SpierHead Wines in Kelowna has been producing some quality wines since the first vintage I tasted a few years ago. At the 2014 National Wine Awards of Canada their 2012 Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir Gentleman Farmer all won Silver Medals. Their 2013 vintage wines have come out now, and I was lucky to receive a bottle of their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Noir Cuvee to sample. SpierHead has decided to go “all in” with Pinot Noir now and in the future. They planted an additional 5 acres of Pinot Noir this past spring and will be planting more Pinot in 2015 and 2016. It is quite exciting to see a winery that has settled on the grape(s) variety that work best for them and they want to fully commit themselves to producing a top quality wine.
SpierHead Chardonnay 2013 (BC $23)
This wine has it’s grapes sourced from South East Kelowna, so not quite as warm as it gets further south in the Okanagan. Same for the their Pinot Noir. This wine was fermented in stainless steel with 30% barrel aged in French oak for 10 months. Only 270 cases of this wine were produced.
It has a medium lemon skin colour in the glass. Lots of tropical fruit on the nose, together with lemon, pears, white flowers, vanilla, and a hint of pine needle and evolves to a lime scent adding some complexity. It has a heavier, viscous, very round mouth feel, but also a higher amount of acidity to keep it fresh. I get stone fruit and sweet tropical fruits, with primarily pears on the stone fruit side. Also some apple, lemon and vanilla in the background. There is some black currant leaf throughout the sip which adds some extra interest to the wine. Medium plus length with pepperiness and some astringent, mouth watering acidity and citrus flavour on the finish. With 2 hours of decanting, I also picked up some nutmeg spice on the palate. You can drink this wine now, and it could handle a full flavoured dish, but I think with some aging, the acidity should tone down a bit and would give you more food pairing options.
Rating: A wine that shows off our fresh BC fruit, fuller bodied that can handle full flavoured dishes.
SpierHead Pinot Noir 2013 (BC $24)
With Pinot Noir, “clones” are important. This grape is very fragile and it seems to produce so many variations of itself, with each variation providing some different flavour or aroma or texture to the wine. For this particular wine, the wine maker chose to use Dijon clones 115 and 667, along with the Pommard clone. The 115 clone I have read is the most widely planted clone, can add aromas of black cherry, blueberries, boysenberries, anise, leather and rose, and is such as well rounded grape that it could be used to produce wine on it’s own without need to be blended with other clones. 667 does better in cooler climates and provides flavours of dark cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and allspice/nutmeg spice. It also contributes strong colour to a wine. Pommard is actually Pommard 4 and 5 clones, with each offering a different aromas/flavours. With Pommard 4 you get wild strawberries, bright cherries, gamey and woodsy aromas. Pommard 5 provides firmer tannins, but still a velvety finish, deep colour and dark ripe plum flavours. The combination of 115, 667 and Pommard clones I have read is quite popular for wine makers.
This particular wine was barrel aged for 10 months in French oak. It is made with 20% Pommard, 12% 667, and 68% 115 clones. It is medium garnet in colour and translucent to the core. Youthful aromas, with smoky raspberries, violets, and ripe cherries, with hints of vanilla, licorice, and tea leaves. After a few hours of decanting the smoky raspberry aroma lessened and the tea leaves increased. A dry wine, light bodied and soft tannins. Violets grab you at first sip together with red cherries, raspberries, plums and some perfume. It has a medium to medium plus length, with the flavours evaporating at the very end, and become a bit more astringent with lingering woodiness and red cherries on the finish. With decanting I also picked up some licorice and tea leaves on the palate and some pepperiness on the finish. This wine comes under screw cap, and is quite enjoyable now, so do not hesitate to open and enjoy with some duck breast or nugget ham with roast potatoes and vegetables.
Rating: A youthful wine, with lots of violets, raspberries and cherries to enjoy now.
SpierHead Pinot Noir Cuvee 2013 (BC $32.90)
Again we have the Pinot Noir clones being important. In this case the blend is 44% Pommard, 33% 667, and 23% 115. A mere 100 cases, 24 Magnums, and 6 double Magnums were produced. The Cuvee will be a small quantity blend each year coming from their best available barrels. The grapes are all hand harvest and full berry fermented.
This wine is deep garnet in colour, translucent but bordering on being opaque. Medium minus intensity nose with smoky raspberries, red cherries and candied cherries, and light vanilla and cinnamon spice. Dry with lower acidity and lighter body. Velvety smooth on the palate, which becomes more prominent with decanting. Violets and perfume followed by red cherries and raspberries, then back to another layer of flowers at the end. After decanting I also picked up some strawberries, cinnamon and nutmeg spice, and minerality. Mouth watering finish with sour red cherries and vanilla and a hint of tannins on your tongue. A delicate lady up on first sip, but gets a bit bigger on the palate with some decanting. A fantastic wine.
Rating: A delicate lady that is velvety smooth, sharing aromas of flowers, fruit and spice on the nose and palate.