2010 Naramata Spring Release Tasting — New Whites Look Great, Reds Mixed

Another great Naramata Spring Release tasting yesterday, made even better by the new, larger venue — at the Westin Bayshore.

While generalizations can always get you in trouble, I will hazard a few anyway:

• Despite the cold, wet summer last year, most of the 2010 white wines were very good to excellent

• ’09 reds — the few that were poured — were more mixed

• the ‘big red wine’ problem seems to be continuing, with a number of wineries putting out mouth-searing, fruit-deprived wines

From an overall winery perspective, La Frenz is still clearly heads and shoulders above everyone else. Their 2010 whites – Sauvignon Blanc. Semillon, Viognier, and Riesling – are all outstanding and at $19 – $22 ridiculous bargains. The ’08 Merlot was also very good — not quite as fruit-forward as in the past, but still ripe with good structure (give it a couple of years) and fairly priced at $25. All go on sale Monday, April 25th

Individual wines of note from other wineries included:

• ’10 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon by newly re-branded Howling Bluff (now Summa Quies) was incredibly fruity and ripe without being sweet ($19)

• ’10 Syrah Rose by Black Widow was medium pink, fresh with ripe strawberries, almost completely dry ($22)

• ’08 Portfolio by Laughing Stock (an existing release) is a huge wine, with vanilla flavoured currants quickly giving way to big tannins; 3 – 5 years away ($40)

• ’08 Syrah by Marichel (existing release) is just as good as when I tasted/bought it last summer; really ripe black, peppery fruit, no obvious oak, smooth and lush with soft tannins ($39)

• ’09 Syrah by Marichel (Barrel sample) already shows great ripeness and almost liqueur fruit concentration; to be released in July ($39)

• ’08 Syrah (existing release) by Nichol is a dead ringer for a northern Rhone Syrah, with earthy, meaty, peppery fruit that is ripe but in a leaner structure ($32); also, I was told the ’10 Pinot Gris — their pink wine, a true ‘Gris’ – is just being bottled and while not as dark a colour as the ’09, is made in the same crisp style

• ’07 Reserve Pinot Noir by Kettle Valley was young but in great shape for drinking; ripe red cherries, touch of earth and vanilla, and a long, long finish. It was so good I couldn’t spit it out! ($40)

I won’t spend any time on the wines on the other end of the spectrum; as my mother taught me, say something nice or don’t say anything at all!

Having said that, I have to make a comment about the continuing mystery that is Township 7. Once arguably my favourite BC winery, T7 seems to be in a strange place. No new wines were presented, the only winery to do that, I believe. They continue to pour an ’08 Rose (when most have ’10s). And their reds — apart from the ’07 Syrah — are a leaner, woodier, more tannic style (that includes the ’08 Cab/Merlot, the ’07 Cab and the ’07 Merlot). Even the ’07 Syrah is different from past vintages, with good berry fruit but more tannin. Not sure what is going on at this winery, but I hope they get it figured out soon.




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