Harper’s Trail winery in Kamloops has blazed their own trail, trying out red and white grapes to find out what works best in this terroir, and has also added sparkling wine to their repertoire. I received 2 bottles of their latest sparkling wines, 2 bottles of their Rieslings, and a bottle each of their Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. I have tasted their Rieslings before as well as their Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc and have written about them on mywinepal (I put the links to these articles at the bottom of this article for you).
With any new grape growing area, trying to figure out how to treat grapes and produce the wine that speaks of the land takes several tries. The first vintage will always be a guess, and then subsequent vintages should slowly bring the wine maker to the point where they understand what the grapes offer and how to bring it out in the wine. Of course, there are always curves in that road to the destination in the effects of season variation. We have had some very hot vintages and cool vintages, which do affect the grapes’ phenolic ripeness. I think the wine maker at Harper’s Trail, Michael Bartier, is doing very well and producing interesting, enjoyable wines.
I tried the Harper’s Trail Sparkling Chardonnay 2015 and the Rose Sparkling 2015. Both of these wines come in thick, heavy glass bottles and closed with a crown closure. They are made from the Classic method, meaning the second fermentation happens in the bottle, like Champagne.
Harper’s Trail Sparkling Chardonnay 2015
For the sparkling Chardonnay, there is zero dosage, meaning after the lees are removed from the secondary fermentation, no additional liquid sugar or suss-reserve is added to the bottle. Zero dosage, or some call it, Savage, is a newer approach to finishing off sparkling wines. In many cases a small amount of sweetness is added to the bottle. Some people think Zero dosage may be too bracing a wine, but the ones that I’ve tried, I really do enjoy.
This wine is medium straw coloured with medium-sized bubbles. The aromas are of pears and apples, together with some lees. It is dry with above average acidity. The medium-sized bubbles in your mouth dissolve together to form some creaminess in your mouth. Heavier mouth-feel. After the bubbles dissipate the wine feels dry in your mouth and you get flavours of red apples and pears, mixed with citrus pith and apple seeds. There is also some almonds and yeast on the palate. Medium length. With a bit of exposure to the air, you also gets some nuttiness from the mid-point to the finish, and some minerality. I enjoyed sipping this wine on its own. It also was nice with a cracker topped with goat cheese.
Rating: A decent sparkler. Dry, with flavours of apples, pears, and citrus pith.
Harper’s Trail Rose Sparkling 2015
For the Rose Sparkling, the wine is made from a base of Pinot Gris. The rose colour comes from a small dosage of Cabernet Franc. The wine is pale salmon skin with an orange tint. It has a youthful, medium intensity nose of cherries and lees. A hint of peach and some bitterness. On the palate, it is dry, with biting acidity. Medium creamy bubble. It is hard to pick up specific fruits from the wine, but it is a mix of stone fruits and citrus pith. Medium length. Finishes with tart cherries and some bitterness. I think that this wine would best be served with food, rather than on its own.
Rating: A sparkling wine with a mix of stone fruits, some tartness and bitterness on the palate.
In an article that I wrote in 2015, I mentioned that Harper’s Trail, Pioneer Block Dry Riesling and Silver Mane Block Riesling to me represented New World and Old World styles respectively. When I tried these two new vintages, those two styles continue for me.
Harper’s Trail Pioneer Block Dry Riesling 2014
Medium minus intensity colour; a mix of lemon and straw in the glass. A medium intensity nose, with a blend of youthful and developing aromas. You get petrol, which comes with some bottle age; and then lemon, lime, white flowers, baby powder, and apple. A bit of a sweetish nose. I’d say there is a balance of petrol and floral with crisp apple. Decanting did not change the nose. On the palate it is dry to off-dry, fuller, rounder mouth feel. Acidic prickle on the tongue. A very flavourful wine. You first get petrol, followed by apple then citrus, and lime skin. There is some minerality to this wine and toward the finish you get some honey and stoniness. On the finish the wine is pepper, together with citrus, crisp apple, petrol and honey. Some pith after all that at the back of the throat. With decanting the petrol flavour is not as strong, and you get a hint of peach, McIntosh apple skin and greet tart fruit. I would recommend not to decant this wine, but even with decanting it is very enjoyable.
Rating: A very interesting, complex wine. Many different aromas and flavours of petrol, citrus and apple.
Harper’s Trail Silver Mane Block Riesling 2014
Medium plus, bright lemon yellow colour. It has a light youthful nose. Baby powder, lemon, white flowers and petrol. Some yeast as well. With decanting the touch of petrol disappears. The wine is more dry than off-dry. It is round with medium body and a lighter acidic prickle, compared to the Dry Riesling. You get mostly apple with a hint of pear behind. The pear becomes more evident with decanting, and the acidity lessens. The wine has a medium plus length, with a sweetish finish. Some petrol, leafiness, pith and tart citrus. With decanting the petrol also disappears from the palate. I think decanting helps this wine. To me becomes a bit more elegant.
Rating: [ usr 4] A wine to enjoy with decanting. Rounder, more mouth-filling feel. A mix of apple and pear flavours.
Harper’s Trail Pinot Noir 2015
A lighter garnet colour in the glass; translucent to the core. Medium intensity nose that shows nutmeg, oak, tart red cherries, red fruit and a hint of smokiness. I’d say this wine has a feminine style on the nose. It is dry, medium bodied and silky, almost viscous on the palate. The first thing that jumps out at me is the floral component on the palate, along with red fruit, raspberries, cloves and a touch of oak. With decanting I really picked up violets. There is a salty minerality that continues from the start to the finish of this wine. Medium length. Dry finish with nutmeg, tart red fruit and some bitterness. With decanting the wine also had some pepperiness on the finish.
Rating: – Overall a pretty, feminine style Pinot. Soft aromas and flavours. Red fruits and floral. A very balanced wine.
Harper’s Trail Cabernet Franc 2015
Deep ruby in colour. It has a medium minus intensity nose. Light capsicum, dark chocolate, black fruit, sweet spice and a hint of baby powder. With decanting you some perfume as well. The wine is dry, and I’d say shy on the palate. There is floral, black fruit and plum, along with a hint of capsicum, cedar and oak. With decanting the capsicum and oak become more prominent. The wine has a medium plus length, with firmer tannins, drying your tongue. Ripe fruits on the finish. A nice, wine, with balance of fruit, acidity and tannins.
Rating: Not an aggressive wine pushing its black fruit flavours at you; rather it invites you to sip and enjoy it.
My Past Reviews
I always think it is interesting to see what I wrote about previous vintages. Are there any common flavours and aromas? What about style? Here are some of my past reviews. Enjoy.
- New World Meets Old World Riesling at Harpers Trail
- Quick Review: Harper’s Trail Thadd Springs Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2013
- Harpers Trail Inaugural Cabernet Franc 2012 Release