2017 was an interesting vintage in the Okanagan in my opinion, with the cool, wet Spring, followed by the forest fires and smoke that started in June and went through most of the summer. I was worried about smoke taint in the Okanagan, but fortunately, the grapes did not have any problems. But the smoke did have an unexpected benefit for the Okanagan grapes; the smoke reflected a significant amount of sunlight from overheating the vines, keeping the daytime temperatures moderate, and allowing the grapes to mature slowly. Giving us grapes with lots of ripe flavours, moderate sugars and the crisp acidity that BC wines are known for.
I recently was provided samples for three new released from Road 13 Vineyards, who are located on the Golden Mile Bench in Oliver, BC. I have enjoyed their wines in the past and always look forward to tasting their Chenin Blanc, which is a great grape for pairing with food. It can be made dry, off-dry, sweet, or sparkling, with pears, jasmine, ginger, peach, mango, and other flavours. And it has great acidity. Acidity always brightens up flavours in wine, and will also help liven up your food. Road 13 Vineyards makes both a still and a sparkling Chenin Blanc which you should try. This year’s release of their Chip off the Old Block Chenin Blanc 2017, comes from 50-year-old vines.
Besides the Chip off the Old Block Chenin Blanc 2017, I was also provided with a bottle of Honest John’s White 2017, a blend of Chardonnay (primarily), with lesser amounts of Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Kerner, Viognier, and Orange Muscat, and a bottle of Honest John’s Rosé 2017, a blend of Merlot (primarily), with lesser amounts of Gamay Noir, Viognier, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.
Let me tell you about these wines.
My Wine Review
Road 13 Vineyards Honest John’s White 2017 – This wine was whole-bunch pressed and then allowed to cold settle for 24 hours before fermentation in stainless steel tanks, again at a low temperature. This helps preserve the grapes’ fruitiness. The wine is a bright medium lemon in colour. It has a medium intensity youthful nose, with aromas of lees, flowers, stone fruits and citrus. It is off-dry, and has a round, thicker mouthfeel, and provides a slight acidic prickle on the tongue. Medium plus flavour intensity, showing pears, other stone fruits, and tropical fruits, along with a hint of floral. It has steeliness to it as well. Medium plus length finishing with tart fruit, some bitterness and pepperiness (with decanting). A nice fuller bodied, wine with a range of fruit flavours. Try pairing with baked trout, seafood with cream sauce, turkey or pork sausages.
Rating: A fuller bodied round white wine with floral and stone fruit aromas and flavours, along with some additional tropical fruit on the palate.
Road 13 Vineyards Chip off the Old Block Chenin Blanc 2017 – The grapes for this wine were also whole-bunch pressed and then allowed to cold settle for 24 hours, followed by cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine has a bright medium lemon colour in the glass. Light intensity aromas in the glass of white flowers and stone fruits, in particular, peach. It is between dry and off-dry with medium plus acidity. Fuller bodied with medium plus flavour intensity. Round and thick in your mouth, but also has a light acidic prickle to it. Pineapple, peach, and pear flavours upon first opening. With decanting, you get more peach flavour and less pineapple. There is great harmony between the off-dry sweetness, the medium plus acidity level and the fruit flavours in this wine. The wine does feel steely toward the finish. Medium plus length, finishing with tart fruit, deep citrus, a hint of honey and some bitterness. A quality wine. Try pairing it with light Asian dishes, sushi, seafood pasta, or grilled pork chops.
Rating: A quality Chenin Blanc that you can age, or enjoy now, with its fuller mouthfeel, and flavours of pineapple, peach and pear.
Road 13 Vineyards Honest John’s Rosé 2017 – The grapes, after crushing underwent a 48-hour soak on their skins to impart colour to the wine. The skins were then pressed off and the juice settled overnight before the juice underwent a long, cool fermentation. The wine is a bright, vibrant rhubarb colour. Medium intensity nose with inviting aromas of cranberry, red fruit, rhubarb and a hint of red cherries. The wine is slightly off-dry, with a round, thick, soft mouthfeel. A lower level of acidity. Mainly flavours of red fruits and rhubarb, with a hint of red cherries. Medium length finishing slightly off-dry. A fun, off-dry, red fruited summer sipper. I think the wine opened up a bit more with decanting, so don’t worry about lingering over this bottle on the patio.
Rating: A fun, off-dry, red fruited summer sipper.
And Now For Something Completely Different
I do like to compare my wine tasting notes to the winery’s notes AFTER I taste the wine and make my notes. Sometimes both sets of notes are near identical, and other times there are significant variations. Part of the variation can be caused by changes/development of the wine in the bottle between the time the winery made their notes, and when I tasted the wine. Wine is a living product that will change over time.
With Honest John’s Rose wine it took me a while to identify an aroma and flavour, that was at the tip of my tongue; rhubarb. Rhubarb is tart, but is usually served sweetened, so I always have both sweet and tart memories of it. The flavour of rhubarb is in the red fruit realm.
When I checked the winery’s notes for this wine, they list the aromas and flavours of strawberry, cherry, rose petal, citrus and a hint of apricot, with the addition of cherry on the palate. I noted cranberry, red fruit, rhubarb and a hint of red cherry aromas, with red fruit, rhubarb and red cherries on the palate. So you can see some similarities. I think that the rhubarb aroma and flavour I identified, could be broken down into a blend of the strawberry, cherry, rose petal and citrus the winery identified. Maybe with the earlier tasting by the winery these aromas and flavours were more separable, but over the few months in the bottle, these aromas and flavours began to mesh together more to form the rhubarb aroma and flavour I identified.
What foods pair well with rhubarb, or a rose with a rhubarb aroma and flavour? Lightly smoked salmon I think would go well with this wine. Also roasted pork, ham, and cheddar cheese. Give it a try.