The oldest marketing trick in the book — for wine or any other product — is to change your name and then sell based on that new sexy identity. It doesn’t usually work if its just a name change. But if the product is actually new and better, watch out!
And that may be what the new Moon Curser Vineyard in Osoyoos has in front of them. The former (until last year) Twisted Tree Vineyards, they mysteriously changed their name in 2011 for the release of their 2009 wines. But based on my tasting of three of them, it is more than just a name change — these guys are really on to something!
I visited Twisted Tree last summer during my annual summer wine tour and while I liked their Bordeaux blend (then called Six Vines), all the reds seemed to suffer from that “big tannic red wine” syndrom. The whites were interesting, especially the Rhone varietals (including Roussane and Marsanne blends, if I remember correctly), but some bad experiences with white Hermitage meant they weren’t really my style.
So what a surprise when I was in the Edgemont Village VQA store last week and, in talking to my old buddy Dave, he showed me these “new” wines. I was curious and — based on his recommendations and the fact that three of them were under $30 — I bought the Border Vines, Syrah and Tempranillo to given them a try.
Wow, what a first impression they made! The 2009 Syrah is made in the classic French style, with lots of peppery black cherry fruit, no noticeable oak or jamminess, and both lush and smooth. Interestingly, the rest of the wine was just as good the next day — a good sign for short term aging. And the price? Well, at $24.95, this was some serious value!
The 2009 Border Vines may be even better, if only because I am so often disappointed with these so called Bordeaux-style wines. All the Bordeaux red grapes are represented here and they are blended beautifully with the oak and herbs! Really reminded me of a baby Nota Bene but at less than half the price ($24.95 vs. $53). And, like its Syrah sibling, it also tasted great the next day. A fitting follow up to the 2008 Six Vines that won so many awards last year!
Last of the three was a bit of a stranger for the Okanagan — Tempranillo, the native Spanish grape. The 2009 is lighter than the other two and shows more oak, but the vanilla overtones mix well with the ripe black currants. My favourite Tempranillo-based wine is Pesquera from Alexandro Fernandez, and this was like its little brother! My only quibble is the price — $29.95 might push it out of the “value” category, but still a very nice wine indeed.
There is also a $24.95 Merlot and $38 Tannat/Syrah blend that I didn’t taste, plus a few whites. Hopefully I can get to those this summer.
But for now — at least based on these offerings — we have a new value contender in the red wine category! Well done, Moon Curser!