Latitude Speaking Through BC’s Pinot Noirs

BC Pinot Noir in Okanagan along a 20km grid

BC Pinot Noir in Okanagan along a 20km grid

BC’s Pinot Noirs do show unique aromas and flavours according to soil type, as I have found through my GIS analysis of soil type.  But we know that our climate, although considered cool, does show variation from the warmer regions of the South Okanagan as we move northward to Lake Country for example.  A second question I posed besides the effect of soil and BC’s Pinot Noirs aromas and flavours, is can we see any similarities in aromas and flavours if we aggregate my tasting note information based on vineyard latitude?  Most of the wines I sampled came from the Okanagan, so as I had done for my BC Riesling Review, I aggregated my tasting notes for the vineyards, based on 20 km grid, stretching from the BC-Washington border in the south, to near Vernon in the north.  My 20 km grid covered a distance of 140 km, which is slightly more than 1 degree of latitude (111.1 km).

As I did for the soil analysis, I aggregated my tasting notes this time on the 20 km grid cells, then generated a word cloud for the aromas and one for the flavours.  From the grid, Row 2 had no wineries, and Row 5 had only one winery, so I omitted their word clouds.

The wines I reviewed were primarily from the hotter 2013 and 2014 vintages, that together were used for the word clouds.  What are the results?

Row 1 Aromas and Flavours (3 samples)

Row 1 aromas and flavours

Row 1 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Starting at the north, cooler end of the Okanagan the aromas are primarily red fruits, raspberry and cherry.  The flavours are more varied with red fruit, cherries, along with perfume and leafiness (due to less ripening?).

Row 3 Aromas and Flavours (13 samples)

Row 3 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Row 3 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

This row shows the vineyards around Kelowna.  You can see much more variety in aromas and flavours compared to the more northern Row 1 (which could be due to sample size).  In Row 2, we get both red and black fruits, cherry, raspberry and a larger strawberry component and perfume.  There is some plum and leafiness as well.  On the palate, there is again red and black fruit, with cherry and raspberry fruit primarily, together with a large perfume component, and lesser amounts of plum, strawberry, and leafiness.  And then smaller amounts of blueberry, chocolate, rose and pepperiness.

Row 4 Aromas and Flavours (10 samples)

Row 4 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Row 4 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Row 4 has many wineries from the Naramata Bench on the east side of Okanagan Lake, and the wineries around Summerland on the west side. For aromas, there is again red fruit, cherry and raspberry, but also sweet fruit, and larger components of strawberry and plum.  For flavours there is red fruit, cherry, raspberry and perfume, followed by less amounts of strawberry, black fruit, plum and leafiness.

Row 6 Aromas and Flavours (7 samples)

Row 6 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Row 6 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Row 6 covers Okanagan Falls, the Similkameen Valley (Robin Ridge winery), and Oliver.  The wines from this row was mainly red fruit, cherry, followed by raspberry, black fruit, sweet fruit, and now we see cedar and perfume together about at the same level. For flavours, red fruit, cherry, raspberry and raspberry, followed by plum and cedar.  You may note smoke and spices, but these aromas and flavours are from the oak barrels, so I do not count them as aromas and flavours from the grapes.

Row 7 Aromas and Flavours (8 samples)

Row 7 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

Row 7 aromas (left) and flavours (right)

This is our most southern, and warmest row. The grapes show red fruit, cherry, raspberry, leafiness and perfume, with a lesser amount of strawberry aromas.  The flavours cover red sweet fruit, raspberry and perfume, and lesser amounts of cherry, plum, rose and chocolate.

Overall Observations

From the word clouds, you can see that at the north end it is more red fruit and as you go south, you add in black fruits and increase the intensity of plum and strawberry.  Red fruit, cherry, raspberry and perfume are common to all rows.  In my opinion, latitude does appear to assert some influence on our BC Pinot Noirs aromas and flavours, but which is more important? Soil or latitude?  I think a bit of both.

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