A year ago I reviewed three Pinot Noir from Spierhead Winery from the 2015 vintage. 2015 was a hot year, but Spearhead Winery is located in the Kelowna area, which is a cooler region within the Okanagan. Through that tasting, I determined that the summer heat did not adversely affect the wines and they still showed their red fruit and floral character.
<I noticed a change in the name of the winery between last year and this year. Did you notice the name change? The wine labels have not yet changed, but I assume that will happen in time.>
This year, I have the same three Pinots to taste, but this time from their 2016 vintage. 2016 started with a hot early Spring, but then we had a cool July so that the grapes could mature more slowly. We then had a hotter, drier weather typical of August and September. The heat in August brought on veraison in the Okanagan about two weeks early for some wineries, but it was not detrimental to the grapes’ development. The results in the Okanagan produced grapes with mature fruit flavours, lower alcohol and balanced acidity.
The three Pinot Noirs that I received to taste are:
- SpierHead Pinot Noir 2016 ($25 + tax)
- SpierHead GFV Saddle Block Pinot Noir 2016 ($30 + tax)
- SpierHead Pinot Noir Cuvee 2016 ($38 + tax)
Differences in aromas and flavours in these three wines are in part due to the Pinot clones used. Spearhead has planted Dijon clones 115, 667, 777 and 828, as well as the Pommard clone, and the California heritage clones Mt. Eden and Swan. These clones all have different aroma and flavour characteristics.
What Flavours and Aromas Do These Clones Present?
Dijon Clone 115 – strong colour with a purplish hue, superior bouquet, elegant rich aroma, well structured, tannic, long, suitable for keeping. Juicy raspberry essence.
Dijon Clone 667 – strong colour, high-tone and quality aromas, dark cherry, raspberry, strawberry. Rich, spice flavours, fleshy, firm, with sweet tannins.
Dijon Clone 777 – strong and intense colours, strong aromas, round, tannic, and has aging potential.
Dijon Clone 828 – provides colour and complexity to Pinot Noir while also adding acidity, full-flavoured with blackberry, plum, and red fruits. Because of its roundness and completeness, it has been said that this clone can make an excellent stand-alone wine.
Pommard 4 – expressive aromatics of wild strawberry with woodsy perfume of sandalwood, pine and cedar. Plush texture and flavour concentration.
Pommard 5 – firm tannins, deep colour and dark plummy flavours.
Mt. Eden (Clone 37) – peppery spice characteristics to go along with bright fruit aromas and flavours of blackberry and wild berries.
Swan – some think this clone came from the Romanée-Conti vineyards. It was brought to the United States by Joseph Swan and originally planted in the Russian River Valley. It produces intense aromatics; aromas of raspberries, strawberries and cranberries, to violets, together with spiciness.
Let me tell you about these three wines.
Spierhead Pinot Noir 2016 – a mix of Dijon clones 115 and 777. This wine is medium garnet in colour, translucent to the core, but with a bit of dullness as the wine is unfined and unfiltered. It has above average aroma intensity with aromas of smoke, raspberries, red fruit, red cherries, bramble and nutmeg. Its dry, and silky round, with a lighter body. The tannins are soft, but there is still enough for structure in the glass. Red fruit, red cherries, and red currants fruits, along with hints of cloves, cinnamon, perfume and oak. Later you get a hint of minerality. With decanting there is a reduction in the perfume and cinnamon spice, and now some smokiness and an increase in oak. The wine has a medium plus length, finishing with mouth-watering acidity and flavours of tart red fruit, red cherries, sweet spice, in particular, nutmeg, and pepper. An elegant wine. Don’t let the screw cap fool you.
Rating: An elegant Pinot Noir. Nice complex red fruit and cherry flavours that progress through the sip. Silky soft.
Spierhead Pinot Noir GFV Saddle Block 2016 – made with Dijon clones 115, 667, and 828. Medium plus garnet in the glass, clear but dull as the wine is unfined and unfiltered. The wine has a medium intensity nose starting off with lees, that burns off quickly, as well as shows red cherries, red plums, nutmeg, vanilla and black pepper. With decanting the plums and black pepper aromas were minimal, and I picked up some smokiness and raspberry aromas. The wine is dry with medium acidity and soft, light tannins. The wine is soft and silky in your mouth, with a medium mouth feel. The flavours are understated; a blend of red cherries mainly, with lesser amounts of red plum, raspberry and other red fruits, along with a touch of oak. With decanting the wine is mostly cherry and raspberry flavour along with a hint of floral perfume, which is quite nice. Medium plus length finishing with tart red cherries and red fruits. The tannins firm up toward the finish; still soft, but provide enough structure to the wine. There is also some pepperiness on the finish. I don’t think there are enough tannins for this wine to age many years, so I recommend drinking it sooner.
Rating: – A light red-fruited Pinot Noir. Pleasant to drink and straightforward to enjoy. So enjoy it now.
Spierhead Pinot Noir Cuvee 2016 – a blend of Dijon clones 115, 667, 828, and Pommard. Deep garnet, dull in colour; again the dullness from being unfined and unfiltered. Medium intensity nose, youthful with aromas of bramble, bramble leaves, red fruit, raspberry, and lesser amounts of black fruit, cedar, vanilla and nutmeg. With decanting the raspberry aroma takes on a smoky character, and the cedar component decreases. Dry, and round, light bodied, with medium acidity and tannins. Smooth with an acid backbone. Flavours of raspberry and red cherry, with the fruit becoming sweeter mid-palate. There is also some perfume on the mid-palate. The wine with decanting becomes more prominent with cherry and perfume, as well as some chocolate. Medium plus length, finishing with sweet and tart red fruit, along with bramble fruit and some bitterness. Finishes light and airy, with soft tannins. With decanting, overall the wine is fuller bodied, with more cherry flavour, and a peppery finish. An elegant, feminine Pinot.
Rating: An elegant, soft red fruit Pinot Noir with enough acidity and tannins to provide a backbone to this wine. This wine decanted, becomes bigger and fuller bodied. Either way this is a quality Pinot Noir to enjoy.