quite aromatic. It is dry, with medium plus body and nice acidic prickle on your tongue. It does have a heavier mouth feel but overall feels light. It has a variety of fruit flavours, which are all balanced together. Citrus, grapefruit, pear, peach, followed by apple on the mid palate, and some nuttiness on the finish. The acidity in this wine grips you and pulls you in. The fruit flavours are quite delicate. There is also some minerality that I detected on the end. This is a very good wine; it is very exciting on the taste buds.
Rating: A very exciting wine on the taste buds. Buy for now and save for aging.
Mt. Boucherie Family Reserve Gamay Noir 2012 (~$20)
Translucent medium garnet in the glass. Ripe cassis with some earthiness/smokiness, along with black currant, raspberries, and other black fruits. After a short time in the glass, I also picked up the scent of BC bud. After an hour, I was getting more red cherry aroma. This wine is dry with medium body, tannins and acidity. There is a smokiness that you first get, but then that dissipates fairly quickly. The tannins are quite fine. On the palate, I picked up ripe raspberries, red plums, blackberries, and black currants. After an hour of decanting, there was also some black currant leaf, and dark chocolate. The acidity, although not too strong, makes the fruit flavours more intense. My only regret is that this wine finishes a bit too quickly.
Rating: Smoky berries on the nose and palate, with acidity that makes the fruit flavours intense.
Mt. Boucherie Summit Reserve Blaufränkisch 2010 ($25)
A deep garnet in colour, fairly opaque but does have a translucent rim. It has an interesting nose, showing some development in the bottle. I picked up initially ripe cassis, plums, jammy raspberries, and a hint of cloves and oak. With a few hours of decanting the nose changed more to smoky raspberries and tea leaves, and less of the cassis and plums. The wine is dry on the palate, medium plus bodied, but quite full flavoured, round, and supple mouth feel. Cassis and ripe raspberries were most prominent followed by ripe red cherries and plum flavours. There were also hints of violets/perfume and oak. This wine has a nice light acidic prickle on the tongue, and smooth tannins. With decanting I picked up some coffee flavour and I noted that the acidity had gone down a bit. This wine has a medium plus length. I enjoyed the acidity on the finish, together with the soft tannins and the dark ripe fruit flavours. There is also some spiciness on the back of your tongue and throat. This is quite a complex wine evolving over time with some decanting. I would love to enjoy this wine with a plate of cheese, preferably Oka or Muenster. I am not sure of the aging potential of this wine, but I think leaving it for a year in your cellar would not hurt it and maybe bring out more of it’s developing flavours.
Rating: A nice fuller bodied red, with good fruit, soft tannins and silky mouth feel.
Mt. Boucherie Family Reserve Zinfandel 2010 ($35)
We typically think of Zinfandel coming from a hot region, such as southern Italy or California, and maybe even south Okanagan, but this one surprised me as it comes from the cooler Similkameen Valley. It has 14.2% alcohol, which means that the grapes did get enough sunshine and really matured well, so maybe the region is warmer than I thought? This wine was translucent garnet from the rim to the core. It was quite aromatic. Ripe, jammy blackberries, red cherries, and vanilla. I also picked up hints of flowers and sweet spices. After 4 hours of decanting the sweet spices became more prominent. It is dry with light mouthfeel and some roundness upon opening. Fruit flavours of ripe raspberries, red cherries, and ripe plums on the palate, along with some perfume, oak and a hint of cloves. It has medium tannins give you a bit of a grippy finish but not too aggressive. After 4 hours of decanting the wine felt bigger and rounder in the mouth. On the finish it was a bit astringent with some black currant leaf, but with the 4 hours of decanting that astringency went away and was replaced with a spicy finish. If you open this wine up and drink it immediately I don’t think you will really get to enjoy all it offers. Please decant it for a few hours (I used 4 hrs) and really enjoy it as it opens up and becomes bigger and rounder.
Rating: Enjoy this wine after decanting and be rewarded with big, round fruit flavours.
Mt. Boucherie Summit Reserve Zweigelt 2010 ($17)
A nice translucent medium ruby colour in the glass. Just opened, it has a wild, smoky, BC bud aromas that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving raspberries, red cherries, black currants, and some black currant leaf. The smokiness does hang around and is not completely out of the aroma picture. On the palate, the first thing that catches my attention is a slight acidic prickle on the tongue. Not too common for a red wine. The wine is dry and has a very light mouthfeel. Fine soft tannins. Raspberries, red cherries, blackberries and other red fruit flavours along with a bit of black currant leaf on the palate. It finishes with sour cherries and some violets. With 6+ hours of decanting the smoky aroma still lingers, along with the BC bud, but now has a tea leaf component. On the palate it becomes a bit more interesting. I get minerality and early grey tea and some smokiness, together with some pepperiness. As with the Zinfandel, I think that this wine becomes more interesting on the nose and palate with a bit of decanting. For my rating, this wine wavers between 3.5 and 4 stars out of 5.
Rating: Somewhere in the 3.5 – 4 star range, this wine could be one for the person that does not like heavy, tannic reds.
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