A cool climate region, this winery has forged ahead growing very interesting hybrid grapes by Valentin Blattner, a Swiss grape geneticist. Several of Blattner’s grape hybrids are grown in Canada. His grape varieties are designed to be disease resistant. Besides Vancouver Island, you can find Blattner grapes being grown in Nova Scotia.
Enrico’s white wines I tasted are very aromatic and have good acidity. The reds are lighter bodied than those from the hotter Okanagan, but still very enjoyable. We don’t all need to make big red wines.
The winery logo I was told was a griffin (a half lion, half eagle mythical beast), a family emblem, but the tail was modified to a stylized “E” for Enrico. You may notice that the wines all have British Royalty-related names of yore. I am not sure why, but maybe they enjoy treating everyone royally.
The Vineyard and Winery
The 50-acre property was purchased in 2000 as a mixed farming operation. The conversion to a vineyard by the Smith family occurred in 2007 when 4 acres of Pinot Gris and 2 acres Pinot Noir were planted. The following year, 2 acres of Ortega, 2 acres of Cabernet Libre (a Blattner grape) and 1 acre of Cabernet Foch were planted. The winery was completed in 2009 in time for their very first grape harvest.
My Wine Picks
Enrico Celebration 2016 (Charme de L’ile) ($24) – a prosecco style wine made from Pinot Gris grapes. I was told that Enrico plus other Vancouver Island wineries have decided to try to create a style of sparkling wine called Charme de L’ile, Charm of the Island. This sparkling wine was quite charming. It has a nice light stone fruit and lees nose. Off-dry, light bodied, with flavours of crisp red apples and stone fruits. Small creamy bubble with medium plus acidity.
Enrico Ortega 2016 (Tempest) ($19.90) – Their 2014 vintage won a Governor Generals award. 2016 was quite a different year for Enrico, with very hot summer temperatures giving the fruit more sweetness and fruit flavour. This wine is very aromatic, with aromas of oranges, lychee and other Gewürztraminer-like aromas. The wine is off-dry, smooth with medium minus body and acidity. It does taste very much like Gewürztraminer, plus has a hint of minerality on the finish.
Enrico Petit Milo 2016 (Falconet) ($19.90) – Petit Milo is a white hybrid grape made by Valentin Blattner. Petit Milo is a cross between an unknown variety and Resistenzpartner. It does make a nice wine. This wine had a light stone fruit nose along with some flint. On the palate it is medium bodied, dry, with flavours of citrus, in particular, grapefruit, along with grapefruit rind. I also picked up a mineral component to this wine.
Enrico Pinot Gris Reserve 2015 (Duchess) ($26.50) – From Enrico’s Pinot Gris vines, they select the best 3 rows each year to produce this wine. It is fermented in French oak barrels. This wine has a light toasty oak nose along with apples and pears aromas. Medium plus body, round, dry and mouth-filling. Primarily pear flavours along with light toast. An elegant wine.
Enrico Cabernet Libre 2015 (Braveheart) ($20) – Another Blattner grape variety, this is a crossing between Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. This wine is deeper garnet in colour, but still translucent. Cedar, plums and tobacco on the nose. Smooth, round, off-dry. This medium-bodied wine has flavours of red cherries, vanilla, sweet, candied cherries, cedar, and a mineral streak. Light tannins, but enough to provide structure to this wine. –
Enrico Syrah 2015 (Lore) ($28.50) – The Syrah grape needs more heat units than you can get from Vancouver Island, so these grapes come from the south Okanagan. This wine is medium translucent garnet in colour. Light nose, with aromas of red berries, plums and a whiff of oak. Medium body, smooth and round, with flavours of a mix of red and black fruits and vanilla. Fine tannins and light oak. –
Enrico Pinot Noir 2014 (Newton) ($62.50) – 2014 was a hot year and this is shown well in this wine with the very ripe fruit aromas and flavours, which you would not expect from a cool, coastal Pinot Noir. This wine has a light plum, prunes and sweet spices; very ripe black fruit nose. Fuller body, dry with medium tannins. Flavours of red cherries, red and black fruits, vanilla, as well as a light touch of oak. Drying finish. –
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can purchase these wines, and others not listed in my article, through Enrico Winery’s website at this link.