Happy days for me and my wine club, as we were able to get our yearly allotment of Blue Mountain’s Reserve Pinot Noir. This is the 2007 vintage and they kept the price steady at $35.90 a bottle. And it remains very hard to get; only from the winery and usually just via the mailing list (it usually sells out within days or weeks of release).
This was the first truly great BC red wine I ever had and it nearly blew my mind at the time. I was organizing a work function back in the late ’90s at a hotel in Victoria and looking for wine on the wine list to serve. I spotted this wine — then called the Striped Label — and decided on it so we could feature “BC food and wine” for the guests. The vintage, I believe, was 1996.
As soon as I tried it, I did a double take. This was not the usual (at the time) light, insipid and woody BC Pinot. It literally exploded with cherry fruit, fully ripe, and nicely balanced with oak, big and lush; a truly great experience. And it wasn’t just me who thought so. A number of people came up to me and enquired about the wine that night, not believing it could be “made in BC”.
I have followed — and collected — the wine ever since. For me, it is a unique balance in style between California — which has very ripe, cherry/vanilla flavoured wines (that can sometimes get so ripe they almost taste like candy) — and Burgundy, which adds more earth, spice and even mushroom overtones to the wine (at three to four times the cost!).
It also ages surprisingly well in good vintages. The 1998 improved for ten years, losing none of its fruit. In fact, this is a wine that actually seems to “put on weight” as it gets older (something that Pinot Noir only seems able to do). I personally think it starts to show its best stuff after it is five years old.
So kudos once again to the Mavetys in Okanagan Falls for their flagship wine. Year in, year out, it only has one competitor for best Pinot Noir in BC (which is the Hayman Vineyard Pinot Noir by Kettle Valley, but that is a subject for a future blog).