Do you know which are the main grapes grown in the Rhone Valley? Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier and Roussanne. Syrah is making a mark for itself in BC’s Okanagan Valley. Some say that it could be our signature red grape I do like Syrah from BC. Viognier is an aromatic white grape that also does well in the Okanagan Valley. Both do require a warmer climate so you can’t grow these grapes in the cooler northern Okanagan, but from about the Naramata Bench southward you can have these two grape varieties fully ripened.
Did you know that you can make red wine using white grapes? You still need the red grapes, but you can add in some white grapes. In the Rhone Valley it is common to add Viognier to Syrah to co-ferment. The result typically extracts more colour from the Syrah, increases red fruits and adds a floral component to the wine. Okanagan Crush Pad from Summerland did this with their Syrah. I received their Narrative Viognier 2018 and their Narrative Syrah Viognier 2018 to taste.
During the tasting of the Syrah, I noted some Brett. It’s full name is Brettanomyces and it is a type of yeast that produces particular aromas and flavours in wine, which if used sparingly like salt in a dish can enhance it, but too much can detract. Brett can provide funky or earthy aromas and flavours. Leather, barnyard and bandaid are common descriptors. Winemakers try to avoid Brett by keeping the winery as clean as possible, making sure the bottles are clean as well as the corks and capsules. But it still can occur in wines, hopefully in the tiniest amount.
As I tasted the Narrative Syrah Viognier, I noted bandaid on the nose and on the palate. I spoke with Okanagan Crush Pad’s Chief winemaker Matt Dumayne if their Syrah does have some Brett. He opened a bottle at the winery and indicated there was none, so it is the unfortunate case that somehow my bottle had some Brett. This wine uses a stelvin closure, so having a bottle with some taint is relatively rare, but it still happens.
Below I put my tasting notes for the Narrative Syrah Viognier as well as the tasting notes from Okanagan Crush Pad. I did not attach a rating to the wine as it did have this taint. If you purchase a bottle of wine and it does have strong brett characteristics you do have the right to take it back to the BC Liquor store or wine shop where you purchased the wine and ask for a replacement bottle.
My Tasting Notes
Narrative Viognier 2018 (BC $24.90) – a bright clear medium intensity lemon green colour in the glass. It has a youthful, medium-plus intensity nose showing lees, lemon, orange, grapefruit pith and peach, along with a touch of grape skin. With some air you start to get some tropical fruit notes, more peach and some honey. With decanting you get more tropical fruit aromas. The wine is dry medium body, partially round and partially angular mouthfeel. Medium acidic prickle combined with an oily texture. You get oranges and other mixed citrus along with bitter leaf, peach and light tropical fruit. With decanting the wine becomes rounders and less peppery. It has quite a hot / peppery finish along with citrus pith and tropical fruit.
Rating: – More citrus on the nose and on the palate but with decanting the tropical fruit aromas and flavours become more prominent. The wine has a nice oily texture to it. It is quite peppery toward the finish but if you decant it the pepperiness lessens.
Narrative Syrah Viognier 2018 (BC $27.90) – Deep, clear garnet colour; about 90% opaque to the rim. Medium intensity nose showing a mix of cassis and red fruits then you get bandaid added in. With decanting the bandaid aroma decreased a bit but did not completely disappear. The wine is dry with medium acidity and fine dusty tannins. The wine is round and very smooth; a lighter mouthfeel. Deep cassis and ripe red fruit. Not jammy fruit flavours. You get a hint of floral, apple, and sweet spices with swirling. A medium plus length dry tannic finish with cassis and red fruit flavours, and some bandaid. The wine softened a bit with decanting and there was less bandaid flavour but still present.
Overall I did enjoy this wine, but the brett taint was not very pleasant and unfortunate to happen. I do recommend buying this wine as it does have nice red fruit aromas and flavours.
Okanagan Crush Pad’s Vinification and Tasting Note: This year, Syrah and Viognier grapes were sourced from two separate Osoyoos vineyards in the South Okanagan. Some of the Syrah and the Viognier grapes were co-fermented in clay amphora and left on skins for nine months to enhance the aromatics and provide a silky mouth feel. Additional Syrah was fermented in concrete and aged in amphora adding spice and texture to the wine while showcasing rich red fruits.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can order these Narrative wines online on their website. Swirl Wine Store sells Narrative wines. Everything Wine does sell some Narrative wines. Okanagan Crush Pad’s website provides a web search for private shops and restaurants offering their wines.