2 Whites and a Rosé from Rust Wine Co for You

Who is Rust Wine Co?

Rust Wine Co logoDo you remember the Rustico Winery in the Okanagan?  Rust Wine Co is the winery that was formed from Rustico.  Rust gets its name from the flaky iron oxide that formed on some old farm equipment on the Golden Mile Bench property.  They have five vineyards planted as far back as 1973 that are located in the appellations of Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Okanagan Falls, and the Golden Mile Bench.  Their home vineyard ‘South Rock’ grows Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and some of BC’s only Zinfandel. This site is located at the most southern end of the Golden Mile Bench. Rust Wine Co state that they seek to showcase these distinct terroirs with small-lot, single-vineyard wines of purpose. A full description of their vineyards is at this link

Rust is owned by Pure West Wines, the Vancouver-based investment group that also owns Mount Boucherie Winery in West Kelowna.

Rust Wine Co provided me with samples of two different tiers of their wines.  The first is their entry-level tier with single varietal wines.  I received their Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé wine.  They also have a Syrah project where they offer small-lot wines from three different vineyards to demonstrate the diversity of terroir. I did receive the three bottles for these three vineyards.

For this article, I am covering the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Rosé wine.  I will write a separate article about the three Syrahs.

Their Labels

Back label for Rust Wine Co Pinot Grigio 2019
Back label for Rust Wine Co Pinot Grigio 2019

Their labels are from photos taken of various interpretations of rust found all over British Columbia and beyond. Anyone can submit their artistic rust shots (hopefully taken at the winery) over the year and we choose those that they feel match a specific varietal best. They will then feature the photographer’s name on the back label along with the subject and location. The labels will change yearly so keep sending in photos and visiting the winery.

At the back of each label, it describes the grape clone(s) used, the vineyard and its geographic location, the soil type(s) in the vineyard, picking date, how the must was fermented (e.g. stainless steel), residual sugar level and percentage alcohol.  I have never seen any winery provide this much info on the back label.  I really appreciate it.

Soil and Wine Aromas and Flavours

A few years ago, I completed my BC Pinot Noir Review and my BC Riesling Review where I analyzed wine aromas and flavours stratified by the soil type that the grapes were grown.  I was able to determine that there appears to be a relationship between soil and grape aromas and flavours.  Being able to see the soil information on these back labels makes me want to think about what the soil is offering the grapes in their expression as I taste these wines.  What are generally recognized characteristics in wines based on soil or rock type?  From my in person discussions with wineries plus online research (a non-exhaustive list):

Soil or Rock Type Effects on Aromas and Flavours Reasons for Aromas and Flavours
Limestone Minerality and elegance to the
wines as well as high acid and firm tannins.
Limestone is white which does not absorb the sunlight as much and is, therefore, cooler for the vines, which means that the grapes can better keep their acidity levels. Limestone is alkaline that encourages grapes with higher acidity levels.
Sand Gives fruitiness, elegance, less colour, lighter acidity and soft tannins. Sand is easy for vines to penetrate and go down deep for water, but does not get any minerals from the sand.  As such, you get more fruit flavour and less tannins in the grapes.
Red Sandstone-Clay Provides salty minerality and
freshness to the wine as well as soft tannins
A cross between limestone and
sand characteristics.
Flint with limestone  Minerality and smokiness.  
Rolled pebbles Provides structure and power to the wine.  
Gravel Minerality. Structure and power. Pebbles provide excellent drainage, infertile, encouraging vine to send down deep roots which may then find limestone or clay subsoil. Gravel soils also help by reflecting sunshine to the leaves and berries to encourage full maturation. 
Granite Minerality. Retains heat. Has high pH that reduces wine acidity.
Clay Bold, muscular wines. Soil stays cooler and retains water.
Loam (silt+clay+sand
+organic matter)
Less flavour and colour unless there is rigorous pruning regime. Soil is very fertile making over vigorous vineyards that need better management.
Volcanic (basalt) Smoky, earthy reds. High acidity. Salty minerality. Mineral-rich, reflects heat, well-drained and holds water.
Silt Smooth with less acidity. Very fine material that has good
water retention.
Calcareous clay
(clay with carbonate of lime)
Higher acid wines. Carbonate of lime neutralizes the clay’s acidity. 
Chalk Higher acidity wine. A type of limestone.
Marl Adds acidity to wine. A cold calcareous clay-like soil. Delays ripening.
Quartz Lower acidity, higher alcohol potential. Has a high pH to reduce acidity. Stones can store heat to increase ripening and therefore sugar content.

What I notice from above is that soils/rock types of note for wine primarily either increase or decrease acidity. Tannins and minerality are secondary.

The Pinot Grigio is grown on sandy, silty loam with limestone and granitic rock.

The Chardonnay is grown on clay loam, with layers of gravel and small boulders.

The Cabernet Sauvignon (for the rosé) is grown of a gravelly, stony, fluvial fan.

My Tasting Notes

Rust Wine Co Pinot Grigio 2019 with wine in glass
Rust Wine Co Pinot Grigio 2019 with wine in glass

Rust Wine Co Pinot Grigio 2019 (BC $18) –  The grapes for this wine has been fermented on the skins to give this bright, clear peachy colour in the glass. The fermentation is spontaneous with indigenous yeasts.  The wine fermented in 100% stainless steel.  It has evolving aromas as I first opened the wine.  It started off with quite a bit of lees and citrus, but then with some air and swirling evolved to more of an almond + lees + cut apple aromatics.  It is dry with higher acidity and some light tannins.  The acidity leaves a biting prickle on your tongue. The wine has medium-plus body with a thicker mouthfeel.  Light bright fruit flavours starting with red fruits and red cherries together with lees, but then like with the nose, you get apple as well; in this case red crab apples and maybe a whiff of rhubarb.  The wine also has some stony minerality.  It has a medium-plus length finishing with tart red fruit, some citrus pith, crab apple and some bramble leaf.  

I think the limestone and granite character with the higher acidity and minerality won out over the sand and loam in this wine.

Rating: 4 stars4.5 stars A different Pinot Grigio.  This one gets skin contact in the fermentation process to give you a beautiful peach colour wine with red fruits, red cherries, and red crab apple flavours.

Rust Wine Co Rosé 2019 with wine in glass
Rust Wine Co Rosé 2019 with wine in glass

Rust Wine Co Rosé 2019 (BC $22) – This rosé wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is not that common in my opinion.  I’ve tasted rosé wine from Bordeaux in the past that uses Cabernet Sauvignon, but most rosé wines are made with grapes such as Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and Pinot Noir. I was surprised, but Rust made a tasty wine.  It is fermented in stainless steel and left with 6.9% residual sugar.  You can taste that it is off-dry.  The wine does have a medium orangy, red rose petal colour. As mentioned it is off-dry with slightly higher acid.   Medium-plus body and fruit flavours.  It has an acid-driven structure.  You do not notice any tannins in this wine.  Raspberries, strawberries, red cherries and a hint of floral flavours.  I also picked up some minerality toward the end of the sip.  There is a light acidic prickle in your mouth from this wine.  It finishes with a mix of sweet and tart red fruit and strawberries on the finish.  I did taste this wine yesterday and paired it with @chefsplate Blackened Fish with corn succotash and rice.  It was a delicious pairing.

As the Cabernet Sauvignon grape was not fully fermented as a red wine, not all the structure and power related to the gravel is evident, but I did not some minerality in this wine.

Rating: 4 stars A straight forward, off-dry wine with bright red fruit and strawberry aromas and flavours.

Rust Wine Co Chardonnay 2019 with wine in glass
Rust Wine Co Chardonnay 2019 with wine in glass

Rust Wine Co Chardonnay 2019 (BC $22) – This is an unoaked Chardonnay which is a favourite of many people.  In the past oak was over-used, and some places it still is, in my opinion, but not in BC.  This wine is a light, bright straw colour in the glass.  It has light aromas, mostly stone fruits, but also some “soft” lemon, lees, and orange with some swirling in the glass.  This wine is slightly off-dry, round with a medium-plus body but doesn’t feel heavy in your mouth.  I get a nice viscous texture from this wine.  There is a light acidic prickle as well.  Flavours of cut apple, peaches, pear and peach with a lesser amount of citrus and orange.  The wine does have a salty minerality that I pick up as soon as I sip the one, but then there is a stony minerality on the finish.  The off-dry sweetness in the wine is not noticeable until the mid-plate to the finish.  It has a medium length finishing with pears and apples, and a mix of tartness and sweetness.  Then after the pears and apples subside you get lees and pepperiness/hotness.  I’m not sure where this pepperiness/hotness comes from as the wine is unoaked plus the alcohol content is fairly low at 12.6%.  With decanting the only thing I noticed was the hint of orange on the nose and palate was not noticeable, so no need to decant.  This is an elegant wine with subtle flavours.

The clay and the loam I think work against each other. Clay making muscular bold wine and loam reduced flavour and colour.  The layers of gravel could impart minerality and structure to the wine.  I did pick up on minerality and did note that the flavours were subdued so maybe the loam influence was stronger than the clay influence in this case.

Rating: 4 stars4.5 stars An elegant wine wine a subtle stone fruit nose and flavours.  Medium bodied.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

You can purchase these wines through Rust’s website. The Rosé and Chardonnay are available at Everything Wine. Their Pinot Grigio (and Gamay) are available at BC Liquor Stores.  The Swirl Wine Store in Yaletown has a large selection of Rust’s wines.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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