Cool climate wines are where the vibrant acidity and tart fruit flavours. Citrus trending to stone fruits for white wines, and red fruits like strawberries, raspberries and red cherries. A cool climate region to consider for wines is Vancouver Island. There are a few wineries there, and one in particular, Blue Grouse Estate Winery in Duncan, has been producing some very good quality wines. Blue Grouse Estate Winery produces two tiers of wines: Quill, which has grapes sourced from across BC, and Estate, which are grapes solely from their vineyards on Vancouver Island. The Estate wines, being very cool climate, are solely white varietals, except for Pinot Noir. I recently received a box of 6 wines from Blue Grouse containing two Pinot Gris, two Pinot Noir, a Rosé, and a White blend. Some wines from each tier. Let me review them for you.
Blue Grouse Quill White Wine 2015
This wine is a blend of Schonburger (45.5%), Pinot Gris (42.5%), and Müller-Thurgau (12%) all coming from Vancouver Island. The grapes were harvested in September and October of 2015. Schonburger and Müller-Thurgau, originating from Germany and Switzerland respectively, are not two grape varieties that are widespread across BC. These grapes seem to be doing very well on Vancouver Island, as they, together with Pinot Gris, have made a very nice white blend. The wine is pale straw in colour. It has a youthful, medium intensity nose showing mandarin orange, lime and pine needles. With decanting the mandarin orange aroma becomes stronger. The wine is dry, soft, with medium intensity and light mouth feel. The pine needle aroma continues onto the palate, and you also get green fruits, lime, peaches, green apples, in that order of intensity. There is some stony minerality to this wine. It has a longer length, finishing with juicy green apple, and tart green fruits. An easy sipper.
Rating: – An easy sipper, with a blend of pine needles, green fruits and green apples. Should pair well with seafood.
Blue Grouse Quill Pinot Gris 2016
This wine has medium minus lemon in colour. It has quite a nice nose, starting with lees and citrus followed by tropical fruits, apricot and white flowers. The wine is dry, quite round and smooth. Medium body. For flavours, the wine shows more citrus, lime, and lesser stone fruit and tropical fruits. With some air you get a more defined peach flavour. I also picked up some minerality on the wine. With decanting you get more of a balance between the citrus and stone fruit flavours. The wine also has a steeliness to it. It has a medium length, finishing with mouth-watering acidity, light citrus, pepperiness and some bitter rind. Quality.
Rating: – Not an overpowering wine. A nice balance between citrus and stone fruit flavours, and acidity.
Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2016
A blend of straw and pear skin colour in the glass. The wine has medium minus aromas, of toast, buttered popcorn, and oak, and light peach. With decanting you get less toastiness and more peachiness, along with a hint of vanilla. Although only 17% of this wine had partial fermentation in French oak, it is quite evident in this wine.
It’s dry and quite round and silky, with a medium mouthfeel. Light toasty oak flavour, along with apple, pear and a hint of peach. The flavours are very light, so it is hard to easily separate out the individual flavours. The with has some stony minerality on the finish, along with light pepperiness and tart citrus.
Rating: Understated fruit in this Pinot Gris along with prominent toastiness.
Blue Grouse Quill Rosé 2016
The Quill Rose is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. The grapes were individually crushed and allowed a cold soak on their skins for 18 hrs before undergoing fermentation. Blending occurred after fermentation. The wine has a medium translucent rose petal colour. It has a youthful aroma of candied cherries and strawberries. Decanting adds cranberry aromas. The wine is quite round and thick, filling your mouth. It does have above average acidity, and an acidic prickle to balance the wines mouth feel. You get a blend of red fruit, candied red fruit and strawberries up front changing to red cherries on the palate toward the finish. Medium plus length with red cherries, tart red fruit and some leafiness. Good quality rosé.
Rating: A good quality rosé, big and round, with a balance of red fruit and cherry flavour.
Blue Grouse Quill Pinot Noir 2015
These grapes from a single vineyard in Cowichan Valley. The grapes soaked on their skins for 4 days then the must warmed and a spontaneous fermentation began. After fermentation the wine was pressed off and put into 2-3 year old barrels, which were a mix of French and American oak. In barrel the wine underwent malolactic fermentation and then went 12 months of aging in barrel before bottling.
This wine is medium garnet in colour; really translucent to the core. It has a very nice nose. Medium intensity aromas of red fruit, red cherries, sweet spices and vanilla. The wine is dry, with medium acidity. It is lighter bodied and you get a light mouthfeel. It has some roundness (from the MLF). The tannins are light, but they are strong enough to support the delicate fruit flavours in this wine. You get raspberries and red cherries on the palate, along with hints of vanilla, perfume and cedar. The wine has medium plus length, finishing with tart red fruit, oak and cedar (some may say eucalyptus).
Rating: A delicate, pretty Pinot Noir, graced with red fruits, and hints of floral and cedar.
Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2015
Although it says Pinot Noir on the label, this wine contains 15% Gamay Noir (which is permissible under VQA regulations). The grapes for this wine come from their estate vineyard in the Cowichan Valley. The Pinot Noir clone is unknown. The grape varieties were separately fermented then aged for 18 months in barrel; 16% new French oak and the balance (84%) in 2-3 year old French oak. The wines underwent malolactic fermentation in the barrel and then were blended before bottling.
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