With the Fall harvest safely in and the rains now freely flowing, it is time to celebrate the bounty of wines that are coming out this Fall. Burrowing Owl has released their latest flight of wines to the public, covering mainly red wines from the 2013 vintage and one white wine, a Chardonnay, from the 2014 vintage. I received a shipment of their wines to review recently and worked diligently as always, tasting the wines first upon opening the bottle and then 24 hours later to try to see how exposure to air (decanting) affects the wines’ aromas and flavours. From my past reviews, I was really impressed with the quality of Burrowing Owl’s wines. How did these latest wines rate?
2013 was a hot year, but then in the Fall the weather turned wet. 2014 was hot as well, and that heat continued through to the Fall. How would these differences in temperatures and rainfall affect the wines?
The wines I tasted:
- Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2014 (BC $25 + tax)
- Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2014 (BC $30 + tax)
- Burrowing Owl Merlot 2013 (BC $30 + tax)
- Burrowing Owl Athene 2013 (BC $35 + tax)
- Burrowing Owl Syrah 2014 (BC $33 + tax)
- Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (BC $35 + tax)
The Fermentation Process
The grapes for all the wines share a similar harvest and fermentation process. All are hand picked and hand sorted. All the wines, white and red, after fermentation go through full, or partial malolactic fermentation (MLF) to convert the more tart malic acids in the wines, into smoother, rounder lactic acids. Finally all the wines are aged in barrels, primarily French oak. The Chardonnay in barrel for 10 months on the low-end with the Cabernet Sauvignon in barrel for 22 months on the high-end.
Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2014
This wine has a medium intensity lemony gold colour. It has a pronounced nose with aromas of ripe pears, vanilla, tropical fruit, and lesser amounts of white flowers and butterscotch. It is dry, very round and has a heavy mouth-feel. Above average acidity and flavour intensity. Pears, tropical fruit, butterscotch, almond and some honey. Medium oak, which becomes stronger with decanting. It has a long finish with mouth-watering acidity, light pepperiness, and flavours of ripe pears and apples. A quality Chardonnay.
Rating: – A big, bold Chardonnay that is round and full of ripe fruit flavours.
Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2014
One thing that I noted about this wine is that it comes in screwcap, yet the other reds were all under cork. I am not sure why. Perhaps they are testing this closure first with the Pinot Noir before trying with the others. The wine is medium garnet in colour; translucent from the core to rim. Medium plus intensity nose with very nice, perfume and red fruit, along with smoky raspberries, vanilla, and hints of red cherry and sweet spice. With decanting the wine had more intense smoky raspberry aroma. It is dry but quite round; smooth but not quite silky. You are greeted by flowery perfume, followed by red cherries and raspberries, then pepperiness on the mid palate. There are also hints of minerality to this wine, strawberry and smokiness. Medium plus length, finishing with good acidity, pepper, red fruit and red cherries, sweet spice, and finally some bitterness, but in a good way. A nicely elegant Pinot Noir.
Rating: A nicely elegant Pinot Noir, treating you to red fruit and perfume on the nose and palate, and enhanced with sweet spice and pepper.
Burrowing Owl Merlot 2013
Deep ruby in the glass. A medium plus intensity, ripe, plummy nose, together with touch of vanilla, cedar, nutmeg and chocolate. With decanting you also get some cherry and a floral component. The wine is round with a very full mouth-feel. Pronounced minerality. It is quite perfumed and paired with plums, raspberries, red cherries and vanilla. Toward the finish you also get some roses and cedar. The wine has fine tannins; just enough to give the wine some structure. It has a medium length, with the tannins firming up a bit. Plums, pepper and chocolate milk on the finish.
Rating: A good quality Merlot; floral, and full of ripe fruit, in particular plums.
Burrowing Owl Athene 2013
The wine is opaque ruby with a purple tint in colour. It has a medium intensity nose full of deep red and black fruit and vanilla. The nose is simple and straight forward. It is dry and round; very full-bodied. Ripe black and purple fruits, in particular a mix of red and black cherries. There is also a whiff of raspberry fruit. Vanilla and some perfume on the end. Straight forward on the flavour profile. Medium length with medium tannins, purple fruit, light pepper and vanilla on the finish. I did not note any significant changes with decanting.
Rating: Deep fruit aromas and flavours. Offers a straight forward experience in the glass.
Burrowing Owl Syrah 2014
A deep garnet wine, with a solid core, and slightly translucent at the rim. It has a medium intensity nose with developing characteristics. Meaty, purple fruit with a hint of tomatoes and red cherries. There is also some smoke and a touch of nutmeg. With decanting, you get more of a bramble component to the nose. This wine is silky, fuller-bodied, round and peppery on the palate. Medium plus flavour intensity. More raspberry and black cherry, with lesser amounts of black fruit and plum. There is also a light touch of violets and chocolate. With decanting the wine also gets more bramble on the palate. Medium bodied, peppery, plus dark chocolate, tart fruit and ripe purple fruit, cedar and a hint of minerality. Stronger tannins on the finish. This wine grows on you.
Rating: A full-bodied, silky Syrah that gives you darker fruits, some signature Syrah pepper and chocolate.
Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Dull deep garnet in colour. A restrained, light nose, with aromas of red and black cherries, plum, and black currants, together with a hint of violet, sweet spice and oak. With decanting you get some capsicum and chocolate aromas as well. The wine is full-bodied, round and almost silky. It has a solid tannic core for the fruit to flesh out. The tannins are strong upon first opening but becomes softer with decanting. Red cherries, black currant, sweet plums, and oak flavours. Perfume on the mid-palate to finish. It has a medium length with firmer tannins, nice red cherries and plums, some flowers and a hint of chocolate. With decanting the tannins become drier, and you get a hint of tea leaves.
Rating: The wine is currently restrained on the nose; possibly in its dumb phase, but with age will blossom. It’s silky in your mouth and currently offers nice plum and cherry fruit flavours. Buy and hold for 3-4 years before opening.
How About That Weather?
2013 vs 2014 weather. From my limited samples of wines tasted, it appears that 2014 with its warmer Fall weather, produced wines that were bigger and had more fruit compared to 2013. That being said, the 2013 wines are still very good quality. I would happily enjoy any of these wines with friends and family.