You may not have heard of Blue Grouse Estate Winery from Duncan before, but the winery has quite a history. In 2012 the Brunner family took over the winery but it was owned for many years by Dr. Hans Kiltz and his wife Evangeline in the late 1980s, where they discovered several grape vines planted on their land. The grapes as it turns out were planted in 1977 for the BC Ministry of Agriculture as a test site for 130 to 150 different types of grape vines. Dr. Kiltz and his wife selected which of these grape vines were best to grow in the Cowichan Valley and began their process of becoming a winery.
The wines I tasted come from the Brunner’s Quill line. Quill wines source grapes grown in the Okanagan, combined with their Vancouver Island grapes and blend them. These wines strike a balance between the high acid grapes from the cool climate Vancouver Island area and the more fruit-forward grapes from the Okanagan. They produce a range of red and white wines, plus a sparkling Méthode Champenoise. The latter wine, I will write about in a separate article on sparkling wines.
My Review of Blue Grouse Wines
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Quill Riesling 2014 ($20) – Clear and bright medium lemon colour. Light, youthful aromas of vanilla light peach and juicy fruit gum nose. To your nose the juicy fruit gum may smell like tropical fruit. This wine is dry, light bodied, with aggressive acidity that you really feel on your tongue. More juicy fruit gum / tropical fruit flavours, along with a hint of apricot, and some citrus rind toward the finish. Medium length. Citrus rind and green fruit on the finish. With decanting, the nose really changed. It was more green fruit, with light peach and herbal component. The palate stayed the same.
Rating: This wine is very young and has very green flavours at the moment. I think with 2-3 years of aging, the acidity should mellow and tertiary flavours develop, which would bring this wine up to 4/5 stars.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Quill White Wine 2013 ($17) – A blend of 36% Ortega, 39% Pinot Gris, 15% Gewurztraminer, and 10% Muller-Thurgau. Medium straw colour with a young, medium intensity nose with aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind, and a whiff of peach. Slightly off-dry, light mouth feel that gets quite smooth on the mid palate. Light acidic prickle on your tongue. Pear, green fruit, citrus, and some leafiness/nettles on the palate. More green fruit than citrus in this wine. Mouth watering finish with some pepperiness, lime and minerality. With decanting the only change I noted was the nose was not as strong, so open and enjoy immediately.
Rating: An all round nice wine. Should pair nicely with most dishes.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Bacchus 2014 ($20) – Bacchus is a cross of Silvaner x Riesling with Müller-Thurgau. Its name is taken from Roman name of the Greek wine god Dionysus. I was surprised to read that their Bacchus grapes are grown on 20-year-old, self rooted vines on Vancouver Island! Pale lemon green in colour, with medium intensity aromas of citrus, waxiness, and green fruit. Dry, round, with above average acidity. Medium bodied. Very citrusy with nice pine needle and green fruit backbone. There are also hints of apricot and peach flavour. I also pick up some stoniness on the palate. Mouth watering acidity on the finish with citrus rind, citrus and pine needle flavours continuing from the start.
Rating: A very nice refreshing wine with flavours of citrus, pine needles and green fruits.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Quill Rosé 2014 ($17) – Made from 100% Gamay Noir. This wine had a pink grapefruit with cherry tone colour to it. Medium intensity nose that had some lees, sour red cherries and a hint of strawberries. It was dry, with overall lighter acidity, tannins, and body. Soft mouth feel with medium roundness and a hint of minerality. Red and sour cherries, light strawberries, red fruit and some bitter leaf. Medium length. Mouth watering acidity on the finish. The winery notes say that there is a rhubarb flavour to this wine, and that is possible, as I detect some flavour that I cannot quite put my finger on, and it very well may be rhubarb.
Rating: Elegant, soft red fruit flavours with mouth watering acidity on the finish. Enjoy with a slice of Quiche Lorraine.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Quill Red Wine 2013 ($19) – Only 320 cases of this wine are made, with grapes coming from Cowichan Valley and Oliver, BC. It is a blend of 44% Marchel Foch, 28% Merlot, and 28% Cabernet Franc. Deep ruby in colour with a solid core. A medium intensity, youthful nose, with aromas of cedar, red fruit, cherries and vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. With decanting you get the addition of floral perfume. Dry, medium tannins and acidity and body, but pronounced flavours of sour red cherries (predominant), along with black fruit, raspberries, red cherries, plums and vanilla. There is also a hint of minerality and cinnamon. Toward the finish you get some blueberries and then finishes with roses and sour red cherries. On the finish, it is more acidity that you get than tannins, but that is quite good. I think that this is a wine that will surely age well with time.
Rating: Drink now, but buy some bottles for future enjoyment.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can order these wines online from the Blue Grouse Estate Winery website, and have them delivered to your door. I did not find the wines listed on the BCLDB website. You may find these wines in private liquor stores.
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