Seaside Pearl The Connaught Syrahs from the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys

I do enjoy scientific experiments, especially if it is related to wine.  This day I had a chance to experience both.  I received two Syrahs from the 2018 vintage made by Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery, with one from the Similkameen Valley and the other from the Okanagan Valley.  I tried to determine if the climate and soils between the two valleys cause significant differences in the aromas and flavours of these two wines, as well as to enjoy tasting them. I assumed that the same wine-making and ageing methods were applied to both wines. What were the results?  Read on.

The Connaught Label

Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery The Connaught wine labels
Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery The Connaught wine labels

But before we get into the tasting notes, I’d like to point out the label for these wines.  The label for both shows The Connaught, an electric car that ran on the BC Electric Railway, but from two different views. I do appreciate that the winery is depicting some of BC’s history on their wine labels.  I have a few more wines from Seaside Pearl to review and will also tell you about those labels. 

From the back label, Seaside Pearl noted that there were over 500 electric cars that ran on the BC Electric railway but only four are left; one of them being The Connaught, which was restored by the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society.  This car transported HRH Prince Arthur, The Duke of Connaught and Stratheam, Governor General of Canada and his family during the Royal visit in 1912. 

The outside of the car looks great, and when COVID allows, I think I would like to go to the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society and check out their restored railcars. 

My Wine Tasting Notes

Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery The Connaught, Okanagan Valley, Syrah 2018 (BC $40)

120 cases of this wine were produced.

Appearance: Deep garnet with a ruby tint, about 85% opaque. Tears apparent with swirling.
Nose: A medium-minus intensity nose, with sweet aromas. Sweet spices, cedar, red fruits, plums, and red cherries. With some air, you get Xmas cake and black fruit aromas as well.  I really enjoyed the aromas of this wine after a few minutes of air in the glass.  With decanting the aromas stayed, but were a little lighter in intensity.
Palate: This wine is dry, very smooth, and round. Medium acidity and medium intensity silky tannins. Well-integrated fruit flavours that all mesh together; red and black fruit, ripe raspberries, blackberries and plum, along with cedar, and oak. With decanting, there was more acidity evident, making the wine less smooth.  There was also more black fruit and sweet spices on the palate.
Finish: A medium plus length with a smooth finish and light drying tannins. Red fruits, sweet spices and pepper, then cedar and sweet spices at the very end.

A finesse wine with ripe aromas, flavours, and silkiness. I prefer the undecanted version for the smoothness on the palate.

Rating: 4.5 stars no decanting.  A lighter nose with cedar, red fruits, and plums aromas, and black fruits with swirling.  A medium-plus body, very round and silky smooth.  Well-integrated flavours of red and black fruits, raspberries, plums, and blackberries mesh together.  Medium intensity fine tannins.  A finesse wine.

Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery The Connaught 2018 from the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys with wines in glasses
Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery The Connaught 2018 from the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys with wines in glasses

Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery The Connaught, Similkameen Valley, Syrah 2018 (BC $40 out of stock)

50 cases of this wine were produced.

Appearance: A very deeply coloured wine. Garnet with a ruby tint. Just some translucency at the rim.
Nose: Medium-plus intensity, with rich aromas. Ripe red and black fruit, leather, gaminess, sweet spices, cinnamon in particular, and cedar. With decanting you get the same aromas except that the leather and gaminess were much subdued.
Palate: Dry, and starts off feeling thin and angular, but with some swirling, in the glass, the wine opens up and becomes rounder and thicker. Light intensity fine-grained tannins and bright acidity. Bramble berries, cassis, black fruits, vanilla and sweet spices and a touch of oak. Cedar toward the finish. With air, you also get a dark chocolate note and some salty minerality. The minerality became stronger with decanting, while the other flavours stayed the same.  The wine did become a bit smoother on the palate.
Finish: A medium plus length that finishes with ripe, juicy black fruit, red fruit, sweet spices, black pepper and cedar flavours. With a little time being swirled in the glass the wine finishes with a thicker rounder feel.  I also thought that the tannins took on a dusty character. The flavours and length stayed the same after decanting.

Some may say that this Syrah is more masculine in style. Both undecanted and decanted versions of this wine are very good but may give the undecanted version a slight edge in my preference in aromas. But the smoothness in the decanted version is also very enticing.

Rating: 4.5 stars  Rich aromas of red and black fruit plus leather, gaminess and sweet spices upon opening.  Medium-bodied, this wine gets a rounder and thicker mouthfeel with swirling.  Light tannins and bright acidity.  Cassis, black fruit, sweet spices and a touch of oak on the palate.

Was There a Difference?

Yes, there was. Although there was a concordance with many aromas and flavours, such as black and red fruit, and sweet spices, there were a few items of difference.  I detected salty minerality on the palate for the Similkameen Valley Syrah, plus there was some leather and gaminess on the nose. While the Okanagan Valley Syrah was much smoother overall, had some Xmas cake aroma and maybe more integrated fruit flavours. 

There is a cool wind that blows through the Similkameen Valley from west to east.  I think that the wind may make the grapes a little less ripe than in the Okanagan Valley, which is why the Okanagan Syrah is smoother and has more integrated fruit flavours. The soil, indigenous yeasts or barrels, may cause the differences in the Similkameen Valley Syrah for the leather and gaminess as well.  I don’t know which vineyards were selected for these two wines, but it would be interesting to compare their soil profiles.  It was an interesting tasting and comparing the differences.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

You can purchase their wines online via their website. I do see that the 2018 Similkameen Valley Syrah is out of stock at the winery, but maybe you can find it at a private wine shop.

Thank you to Seaside Pearl for providing me with these wines to review.

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.