Its Spring, and time for releases of white and rosé wines from across BC. SpearHead Winery in Kelowna is one of the wineries that produce quality wines every year. I always look forward to tasting their wines. Last year we were surprised when they released their first White Pinot Noir, which if it was blind tasted, you would guess as a Sauvignon Blanc. 2018 has another White Pinot Noir from SpearHead Winery, but with a different flavour profile.
The 2018 harvest in the Okanagan was cooler than normal. July was the only very hot month. September was the coolest on record and October was cool but sunny. This leads to a longer growing season and allowed for normal picking of the white grapes and later picking for the red grapes. Winemakers noted that the 2018 wines overall show restrained alcohol, crisp acidity, and intense fruit flavour. With this knowledge, I looked forward to tasting these wines from SpearHead.
One additional wine that I received for the first time was a Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling. The Botrytis fungus typically only shows up in cool, damp seasons to affect grapes. Let’s get on to the review!
SpearHead Winery White Pinot Noir 2018 – The grapes come from 3 separate vineyards. The grapes are whole bunch pressed with minimal skin contact to keep the juice clear. The juice is naturally cold settled and dry fermented in small stainless steel tanks. The wine is pale lemon in colour. Medium plus intensity aromas with lime first being noticed then other citrus, followed by some tropical fruit and white flowers. With decanting I also picked up grapefruit on the nose. The wine is dry, round and soft with lower acidity and thicker mouthfeel. Tropical fruit flavours, with lime behind and touches of peach and lemon, and some bramble leaf. The wine has a medium length finishes with bramble leaf, peach and tart citrus, but not too tart as the wine is quite round and mouth-filling. This is the second year for this wine to be made. With the first vintage made, this wine tasted very similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. This year’s wine is very different in profile. It is interesting to see how vintages and their wines can change yearly.
Rating: – A soft round wine with a blend of lime, citrus, peach and tropical fruit on the nose and palate.
SpearHead Winery Riesling 2018 – Grapes for this wine come from their Gentleman Farmer Vineyard in SE Kelowna and the Seven Mountain Vineyard on Mount Boucherie bench. The grapes are hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. The cold settled juice is given a long cold ferment in stainless steel tanks. The fermentation is stopped before full dryness, leaving this wine with 12 g/l of residual sugar. The wine has a medium bright lemon colour with a tinge of green. The wine as a medium plus intensity nose, showing lime most, followed by peach and a hint of white flowers. With decanting you also pick up some lime skin aromas. The wine is off-dry with a fuller body and flavour intensity. The wine is round with a thicker mouthfeel and a light acidic prickle. I get mostly tropical fruit flavours, with touches of lime, peach and pear. From the start, I also noted salty minerality, which was joined with some steeliness from the mid-palate to the finish. The wine could maybe have a touch more acidity as it feels a little too soft. Medium plus length finishing with tart and sweet tropical fruit and a hint of lime.
Rating: – Fresh lime and peach on the nose. Round with a thicker mouthfeel, showing mostly tropical fruit flavours along with some lime.
SpearHead Winery Pinot Gris 2018 – Grapes come from their Golden Retreat Vineyard in Summerland. The grapes are hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. 10% of the settled juice is fermented in 2-year-old French oak barrels with the remainder fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine is a lighter lemon with a green tint in colour. Quite aromatic grapefruit aroma with touches of honey, peach and bramble leaf. With decanting the grapefruit aroma lessens and you get tropical fruit aromatics. The wine is slightly off-dry, with a nice mouth mouthfeel. Medium plus body. I really picked up salty minerality on this wine. A mix of grapefruit (most), citrus, and then peach flavours. Some pepperiness on the mid-palate to the finish. The flavour profile stays the same with decanting, so no need to decant. Tart citrus and grapefruit along with some pepperiness on a long finish for this wine. Very tasty.
Rating: – Nice grapefruit on the nose and palate, together with light peach alongside. Bright acidity and round mouthfeel.
SpearHead Winery Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling 2018 – The grapes for this wine come from the SpearHead Orchard Bock in SE Kelowna. Botrytis is a fungus that can affect grapes if the weather is cool and damp. The fungus draws out the water from the grape, leaving the sugars and flavours more concentrated, and can impart a marmalade flavour to a wine. These grapes were hand harvested on Nov 15, 2018, then foot stomped in picking bins for skin contact and to free the sugar from the wizened grapes. Cold fermented in stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels. The wine is a bright lemon green in colour. Medium intensity nose with aromas of lime and grapefruit, green fruit and a hint of peach. The wine is not cloyingly sweet; just right. Lighter acidity. Round, medium bodied. Some saline minerality upfront. Mostly lime flavour, followed by citrus then green fruit, and a hint of peach and orange (from the botrytis). Medium plus length finishing with a mix of tart and sweet citrus fruit flavours. A soft finish, not too acidic. A clean and fresh late harvest wine.
Rating: A delicate late harvest wine, not overly sweet, with lime most prominent on the nose and palate, followed by other citrus and green fruits.
SpearHead Winery Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 – The grapes come from their Gentleman Farmer Vineyard. The grapes are hand harvest and crushed into small stainless steel tanks. Skin contact for 24 hours to extract colour, then gently pressed and cold fermented to dryness. The wine is a medium intensity reddish-orange rose petal colour. It has subtle tart red fruits, red cherries and strawberry aromatics. May also have a hint of bramble leaf. WIth decanting you get quite prominent candied cherry aromas as well. The wine is dry and round, with a thicker mouthfeel. Medium acidity. Flavours more of red fruit with lesser amounts of strawberry and red cherry, and some bramble leaf. Very light tannins mid-palate to finish gives this wine some structure. With decanting the strawberry aromas become more evident. The wine has a medium plus length, finishing with strawberry and tart red fruit.
Rating: – A subtle Rose wine. The red fruit and strawberry flavours in this wine are understated. The more I taste this wine, the more I like it.